Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Labour + Postpartum

Jan 29, 2018

Is it just me, or is googling the safety of everything under the sun a major pastime of pregnant mamas?

My first pregnancy was ‘au natural’ to say the least.  To each their own but I erred on the side of caution….. so you can bet I was not eating anything ‘risky’, letting my hair bare it true colour, and my nail polish bucket and medicine cabinet collected dust. What to use for headaches would send me on a tail spin so I did without. 

My second pregnancy was much different as I had a trusted alternative.  After my first was born, I was introduced to essential oils {dōTERRA to be exact} and fell deeply in love with them as they quickly became a natural alternative to an array of things in my home.  I SO wish I had them the first time around when the slightest thing would set off my nausea for the WHOLE day.
No. Fun.

Fertility (that’s another topic on its own), pregnancy, labor and for support after the baby is born are areas where I get asked a lot of questions about my experiences with oils in particular so I thought that I would compile some information to share with you.

I am not a medical professional (here’s the disclaimer) so I urge you to do your own research, as I have, and see that when you’re using a pure therapeutic oil properly they truly can be a blessing.

There is some discrepancy in information available about using oils while pregnant due to the fact that there are a lot of essential oils on the market that are impure and laden with impurities so it would be in fact a concern ….hence my pickiness.  However if you are only using pure, unadulterated essential oils (the reason I ONLY use and recommend dōTERRA because of their stringent testing methods and third party testing of EVERY batch), many of those concerns become unwarranted if using them safely.  As always, a good rule of thumb is to discuss using essential oils with your doctor or midwife taking into account your individual circumstances.

The information and recommendations that I share are based on the advice from various pregnancy resources, safety experts, midwives, as well as my own personal experience and knowledge of the chemistry of each oil and how they actually affect the body and hormones.

So again, while there may be many more oils that are safe for use during pregnancy, I have only listed the ones I know to be safe from experience and other experts’ opinions.

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PREGNANCY

Glowing right? Sure you could say that.  Ohhhh the joys of your body being taken over to produce another human…cue the digestive upsets, pain, cramps, lack of energy, and other discomforts. Here is what I used to support me during this time of growth.

Digestive Support: Ginger, Lemon, Spearmint, Grapefruit, Lime, Digestzen.  Have any of these oils beside your bed and inhale straight away when rising (you may find that waking up to these aromas help or I would dab ginger behind my ears/ earlobes or apply it or digestzen on the bottoms of my feet before getting out of bed).  Throughout the day when waves of nausea would hit and I would grab my oils straight away!  Such a blessing!  I actually carried a bottle of lemon in my purse because you NEVER knew what would set you off.  

Headaches:  Apply Lavender or Frankincense on the back of neck, base of skull or temples.

Stretch Marks: Frankincense, Lavender, Sandalwood, Myrrh, Chamomile, Helichrysum OR the Immortelle Blend (which comes pre-diluted) and easy to roll on.  For the DIY’ers -see my body butter recipe for a luxe cream!

Sleep: Lavender, Serenity (especially nearing delivery), Bergamot, Ylang Ylang. Diffuse, spritz your pillow, dilute and massage your body, or add to a warm bath before bed.

Fatigue:  Wild Orange, Motivate (encouraging blend), Spearmint, or Lemon  (inhale straight from bottle, diffuse, wear on pulse points)

Anxiety:  Serenity, Balance (the grounding blend), Wild Orange, Frankincense, Lavender and Sandalwood.  In addition, these balancing and calming oils help to relax the body, ease mama’s anxiety and also restore emotional balance.  As it was my second time around (I knew what to expect) I found that my anxiety level was high so I used these oils regularly. 

Lower Back & Leg Pain:  Two drops of AromaTouch (massage blend) with coconut oil is amazing!!  Get your partner to massage you…EVEN better!  I loved the cooling feeling this gives for swelling on my feet and legs.  A newly released oil- Neroli Touch (in a roller bottle pre-diluted with fractionated coconut oil) promotes a healthy inflammatory response during late stages of pregnancy.

Emotional Support: Elevation, Bergamot, Citrus Bliss or Ylang Ylang (wear as a perfume or diffuse)

Congestion: Lemon, Lime or Breathe (respiratory blend). Diffuse or put a few drops in your palms, rub together, cup over nose and inhale. 

Perineum Support: Yup…I said it.  It’s going to be stretched to the max (literally) Two weeks before delivery I use helichrysum diluted with Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO) in a spray bottle on my perineum to prepare the area. TMI but, hey, sharing is caring.

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LABOUR

:: Early stage/pre labour ::

My Grounding TRIFECTA: Balance (the grounding blend) + Lavender + Sandalwood.  Applied to the back of my neck and wrists leading up to the birth to help me relax and ease my anxieties. I had a roller bottle that I would put on my pulse points or inhale straight from the bottle to keep me calm emotionally + physically.  Under the circumstances, I felt pretty good (this coming from a naturally anxious person)  
Another newly released oil – Jasmine Touch: massage during labour for physiological relaxation.  

:: In the delivery room :: 

I chose not to use a diffuser as I wanted to be able to control (to quickly add or remove any scents at a moments time) so for aromatic purposes I relied heavily on a good ol’ tissue with oils on it.  I know, fancy eh?   Lemon + peppermint (to be exact) combined on the tissue right by my face was perfect! When I had a contraction I would grab my ‘oil tissue’ and hold it close to my face taking deep breaths which was by far amazing!  My hubby actually was using this quite a bit between my contractions to keep him energised….Poor thing eh!?!  It was 2am and he had a long day!

Nausea: Peppermint and Lemon- Shakes and nausea were gone right away and I immediately felt more energised and able to focus through the intensity as well. These by far were my favourite oil for labor and two that I highly suggest.  EVERY woman should have these oils into the delivery room with them.

Pain: A few drops of lavender on a tissue and inhaled for pain management. (PubMed study link at bottom)  I was able to get through hours and hours without pain meds so I thank you dear Lavender xx

Energy: Peppermint, Lemon, Wild Orange or Motivate Touch (encouraging blend) on back of neck behind ears to keep you alert (and hubby too)

Dry + Cracked Lips: Another tip for you that I found extremely helpful and hadn’t read about was the Peppermint + Wild Orange lip balm.  Something that no one tells you about but as your lips become dry (so pasty) this balm was perfect because the scent was tingly, cooling and energising.

:: Active Labour ::

Back Pain: Black Pepper or Basil (relieves pain + enhances labour performance).   Rose Touch comes in a roller bottle that is pre-diluted in fractionated coconut oil helps the body naturally release desire for pain medication (this is a newly released oil and was spoken about at convention by Dr. Hill chief medical advisor) SOOOOO wish I had this one with me <3 

To Intensify Contractions:  Clary sage (on inner ankles above bone every 15min to UP contractions if stalled)  **Clary Sage must only be used 37+wks. 

Energy:  Peppermint —Best during transition on a damp cloth for your face or forehead.  This was amazingly cooling!!  

Dizziness: If feeling light-headed or dizzy I would hold the bottle of peppermint close to my nose or use it on a tissue (like mentioned above)

Prevent Tearing: In the early stages of labour you can tell your midwife or OB to use this blend to massage the perineum while they do the manual stretching if you’re down with that 😉 WAY too much information now but since you’re still reading I might as well share. Helichrysum (stops/slows bleeding + promotes healing) and Geranium (when baby is crowing) both oils diluted with Fractionated Coconut Oil.

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POSTPARTUM

Or the ‘babymoon’ There is a lot going in your body after the big event and it needs time to recover and come back to balance.  Many changes are happening physically and emotionally….give it time.

Peri Spray 

Yup, there is actually such thing!
Thankfully I didn’t tear at all this time but I still did a Peri spray.  
It offers amazing soothing comfort to that “oh so tender” area after birth and felt it helped for a speedy recovery to the area.…from personal experience this is VERY soothing for swelling or soreness after birth.
Combine 3 drops Helichrysum + 3 drops Frankincense + 2 drops Lavender + 2 drops Geranium with 2 tablespoons witch hazel, 3 tablespoons Fractionated Coconut oil,  4 tablespoons filtered water in a glass spray bottle (this helps to avoid any plastic contamination and maintains the quality of the essential oils)

:: Helichrysum- anti-inflammatory, heals tissue trauma, stops bleeding and swelling. Known as “liquid stitches” in the natural word a great one to have on hand should any tearing/bleeding occur. Helps skin recover quickly, supports localised blood flow. Also fantastic for stretch marks. Dilute with carrier oil and apply to the area.

:: Lavender is calming, has a slight analgesic effect, stimulates circulation and has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities. In the event that you have undergone an episiotomy or cesarean section and are experiencing discomfort, try a compress using lavender oil.

:: Geranium likewise increases circulation, is healing, helps to pull together dilated skin tissue.

:: Frankincense – is an amazing oil that can accelerate tissue repair.
Or even better is the Immortelle Blend which is an amazing blend of oils that can actually accelerate tissue repair.  Add 20-30 drops + fractionated coconut oil in a spray bottle.

After Pains:

After pains are inevitable and will give feel like horrible cramping for the first few days. Your uterus has grown over the past 9 months almost 25% of its normal size and your body will contract after birth to shrink it back to normal size. Your body knows what it should be doing but …OUCH.  After labour, apply a warm, wet washcloth with a few drops of Frankincense and Lavender, Siberian fir, Rose or Clary Calm on it to the abdomen (these oils are effective and gentle on baby’s tender skin if he/she touches).

Clary Calm blend comes in a pre-diluted roller bottle and is excellent for cramping/labor pains as well as after birth pains. Before breastfeeding (when the uterine contracts) I would roll this on my abdomen.

Lavender is very helpful for dulling and easing uterine pain; but, it is also good for relieving back and leg pains.

Hot Flashes/ Night Sweats and/ Hormones:
Clary Calm is excellent for balancing hormones and for hot flashes.  SO helpful.  The first few days of not using this- I was waking up in a puddle of sweat.  Attractive, I know!!  I applied it morning and night on the back of my neck, abdomen, and bottoms of my feet.  Other oils such as geranium, fennel and clary sage have estrogenic properties and can help restore hormonal balance. These can be massaged diluted 50:50 with a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil)  and applied to the same areas. 

Emotional Support (baby blues):

Balance Blend (grounding blend), Frankincense, Rose Touch, Neroli Touch, Citrus Bliss, Elevation, Clary Sage or Lavender, Wild Orange, or Bergamot will be your friends for unexplained floods of emotions. Use whatever oils you choose everyday on the bottoms of your feet (especially for the first week).  Diffuse 3-6 drops daily.  Mix 4 drops of oil with 2 tbsp of carrier oil and massage neck, shoulders and feet. Repeat up to 3 times daily.  

I loved Wild Orange in the shower in the morning. After a night of being up ump-teen times feeding the babe a shower alone with Wild Orange added to my body wash (my ‘sunshine in a bottle’) was like charging my batteries and a mood booster to boot.

side note:: Frankincense the KING of oils was my go-to as a calming, supportive and brilliant oil for both myself and the babe. Also fantastic emotional support for new mums, grounding, connecting, and can alleviate low moods and support overall health & well-being.  I had 2 drops of Frank diffusing every afternoon for 5 days while in the hospital.
Rose was another oil that I used everyday diluted on my chest and behind ears as there is clinical research on it’s benefits in this postpartum time.

POSTPARTUM SUPPORT DIFFUSER BLENDS

Blend 1

Rose 1

Wild Orange 1

Sandalwood 3

 

 

Blend 2

Lavender 1

Ylang Ylang 1

Grapefruit 3

 

 

Blend 3

Bergamot 1

Grapefruit 1

Clary Sage 1

Wild Orange 1

Frankincense 3

 

Relaxing/ Healing Bath:

Geranium and lavender mixed with fractionated coconut oil.

Difficulty Sleeping:

Falling back to sleep after feeding the babe in the night was not a problema for me but ‘sleeping while the baby sleeps….or 2 kids sleep in my case’ during the day was a prob.  A  drop or two of Lavender or Serenity blend on my pillow or on the bottoms of my feet would help so much.  Also a dab on the baby blanket or sleeping bag to make for a peaceful sleep for baby is a sneaky mom hack.

Breast Feeding

Increase: Mix 5-7 drops of any of these oils (fennel, basil, clary sage or geranium) with 1 tbsp carrier oil. Massage breasts and lymph area above breasts. Repeat daily for up to 10 days. Wash the oil off the nipple area before nursing. Also you can mix 2 drops fennel oil with 1 tsp. of honey and swallow. Follow this with a glass of water. Repeat 3-5 times daily for up to 3 days.


Besides my oil mix I am BIG believer on diet and nutrition.  
Upping your Essential Fatty Acids like wild salmon, flaxseed oil, and walnuts is a good call.

Oh and water, WATER, water!  Every time you sit down to nurse your baby have a jug ready to go.  Coconut water was on my rotation too!

In addition to essential oils ::
PB Assist Probiotic is something that I highly recommend.  It adds good bacteria and good flora to your colostrum so the benefits are passed on to your baby as you breast feed.  This helps to populate your babes stomach with good bacteria that destroys disease.

Healthy Lactation cookies….a little mama treat.  There are a lot out there but not very healthy.  These are the ones that I made ALL the time!  It would be my sweet afternoon treat when I was fading.  My hubby actually thought they were made with breast milk so he stayed clear of them 🙂 more for me!  http://lickmyspoon.com/recipes/cookies/healthy-lactation-cookies/
And of course feeding on demand to get your milk established.

Decrease: Peppermint oil ‘may’ reduce milk supply.  This is dependant on the person.  For me peppermint was fine to use for the occasional head tension in small occasional use but when I was weaning with my first I made a salve with coconut oil and peppermint and applied it to my breasts several times a day.  The coolness was extremely soothing and helped the drying up process happen quickly.  Highly recommend. 

Mastitis:
Ohhh this is not fun!  I had the flu like
 symptoms hit hard one evening so I began 10 drops all together of Tea tree, Frankincense, Lavender + Chamomile + 10ml roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil.  Apply regularly.  Oregano (natures antibiotics) + Tea Tree on the bottoms morning and night daily (10days max). Don’t stop pumping or nursing, have a hot shower/bath and massage MASSAGE, massage from underarm to nipple.  It will be tender but worth it.  This happened 3 times (between my first & second born) but this combo did the trick every time.

Dried or cracked nipples:
BREAST MILK.  When in doubt use breast milk for everything 🙂 You can apply myrrh, geranium, or sandalwood diluted with fractionated coconut oil to the problems areas.  Do this right after nursing and there is no need to wash off.  Helichrysum & Lavender for breastfeeding soreness (brings healing and elasticity- cut down soreness to 2 days vs. 10-14 days)

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Some additional videos: 

 

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A few things to consider when selecting oils:

  • Use truly therapeutic, superior grade essential oils that are certified as pure, potent, genuine and authentic and subjected to rigorous testing to ensure no harmful ingredients are present.  Many products on the market contain synthetic components/ ingredients and should be avoided altogether.
  • Be aware that with pure essential oils – a little goes a long way.  Use only small amounts and dilute properly.
  • The first 3 months are when the baby develops rapidly- simply use caution.
  • Pay attention to how the body responds to dosages. Always do a test patch and observe the results.
  • The use of Clary Sage by women who have a history of preterm labour or miscarriage or are experiencing such should be avoided.
  • The use of peppermint oil while nursing can limit/ decrease milk production.  Some women report that minor use when milk is established is fine (which was the case for me).  On the other hand Fennel, Clary Sage and Basil can counteract effects of peppermint on lactation as they increase milk supply.

As always, a good rule of thumb is to discuss using essential oils with your doctor or midwife.   

* The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If under medical supervision, or pregnant, it is recommended to consult your physician before use.

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Scientific Research:  

  • Lavender for Pain Relief: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27863615

Resources:

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