Essential Oils and Pregnancy

Essential oils are becoming more popular as home based businesses like DoTerra and Young Living, and ItWorks! bring oils into the home, but the misinformation and safety of these products can have positive and negative experiences for the user. It is not within the scope of a doula to use bring or use our own personal oils unless we ourselves are certified aromatherapists. Sara Schoenecker, Certified Aromatherapist, and owner of Pneuma shares her knowledge and expertise on the top things you should know about using essential oils in pregnancy.

 

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the holistic therapeutic application of genuine plant-derived essential oils for enhancing, harmonizing and balancing the mind, body, and spirit.

 

What is an essential oil?

Essential Oils are distilled from aromatic plant material and are the vehicle for effective aromatherapy application.

 

What makes aromatherapy effective?

Our bodies can process essential oils in a variety of ways. Some of the most common uses of essential oils include; direct inhalation (such as utilizing a personal aromatherapy inhaler), diffusing essential oils into a room, or topical application.

 

Direct inhalation is one of the fastest routes of absorption when it comes to aromatherapy application and on average our bodies can absorb about 50% of the essential oils constituents. When diffusing essential oils into a room, our bodies will only absorb what we take in while in the room, so this method is not quite as effective as utilizing direct inhalation. When it comes to topical application our bodies will absorb roughly 5% of the essential oils constituents.

 

Direct Inhalation is one of the fastest routes of absorption due to our olfactory system acting like fly paper where the essential oils chemical molecules get “stuck” and make their way to the brain and to the lungs and then circulate throughout our system. As a human being, we are able to identify 2000-4000 different molecules via our olfactory membrane. A single essential oil can be comprised of 10-200+ different molecules and is what contributes to their unique aroma.

 

One of the things that make aromatherapy so uniquely individual is how we perceive the aroma of a certain essential oil and also the emotions that are tied to a certain scent. Imagine walking into a bakery and smelling freshly baked bread. Instantly you are transported to your childhood in your grandma’s kitchen as she is pulling a fresh loaf out of the oven. All of a sudden you have a huge smile on your face! The power of smell and our psychological well-being truly go hand in hand!

 

Utilizing Aromatherapy during Pregnancy…is it safe?

As a Certified Aromatherapist, this is a question that comes up a lot. Can you utilize aromatherapy while pregnant? The short answer is yes and no.

 

The first trimester is the most crucial in terms of fetal development and as a Certified Aromatherapist, I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to utilizing essential oils during this time. You see, essential oils are extremely concentrated plant substances and a lot of plant material goes into making a small amount of essential oil.

To put this into perspective:

It takes roughly .42 lbs of fresh lavender flowers to produce only 1 ml or 20-30 drops of Lavender essential oil. Typically, I recommend utilizing herbally infused oils or hydrosols during the first trimester instead of an essential oil. A hydrosol (sometimes called a hydrolat or floral water) is the byproduct of essential oil distillation. Some of the most common hydrosols that people are familiar with are witch hazel and rosewater. The hydrosol often times carries similar therapeutic properties as the essential oil and is a lot more gentle.

For instance, if you are in the first trimester and are having a hard time sleeping, instead of reaching for Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil, you could use Lavender hydrosol instead.

Now, if you have a wicked case of morning sickness, could you inhale a pregnancy safe essential oil like Ginger (Zingiber officinale) to help? Yes, but only as needed. It wouldn’t be something that I would recommend using every day.

In the first trimester, other ways to combat morning sickness would be to eat something small right when you awake. I know for me personally, apples were my go to. Eating a couple slices of an apple right when I woke up helped me immensely with morning sickness. If my stomach felt off during the day I also loved a cup of ginger tea with lemon.

During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, essential oils should still only be used as needed and be properly diluted at 1% or less (5-6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier) for safe application. Proper dilution is key, especially while pregnant. Properly diluting an essential oil for topical application will minimize the risk of an adverse reaction or skin sensitization. As always you want to be sure you are using essential oils that are considered safe for pregnancy.

 

Can I Ingest Essential Oils While Pregnant?

As a Certified Aromatherapist, I do not recommend ingesting essential oils during pregnancy, this would include the vaginal or rectal use of essential oils as well. I would recommend a cup of tea for trying to combat a certain issue while pregnant. Teas do contain small amounts of essential oils and would be a much safer option. Remember, a lot of plant material goes into producing a small bottle of essential oil. Sometimes 1 drop of essential oil could be compared to the equivalent of 40-50 bags of tea. Think about this for a moment, if you had an upset stomach, you wouldn’t brew 40-50 bags of ginger tea in one small 8oz cup, would you? That would definitely be a bit of overkill since one bag of tea would be sufficient. “Neat” use (applying essential oils directly to the skin), is also not recommended during pregnancy.

What are some essential oils that should be avoided during pregnancy?

When the need arises to utilize essential oils during pregnancy, one of the key factors to take into consideration is that you choose an essential oil that is extremely gentle and nourishing. You would want to steer clear of any essential oils that are potentially fetotoxic. Here are some essential oils not recommended during pregnancy…

Please note this is not an exhaustive list, be sure to research each essential oil prior to utilizing it during pregnancy. If you are unsure about an essential oil choice, you can always email me at Sara@Pneuma.online. Also, a great book to add to your essential oil collection would be Tisserand and Young’s Essential Oil Safety 2nd Edition. If you are looking to learn more about hydrosols I would recommend Suzanne Catty’s book Hydrosols The Next Aromatherapy.

 

Not all oils are created equal and although natural, you want to make sure you are making the best choice for your family. The Green Bay Doulas are there to help you navigate your options and know the available resources for you and your family.

 

Sara is a level 2 AIA & NAHA Certified Aromatherapist, a Certified Aromatherapy Teacher Level 1 and owner of Pneuma, LLC. She resides in Green Bay with her husband Rick, and daughter Viola. Sara began her journey to natural living 8 years ago when she realized that the “food” she was eating, wasn’t really food at all. After cleaning up her diet and cleaning out her cupboards, Sara began to look at other ways to cut chemicals from her life and began making her own cleaning products; lotions, body butters, toothpaste, laundry detergent and more. Aromatherapy always piqued Sara’s interest and with so much misinformation out there, she knew she had to gain her Certification so she could help others utilize essential oils safely in their day to day lives. Sara believes in the bodies innate ability to heal itself, when given the proper tools, and has a passion for helping others live a more naturally minded lifestyle. Sara is also an abstract artist and cosmetologist. In her free time, Sara enjoys swimming with her daughter and husband, writing, reading, going for bike rides and soaking up as much sun as possible.

Let’s Talk Anatomy: Pelvic Floor

A huge thank you to Jeanette Knill, PT for guest blogging for us on this important topic!

I am a Physical Therapist that specializes in treating women with pelvic floor disorders (PFD) which means most of the women I see in the clinic have UI or pain in the pelvis, especially during intercourse.

Here are some research findings related to UI:

  •    Nearly 30% of the female population in the US has a problem with urinary incontinence.
  •    It takes the average woman up to 7 years before she tells her healthcare provider that she has a problem. Why? She is embarrassed or thinks it isn’t a problem because many of the women she knows also pee in their pants.
  •    Kegel exercises are only part of the solution to help you regain continence.

Let’s talk anatomy: The pelvic floor muscle is the bottom of the body. In a female, it is the muscle structure that supports the uterus, vagina, bladder and rectum. It controls when we use the toilet and is important in sexual satisfaction. This muscle is like a hammock. It attaches in the front to the pubic bone and in the back at the tail bone. The sides attach to part of the hip bone and a hip muscle (obturator internus) on each side of the body. Other hip muscles that attach near the pelvic floor muscle are the gluteal muscles (your butt) and the piriformis muscles. The low abdominal muscles attach to the pubic bone, just above where the pelvic floor muscles attach. Your low abdominal muscles and hip muscles are very important in the function of the pelvic floor.

Usually, the first recommendation for women who report UI is to do Kegel exercises, tightening the pelvic floor muscles like you are trying to stop pee or gas from escaping. Why gas? Remember I said the pelvic floor is a hammock from front to back. When you tighten the muscle in the front-around the urethra (where pee comes out) you also tighten the muscles in back around the anus (where gas and poop come out). The person next to you knows when you pass gas but you can hide pee in a pad! Thinking about stopping gas can send a stronger signal to the brain and gets a better contraction. Do not tighten your butt cheeks when doing a Kegel exercise.

Some other Kegel tips for success: When you tighten your pelvic floor it is a squeeze and lift. Imagine you are sitting on a grape and you want to pull it up into your vagina. Silly, right? I bet you just did it!

But…it isn’t just about Kegel exercises. Strength at the low abdominal and hip muscles are also important. Crunches are not an effective way to strengthen the low abdominal muscles. Planks and challenging the muscles with leg movements are more effective. Hip exercises that work your “butt cheeks” are beneficial. Stay tuned for future blogs that will highlight the best way to strengthen your abs and butt.

-Jeanette Knill, PT, works at Bellin Health Generations clinic as a physical therapist specializing in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction.

Q & A – The Belly to Baby Expo

Twice a year Green Bay Doulas brings 50-70 of their best resources under one roof for an amazing event called the Belly To Baby Expo.  I sat down with Emily Jacobson the creator of the expo for some Q & A.

 

Q: What is the Belly to Baby Expo?

A: It’s a grassroots effort to bring local businesses and community resources to expecting mothers and their growing families in the Green Bay Area. It’s run by volunteers and the host, Green Bay Doulas.

 

Q: When was it started?

A: In September of 2012 in the Streu’s Pharmacy  parking lot, we had 17 vendors and about 25 people attended. Now we see upwards of 400-500 families pass through the doors each expo. Former locations included The Art Garage, Rasmussen College, St Mary’s Roller Rink, The Marq- Lineville Rd and the fall expo will be at The Meadows Conference Center. 

Q: Why was it started?

A: I lived in Madison for 10 years and did my initial doula training there. When I moved back to Green Bay in the summer of 2012, I realized unlike Madison, no one knew what a doula was or let alone the resources that are available to them outside of the hospitals. If newly engaged couples had wedding expos, why didn’t they have baby expos? I’m not one to sit back and hope someone would create such a thing, I went ahead and did it.

 

Q: Who should attend?

A: Everyone should attend. Those thinking about growing families find they learn ahead of the curve about local resources including those looking into adoption or medical professionals. Those who are currently expecting find cute crafts, baby gear, and an array of  professionals who can support them during their pregnancy. Those with children already find great resources from breastfeeding support to crafters and perinatal health professionals and a chance to meet other mothers, exchange stories perhaps even make a new friend or two.

 

Q: What should we expect?

A: Expect to have fun, and meet new people, all while supporting local businesses! We have amazing raffle prizes from local and national companies. New this year we will be hosting a free prenatal Yoga class before the expo. We also have added a lactation and quiet lounge for those mothers who need a break or to feed their child with less distraction. 

Q: What is so special about the Belly to Baby Expo?

A: Money raised by the vendor fees provides fee assistance to families in the Green Bay Area for bereavement and other support services through Green Bay Doulas, Green Bay’s premier doula agency. It’s another way beyond our annual diaper drive – No Child Wet Behind we can give back to our community.

 

We hope you will join us for the 11th Belly to Baby Expo and if you can’t make this one, you are in luck, the next one will be March 2018.  We hope to see you there!

Adoption: Answering Common Questions

November is National Adoption Month, which is a topic near and dear to my heart, as I was adopted at just 9 weeks old from the Milwaukee area. Growing up I actually had a lot of friends who were also adopted.  Believe it or not, we were often asked the same common questions and I thought I would share those in hopes of bringing awareness throughout the month to many of our readers.

What are the different types of adoption?

There are actually three different forms of adoptions!

Open Adoption:This is where your family may have access to the biological families information or even remain in contact with them.

Closed Adoption: In this case, records are sealed about personal information on the biological family. Once you reach adulthood you can do a records request to see if the biological family would be interested in meeting. Sometimes this information is available and sometimes it’s not. In my case my request was denied, but I was able to get a ton of paperwork about my biological family and medical history. That was informative, but what was most significant and even more special were the papers my parents filled out as they waited for my adoption to be finalized, what they did with me, my milestones, things I never knew existed on paper.

Domestic vs International- Simply means were you born in the USA or adopted from overseas?

Was it difficult to family trees or family related school projects and activities?

Sometimes yes, and others no. My family was my family. I tailored all of my presentations to my family. My grandpa was of syrian descent and my grandmother german. I knew I was german and hungarian, but that’s about it.  When you don’t have the information it’s hard to go off of, but I did my best with the info at hand.

And of course, my friends always wanted to know…

Do we really have two birthdays?

Sorta! We celebrate our birthdays and also my “gotcha day” growing up. I called this my special birthday, but others call it a Gotcha Day. Gotcha Day is the day we came home with our parents.

How do you explain adoption to children?

My mother always said it best. “You grew in my heart not my belly.” My outlook on being adopted is different then others may feel. I’m a firm believer that I was meant to be with my family and just needed a way to get there. So, yes, I grew in my mothers heart.

What local support is out there for children who are adopted?

The Post Adoption Resource Center of Brown County is a great place to start! 

Also having playdates with other children and classmates who were adopted as well was probably the most beneficial part to me as a child.

So on this national adoption month do you know someone who’s adopting, was adopting or has adopted? Reach out, let them know you are glad they are in your lives!

So the all important question,

How do we, as doulas, support adoption?

Before Baby: We are available before baby is welcomed as Antepartum Support Doulas. We can help create an amazing space in the home of the family adopting the newest addition by setting up furniture, the nursery and helping you talk through feelings and emotions. We can also provide support to the biological mother or surrogate by talking through or going with her to doctor appointments and supporting her emotionally.

Throughout Labor: We support the biological mother or surrogate on her journey to birth in whatever capacity she may need, whether that’s physically or emotionally.

Once Baby Is Born And The Postpartum Period : We help with the transition when parents bring home baby with the use of postpartum care. Working with them to set up a routine or settle into their new parenting roles. We can also aide in the support of the biological mother or surrogate once home helping them with self care for healing both physically and emotionally. We can assist with general recovery, lactation support to either stop or pump, an ear to listen, and our extensive list of referrals. We have even encapsulated for a surrogate who was planning on pumping for the baby.

If you would like to hear more about the support doulas can provide during the adoption process I would be more than happy to answer questions! Feel free to contact us at info@greenbaydoulas.com

What Is Belly Binding?

Self- Care After Pregnancy: Belly Binding

Congrats mom, you did it! After the all of that strenuous work during pregnancy and labor it’s definitely time to focus on you! Green Bay Doulas truly encourages self-care in many forms to promote healing during the postpartum period. Maybe you’ve heard of postpartum wraps or girdles for abdominal healing? A new service we have added to our very own physical support arsenal is Belly Binding. The process of Belly Binding is completed by wrapping a long piece of cotton Muslin fabric, either under or over clothing, in a pattern leaving a supportive woven look. Rather than using an elastic one-piece and size specific binder that may pinch or ride up, the woven fabric contours to the body and fits to all body sizes and shapes.

There are many potential benefits to Belly Binding, which may include:

–          Posture correction

–          Abdomen and lower back support

–          Aid in Diastasis Recti healing

–          Avoid slouching during feeding sessions

The ideal time to begin binding is one week after birth. For caesarean birth, 4-6 weeks following is recommended to allow for incision healing. Our service includes the initial binding session with 2 wraps, and a trained Doula will instruct a significant other or friend on how to re-bind as needed. Green Bay Doulas currently has 3 doulas trained in Belly Binding who are available for additional binding sessions if you’d like more help!
                                                                                          
Just a heads up: We do recommend speaking with your medical provider about this service when dealing with pre-existing spinal, abdomen and related conditions.

To try it for yourself, GBD will be offering free belly binding demo’s July 13th 2016 at the Mint Salon, learn more here.

For more information about Belly Binding and our other postpartum services please contact us by emailing information@greenbaydoulas.com or call (920)246-0200

 

Authored By: Sam Kropp