Many years ago, I read the books The Secret Life of the Unborn Child,1 by Thomas Verny, MD, and Babies Remember Birth,2 by David Chamberlain, PhD. Both authors used regression hypnosis to take people back to their birth experience, and both discovered that people often remembered many details of their birth—including who was present, what was said and how the parents felt about the new arrival. They were interesting reads, to say the least.
Ever since then, I have recognized that the beginning of life can provide useful clues to guide the selection of deeply healing homeopathic remedies. I’ve watched for signs indicating that clients might have suffered prenatal or perinatal trauma, and I have often used homeopathy successfully to help them. An infant’s precious time in utero, the sometimes dramatic events that take place during labor and delivery, as well as the time shortly after birth all have the potential to affect an individual for life, sometimes crippling the person physically or mentally.
This connection generally remains unknown to the parents of the child or to the adult individual until they seek help for various concerns from a homeopathic practitioner or sometimes a regression therapist.
Homeopaths have long known that a mother’s state during pregnancy as well as events during labor and delivery can affect a child. When taking the case of an infant or child, a good homeopath therefore asks many detailed questions about the pregnancy, labor and delivery. The same attention to early experiences is a recommended part of a thorough case-taking for adult clients, although precise information about the pregnancy history and the birth may not always be available.
The homeopath may question the mother about her emotional state during the pregnancy; whether she experienced any traumatic events with strong emotions while pregnant; her dreams during that time; her relationship with her partner, family members and co-workers; any medical concerns and interventions; food cravings and aversions; and more.
This line of questioning is especially important if a child has suffered problems from birth or from an early age, as two cases from my practice will illustrate.
CASE ONE: A CHILD WITH TICS
I first met Liam, a sweet two-and-a-half year-old boy, in October 2009. He was very comfortable in my office and enjoyed exploring the toys and playing with me. Liam’s mother described her son as a good-natured boy not prone to tantrums or misbehavior.
About six months earlier, however, he had started having trembling episodes during the night. By September, he had developed tics, various involuntary body movements and shudders during the day, and he often experienced more severe episodes during the night. Sometimes an affected muscle would throb, as if there was a heartbeat in it. Liam would also grimace and stick out his tongue involuntarily. He complained about being uncomfortable and unable to sleep with these symptoms.
Even as a baby, Liam had had some difficulties. He would wake six times a night and also twitched in his sleep. Sometimes he’d wake up crying, with a red-hot face. He also often laughed in his sleep. After he turned one, he started to wake a dozen times a night.
His mother thought the tics started after a virus. She gave him some magnesium, which helped somewhat. In August, Liam saw a pediatrician and a neurologist, who ran an EEG, which came back normal. The neurologist speculated that the boy’s tics were inherited and told the family that Liam would just have to live with the condition.
His mother reported, “His tics are worse when he is excited or nervous. For example, when his preschool class went to visit the fire hall, he had a lot of trembling and body shakes.” She also noticed that his tics were worse when it was windy.
Liam’s mother reported that he had had a fast heartbeat and noticeable hiccoughs in the womb, which was cause for some concern from the midwives.
She also described the pregnancy as “stressful.” She stated, “I was involved in a minor car accident, but I was unfairly blamed and this led to a lengthy legal issue. At the same time, we were moving to a new house. As if that were not stressful enough, at the six-month ultrasound appointment, the baby’s kidneys were shown to be five millimeters above normal in size, which also caused me lots of stress and anxiety. Fortunately, they were normal size by the end of the pregnancy.” To top it all off, Liam’s mother described an incident that occurred when she was eight months pregnant: “I was walking our dog in the woods and he decided to chase a bear! I freaked out and had a little asthma attack.”
ASSESSMENT AND PLAN
Liam’s mother had suffered from a number of shocks and frights when she was pregnant with him. I suspected that her frights had transferred to the baby and that he needed the remedy she herself had originally needed at the time.
I gave Liam Aconitum napellus, also known as Aconite, which is often indicated for ailments that come on after emotional shocks and frights, and ailments that result from wind exposure. Aconite can also be the indicated remedy when an acute condition with a fever comes on suddenly in the night in children. It was peculiar that Liam’s symptoms increased with wind and also that he woke up in the night with red-hot cheeks.
Liam took infrequent but increasingly higher-potency doses of Aconite for the next two years. Whenever he received a dose of the remedy, he had a slight initial aggravation—with a worsening of the tics—and then a lasting improvement. By age four, he had completely recovered from his tics and shivers, much to his family’s delight. His tics were not “genetic” after all, in spite of the neurologist’s opinion.
Any time that a violent or frightening event occurs, such as being involved in an accident or disaster or being frightened by an animal, a homeopath thinks of Aconite. It can release a shock or fright that has been held in the body for decades, or which may have been passed on during pregnancy, as likely happened in this case.
CASE TWO: FEAR OF FALLING ASLEEP
Hannah was a lanky, ten-year-old girl with fine features and beautiful large eyes. Her mother brought her to my office in June 2015 for frequent headaches and stomach aches. Both had been intensifying, with almost daily headaches and a couple of vomiting episodes with the stomach aches.
Hannah’s mother characterized her daughter as “very anxious and a total worrywart.” As a baby, Hannah was clingy and wanted to be held all the time. She was the kid who sat on the sidelines at the pool or playground, crying, and was generally afraid to try new things.
The family wondered whether Hannah was nervous about her mother’s upcoming remarriage. Hannah was excited about the wedding but also anxious. The family was already seeing a counselor to help Hannah with her anxiety. Her mother reported, “Hannah has never slept well. As a baby, she was terribly colicky and didn’t sleep through the night until she was six. She often has nightmares and even had night terrors when she was younger. Now, she has trouble falling asleep and is awake for hours past her bedtime several times a week. My husband and I separated two years ago and she is afraid to sleep over at his house. She is actually afraid to go to sleep—it’s a huge problem for everyone.”
Hannah added, “My brain just won’t shut off. I lie in bed and read and read to try to shut it off, but it doesn’t work. I think about terrible things like intruders and things on the news. Things grow bigger in the dark. I get so scared, I end up crying.”
PANIC DURING DELIVERY
I suspected that something had happened early on. I asked Hannah’s mother to come back on her own so I could interview her regarding her pregnancy and delivery.
Hannah’s mom admitted, “I was terrified of giving birth to her! I had a full-on panic attack right in the middle of labor. I was so scared I blacked out. I can’t remember parts of the delivery; it was horrible! Then I hemorrhaged after she was born and was told I could bleed to death. And then I collapsed in the shower.”
I hope the reader recognizes the remedy for this situation, as it was the same one that I gave to Liam: Aconite. This poor mother had suffered a panic attack during her delivery and then became even more frightened after hemorrhaging and being told she could die. Had someone given her Aconite during the delivery, the whole drama likely could have been avoided.
I gave Hannah one dose of Aconite 10M. On the follow-up visit two weeks later, there was good news. Hannah’s mother reported a “profound change” in her daughter: “She seems much lighter and is laughing more. The night after the remedy was a bit rough, but it is easier now for her to fall asleep.”
At the next follow-up in July, the mother reported: “It’s incredible! Hannah is going to bed at 9:00 PM and is asleep by 9:30. It’s amazing, she’s never been able to do that!” In the meantime, Hannah had also agreed to take an art workshop—something she would not have done before. Her mother reported Hannah to be much more expressive about matters troubling her, including disclosing that she was afraid to be without her mother.
I thought this was interesting and speculated that Hannah’s mother’s fear of dying during the delivery may have imprinted itself on Hannah, leading to the girl’s fear of falling asleep and her overall anxiety. Now, Hannah was able to realize and verbalize her inner state. However, because her sleep had been getting a bit worse again in the few days preceding the follow-up, I gave Hannah another dose of Aconite 10M.
In August, Hannah’s mother reported more good news: “Hannah jumped off a five-meter diving board. Never before had she done this. I feel like saying to her, ’Who are you?’ She is a totally different child. She is much more confident about trying new things and is asking to have sleepovers at her father’s house.”
Her mother reported some temper outbursts and throwing of napkins. “But when she is in a good mood, she is much happier. She is also eating much more and drinking lots of water. Her headaches are much better and there are no more stomach aches. The wedding is this weekend, and she feels okay about it now, whereas only three weeks ago, she was so scared of me leaving on my honeymoon. Her sleep is okay. Sometimes she does not even want to read at night; she just turns off the lights and goes to sleep. She is a real character now, so lively and funny!”
At that point, I simply advised the family to repeat the Aconite remedy as needed if the sleep relapsed. By the end of November, Hannah was doing a lot of drawing and artwork and had developed a new interest in baking and cooking. Her teacher told the family that Hannah was a natural leader.
In my office, I witnessed her dancing and performing modeling poses. I could barely get over the change in this child, from a timid, fearful little wisp of a girl to this blossoming, expressive and confident young lady. All of this personality and passion had been hidden by the shock she experienced during her birth and was now released by this marvelous remedy, Aconite.
If a problem has been present from birth, keep the possibility of prenatal or perinatal trauma in mind. Know that homeopathy may offer just the key to unlock this trauma and free a human being to live to her full potential. More broadly, always remember that homeopathy offers many remedies for a range of possible scenarios.
1. Verny T, Kelly J. The Secret Life of the Unborn Child: How You Can Prepare Your Baby for a Happy, Healthy Life. Summit Books, 1981.
2. Chamberlain D. Babies Remember Birth: And Other Extraordinary Scientific Discoveries About the Mind and the Personality of Your Newborn. Ballantine Books, 1990.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2019