Essential oils are becoming increasingly popular. You might know someone who uses and/or sells them. But what are they? How do they work? And why did I mention "aromatherapy?" This short blog is going to give you the basics as it applies to pregnancy, birth and postpartum/breastfeeding.
As always, please consult with your care provider before using aromatherapy or essential oils. It's also really important that you make sure you're getting your information and oils from someone who know what they're talking about. Look for a certified aromatherapist and ask questions. I am not a certified aromatherapist. I'm a well-read amateur who can give you basics and help you find information and professions.
So let's start with what aromatherapy is. According to the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, aromatherapy is "the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit." If that sounds a little hooky to you, let me simplify it by saying, it's using essential oils to enhance your body's natural physical and mental self-healing abilities. Essential oils (EOs) can be used either by defusing the scent into the air in some fashion or through a carrier oil applied to the skin. It is then absorbed into your bloodstream. You'll want to consult a professional to see which way would be best for your specific purpose and circumstances. EOs have a direct pharmacological effect, no matter which way you use them which is why it's so important to consult with a professional. This is especially important if you're taking other medications, as certain EOs can interfere with medications.
So, what can aromatherapy and essential oils do for you during pregnancy, birth & postpartum? They can be used during pregnancy to help alleviate common discomforts such as nausea, leg cramps, and itchy belly skin as it stretches. During labor, EOs can again be used for nausea or as a comfort measure during contractions. Certain aromas and oils can help you relax and focus throughout labor. EOs can again be used postpartum, even if you are breastfeeding to promote relaxation, rest and healing as well as boost mood if you're struggling with the baby blues (not to be confused with postpartum depression). Click here for some really great recipes from my doula trainer who also runs a school for herbalists and aromatherapist.
The above and below graphics are a quick guide to essential oils that can be helpful during the various stages of motherhood and ones you should avoid. I've made a printable version of this guide that you can access here.
If you have small children in the home, you should also be mindful which EOs are considered safe for children and which are not. Click here for a list of those.
What do you think? Would you try aromatherapy or is it not for you? Let me know what you think in the comments.
I'm the owner of Sage Roots. Woman, wife, mother, doula, writer, bookworm, hiker, gamer, and Christian.