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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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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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