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11 Reasons Why Your Sense of Smell Is So Important

Aromatherapy for Pregnancy, Labour & Childbirth

Our Personal Experience – Essential Oils & Natural Birthing Solutions

My partner and I recently gave birth to our beautiful baby daughter, Isla-Rose Nina Despres, and now that she is almost 2 weeks old I am more able to reflect on the process. We thoroughly enjoyed the 9 months leading up to her arrival and are enjoying her presence much more than we ever anticipated. As an aromatherapist, I learned a great deal more about essential oils and their place in maintaining good health & wellness, promoting happiness and wellbeing and dealing with many and varied challenges that come with pregnancy and childbirth.

Like most parents out there, we wanted to have as natural a birth as we possibly could and following a really promising, healthy, well, happy and positive pregnancy we were hopeful that we’d be able to put all of our natural resources into delivering our bundle of joy. We had been using essential oils, natural and organic skincare products, homeopathic remedies, flower essences, yoga, reiki, EFT (emotional freedom technique), hypnobirthing, and some shiatsu techniques; all of which enhanced the experience of pregnancy during a very busy time and hectic work schedule as our businesses continued to grow and develop. We tried our best to prepare ourselves for what might come to pass by way of intervention and when the time came, that is exactly what happened.

The natural birth that we wanted was taken out of our hands as my partner was induced and placed on an aggressive and intrusive hormone drip called syntocinon which put all of natural remedies and solutions to the test. Ultimately, I was pleased to discover that they still had their place alongside the conventional treatment and care resulting from intervention.

Here is the breakdown of our aromatherapy solutions and for information about the other solutions we used, I suggest you seek your own expert guidance as we did ourselves. I will happily make some recommendations to practitioners for EFT, Yoga, Reiki, Homeopathy, Hypnobirthing, and Shiatsu.

Aromatherapy & Pregnancy

Our homemade solutions – natural skincare products, homemade essential oil blends, perfumes, bath & body care products – worked wonders to help alleviate and prevent stretch marks, nausea, headaches, tiredness & lethargy, insomnia, stress, tension, anxiety, worry, and fear as well as aching & tired limbs. Using natural and homemade solutions also helped us to build up a connection with our baby and a greater connection between ourselves during this magical time.

We used neroli, lavender, ylang ylang, lemongrass, bergamot, benzoin, and mandarin along with frankincense (after the 1st trimester) and blended them to make perfumes, inhalation oil blends, massage oil blends, baby bump balms and bath salts

Essential Oils

Essential oils are amazing gifts of nature that provide many wonderful healing benefits and many are indicated for pregnancy. Essential oils are chemical compounds with varied therapeutic and healing properties that help to lift our spirits, improve our moods, replenish, hydrate, moisturize and heal the skin, alleviate aches & pains, fight infections and boost general immunity, improve the general functions of our body and dispel sadness, tension, stress, anxiety and worry. Below is a breakdown of the core essential oils we used during pregnancy, paying particular caution during the 1st trimester of course.

Please Note

  1. There are many oils that cannot be used during pregnancy and for a list of the most common essential oils and their contraindications, please click here

  2. It is absolutely imperative that the specific safety advice be followed for pregnancy. For example, only 1% essential oil dilution is recommended during pregnancy which is 1 drop of essential oil per 5ml of carrier solution, or 2 drops per 10ml of carrier solution. More information can be found out about this and other general health, safety and storage information, on my website click here

Lemongrass – a wonderfully refreshing, uplifting, stimulating and invigorating essential oil that helps to revive tired minds, limbs, bodies and spirits. It is a strong antiseptic, prophylactic and immune stimulant helping to fight infections, kill bacteria and keep us fighting fit. A wonderfully positive and restorative effect on our spirits, Lemongrass combats headaches, tension, and nausea,stimulates the appetite, cleanses the digestive system and improves focus boosting positivity. This oil is absolutely amazing for tiredness of any kind!

Lavender – a very healing essential oil on all levels no matter whether body, mind or spirit. Very relaxing and calming; we used this to great effect to combat tears, worry, anxiety and fear as well as to switch off and rest at the end of a long day….working and getting through the day at a normal pace gets more and more challenging as time goes on and as our business grew significantly during this period, we needed help combating the extra workload and the stress it brought! Lavender calms digestion, boosts immunity, balances nerves, soothes respiration, helps with the expulsion of fluid in the body and more importantly, heals and replenishes the skin giving a glowing complexion. An all round saviour!

Mandarin – a happy, comforting, sweet and refreshing essential oil that is gently uplifting. Used very effectively as a skin toner it helps to combat stretch marks and scars. We used it during the day and at night because it helps to relax as well as awaken the senses…it is sweet, soft and citrus. Mandarin is also a good diuretic that helps to expel water from the body stopping the build-up of fluid such as the feet and ankles. Also very useful for easing loss of appetite because of its mouth watering qualities; gets the digestive juices flowing! A really good oil to have around when you need something light, gentle, refreshing and ultimately soothing.

Bergamot – has a wonderfully fresh, citrus, stimulating, sweet aroma and is a firm favourite of ours. Useful for all skin types, respiration, boosting immunity, balancing, calming and soothing digestion, balancing for hormones, uplifting for the spirit, enhances positive emotions and promotes and easy comforting happiness. Gail used this well in baths, perfumes and inhalation oils to wake up, lift her spirits and keep herself going. A lovely fresh oil that most people like on our workshops too.

Grapefruit – is without doubt my favourite oil, especially of the citrus kind. Grapefruit has a good toning action on the skin, boosting complexion, especially for oily skin. The softest and most well balanced of all citrus oils, it is gentle, uplifting, softening, comforting and calming. An excellent aid to digestion because it helps to dispel unwanted materials, remove toxins and bring balance to the system. As an agent that helps to remove toxins from the body, grapefruit also does that on an energetic level and most important of all, as a good diuretic it helps to promote the flow of fluid around the body and the excretion of water, stopping the build-up of fluid in, for example, the ankles and feet.

Ylang Ylang – has a very powerful, strong and pungent aroma that is sweet, succulent, floral and earthy. Ylang Ylang is not for the faint-hearted but it has magnificent qualities for the skin, digestion, hormones, immunity and mind & emotions. Ylang Ylang is a strong sedative which helps us to combat insomnia, stress, tension and anxiety at the same time boosts positivity and a feel good factor. Ylang Ylang is good for all skin types, moisturising, hydrating, replenishing and leaves a glowing complexion. In times of need, sometimes we need something really powerful to kick us back into balance and that is exactly what Ylang Ylang does; it is very hard to think or feel anything other than what the smell of the oil is telling us when we sit and inhale it. Great for sleep!

Neroli – also known as orange blossom, this most heavenly of essential oils has a unique offering for pregnancy because it is healing for the skin, combats stretch marks, provides the most amazingly strong and unique perfume fragrance and as a strong sedative it alleviates nervous tension, anxiety, depression and stress. This oil has a wonderfully euphoric effect and is used to great effect in the evening. Used on its own it can be too strong and bitter, but with other citrus oils and perhaps lavender or benzoin, the aroma ca lightened and sweetened a touch. I highly recommend this for its healing qualities of skin, mind and emotions.

Frankincense – an oil that should be avoided during the 1st trimester of pregnancy, but that can also bring some amazing benefits to health & wellness during pregnancy. Frankincense’s aroma helps to deepen and lengthen the breath which helps to ease stress, tension and anxiety, reduce blood pressure and heart rate and soothe coughs and colds. It has a stilling and calming effect on the mind which aids meditation, focus and concentration. Frankincense is also a good diuretic which helps to flow of fluid to move around and out of the body; very important during pregnancy as the flow of water becomes much greater. Perhaps most important of all, Frankincense is calming and soothing for digestion and is a cytophylactic (speeds up skin cell regeneration) has an amazing toning action on the skin. An incredibly healing, hydrating and nourishing oil that lifts spirits, calms and soothes emotions, digestion, respiration and circulation.

Benzoin – with its sweet, vanilla-like aroma, Benzoin is very comforting, relaxing, calming and grounding which is important during those days when emotions can get the better of us. Benzoin is excellent for dry, chapped and cracked skin, softens and smoothes the skin, and heals wounds, cuts, and scars. It is a strong antiseptic and offers a more relaxing solution for coughs and colds than eucalyptus making it very good during the night. It is a very warming oil which makes it good for aches, pains, strains and any physical discomfort including abdominal pains or discomfort. Benzoin is a good diuretic which is helpful for trapped fluid especially in the feet, ankles and legs.

Homemade Solutions

Perfumes & Inhalation Oil Blends

Having a pleasant aroma around you during pregnancy is really important, especially with raised body temperatures. A nice aroma helps to lift our spirits, improve our moods and as a general rule, pleasant smells help us to feel good and feel attractive which can only be a good thing during pregnancy! Having a wonderful smelling home has the same effect so using an oil diffuser is a good idea; the essential oils also help to keep bugs at bay because they kill airborne microbes…a small added benefit!

It was lovely having some nice relaxing oils on in an oil diffuser in the evening with lights off, candles on and some calming music in the background…certainly helped us to wind down at the end of a busy day.

Baby Bump Massage Oil

I made a lovely baby bump massage oil using jojoba, rosehip & cold pressed sunflower oil with neroli, mandarin & lavender which I used to massage Gail’s bump. This helped me to be more involved with what was going on, build my connection with Isla-Rose while she was in Gail’s womb. These essential oils are incredibly healing and hydrating for the skin, help to alleviate stretch marks and the fragrance created is astounding!

Baby Bump Balm

Gail made a beautiful Cocoa Butter Baby Bump Balm which she applied to her abdomen twice a day. Almost every midwife, nurse and doctor commented on that fact that she had a beautiful bump, completely stretch mark free. In fact there reaction was usually one of complete surprise that I guessed most people must reveal their tummies with stretch marks….so, here’s a tip for all those pregnant mums out there – Go and make a baby bump massage oil and a baby balm balm!

Bath Salts

Gail had regular baths using Epsom or Dead Sea Salt with blends of the above mentioned essential oils which helped her to relax, unwind and rest as well as alleviate aches and pains, and as we know, baths are wonderful at helping to maintain general health & wellness and boost rest & relaxation.

Oil Diffuser/Burner Blends

Gail and I have plenty of essential oils and incense at home, so we made sure that we used plenty around our home. This provides a wonderful perfume and fragrant effect for our home which everyone comments on when they come here, which helps to lift spirits, calms moods and promote happiness. In addition to that, the vaporised essential oils also kill airborne microbes stopping the spread of infection! So at the same time as having a nice smelling and aromatic household, we were also looking after our health & wellbeing!

Labour & Childbirth

We obviously went into hospital armed with vast amounts of wonderfully aromatic solutions and whilst the experience was an arduous one due to the intervention process (which ended up in an epidural), natural solutions worked wonderfully well and complemented the amazing care provided by our fabulous NHS.

We had some pre-blended oils – massage oils, perfumes and inhalation oils

Citrus Awakening – Lemongrass + 4 others

This was used to boost energy, focus and concentration, refresh the mind and spirits and revive lethargy & tiredness

Inner Calm – Frankincense + 4 others

For times when rest and relaxation was needed! When it is time to unwind from what has happened and forget about the worry of what is to come, this proved to be a good solution.

Floral Seduction – Rose Water, Rose (essential oil) + 4 others

This is one of my favourite blends. We used this as a water based perfume or spritzer which we kept cool because it really freshened the face, provided a gently uplifting and awakening sensation.

Oil Diffuser

We had our oil diffuser going in the room for the entire time and our room was definitely the most popular of all on the ward. Because I changed the essential oils and therefore the aroma every hour, midwives, nurses and doctors kept coming in to find out what the room smelt like, and at one time we had a queue outside the door! We had many interesting and positive conversations, comments and appraisals from the staff on the ward and as I left with baby in hand next to Gail, they all came to wish us well and to comment on the amazing aromas we had used. Our midwife was the luckiest of course and everyone there was very jealous!

It is funny how just a smell can cause such intrigue and the staff on the ward all encouraged us to use what we needed to use which I was really surprised about.

Inhalation Oils

As part of my practice – therapy and coaching – I always use inhalation oils during and after my personal sessions. In all of my workshops, I teach people about essential oils through smelling them rather than looking at books, because the power is not in the name but instead in the aromatic quality. During labour, Gail continously asked me for particular scents which I handed to her on cottonwool pads. Some people prefer tissues and handkerchiefs, but cottonwool pads are thicker, heavier and hold onto the smell for that much longer, so I prefer to use them. All you need is 2-3 drops and this will last for a good 2 hours. The benefit of this is, the aromatic cottonwool pads provide an instant effect that acts a really good distraction from any pain, discomfort, or feelings of anxiety, fear and worry. The oil burner/diffuser works well, but your smell senses will not detect the aroma after a while so the cottonwool pads are really very useful. This is a flexible way of working because you can use 1 or multiple essential oils and frequently chop and change the pads around so the senses don’t get used to the smell so quickly, thereby having a more consistent and lasting effect!

These were really good solutions especially during periods of exhaustion where either rest & relaxation or an energy boost was needed. These were also really very good during times of real discomfort because they act as such a good distraction! It is very hard for the brain to concentrate on 2 things at the same time and if you get the smell and dosage just right, the smell can help to take the mind’s attention away from what is happening, what has happened and maybe also what is yet to happen.

Massage

Had we been able to have a natural delivery, I would have been able to do much more massage than we actually did, but what we did do was enjoyable and effective. We did plenty of foot, ankle, leg and hand massage which was especially important because of swollen feet, ankles, hands and fingers.

What Was The Most Effective?

Well, I would say the cotton wool pads were probably the most effective because the instant hit you get from the aroma momentarily acts as a distraction and if you keep that smell close at hand, sitting/lying and inhaling for a few minutes at a time, it is really hard to think of anything else. So, at the start of contractions, after them and in between them, this worked very well indeed. During the rest periods the oils really helped to boost relaxation, take the mind of what was happening and also awaken the senses.

For a normal and completely natural delivery, I would say that this method would work extremely well and massage would provide significant relief to aches, pains, spasms, nausea and headaches. So the combination of oil diffusers, inhalation solutions on cottonwool pads, aromatic massage and aromatic baths would work very well during labour and childbirth to enhance the process, alleviate pain, discomfort, stress, tension and anxiety. That said, aromatherapy acts a good complementary solution to the wonderful care and attention provided by nurses, midwives and doctors. When in need, as we were on this occasion, it is important to go with expert advice and do the best you can, as we did, with the aid of natural solutions available. We still managed to use homeopathy, reiki, shiatsu, flower essences and some of the hypnobirthing tools as well.

 

Both Gail and Isla-Rose are doing well and our attention is slowly turning back to what lies ahead with Aromatic Therapeutics and School of Natural Skincare.

For information about our workshops, courses and online courses please see our websites aromatictherapeutics.com and www.schoolofnaturalskincare.com. I make handmade natural perfumes to order and also offer product design services helping people to create their own natural skincare, natural bath & body care and natural perfumery products. I practice aromatherapy, massage therapy and perfume therapy in Bristol, UK, and as an NLP practitioner with 15 years international business & consulting services experience, I also provide personal life coaching services. Please contact me to find out more +44 (0) 7972 043 922 and gareth@aromatictherapeutics.com

Grapefruit Essential Oils – A Cleansing Glow

My favourite citrus essential oil is Grapefruit (citrus x. paridisi) because it is the softest, most well balanced, refreshing and sweet of all essential oils and it is a very strong detoxfying and anti-toxic agent that helps to clear out rubbish from the system – brilliant for digestion, urination, skin, immunity and mind & emotions.

Grapefruit is an oil that is often over-looked perhaps because it is not as common a fruit as orange or lemon, but its action on body, mind and especially spirit is gentle but wonderful. The aroma is a gentler oil and somewhat better balanced than other citrus oils, a characteristic that is symbolic in its therapeutic action. Gently uplifting for our spirits, it balances emotions, soothes the spirit and that gentle balancing and soothing action has a reflection on digestion and our outward radiance – a glowing skin complexion. It helps to clear out and move on unwanted items from the body and encourages the clear out of congestion. Congestion of the skin, digestion, mind and emotions. Frustration, pressure and stress are all congestions of a sort for our mind and our spirit. Grapefruit soothes, calms, cools, balances and gently lifts the spirits. A must have for busy people, busy minds and cluttered spirits.

In terms of skincare, it is a very good for oily and congested skin, is refreshing and reviving, and provides great skin tone. Brilliant to use in cleansers, toners and face srubs!

Contraindications? Can irritate sensitive areas of skin but it is NOT phototoxic like other citrus essential oils so it is fine to use when exposed to direct sunlight.

I am running an essential oil masterclass weekend on 29th of March – click here for details http://bit.ly/19KOfQJ – so if you like my posts and blogs and you’d like to enhance your knowledge and usage of essential oils, then please come along.

29th is all about Essential Oils for Health & Happiness!

It will be brilliant and places are limited so don’t delay! 07972 043 922 or gareth@aromatictherapeutics.com