|July 8, 2015|
Volume 17, Issue 14
|Midwifery Today E-News|
“Essential Oils in Pregnancy and Birth”
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What are the appropriate uses of medicinal herbs based on tradition and science?
Botanical Medicine in Midwifery Practice will help you find the answers. Learn the use of extracts and the differences between standard, alcohol- and water-based preparations. This book also includes a glossary of plant categories and a comprehensive list of herbal resources, products and supplies. The final section consists of information about essential herbs for women. To order
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Learn about breech birth at our Germany conference
Attend this full-day class with Cornelia Enning, Angelina Martinez Miranda, Michel Odent and Gail Tully. You will learn about the most current breech research, see demonstrations of basic breech skills and increase your knowledge of breech complications. Sessions include Breech Birth Research, Turning Breech Babies, Alternative Methods for Breech and Breech Birth in Water.
Plan now to attend our conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, next April!
“Honoring Our Past, Embracing Our Future” is the theme. April 6–10, 2016, are the dates. Planned speakers include Michel Odent, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos, Elaine Stillerman and Carol Gautschi.
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There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.
— Jane Austen
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The Art of Midwifery
Finding a high quality source for pure, therapeutic essential oils is of great importance. Not all essential oils are created equal. The quality of an essential oil is determined by multiple factors, including where the plant is grown, how it is grown, when it is harvested and how the oil is extracted. Additionally, some companies may adulterate an oil with another plant, attempt to create a synthetic replication or add fillers to decrease production expenses. Look for essential oils that do not contain fillers, synthetic oils, contaminants or toxins.
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[Editor’s note: This issue’s guest editor is Emilee Gettle.]
Along with midwifery, herbs and natural health have always been a fascination of mine. I am a strong believer that we need to take responsibility for our health. I believe prevention is the best medicine. So, as a student midwife, I want to learn as much as I can to help mothers achieve the best health possible using the gifts God has given us in nature. I also want to teach mothers how to integrate this into their daily life to ensure healthier tomorrows.
Over the last year, I have been trying to learn all I can about essential oils. I am seeing amazing results as I integrate my knowledge into my family’s health routine. It is vital that we equip ourselves with knowledge about what is okay and what is not okay to use with children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, as well as the elderly. Some oils are just not okay to use during these seasons in life. While this list is not exhaustive, some oils which should be avoided while pregnant and breastfeeding, according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, include anise, basil, birch, camphor, hyssop, mugwort, parsley seed/leaf, pennyroyal, sage, tansy, tarragon, thuja, wintergreen and wormwood. It is important to remember that essential oils are quite potent. Because of this, many practitioners suggest not using any oils, even the ones deemed as “safe,” until after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
One of the essential oils I have fallen in love with is lavender. However, it is classified as an emmenagogue. So, I feel that caution should be exercised during the early months of pregnancy. However, at the end of pregnancy, I find that this oil is quite relaxing for those restless nights. I love putting it in a diffuser. I have also used lavender on my babies to aid in relaxation during colic and teething.
Another thing to keep in mind when using essential oils is dilution. This is especially important for our pregnant mothers. Their sense of smell is so much keener, so it is important to take this into consideration when making a recipe with essential oils. Consider using a child’s dose for pregnant mothers.
Here is the bottom line: I encourage you, if you are interested in using essential oils, to equip yourself with quality education on how to use these properly. If you are too busy in your current practice, consider adding a certified aromatherapist to your team.
— Emilee Gettle is a mom of two girls and a wife to Jere Gettle. She enjoys helping her husband with their business, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. She is studying for a degree in Maternal/Child Health with a focus on lactation and midwifery.
We just finished doing a conference with Katerina and Philip Perkhova in St. Petersburg, Russia. The theme was “Save the World, Be a Midwife; Save Birth, Be a Mother.” Sister MorningStar, Gail Hart, Carol Gautschi, Fernando Molina, Gail Tully, Eneyda Spradlin Ramos, Diane Goslin and I, plus several Russian speakers, were the teachers. This was Midwifery Today’s fourth joint conference in Russia with Home Child, Katerina’s Russian magazine.
The depth and breadth of the conference was amazing. There is so much hurt in the lives of Russian moms from horrendous births in Russian hospitals. Many of these sweet women were experiencing deep pain from their birth experiences. There were some excellent times of healing and learning. The main event was five days and was video streamed so that others could participate remotely. Midwifery Today conferences around the world are helping change the paradigm of birth, and we at Midwifery Today are pleased to be part of that change.
— Jan Tritten
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Labor Encouragement with Essential Oils
Many midwives are familiar with herbs that encourage labor, such as blue and black cohosh. Not many midwives, however, know that essential oils are estimated to be up to 70 times more powerful than herbs. According to Dr. David Hill, a world-renowned essential oil expert, “Essential oils are powerful medicinal agents. Their chemical profile is diverse and concentrated, making them many times more potent, more biologically active, than other forms of plant medicine” (Hill, personal communication). Some essential oils enhance uterine action and can be used to encourage labor contractions. These same oils can be used to accelerate labor once it is established. Surprisingly, some of these oils also induce a sedative effect, producing stronger contractions while decreasing the perception of pain. (Care should be taken not to use these oils near pregnant women who are not yet full term, as they could theoretically initiate preterm labor. They should not be opened or diffused in your office if you will also be seeing other pregnant clients the same day.)
Lavender is popular amongst many midwives and doulas because of its varied uses in labor. It calms the entire birth team, lowers tensions and blood pressure, and facilitates labor’s energy flow. Lavender oil contains a small amount of the ketone camphor, which can be emmenagogic, so some authorities recommend it be used with caution in early pregnancy. However, because it is a weak emmenagogue, it is unlikely to initiate uterine contractions in a healthy pregnancy. Many authorities see no reason to place restrictions on its use in pregnancy (Tiran 2000). When attempting to encourage contractions, consider the following essential oils that encourage uterine contractions: clary sage, jasmine, Solace and Whisper (doTERRA blends).
• Place 2–3 drops of any of the above essential oils on a tissue or cotton ball and inhale frequently or place near pillow while sleeping.
• Dissolve 1 drop Whisper or jasmine essential oil in 1 tsp perfumer’s alcohol and wear as a perfume.
• Inhale any of the above essential oils using a nasal inhaler or directly from the bottle. Alternatively, apply one drop of any of these oils to a Terra-Cotta pendant and wear.
• Mix 2 drops of clary sage essential oil with 2 tsp carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. Apply to abdomen and inside of ankles every half-hour. Alternatively, apply the oil neat to these areas then follow with fractionated coconut oil. Solace blend may also be used since it contains clary sage.
• To speed up a slow labor: Mix 2 drops clary sage essential oil, 2 drops lavender essential oil and 2 drops Whisper blend or jasmine essential oil. Blend with 1 tablespoon carrier oil and massage lower abdomen and lower back.
In my experience, labor typically begins 3–10 days after commencement of essential oil use as recommended above. Using essential oils to encourage labor is not often a quick process, unless the mother is already on the verge of labor. However, once labor has initiated, essential oils have been shown to speed up a slow labor while decreasing pain perception.
Read this excerpt of an article which appears in the newest issue of Midwifery Today, Summer 2015, now available on our website:
Q: What are your favorite essential oils to use for birth?
— Midwifery Today
A: Tea tree oil is great to use on the lower back to relieve pain.
— Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos
A: Peppermint oil in the toilet to help urinate after baby.
— Karen Bachman Kells
A: Young Living’s Peace, Calming and Joy for uplifting and calming during labor, and Deep Relief for that back labor!
— Tarrin Fletcher
Craving more birth info?
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