Heal birth wounds and beat post-natal stress and insomnia with essential oils
There are so many things on your mind when you have a new baby and one of the last and most forgotten of those tends to be you yourself! This article looks at how young mothers can use aromatherapy to combat the stress, difficulty sleeping and pain that unfortunately often accompanies you home with your little one.
As in my article Giving Birth with Aromatherapy, you can help wounds heal by sitting in a sitz bath, or a bathful of water up to your hips with lavender (lavandula angustifolia) or cypress oil (cupressus sempervirens). Whether this would work in a bidet would depend on where your wounds are.
Breasts and lactation
To aid lactation put drops of sweet fennel oil (foeniculum vulgare) into bath water, diluting them first in a carrier oil or milk. Fennel is traditionally used to increase the flow of milk. Eating fennel has the same result and that is probably why some of the free samples they give in the Progress packs are of fennel tea. If you don’t have time for a bath, then dilute 1 drop of fennel oil to 10ml of carrier oil and massage this onto the breasts, not including the nippples.
If you are taking cypress oil baths to heal your wounds, do not soak in the bath water up to your breasts if you are breastfeeding, as this oil can reduce the flow of milk.
If you develop mastitis, using the same strength of 1 drop of essential oil to 10ml of carrier oil, use the following to reduce the pain and inflammation: roman chamomile (anthemis nobilis), clary sage (salvia sclarea), and peppermint (mentha piperita). The first two will have the strongest action, or combine all three together. Massage the solution into the breasts, again avoiding the nipples, or apply as a compress. To make a compress put maximum 5 drops of oil into 500ml warm water and agitate. Then soak a cotton cloth, or layers of gauze into the water, wring gently and apply to the breast.
Another combination of oil to use for mastitis is lavender, geranium (pelargonium graveolens) and rose otto (rosa damascena). Maggie Tisserand recommends 1 drop each of lavender and geranium together with 2 drops of rose to 500ml-1 litre of warm water.
Post natal emotions
After the birth can be a difficult time, and it’s not surprising with the physical and emotional strain that some mothers become depressed. Rose otto is a good all-round female oil. It balances the hormones, it helps relieve nervous tension and depression, and is also good for insomnia. Other oils are sandalwood (santalum album), lavender, clary sage, jasmine (jasminum officinale) and ylang ylang (cananga odorata). You could use a combination of the oils e.g. rose, clary sage and lavender. Blend with a carrier oil 1-2 drops per 5ml of carrier, or in a bath.
Another effective way to use aromatherapy is with an oil burner or vaporiser. Jasmine is a very strong oil, with a strong therapeutic action and, if you’re not used to blending it’s best not used mixed with other essential oils. But don’t be put off, this is a lovely oil; it treats nervous exhaustion and stress, it gives a feeling of optimism and confidence.
Many essential oils can relax, which is the first step towards getting to sleep. Ones specifically indicated for insomnia are lemon balm (melissa officinalis), chamomile (anthemis nobilis or chamomilia matricaria), lavender, neroli (citrus aurantium var. amara), valerian (valeriana fauriei), sandalwood, rose otto, and ylang ylang.
Be careful when using lavender that you do not overdo the strength as this can cause it to have the precisely opposite effect! Valerian can be quite an effective oil for aiding sleep so do not drive after use. Use the oils either in a bath, or in an oil burner.
When you are going through a difficult emotional time, do not underestimate how effective is the power of touch. We all hold our stress and nervous tension in different parts of the body; for many of us it’s the neck and shoulders, for others it’s the lower back, or the scalp.
And don’t forget the baby. Just massaging your baby for 10 minutes can have a therapeutic effect on you both! With my children I used a carrier oil (grapeseed or sunflower) without essential oil.
Aromatherapy for babies
I tend not to use essential oils with babies unless for a specific reason. I have treated my babies a few times with essential oils. When their sinuses were blocked and they were having problems sleeping, I put a drop each of eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) and lavender onto a cotton cloth into their cots. I didn’t use a tissue in case they ate it in their sleep! When they both developed impetigo as a result of severe eczema, I used patchouli in a carrier oil – I really don’t like this oil generally but it highly effective against this awful infection. Do be careful that you use 1 drop of essential oil in 5ml of carrier oil; do not exceed this strength when using directly on babies and young children.
In her book Aromatherapy for Women, Maggie Tisserand devotes a whole chapter to treating children’s illnesses with aromatherapy. She includes colic, toothache, earache, colds, convulsions, conjunctivitis and many others.
About the Author
Doreen has had a passion for massage since she was 15 years old. She still has that passion, and offers massage, specialist facials and other beauty treatments in her home-based salon in Surrey. With any energy left over she will devour all the beauty pages of all the magazines she can lay her hands on!
Doreen’s homepage: Bellessence