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Aromatherapy in Pregnancy

Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils to enhance psychological and physical well- being. Oils can be extracted from flowers, herbs, stems, roots and barks.

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Aromatherapy can be used by two means: inhaling the scent to stimulate brain function or applying to the skin to be absorbed by the bloodstream. Aromatherapy is noninvasive, and can compliment other therapies very well, including western medicine, homeopathy, herbal remedies, and more. Consult your care provider and an aromatherapist near you to see how it may be added to your current routines.

 

Safe guidelines when using oils include following instructions for each oil, and avoiding oils that contain artificial ingredients. Products may be marked for aromatherapy, but may contain perfume or fragrance instead. These products won’t have the same medicinal properties as pure distilled oils from plant sources. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the term aromatherapy or product labels, so check your sources carefully (Althea p23). Always use a carrier oil such as sweet almond, olive, avocado, or coconut. Essential oils are potent, so a few drops can go a long way.

 

How to use essential oils:

·         Diffusing: suspends the molecules of the oil into the air via a mist, and is an easy and popular way of using aromatherapy. It can put the scent of the oil into the room, without using the chemicals of air fresheners. Follow the manufacturer instructions for your particular diffuser, as well as for each oil or blend. (Althea p. 46-48)

·         Direct inhalation: is simply inhaling the oil. The oil can be placed with a carrier in the palm of the hand and cupped over the nose for a few breathes. Hands can also be placed around the bottle as you inhale. A few drops can also be placed on a cotton ball or tissue and sniffed through the day when needed. (This trick is particularly helpful during pregnancy or labor when nausea strikes.) (Althea 46-48)

·         Topical: application of essential oils to the skin allows them to enter the blood stream, while also offering inhalation benefits. Oils can be rubbed into the skin with a carrier oil during massage, acupressure, added to baths, and compresses. (Althea p. 53-58)

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Essential oils to avoid in pregnancy (These particular oils may stimulate menstruation and hormonal activity) (Best You p.14):

  • Angelica

  • Cinnamon

  • Clary sage

  • Ginger

  • Jasmine

  • Juniper

  • Marjoram




THINX Period-Proof Underwear.

 

It is generally recommended to use the gentler oils during pregnancy. These include:

·         Tangerine

·         Rose otto

·         Cardamom

·         Manuka

·         Mandarin

·         Neroli

·         Rosewood

·         Grapefruit

·         Spearmint

·         Sandalwood

·         Patchouli

·         Black pepper

·         Geranium

·         Lavender

·         Tea tree

·         Lemon

·         Bergamot

·         Ginger

·         Frankincense

·         Roman and German chamomile

 

Earth Mama Organics - Baby Face Organic Nose & Cheek Balm

Aromatherapy can aid several pregnancy related issues including:

  • Nausea

  • Insomnia

  • Immunity

  • Headaches

  • Heartburn

  • Swelling/edema (always get your providers approval)

  • Pain

  • Stretch marks

  • Digestion/constipation

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Varicose veins

  • Labor

  • Massage





 

Some favorite resources for learning more:

 

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. Valerie Ann Worwood. 2016

 

Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing. Althea Press. 2015.

 

Massage and Aromatherapy: Simple Techniques to Use at Home to Relieve Stress, Promote Health, and Feel Great. Best You Readers Digest. 2011.

 

 Have you used aromatherapy during pregnancy? Questions? Comments?

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Ecocentric Mom Box: A Review of Awesome Goodies and Who Should Subscribe

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While on a hunt for new gifts for the mamas in my life, I discovered Ecocentric Mom. It’s a subscription
service with a monthly box full of goodies for mom and little one (from birth to age five).
I gave it a try, and I was really happy with my first box. It was filled with tons of great products, all clean
ingredients and naturally based. Let me breakdown the goodies I received in this month’s box.
1) Tru You’re Mocha Me Cocoa Protein Shake. Chocolate is the key to my heart, so a quality
chocolate protein shake I can drink instead of a Chik-Fil-a milkshake is awesome. I’m trying to
eat less sugar, and this fits the bill perfectly. (Note: I blended this shake with coffee and ice, with
about a half cup of almond milk. Worked out nicely!)

Just give me all the chocolate.

Just give me all the chocolate.


2) Herbaland Protein Gummies. I love candy, but I need to cut sugar from my diet. These gummies are made with fruit juice and protein. My toddler wasn’t in to the taste, but that just means more for me. This may be a new staple item to keep in my doula bag.

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3) Bug Protector Mosquito and Tick sprays. These will be used all summer long. My family is big into hiking, so tick protection is a must, especially with Maryland being a hot zone for Lyme disease. Our front and back yard is heavily colonized by mosquitoes, despite a lack of standing water. The sprays are made with essential oils known to deter insects, but have a nice scent to them. They are kid and pet friendly, so you can even give your dog a few sprays to help ward off ticks.

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4) Ayr Skin Care Virgin Marula Oil. A light oil for face and hair, it doesn’t have a noticeable scent
that I could detect, but is great on my daughters thick curls and gives a light softness and shine
to my pixie length locks. Pressed from the nut of the Marula tree, a native plant of South Africa
and Mozambique, it’s used traditionally for cleansing the face, in the diet, and even preserving
leather. It’s a product I’ve never seen before, and would like to keep using. This will be a repeat
product for our family for sure. If you’d like to learn more about Ayr Skin Care, you can find them here.

Super soft hair, no frizz, and no chemicals.

Super soft hair, no frizz, and no chemicals.


5) Hyland for Kids Oral Pain Relief. When Hyland’s took their Teething Tablets off the market, I
cried. I’m not even kidding. This was the only product that helped my teething baby, and in a
snap of a finger they were sold out everywhere. I hoarded what precious tablets I had left, but
eventually we ran out. The next year and a half of teething was brutal for our household, and I
resorted to Motrin more often than I would have liked. Now they’ve released the Kids Oral Pain
Relief, and moms everywhere can rejoice (and possibly reclaim some sleep). It’s a different
formula from the teething tablets, but just as effective.

Hylands to the rescue!

Hylands to the rescue!


6) Effortless Art Crayons. Shaped in a chunky triangle with a grip, these crayons are meant to be
inclusive of children of all abilities and needs. My oldest tested them out for me, and was most
impressed by the shade of the red color crayon.  She's a crayon connoisseur.

My kids also enjoyed the confetti that came in the box for shipping. Fun for everyone!

My kids also enjoyed the confetti that came in the box for shipping. Fun for everyone!

 


The subscription service can be purchased with different moms in mind, with special gift sets for
pregnancy, mom care, and pregnancy-preschool.
Moms who could use monthly goodies:
 You!
 Your friend
 Your pregnant friend
 Your sister in law who is expecting, but doesn’t need another baby gift. Get something just for      her to enjoy!
 Any woman you know who could use some extra love.

Boxes are delivered monthly, and start at $32. Here’s your coupon code for $5 off!

Ecocentric Mom box

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Summer Pregnancy Survival: Beating the Heat While Feeling Your Best

*This post contains affiliate links. I receive a commission for any purchases from these links, at no additional cost to you. I only work with affiliates and recommend products I truly love, I am not paid for these reviews. 

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I had two summer pregnancies. With my first pregnancy it was the hottest summer on record here in Maryland. I was still working as a zookeeper in a hot humid building, and had to build up a repertoire of tools to feel okay. I was hot, sweaty and tired, but I avoided some big issues like dehydration and swelling. 

Let's get started enjoying the summer season, and keeping you pregnant mamas happy! Here's what helped:

1.  Get into the water! Whether it is your neighbors pool, the pool at the gym, the local city pool, local lake, or a blow up baby pool, get yourself in the water! Getting submerged not only cools you off, but blissfully relieves your joints from the weight of your growing belly. Swimming is excellent low impact cardio, and can be helpful with fetal positioning. 

2. Drink all the fluids. Make them fun!  Grab your favorite straw cup, and get sipping! Start with water everyday, and throw in some lemon, cucumber, mint, or berries to jazz it up. The lemon in water can be especially helpful with swelling, and provides a natural source of electrolytes. When the heat is on, making some fun blended mocktails is a delicious way to get through it. Check out some healthy smoothies and blended mocktails on the Living Heart Doula Summer Survival Pinterest board here

Earth Mama Organics also has some fun mocktail recipes, using teas. Pour over ice or blend for a cooling treat. 

Ginger Mint Mock-Tea-Ni with Morning Wellness Tea

 

3. Veg out and get your fruit on! When in doubt, eat your fluids. Watermelon, oranges, strawberries, and salads are excellent at keeping you cool and hydrated. A great option for when it is too warm to even turn on the stove, is to pull out the veggies in your crisper and grab some hummus and bean dip. This is also the time to utilize your instant pot and slow cooker. Set up dinner, spend the day at the pool, and come home to a ready meal without worrying about the heat or babysitting a grill.

4. Take advantage of the AC. Summertime here in Maryland is always a quandary; it's steamy hot outside, but you may need a sweater to get through grocery shopping due to the AC being kept at polar temperatures. However when you're pregnant during a swampy afternoon, you'll want all the AC you can get. Walk the mall, take older kids to story time and play at the library, catch a movie, even take a walk around your local Costco and soak up the air conditioning (grab some samples while you're there too). 

Unique, eco-friendly products chosen just for you and your little one!Earth Mama Angel Baby | Safe and Natural Products for Mama and Baby

5. Clothing options. The best fabrics for your growing belly are going to be lightweight and moisture wicking. Grab multiple dresses, maxi skirts, shirts and shorts in cotton, linen, and bamboo. Avoid heavy synthetic fabrics to avoid sweating and chaffing. Speaking of chaffing, to help prevent uncomfortable rubbing, try out these options: rub coconut oil on your thighs to prevent friction, baby powder or talcum powder to soak up sweat, wear cotton bicycle shorts under skirts, or apply antiperspirant to the area. You can find clean ingredient deodorant from Earth mama organics here . I've mentioned thighs several times, but these tricks should be helpful for multiple body areas.  

Think breezy light weight material for summer months. 

Think breezy light weight material for summer months. 

6. Ice, Ice Baby! During my hot sweaty pregnant zoo days, the most helpful item I had for staying comfortable was an ice pack. Put ice packs on the back of your neck, chest, and pulse points. For days out at the park with kids, pack an insulated tote bag with wash cloths and ice cubes. Apply them through the day, and dunk in the ice water to refresh. 

Fill an insulated tote bag with ice and wet cloths. Use the icy cold rags to cool off during summer outings. 

Fill an insulated tote bag with ice and wet cloths. Use the icy cold rags to cool off during summer outings. 

What helped you during the summer heat? Share your favorite tricks with us in the comments! 

 

subscription box for moms

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Digging through the literature: Best New Baby Books (and available at your library!)

When I first thought about getting pregnant, I did what my nerd brain naturally gravitated toward: I went to the library and checked out a pile of books on every aspect of the topic.

Your local library can be a wealth of resources for your family. Plus, who doesn't love the smell of a good book?

Your local library can be a wealth of resources for your family. Plus, who doesn't love the smell of a good book?

 

I sifted through the old standby classics like What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, some humorous ones like Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy or Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy. Some I found really informative, others super dry, and a few became favorites.

 

As the years have passed, I was turned on to some great books by my doula while I was preparing for birth. Others I have come across during my training with Birth Arts International. I’m always dissecting birth and pregnancy books.

Is the language accessible and not just medical jargon? Is it up to date with evidence based practices? Which clients or friends will appreciate this particular book?

 

Know better, do better. 

Know better, do better. 

I’ve gathered my top 3 favorite birth and pregnancy books. The bonus: they are available for free at your local library! If it’s not available for some reason, ask your librarian. Often a book title can be requested from another library or they’ll purchase it for you. If you have a favorite birth book, consider donating a copy to your local library. It’s great to have a collection of birth literature available in your community.

1)The Mama Natural Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland

Written by YouTuber and natural parenting blogger,  Genevieve Howland, this comprehensive book covers all aspects of fertility, pregnancy, and birth. It covers all the options with prenatal testing, providers, birthing locations, etc. Having these options laid out is the definition of informed consent, and can help with decision making. It offers great natural options and nutrition options without seeming too far out there. (I can honestly say that on a personal level, I laugh when I see tofu in a pregnancy nutrition book. Not happening. Pass me that giant bowl of pasta please.) 

This is my favorite new pregnancy book. It's modern, it's accessible, and it gives a fresh take on birth. Have your support, know your options, and have the best birth you can that day. 

2) nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood- and Trusting Yourself and Your Body by Erica Chidi Cohen. 

Author Erica Chidi Cohen brings a new voice to the pregnancy and birth literature choir. Writing from the perspective of a birth and postpartum doula, she brings a compassionate conversation to the reader instead of the usual lecture you feel like you're getting (eat right, get your finances and all the things done, be happy, etc.). 

The book takes a deep dive into the emotions surrounding pregnancy and birth, and offers beautifully realistic ways of handling them. She has a strong focus on self care and mindfulness that often gets overlooked. It hits the full spectrum of care that's needed for mamas and families right on the head. 

Best part of this book: more than a third of nurture is dedicated to postpartum care of mom. Postpartum care often gets the short end of the stick. The focus is on labor and newborn care, often not bringing attention to the fact that moms get put through the ringer with birth. Moms need more than just a primer on how to use a peri bottle and nursing. Cohen helps to plan your household, and gives tips for healing and bonding with baby without chaos, but with a lot more grace. 

3) The Whole 9 Months: A Week-by-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start by Jennifer Lang, MD. 

If you were like me during pregnancy, you spent the first several months trying decide what would stay down, or at least not be brutal if it came back up. It's survival mode. This title tackles the nutrition behind feeling better during those early weeks, and how to eat for wellness for the remainder of your pregnancy. 

Lang breaks down what to look for in a prenatal vitamin, as well as eating to tackle pregnancy issues (hello constipation) and alternatives for crazy pregnancy cravings. 

The best part are the recipes included in the book. They're easy, delicious and healthy, and several can be made while having a screaming toddler at your feet. I love a realistic take on nutrition! 

What was your favorite book when you were preparing for pregnancy and birth? Share with us below! 

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