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essential oils

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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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Diastasis Recti: Things to try and Resources

So back in March I had strained my stomach muscles while carrying in my daughter from the car. I had ignored my diastasis recti (DR, separation of abdominal muscles) and weakened core muscles from my pregnancies, and paid the price.

 

That injury set me back a lot. I couldn’t baby wear my toddler. I had difficulty cleaning my house, specifically vacuuming. I had to slow down physically which is extremely difficult for me. (Please don’t make me ask for help!)

Nope, I'm good really. I got it...

Nope, I'm good really. I got it...

 

I had started looking online for help when my care provider couldn’t offer me any answers. Here are my three favorites:

·         Sarah Elis Duvall of www.coreexercisesolutions.com

She has great workout programs and free workshops with in-depth information. Her newsletters have great tips on postures and simple solutions to build up your pelvic floor and core strength.

 

·         Beyond fit mom (beyondfitmom.com) has several blogs and workouts geared towards correcting DR. Also included is information on pelvic floor issues, because unfortunately the two can go hand in hand. If the pelvic floor is weak you need to take extra care in building that first. The site includes a 30 day diastasis recti challenge to help kickstart healing. You can find it here:

       http://beyondfitmom.com/how-to-heal-your-diastasis-recti/

·         Diastasis Recti: The Whole -Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation by Katy Bowman.

Written by a biomechanist, this book gives great insight into how the body develops DR, and how we can heal from this condition without surgery and spot treatments. By correcting our misalignments, changing how we move, and exercises specific for correcting a host of issues alongside DR (weak pelvic floor, lower back pain, hip flexor tightness, etc.).

 

 

Initially after my injury I began wearing a belly support band. It seemed to help with posture and keeping my core engaged. However, it was constantly rising, shifting around, and being generally a nuisance to wear. I wore it faithfully for a month, before relegating it to only when I was doing something strenuous like vacuuming (it’s so sad for me to type this) or days where I was picking up and holding my toddler alot. I had to ease back into my normal activities, and often I was sore afterwards.

 

Whenever I had over exerted myself or was just having an extra painful day, I treated myself with arnica (topically and internally) and lemongrass essential oil. Arnica is a homeopathic medicine for trauma, bruising, and swelling. Lemongrass essential oil is known for helping with inflamed tendons. I also would ice my stomach or take ibuprofen on rough days.

 

I have had to learn my new limits with this injury, and go slow with my recovery.

 

I returned to somewhat normal functionality around five months later. I can now haul my vacuum up and down the stairs without being in pain.

 

My gap was close to three fingers, and is now reduced to two. I think posture, belly breathing, and the belly band has been the start to healing my DR. I struggle with making exercise a priority, and am hoping to correct that.

Definitely not me. I'd be in pain. And probably on the side of the road catching my breath. A girl can dream though right? She looks so calm. She's owning this road. I need to own my body again. 

Definitely not me. I'd be in pain. And probably on the side of the road catching my breath. A girl can dream though right? She looks so calm. She's owning this road. I need to own my body again. 

 

 I will be completing the 30-day challenge from Beyond Fit Mom starting September 1. I’m hoping that having a short daily regimen will help me get into a routine. I’ll keep you posted!

 

Are you healing postpartum? Share with us!

 

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So What's a Doula? Answers to the top three questions about birth work

Often when someone hears that I am a doula, the first questions about my field are:

Is that like a midwife?

That's for home births, right?

But then what does the dad do?

 

Let me address these questions, then I'll share exactly what a doula does for her clients.

 

Is that like a midwife?

Nope. A midwife is a medical professional that oversees your and baby's medical care through pregnancy and birth. Midwives are typically low intervention, and are great advocates for natural birth. A midwife can practice in a hospital, birthing center, or private home birth practice depending on the state.

Midwife checking on baby. Midwives can serve births at hospitals, birth centers, and at home. If you are having a low risk, healthy pregnancy, midwifery care may be for you.

Midwife checking on baby. Midwives can serve births at hospitals, birth centers, and at home. If you are having a low risk, healthy pregnancy, midwifery care may be for you.

 

A doula does not dispense medical advice, and it's out of their scope of practice to perform any medical procedures (temperature, cervical checks, manually feeling your belly for fetal position, etc.) Instead, a doula is a wealth of resources and knowledge. If you are faced with a procedure during your pregnancy and you are unsure of your options, a doula can help you to research the procedure and suggest questions to bring to your provider. We don't want to make decisions for you, but help to empower you in your decisions. We offer resources and support both prenatally and during birth.

 

When you begin to labor, you can call your doula to be with you whenever you want her. A doula can help you to labor at home longer and more comfortably (A well trained doula knows the signs in labor to transfer to the birthing location. However, whenever mama wants to go, is when we head in. We can also make transferring more comfortable too!) We are equipped with birth balls, rebozos, essential oils, and massage techniques. We can help with positioning, counter pressure for back labor, grabbing snacks, and making suggestions for other coping strategies. We are also there to support you emotionally, and can help with any mental blocks. Labor can be a crazy, emotional, messy time, and we are there to protect that space and see you through it. I reassure clients that she can release on me in a way that maybe she couldn’t with her mother-in-law around.

Airlia is sitting on the birth ball while I help keep heat and pressure on her lower back. Even while being monitored, there are ways to keep moms comfortable and not just in bed.

Airlia is sitting on the birth ball while I help keep heat and pressure on her lower back. Even while being monitored, there are ways to keep moms comfortable and not just in bed.

 

A midwife will usually come as you are heading in to active labor if you are birthing at home. If you are at a hospital or birthing center, they will be around to check in with you, but won’t likely be with you the entire time. They will be with you during pushing, and can aide with protecting your perineum with stretching or counter pressure. Your midwife is the other half of the equation to your birth team.  Midwife + doula + partner = Fully Supported Mama

 

That’s for home births, right?

You may be hearing about doulas from your crunchier mamas. While I do support mamas that choose to birth at home, I also happily support families that birth at the hospital or birthing center. If you are planning a natural birth, opting for medication, or scheduled cesarean, I fully support you in your best birth. That looks different to different families, and no mama is the same in what she needs to birth with confidence. What matters to me is that you have options, and are fully supported in your choices.

 

But then what does the Dad do?

Doulas do not replace partners. Dads, partners, and other support people all have a role to play in supporting the mama. As a doula, I care about their needs as well. I can offer tons of support to Dad who may be nervous about how the labor is progressing, and pull him in with tips on how to offer counter pressure on a sore back, show him how to use a rebozo on mama’s belly to help a posterior baby turn, and I can be the one running to reheating the rice pack so he can be with you. It’s a team effort, and I am here for both of you! 

 

Here’s the nitty gritty on what a doula does for you:

  •          Meets with you in the weeks before your due. Meetings are usually to go over any health issues, any problems from previous births, and any lingering anxieties or fears about the labor. This allows us to develop strategies to help you cope during labor, and to develop your birth plan. We want to get to know you, so we can better support you.
  •           Having your doula present can:

o   decrease pain

o    decrease the need for epidural or pain meds

o   Shorten labor

o   Improve parent-baby bonding

o   Lower rate of postpartum depression

o   Lower caesarian rate 

 

  • While we aren't birth photographers, we will happily snap photos and video of the birth if you'd like us to.
  •  Doulas can help with the first breastfeeding session, and can help support you in the early days as well. If you choose to bottle feed, we are happy to support you with that too!
  •  Once you are home from the hospital, your doula will check in with a postpartum visit. This visit is usually to go over the birth, discuss how you and baby are doing, and help with any issues you may be facing. Having a baby is life changing, and no one understands this more than your doula. Birth is beautiful, hard, emotional, transforming work.

 

So to recap, doulas offer non-medical support for birthing families, offering education and physical and emotional support through the birthing process. We support all kinds of birth, and can act as guide through the experience.

 

 I am honored I get to witness it. I am honored to serve the growing families in my community.

 

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5 Ways to Cope with Morning Sickness: because no one enjoys nausea

When I became pregnant with my first daughter, I knew right away. Food tasted weird, and my usual go-to meals would give me heart burn or make me sick. Orange juice was the worst. It was years before I could drink it again without a mental connection to vomiting.

 

I had brutal morning sickness for almost six months of that pregnancy. I lost fifteen pounds and needed to go on medication for a while to be able to keep anything down. It made me nervous for my baby and about my nutrition.

 

I learned a lot from that pregnancy, and was much more educated and prepared for my second. When you know better, you do better. And in this case, you throw up less. Here are my five tips for feeling better when you are dealing with morning sickness:

 

1)      Eat!

It may seem counter-intuitive, but eating high protein mini meals will help keep the nausea at bay. When your stomach is empty is when the nausea is at its worst and will reek havoc when you do have your next meal.

Eat little nibbles constantly. A scrambled egg and piece of toast. A few apple slices and nut butter. Crackers and hummus. Trail mix.

Eat small meals around the clock.

Eat small meals around the clock.

Anything combining protein with some carbs will keep you going, and your blood sugar stabilized. This includes nighttime. Keep snacks on your night stand, and eat when you wake up to use the bathroom or adjust pillows.

Sharing my own personal truth here: eat what sounds good. Odds are if you actually crave that item, it’ll stay down. Even if it's Sour Patch Kids and McDonald's French fries. Do the best you can, but at the end of the day you need your food to stay down.

 

2)      Sea bands

Available at any drug store, these are bracelets with a small bead that applies acupressure to a specific point on the wrist. Used mainly for motion sickness, it did help take the edge off my nausea. However, if you are waiting to announce your pregnancy these are a dead give away.

3)      Essential oils

Oils are neatly packed power houses of help. The two to focus on are lemon and peppermint. Just smelling both kinds of oils will stop the nausea. When I was out running errands I'd put a few drops of peppermint oil on to a tissue, and kept it at the ready in my coat pocket. Lemon essential oil can be placed on the back of the neck and collar bone, using a carrier oil like coconut or almond. For a better explanation of how essential oils can help, check out Young Living Essential Oils (https://www.youngliving.com). ,

(I'm not an affiliate, but I like their oils and find the website to be a nice resource.)

4)      Magnesium

There's a lot I can say about magnesium and all of its benefits, but I'll try to limit myself for the sake of this post. It's very easy to become deficient in magnesium, especially when you're having a hard time eating already. By increasing your magnesium, you'll sleep better, decrease muscle aches, improve digestion and decrease your overall nausea. You can take magnesium orally with supplements like Mag Calm, but what's way cool is you can also increase consumption transdermally!  So if your worried that a supplement may not go down well, you can receive benefits by soaking in an epsom salt bath or making a magnesium lotion like this one: http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2016/12/magnesium-lotion/

 

5)      Ginger!

Candied ginger. Ginger ale. Ginger tea. Ginger snap cookies. Preggy Pops. However you want it, ginger is pretty well known for its ability to stabilize a rocky stomach. Keeping ginger snaps or ginger ale handy can also help when blood sugar is low, and nausea is at its worst.

 

If nothing is helping, don't hesitate to talk to your provider. In some cases medication is necessary. If you ever have questions regarding your health, supplements, etc. please contact your provider.

 

What helped you the most with morning sickness?

 

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