Oh friends, I’m so excited to have my friend, Jamie, sharing all about her experience with essential oils during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. This girl did her research and I’m thrilled all this info is logged away in one spot for all us oil lovin’ mamas!
Welcome, Jamie! And congratulations on baby Leah, she’s a doll!
ESSENTIAL OILS + PREGNANCY
So…I’ll start with oils used during pregnancy.
Nausea and Upset Stomach /// I have a digestive blend and would put a drop or two in my hands and then rub it on my throat and over my belly (diluted in fractioned coconut oil) and cup my hands over my nose and breathe deeply for a dozen or so breaths. One time in particular it got rid of some pretty severe nausea within moments. Mostly it would dull the sensation of wanting to vomit everywhere. I had only slight nausea so I can’t speak to more severe cases.
Sleep /// Oh, Lavender! Why didn’t I use you earlier!?! Per my other pregnancies, there came that time in the third trimester where I’d wake up in the night and stay awake for two or three hours, unable to fall back asleep. One night after using Lavender oil with the kids for their bedtime, I thought, “Hmmm, why not?” I rubbed the top of the bottle on the insides of my wrists before bed, and then again when I woke up at night. Wow! I was able to fall back asleep within minutes! I still woke up a ridiculous amount of times, but more often than not a sniff of Lavender helped me doze back to sleep.
Swollen Ankles and Feet /// When it would get particularly bad, I’d make a foot soak of warm water, about 1/4 cup epsom salt, and a few drops of Orange, Lavender, and Geranium oils. The next morning they’d look and feel much better. A few times I also massaged my ankles and feet with Geranium and Melaleuca blended with fractioned coconut oil, towards my heart, three or four times that day. Both applications/techniques worked well, but I preferred the soak since I could do it at the end of the day and it was a one-time thing.
ESSENTIAL OILS + BIRTH
Let’s Get This Baby Outta Here /// We had three different “due dates” for our little girl based on an ultrasound, the doctor, and our midwife. In the end we just said, “She’s due towards the end of October” because that just made it easier. Lo and behold, she had her own idea of when to arrive and October came and went…and I was still pregnant. I do remember feeling, at the beginning of this pregnancy, that October seemed too soon for a due date and started adding, “or the beginning of November” to our standard answer to “When are you due?”
Apparently I talked myself into it because November started off with my belly still very much pregnant! I was okay going the full 42 weeks (or beyond), and we had an appointment with our midwife after 40 weeks and baby and I were still very much healthy and very much ready to do this whole labor thing! I strongly believe that babies come when babies come, and there is no need for inducing a healthy mom and baby just because a date on the calendar has come and gone. All that said, though…we had been in a holding pattern for almost three weeks, putting off meetings and work responsibilities and get-togethers on hold “until the baby comes.” Eventually, we started looking into some gentle, natural options to encourage labor to start. Braxton Hicks contractions and general tightening had been occurring for at least four weeks, if not longer, so I knew my body was preparing for something and just wanted to add a little nudge in the right direction.
I ate labor-inducing cookies. I continued to drink two quarts of NORA tea each day, with an extra scoop of red raspberry leaf tea. I walked the dog an extra loop in the mornings. I visualized, did stretches, spent time with my husband (ahem), did pressure points on the ankles, feet, and inner legs. I napped. I walked the track at our ministry campus, and the bleacher stairs. And, of course, I used oils.
I asked my friend for a sample of her Clary Calm (a blend of Clary Sage, Lavender, Bergamont, Roman Chamomile, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Fennel, Palmarosa, Carrot Seed, and Vitex essential oils) when I was about a week “overdue”. I would sniff it throughout the day and massage it into the pressure points I mentioned above. The night before I went into labor, I used Basil oil and the Clary Calm blend repeatedly on the pressure points, especially the one at the base of my thumbs and pointer finger. And even though it’s not an essential oil, I finally gave in and took two Evening Primrose Oil capsules before I went to bed that night…and was up just a few hours later with some pretty strong contractions. So who knows if any of my influences actually ‘helped’ labor start, or if it was simply the right time for her to be born.
Oh God That Hurts /// During the early stages of labor, from about 1 AM to 7 AM, I felt a lot of anxiety. The contractions were manageable, coming in waves that built in pressure and pain and then slowly subsiding. However, these episodes of contractions had happened quite a few times before, especially in the evenings. The next morning I’d wake up and – wah wah – still be pregnant. So to say I was doubtful would be an understatement. Which made me anxious. Which increased adrenaline in my system. Which inhibited the oxytocin from flowing as freely, slowing down the frequency of the contractions and decreasing their intensity. Which made me even more anxious, which started the whole cycle over again. Yeah, not a good pattern to start labor! I found myself clutching a sample-sized vial of Lavender oil in my right hand as I paced back and forth in my bedroom. When a contraction came I would lean over and brace myself against the wall. As soon as it was gone, I would take a deep breath, inhaling the Lavender scent. I also rubbed some Lavender oil on my neck and chest, where I was physically feeling the anxiety. It really helped. I was able to calm down, let the contractions build, and finally about 8:30 AM I asked our doula, “Um, do you think I should call the midwife to come back?” Good thing she said yes because transition and pushing came hard and fast and she was born about two hours later.
I had purchased Basil oil to help in the case of back labor but I only experienced one contraction that I would say was painful in my lower back. I was laying down during that particular contraction and decided, “Yeah, that wasn’t so fun” so I stayed upright for the rest of them and didn’t have another contraction in my back for the rest of the labor.
ESSENTIAL OILS + POSTPARTUM
Here She Comes! /// Leah was born partially in caul – the bag of waters broke as her shoulders came out. Pretty cool, I think! After she was cleaned off and I got settled, we really began to put our oils to use.
For Mom …
Thankfully I didn’t tear at all (miracle!!!), so I took a somewhat casual approach to postpartum perineum care (ha – that sounds funny when I look at it written down but it’s true). I had prepared some ‘padsicles’ in the freezer (sanitary napkins soaked in witch hazel and then frozen in an arch by placing them in a bowl) and I used a few of those in the days after birth. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve added a few drops of Frankincense or Lavender to the witch hazel to help with the soothing and healing “down there”, but after three or four days the tenderness and swelling had gone down and I felt much better.
The afterpains were intense this time around. Like, had to tell everyone to be quiet and grab my husband’s hand and close my eyes to get through them intense. I was prepared with Lavender oil to help with the pain so I applied a few drops to my lower stomach after on of the pains subsided. BAD IDEA! Just simply touching my stomach sent my utuerus into a massive contraction – worse than the ones I had during the entire first stage of labor. So I thought I’d help myself stay calm and quickly cupped my hand over my nose and inhaled. EVEN WORSE IDEA! As soon as I did that I remembered that lavender can also be used to stimulate contractions and yup, that bad boy kicked itself up a notch. SO NOT FUN!!! Later in the day I tried one more time, adding a few drops of Frankincense for good measure, but the same thing happened. I called it quits on that idea and asked my husband for some ibuprofen instead. :)
My core – lower back, abs, and pelvis region – was much weaker after this birth than what I remember from the previous two. There were a few times when I would kneel down to pick something up and my lower back would explode into painful spasms. Overall, it was a sense of instability and weakness that really made me slow down and be careful how I moved and what I did during the first week after her birth. Finally I decided I’d see if oils would help. I went sorta maverick with this one, making up my own blend from what I had on hand. I combined three drops of Basil (for anti-spasmodic), 3 drops of Lavender (soothing), 5 drops of Birch Bark (pain relief) and 5 drops of Helichrysum (healing and overall awesomeness) in some fractioned coconut oil. After a particularly weak morning, I rubbed about a teaspoon of that blend all over my lower back, and another teaspoon on my stomach, sides, and lower belly. I did the same thing four or five times throughout that day, as well as being extra careful and restful that day. The next morning I felt significantly better, and have kept that blend on the counter in a cute little mason jar so I can apply it at the first hint of pain or weakness in my core.
For Baby …
Frankincense was our go-to oil for umbilical cord care. When we changed a diaper, we would rub our finger on the top of the frankincense bottle to get just a dab of oil on the tip of our finger. Then we’d gently pat that finger around the base of the umbilical cord stump as well as the tip where it had been cut (bonus – our midwife was totally on board with delayed cord and placenta clamping after the birth. I’ll always have an image burned in my mind of snuggling my newly arrived little girl…and glancing to my left and seeing the cord snaking down into a big yellow plastic bowl where the placenta was hanging out. The same yellow bowl my husband uses to make soap suds to wash our car. So cool but so weird at the same time). The cord fell off on the fourth or fifth day with no problems. There was a little bit of scabbing on her belly button so we’ve continued to apply Frankincense a few times each day, and just today I added a tiny drop of Helichrysum diluted in fractioned coconut oil and rubbed it gently on the rawer parts of her tiny little button to help in the healing process.
To help combat thrush we turned to a combination of Melaleuca, Oregano, and fractioned coconut oil. Thrush was NOT fun with our other two kids so I wanted to be totally prepared the first moment I saw any sort of white patch or spot in her mouth. She nursed well from the start but only opened her mouth a little bit to latch on, and didn’t totally flare out her bottom lip, so as I helped her learn a more comfortable and effective nursing position, I also dreaded the onset of that stinging, painful infection. A few tiny blisters were developing on the tips of my nipples so I wanted to be totally ready for battle! I put six drops of Melaleuca, three drops of Oregano, and two or so tablespoons of fractioned coconut oil in a roller ball bottle. During diaper or clothing changes, I’d swipe a roll of the blend on the bottom of each of her feet, and then be sure to cover her feet with socks (to prevent the oils being spread anywhere else on her skin or clothes). There were a few times when I thought I saw some whitish patches on her cheeks so I upped my game and took one drop of a protective blend like OnGuard (Clove being the key ingredient in the blend) in some water, swished it in my mouth, and then swallowed. By the end of the day or the next morning, the whitish patches would be gone! Once they disappeared I would stop applying the oils to her and taking them internally for me until/if I saw any sign of thrush again.
For Everyone …
I’ve continued to use Lavender at night to help with sleep and relaxing. I swipe some on my wrists (I sleep with my hands near my face so I can smell it very well when I apply it there) and rub the top of the bottle on the blanket she sleeps on, as well as on the front of her sleep sack. She’s been sleeping very well after the first few nights (the snuggles and side-nursing sure do help!) and I’ve been able to fall back asleep fairly quickly after waking up to care for her.
Our diffuser has seen a combination of oils since Leah was born. One of my favorites (for scent and effectiveness) is Lavender and Orange. It’s calming but also helps me focus. The first afternoon that I had all three kids home by myself I had that blend wafting through the downstairs. We played quietly together on the rug, building towers and making train tracks, and the few meltdowns we had (me included!) were easily managed. I’m also loving the Holiday Blend (a friend gave me a sample of hers) with a few extra drops of Orange. And on the afternoons when I haven’t been able to lay down and I’m really dragging, a blend of Lemon, Orange, and Peppermint has helped pick me up and get me through those tough post-naptime hours (well, naptime for everyone else!).
Finally, a shout out to an oil that’s not really an essential oil, but we all know that it’s essential to just about every part of our lives. Coconut oil! It went on Leah’s hands and feet to help with the flaky newborn skin. During pregnancy, I would rub it all over my belly after I showered (just like with my other two) and once again – no stretch marks! I applied it to my nipples during the first few days of nursing to help soothe, heal, and fight any sort of bacteria that wanted to hang around. Just today I saw a hint of redness on Leah’s bum so I rubbed some coconut oil on it with a dab of Lavender and Frankincense … just ‘cause :). It’s in my deodorant, it is my face lotion, and for some reason our two year old middle daughter thinks it’s the greatest thing to rub all over her belly and neck. So three cheers for coconut oil – the non-essential, essential oil!
Isn’t that just the best recap of how to implement essential oils during pregnancy and birth!?! Thanks a million, Jamie, for sharing your experience.
If you’d like to read more about my journey with essential oils or to purchase doTERRA essential oils take a peek here and definitely join my oil chit chat Facebook group – I, Jamie, and many other mamas frequently visit about oils and ask questions :)
Any tips and recommendations shared on this blog are very specific to doTERRA or equivalently pure essential oils and should not be transferred to oils from another source. Statements made on this website about essential oils have not been evaluated by the FDA. Nothing shared is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. Consult your primary care doctor or specialist before making any changes to your healthcare protocol.