Trauma and Drama; Baby’s first week

Even after a great birth, there’s body-trauma to deal with. And even with a healthy, peaceful baby, there’s a little first-week drama to face. Here are a few things I found to help with both.

Bruising on upper chest (stripe from armpit to armpit where I leaned into the side of the tub): lavender essential oil applied directly to the skin. I did not dilute, and was not concerned about the proximity to breasts/nursing since this is indicated for mastitis as well.

Bruising on sacrum: PanAway* essential oil blend, applied neat. I felt that this not only helped with bruising of the bones, but that the absorbed oil helped to mend the pelvic floor muscles faster than in previous births.

Sore Upper Arms: PanAway* applied neat on location.

After Birth Pain: Cramp Bark tincture (alcohol) every few hours in first day, decreasing until 3rd day. I also used more of my Labor/Birth essential oil blend as a foot rub and low belly rub. I did not need to take Advil or any other synthetic pain killer.

Neck Misalignment/muscle discomfort from turning my head tubside during labor: Valor essential oil blend, on location.

General Exhaustion (birth is a marathon, afterall!): Frankincense oil on wrists, and inhaled. NingxiaRed wolfberry juice with essential oils (Young Living) and Chinese herbal tea (blended by my doctor) really helped me feel revived.

Water retention; drinking lots of water with lemon essential oil to help flush out excess fluid.

Tissue Soothing/Regeneration; Gentle Baby essential oil blend in peri bottle with water: 1 drop per peri bottle at each potty use.

Emotional Stability Post Partum: I used Ylang Ylang on wrists and inhaled. At ten days I began ProgessencePlus* serum which contains wild yam extract; 3 drops on forearms 2xday. I also began 1 drop Sclaressence* essential oil blend under tongue 2xday. I continued to take nutritional oils of flax, evening primrose, and fish for their omega 3 fatty acids.

Mastitis/clogged duct/engorgement: lavender and copaiba essential oils rubbed on site. Lavender is very effective alone, but copaiba magnifies it’s potency and is highly anti-inflammatory in its own right.

Baby

Belly Button: a drop of myrrh on the navel helped the belly button to heal and dry faster than my other babies. Works as an antiseptic.

Circumcision: a drop of myrrh in a dab of carrier oil at the base of the penis as an antiseptic. For pain, the “morphine bomb” worked wonders: I mixed 1 drop each Copaiba, Idaho Balsam Fir, and Frankincense in the palm of my hand and applied to baby’s feet and spine, and he was sleeping peacefully within 5 minutes (previous frantic pain).

Colic: in week 2 baby had a night of colic after too many feedings. Upon applying 1 drop of DiGize to his bloated belly in a clockwise pattern, he became calm and we all went back to sleep.

*Note: PanAway, ProgessencePlus, and Sclaressence essential oil blends contain a small amount of peppermint oil, which in large amounts some women find to reduce their milk supply. I have not found this to be the case with these blends, perhaps because it is such a small amount, or perhaps because the other oils in the blends support milk supply.

I only use Young Living essential oils for topical and internal use in my family. Please do your research about essential oils; I feel confident that Young Living EOs are the safest and most pure oils on the market, and have personally seen a difference in their potency as well. Please see my Essential Oils page for more information on purchasing a starter kit of Young Living essential oils.

Labor and Birth

The day I gave birth to my sixth baby began early; I woke around 3am with my water breaking in a slow leak. By morning, I was having a few mild contractions and feeling more water leakage. I applied 2 drops of Nutmeg oil to my palms and rubbed it over my adrenals. Nutmeg is supportive to the adrenals (kidney area); support I needed after the interruptions in sleep the night before. This oil is cautioned for use in pregnancy as it may exhibit estrogenic effects, and I had avoided touching it while pregnant. However, now that labor had begun, the estrogenic support was a boon for encouraging contractions.

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As I made breakfast for my family, I poured myself about an ounce of Ningxia Red wolfberry juice. This delicious antioxidant rich juice is enhanced with essential oils and is an amazing energy booster. I had been reserving an unopened bottle of the juice for “Labor Day” so cracking the seal marked my acceptance of labor and the birth date for my child.

Contractions continued to come all morning; the mild contractions of early labor which are only slightly painful and best ignored. I busied myself with tidying my home but began to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and urgent, so I went to my room for a few quiet moments and applied Stress Away liberally to the back of my neck and wrists. A few deep breaths and I was ready to get back into “nesting mode” with my husband and children who were also rallying to tidy our “nest.”

Since I was planning a home birth, my first area of concern for cleaning was my bathroom and bedroom where I would give birth and recover. Bathroom cleaning spray can be made with many different essential oils. Thieves is one of my favorites. Right now my spray bottle holds:
40% white vinegar
60% water
5 drops each Melelueca Alternifolia and Peppermint essential oils

By noon I called my midwife to tell her my water had broken but I was still able to walk and talk through contractions. I used these mild contractions as practice for heavier labor by swaying, or bending and holding my knees to focus on relaxing my pelvic floor. I ate a sensible lunch and continued to sip on the Ningxia Red for energy and stable blood sugar as labor increased.

My husband scrubbed the jets of our large bathtub, and then filled it with water. He put about 10 drops of Purification into the water and ran the jets; this anti-fungal oil which includes citrus and lemongrass oils removed the algae scum that grows in jets, without any harsh chemicals. The fragrance filled the bathroom, giving me a sense of clean and calm. When the tub was clean, I ran my diffuser in my bedroom with the oil blend Gentle Baby which helps mothers feel grounded and peaceful. I had been using this floral oil on my belly for several months.

I showered and my contractions increased in severity and timing in the hot water, which is always a sign to me that labor is active. As I dressed, I put several drops of Ylang Ylang, a hormone supporting and balancing oil, on a sanitary pad for topical application. I also used a few drops of this beautiful fragrance on my wrists and neck at the base of my ears. The contractions were now painful in my low back/sacrum area, so I rubbed several drops of PanAway into my sacrum; I was amazed at how this eased my pain. Although I was also feeling quite a bit of pain low in the front with contractions, I did not use PanAway in that location as the icy hotness of the wintergreen and peppermint have been known to turn a baby (away from the heat) and since my baby was already in perfect, head-down position, I did not want to risk a breach.

It was now about 5pm and I took a “Morphine Bomb”: 5 drops each of Idaho Balsam Fir, Frankincense, and Copaiba in a capsule, and rubbed the residual from the dispenser tops onto my wrists and inhaled deeply for a few minutes. There is no morphine in the “Morphine Bomb” -it is a pain and inflammation reliever. It did not take away my pain, but it did take the edge off.

I continued to bend over for contractions and focus on opening up, now moaning away the cramping pain. My parents arrived to help with my children, and my husband put in a call to the midwife to go ahead and come to our house.

The midwife and nurses arrived, and I applied my Birthing Labor Blend on my ankles and inhaled it from my palms, which gave me a sudden overwhelming desire to cry; this passed quickly. I had waited until the midwife arrived to use this blend as it is far more estrogenic than the oils used so far and I was unsure if it would speed my labor along too quickly. It can also be applied low on the abdomen; I did not apply it there but would if I were to do it again.

Here is the Birthing Labor Blend:
9 drops Helichrysum
10 drops Yang Ylang
10 drops Sclaressence
3 drops Fennel
3 drops Peppermint
equal amount apricot oil
The midwife did an internal check and said I was at 7cm; a huge relief that I had made it so easily and quickly through active labor and was now ready for transition. In the past, some of my labors have lasted for several days. We filled the bathtub with hot water and I got in, someone cut the lights and gave me a fluffy white towel to lean on facing forward at the side of the tub, my window was open a few inches and I could hear a songbird outside in the gentle spring rain shower as dusk fell. My husband and the nurses took turns applying counter-pressure to my low back and bringing me my glass of Ningxia Red to sip on, which significantly helped to increase my energy.

When I was nearly complete/ready to push, I took a drop each of the Morphine Bomb oils under my tongue (which tasted like eating a Christmas tree) and then chased them with another drink of Ningxia Red. At the time this seemed like the fastest way to absorb the oils systemically, however it did cause a little bit of heart burn, and taking the larger amount in the capsule probably would have been more potent. I also applied several drops of Valor to the back of my neck and inhaled it from my palms, praying that God would give me the mental strength to face crowning. I’m a bit of a coward about birth/crowning, so I needed all the Valor I could get. 🙂

Since the contractions were still manageable and I did not have an urge to push, I continued to labor in the upright position, with knees/pelvis splayed to allow the baby’s crown to descend lower into my pelvis. This wasn’t really a conscious decision, but rather that continuing to labor seemed more desirable in the moment than heavy pushing. Of all my children, only my first baby and this last baby were born with noticeable head molding, and with both of these labors I was able to continue laboring as the baby’s head descended, rather than push them out because labor wasn’t tolerable. The first baby was born with an epidural (the only one I had an epidural for) and the last with oils. Please understand that the oils in no way took away the pain or gave numbness like an epidural, but I was able to labor without experiencing the “I can’t do this anymore!” frantic stage of pain and feeling out of control, and my moaning never got to the point where I “sounded like Chewbacca” according to my husband.

When I was ready to push, I pushed with all my strength through three long contractions, still upright in the warm water, and Torsten was born at 9:28pm. I cried out a prayer of thanks to God for delivering me and the baby, then turned to receive my new son from the midwife. Unique to this birth was the complete lack of bloody show/blood until after the placenta was delivered. Additionally, as I continued to use oils through my post-partum week, I had no blood clots at all in my flow.

Immediately following birth, while still in the tub, I began to shake and have some leg cramps. My midwife gave me some homeopathic CalPhos minerals; after I moved into my bed I took a dropper of Cramp Bark tincture in alcohol to relieve uterine cramping. I took this every few hours for the first day or so and never needed any synthetic pain reliever. The one last oil I used that day was Nutmeg, again applied over my adrenals and inhaled from my palms.

There is nothing which can describe the peaceful contented feeling of being tucked into your own bed with your sweet little newborn by your side! I’m so grateful for the chance to have such a peaceful, safe, and satisfying birth with the excellent support of my caregivers, loved ones, and essential oils.

Up next: Trauma and Drama; Essential Oils during baby’s first week.