Homeopathy in Childbirth - objections from hospital midwife

(335 Posts)
Rolf Sat 07-Jun-08 16:18:51

I have booked a doula for my (hopefully) imminent labour. We have been to see a homeopath together and plan for her to throw remedies in my mouth whilst I'm in labour.

I was told yesterday by a very reliable source (my hairdresser!!) that a friend of his recently delivered at the same hospital and when her doula started giving her homeopathic remedies, the midwife got very worked up and asked her to stop. I'm not sure whether or not she did, but the hospital is now undertaking an internal inquiry (whether generally or into this particular case, I'm not sure). The patient apparently was perfectly happy with her care from both the hospital and the doula so I think it's for the purposes of clarification rather than a big witch-hunt.

I'm slightly concerned that because of this there will be generally twitchy atmosphere about someone not employed by the trust giving a patient any sort of medication. I've added to my birth plan "I would like to use homeopathic remedies in labour and am happy for my doula to administer them". Do you think that's adequate or should I go further? Should I write out a list of the remedies I'm taking in with me, the name of the homeopath who dispensed them and a more sweeping waiver? Or is that the litigator in me speaking? grin

I have quick labours so won't be able to waste time debating with them. My doula is well-known at the hospital and I think will be very good at this sort of advocacy. And I have a good relationship with the hospital although as it's a big teaching hospital there's every chance that in labour I won't be looked after by anyone I know.

Any thoughts would be v welcome.

smile

Thinkingof4 Thu 14-Feb-13 21:04:26
Thinkingof4 Thu 14-Feb-13 20:59:25
fruitypuds Thu 14-Feb-13 16:55:45

I know this is an old thread...but can anyone tell me where to get hypercal tincture in the UK, please? I keep reading 'Neal's Yard' but can't find it on there.

5helt1e Fri 29-Oct-10 16:16:21

As homeopathic remedies are essentially a sugar pill with no remaining physical trace of any medicine then you should feel free to throw it down your neck with gay abandon.

If the midwives complain then tell them to stop being foolish. Its not real medicine.

I don't think science has either proved or disproved God yet. I don't personally chose to pray. You don't need homeopathy to get a placebo effect.

snowymum Wed 02-Jul-08 13:44:55

You reckon prayer to a god has a greater chance of being beneficial than water and, at worst, the placebo effect? You need to revist your science books.

I agree with Cristina. Even praying and crossing your fingers makes more sense than homeopathy. After all there might be a God who responds to such things. There is no theory to explain how water is beneficial.

CristinaTheAstonishing Sun 29-Jun-08 16:32:30

Discuss whatever you want, just how far are you prepared to go? That's what I meant by cross your fingers, pray, spiritualist healing, tarrot reading, would you pass on this kind of info as well, just because some people have found it useful? (I am referring all along to homeopathy, that's the one I find particularly bonkers.)

sabire Sat 28-Jun-08 20:11:49

So unless there is clear, research based evidence in support of a particular therapy or treatment, I shouldn't even discuss it with parents? Not even if it's a legal, popular treatment that anecdotally I have very sound feedback about? hmm

CristinaTheAstonishing Sat 28-Jun-08 19:51:53

OK, if I go to the drs and they tell me to cross my fingers and hope for the best or say three Hail Marys I'll understand it's just passing on something that worked for others.

sabire Fri 27-Jun-08 09:55:36

"Again, how come homepathy is so finely tuned to each person - implying a lengthy consultation where the homeopath so very holistically assesses all areas of your mind, body & spirit, but on the other hand you just buy sugar pills over the counter as you would paracetamol? There's some disagreement here"

Yup.

Human beings.... sometimes they don't behave in logical ways. grin

"You make a fine distinction between recommend and advice and just casually passing on info but are you sure people who come to you notice this difference? Or do they see you as a professional who actively encourages them to try X, Y and Z?"

I do exactly what many of the local HV's do - I pass on information about CO that other parents have shared with me. The only difference between what I'm doing and what the HV's are doing is that I also discuss the research evidence with parents.

"But I wouldn't use my professional standing to endorse alternative treatments. I've already said that many posts back."

It's not about 'endorsing' - you pass on what you know - the research and the anecdotal evidence and you leave people to make up their minds.

CristinaTheAstonishing Thu 26-Jun-08 23:30:29

I don't know what I'd offer them because I'm not in a position to do so. But I wouldn't use my professional standing to endorse alternative treatments. I've already said that many posts back.

You make a fine distinction between recommend and advice and just casually passing on info but are you sure people who come to you notice this difference? Or do they see you as a professional who actively encourages them to try X, Y and Z?

Again, how come homepathy is so finely tuned to each person - implying a lengthy consultation where the homeopath so very holistically assesses all areas of your mind, body & spirit, but on the other hand you just buy sugar pills over the counter as you would paracetamol? There's some disagreement here.

sabire Thu 26-Jun-08 23:13:45

"So where do these people get alternative treatments at such cheap rates? The ones I see advertised are v expensive."

The clinics round here are cheap, and even people on low incomes have a bit of money to spend believe it or not! Several of my friends are single mums on benefits, but somehow they can usually find the money for a night out on the razz with me, plus the odd trip to the chinese herbalist or homeopath.

"Do they just pop pills their friends give them? I don't understand then about the effectiveness."

They buy homeopathic remedies over the counter. Homeopathic remedies for hayfever and sinusitis are particularly popular.

"They can't feel better just from the pills (which in themselves contain nothing active). So where does the so-called effect come from?

Well sorry - but they DO feel better from the pills. I'd love to see you or anyone else telling them that actually they don't feel better because the pills are useless. They'd probably point out that you have no idea how they feel, even if you are a doctor!

"And tell me what's so great about advising someone with a ONE WEEK old baby to go and see an osteopath for their baby?"

I never advise people to go and see an osteopath.

People contact me and ask me if I know anyone locally as they want to visit one. Other than this I raise the subject when we're talking about things other parents locally have done when they've had problems with their baby during the early postnatal period (I touch on this along with using NHS direct, the out of hours doctors service, doula's, HV's and baby clinics etc). As I said before - I always point out that there is no research evidence that CO works.

"Babies tend to cry, it's a shock, it's distressing, but do we really need to medicalise existence to such a degree? Is this really a helpful way of adjusting to parenthood?"

People generally see a CO because their baby is having problems breastfeeding. Many of the bfc round here also mention CO as something that parents use when their babies are having great difficulty with feeding and latching and are unusually unsettled after an assisted birth or very difficult labour.

What would you suggest to a mum whose baby had been born by ventouse, who'd been screaming for hours at home and finding it difficult to feed? Someone who'd seen an experienced breastfeeding counsellor who'd worked with them but had been unable to find an instant answer to their breastfeeding problems? If you knew dozens of people who'd used this treatment who swore it had made a really big difference to their baby's ability to feed comfortably would you still refuse to mention it (not recommend it - note - I don't recommend that people use CO) because the medical literature doesn't support it as an effective treatment? What alternative help would you offer them?

CristinaTheAstonishing Thu 26-Jun-08 17:39:52

You're not aggressive now, we could almost have a decent conversation (provided we were not by now suspicious of each other).

So where do these people get alternative treatments at such cheap rates? The ones I see advertised are v expensive. Do they just pop pills their friends give them? I don't understand then about the effectiveness. If they don't go for the long chats to make them feel better (you say they can't afford it) then they can't feel better just from the pills (which in themselves contain nothing active). So where does the so-called effect come from?

I object to homeopathy - the main alternative one about which i've read enough - because it's irrational and could never work except for a placebo effect (good in itself but that was pages back now).

And tell me what's so great about advising someone with a ONE WEEK old baby to go and see an osteopath for their baby? Babies tend to cry, it's a shock, it's distressing, but do we really need to medicalise existence to such a degree? Is this really a helpful way of adjusting to parenthood?

sabire Thu 26-Jun-08 17:20:54

"I could perhaps draw some wild conclusions about you personally and how you treat people you see based on something you've posted here and what I percieve to be your political affiliations. Anyway, I digress."

No - go on. Do say what you think about my 'political affiliations'.

"Just because it's a popular therapy and many people spend lots of money on it, doesn't make it effective."

No. True. I don't tell people it's effective. I tell them what the research evidence say and I tell them what people who've opted to try CO tell me about about their experience with it. Are you saying it's wrong for me to pass on what parents tell me?

"How many people would get back to you and say CO was bollocks w/o hurting your feelings because you obviously believe in it"

I make a point of asking them. I say - what did you think of the treatment? Do you think it made any difference? I have no vested interest in them going and I always point out that there's no scientific evidence in support of its efficacy. I have a good enough relationship with these people for them to tell me if they thought something was useless. They're certainly quick enough to tell me if information I've given them on other aspects of postnatal life has been unhelpful or irrelevant!

"How many times do you tell your hairdresser that you don't actually like the haircut they've just given you all that much?"

But I'm not an alternative therapist. Why would they not tell me if the treatment didn't work for them? I don't recommend this therapy - I just tell parents what the research evidence is and what I am told about people's experience with it.

"If you "treat" a child over a number of sessions I think all children will improve to some degree. It's called growing up. Colic doesn't last forever, feeding improves with maturity as well. You can believe it was the nothingness that did it and give it a name, let's say "homeopathy" or you could go w/o all that and accept it's part of life."

Yes - except that's not the feedback I get. Most people I know take their babies for cranial osteopathy between week 1 and week 3 after the birth. Most have told me that they've seen an immediate improvement - usually within the first week, and often after the first session. The research shows that colic related crying peaks at around six weeks and begins to level off at around 8 weeks. So - that doesn't fit with your theory. I often suggest that parents think about keeping a diary of their baby's sleeping/feeding/crying patterns in the first few weeks and months as it's a nice thing to have years down the line as a reminder of the early days and that it can help if they need to see a GP or the HV about their baby further down the line. Point being - many of these parents are very conscious of changes in their baby's behaviour and the timescale over which it happens.

"I do believe all those educated people you're in touch with are imagining improvements. I don't think it matters if it's imagined or not as long as theer's honesty about it and not this hocus-pocus energetic medicine and such-like."

So as long as people are willing to admit that these therapies are basically ineffective in every way, and that any improvements in symptoms are completely imaginary, you are happy to say it's ok?

In fact you feel they don't even have a placebo effect - because the placebo effect often causes an ACTUAL reduction in symptoms, and not just impacts on the patient's PERCEPTION of pain/discomfort?

"Also, Sabire, maybe if you were in touch with people for whom £40 matters, perhaps you wouldn't be so eager to point them to expensive sugar pills."

I live in one of the poorest parts of South London and my daughter goes to the local school where over 80% of the children are from ethnic minority backgrounds (as are my own children) and large numbers of children qualify for free school dinners. It's not gentrified in any way - you can still buy a four bedroom house here for around £300K, despite the fact we're only 20 minutes from Victoria by train. It's the sort of area you'd probably drive through with your windows wound up and your doors locked.

The people I work with are often fairly privileged, (though not all). However, most of my friends are ordinary mums living in social housing whose children go to this school, and they can ill afford to spend money on ineffective treatments. Many of these people use homeopathic and herbal remedies because they are cheaper than prescription charges (unless you're on benefits) and because they find them effective. Many also use acupuncture and rate it very highly. In our poor little high street we have two Chinese herbalists and two alternative therapy clinics (and no - we don't have a large Chinese community - the schools aren't good enough!)and they are well used.

So, out of interest, how many socially disadvantaged people who suffer from long term minor health issues do you mix with socially? Do any of your friends live in social housing and claim benefits or work in Sainsbury's? I suspect you have no idea about the sort of feelings ordinary people have about how they can manage their symptoms, or how people feel about their experience of medical care within the NHS because the only contact you have with these people is when you're patronising them in a professional capacity. Have you ever experienced ill health that's been on-going? Have you ever had to cope with the reality of regularly seeking treatment for minor but distressing conditions through the NHS? - the hours spent in dirty waiting rooms with small children for GP appointments, only to be dismissed in five minutes by your GP who can barely remember who you are? Have you been repeatedly prescribed conventional treatments which haven't worked and that have given you additional problems and made you ill? I have. I know plenty of other people who have. If alternative therapies aren't illegal and if they help people why do you object so strongly to their existence?

Honestly Christina - 'evidence' comes in all forms. Experiential evidence is important too. Listening to what people tell you about how they feel won't make you a bad scientist and it will definitely make you a better doctor.

Sabire,

All of your observations are easily explained by the placebo effect. I don't doubt that many people who use homeopathic remedies are intelligent people. Anyone can be affected by their expectations. That is why clinical trials have to be done blind both to the users and the people running the trial. Even then you can get false results. You need to work really hard to get genuinely effective treatments. And I am sure that many mistakes are made by GPs. They are only human, albeit very highly trained and educated ones.

But the flaws and mistakes don't get away from the huge achievements of medical science. It was medical science that eliminated small pox for instance. Homeopathy has no similar success to its name despite having been practised for longer than scientific medicine.

CristinaTheAstonishing Thu 26-Jun-08 15:43:20

I think a lot of the effect is due to the unwillingness to face up to the fact you may have been conned. Also not reading up on it. People just don't. They group it all under wishy-washy, nice & caring alternative treatments and go no further.

You don't say in what capacity you see all these new parents or how much time you have to spend with them, loads by the looks of it, otherwise you'd just say "homeopathy works, trust me", you wouldn't have time for any details, or how much you charge etc. This is getting personal, isn't it? See how you like it for a change, I could perhaps draw some wild conclusions about you personally and how you treat people you see based on something you've posted here and what I percieve to be your political affiliations. Anyway, I digress.

Just because it's a popular therapy and many people spend lots of money on it, doesn't make it effective. Also, we weren't talking cranial osteopathy or all conventional medicine. How many people would get back to you and say CO was bollocks w/o hurting your feelings because you obviously believe in it? How many times do you tell your hairdresser that you don't actually like the haircut they've just given you all that much?

If you "treat" a child over a number of sessions I think all children will improve to some degree. It's called growing up. Colic doesn't last forever, feeding improves with maturity as well. You can believe it was the nothingness that did it and give it a name, let's say "homeopathy" or you could go w/o all that and accept it's part of life.

I do believe all those educated people you're in touch with are imagining improvements. I don't think it matters if it's imagined or not as long as theer's honesty about it and not this hocus-pocus energetic medicine and such-like.

Also, Sabire, maybe if you were in touch with people for whom £40 matters, perhaps you wouldn't be so eager to point them to expensive sugar pills.

Lastly, something which always baffles me: How come believers in alternative "medicine" are always so damn poorly and always popping pills for something or another? perhaps it's harmful? If not physically then for emotional well being? Can't be healthy to always rely on a practitioner and pills.

sabire Thu 26-Jun-08 15:04:25

But I know loads of people who use homeopathy who are bright, educated people who are aware of the debate surrounding it and the complete lack of evidence in support of its efficacy. I would put myself in that category. You can know all of this and STILL find that treatment relieves your symptoms. This is my experience and the experience of many people I know. I can't explain it. I just know it's helped, and that's the only thing that matters to me when I'm unwell.

I think research evidence is very important. I work with new parents who often ask me about cranial osteopathy when they have a neworn who is difficult to settle. I point out to them that good quality research has shown it to work no better than a placebo (ie someone doing a bit of random head rubbing on the baby).

However I also point out that it's a very popular therapy and that the parents who I personally know who have used it feel it's very successful in reducing crying and improving their baby's feeding. Then I leave it up to them to make up their minds as to what they find most persuasive: the research evidence or anecdotal evidence. They almost ALWAYS opt for the cranial osteopathy and they ALWAYS come back saying it helped.

If I got feedback saying it had been useless I would pass that on too, but I don't.

The parents I see are mostly degree educated professionals - teachers, lawyers, nurses, engineers, etc etc. Do you think they're imagining the improvements in their baby's feeding and sleeping after going for treatment? Does it matter if they're imagining it, as long as they perceive both themselves and their babies to be happier?

"Surely they are in it for the money (as with anyone charging for their services)"

What - like GP's, who have an average salary of 125K in this country?

"they are not high on my personal list because they peddle quack medicine"

They offer a treatment they believe is effective, just like GP's. The difference is that a higher proportion of people consulting GP's come away with a medicine that will do positive harm to their health, and that is often in any case inappropriate for their condition (note the number of prescriptions for antibiotics given to people with colds in the UK).

CristinaTheAstonishing Thu 26-Jun-08 14:30:23

My Mum took a photo of my DS to a spiritualist person to do whatever spritualists do over it and heal my son's deafness. Mum was a nurse but she was desperate. Desperate people do all sorts of irrational things. Ds now has a cochlear implant and, though not cured of his deafness, he certainly functions well. Mum doesn't like to be reminded about her little foray into alternative practices. Both Mum and Dad went into religion at the time too (they got over it or just don't mention it to me anymore).

CoteDAzur Thu 26-Jun-08 14:21:59

sabire, re: "you completely failed to acknowledged Five minute consultations are not considered 'crappy treatment' in the UK"

Yeah, well, I never lived in the UK. So shoot me for not realizing your health system is so pathetic that some feel justified to turn to witch doctors. I would say I feel sorry for your situation, but I'm not allowed to say that because I am so arrogant and unkind. So be it.

" research shows that the placebo effect works on skeptical people too Cote, when they don't know they're getting a placebo."

But I know I am taking a placebo when given homeopathic 'remedies'. So they don't work. They never have.

"You think these treatments have no value"

Their only 'value' is as placebo. If you can bring yourself to believe they will work, against all evidence and the mind boggling stupidity of the assertions (water has memory, the more you dilute the more effective it is, one drop in an ocean is enough to have an effect, etc) then you will probably enjoy the placebo effect. Apparently there is no treatment that will work for you & placebo is all you can hope for, so it is brilliant that you get that from homeopathy.

"your evaluation of the values of those people who are involved in the practice of complementary medicine"

Hmm... what did I say about homeopaths? Surely they are in it for the money (as with anyone charging for their services) and they are not high on my personal list because they peddle quack medicine, but I don't know anything about their 'values'.

"we are gullible, stupid and naive"

Those of you suffering from conditions medicine can't help are probably hoping for benefit from homeopathy not out of a personality defect or intellectual shortcoming but because you are desperate. Understandably. sad

As for the rest, yes, there is a bit of gullibility involved. Not stupidity, though.

CoteDAzur Thu 26-Jun-08 14:06:16

"Hand succession (vigorous shaking and pounding) of each step of potentization is also an important component of the manufacturing process. This step causes agitation at the molecular bonding level of the remedy and energetically activates the remedy."

Oh dear.

Shaking and pounding a solution does NOT affect molecular bonding!

Anybody worked with lab equipment? You shake (and pound, if that strikes your fancy) to facilitate homogenization, NOT to get a chemical reaction out of the mix. shock

When you stir, shake, pound, turn upside down a solution, you mix it better and in less time. That is ALL.

What do 'agitation at molecular bonding level' and 'energically activates the remedy' even mean?!? That would make sense (somewhat) if we were talking about heating a solution. It doesn't make sense for shaking/pounding.

CristinaTheAstonishing Thu 26-Jun-08 13:53:16

Well...when you have a cocktail the bit that goes to your head is the last few sips. I guess that's where all the active molecules cluster together. So don't dismiss it

bruxeur Thu 26-Jun-08 13:39:31

Was Cocktail the first homeopathic film, then?

jimjams - I await your elegant refutation of this arrant nonsense, obviously written by an ^agent provocateur^ working for the forces of Western Medicine...

...with interest.

CristinaTheAstonishing Thu 26-Jun-08 13:33:00

Keep a straight face, it's explained here"Potentization consists of precise dilutions and hand succession (vigorous shaking and sudden impact)."

bruxeur Thu 26-Jun-08 13:30:11

What's succession, jimjams?

And why is it seen as essential?

And why is it different from dilution?

And why would a sceptic not see any difference between this and dilution?

Ta in advance.

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