By Natalie Lütge (Birth Doula, Maternal Aromatherapist & Herbalist)
Aromatherapy is rapidly growing in popularity in our society today; as more people practise this therapy (especially correctly) the greater the awareness is growing around its profound benefits. In case you’re unsure on what aromatherapy is; it is an integrative, holistic therapy that uses botanical extracts and essences in the form of massage and inhalation to promote health and wellness of the body, mind and emotions.
Aromatherapy can help to support so many different aspects of a person‟s life, but I personally love witnessing its amazing power in the maternal space. The beauty of this therapy is that although it can be powerfully effective, it can also be gently beneficial. With the guidance and advice of a qualified Aromatherapist, you can use aromatherapy throughout your entire maternal journey; to support and assist with areas such as infertility; conception; miscarriage; pregnancy; labour and birth; postpartum maternal support; and even lactation and newborn support.
This area of a woman‘s maternal journey can be very challenging; physically, mentally, hormonally and emotionally. Although many women come to find excitement and hope through this time, quite often, this journey can be rather invasive regarding its treatments and it can often create a sense of pain, heartache and even feelings of loneliness and helplessness. While there are essential oils that can support the changing hormonal cycles from infertility drugs, there are also other oils can help to provide more emotional care and comfort through this journey.
Oils such as cypress, coriander, chamomile, clary sage, fennel, geranium, lavender, lemon balm, rose, thyme and ylang ylang (depending on their dosage, mode of administration, and the type of fertility treatment), can help to ease the physiological symptoms of infertility treatments while bringing a sense of comfort and optimism through the emotional and psychological discomforts of the process.
The process of trying to conceive is an area of a woman’s maternal journey that can be quite bittersweet. While there is the excitement and optimistic hope for falling pregnant, there are some conception journeys that extend beyond months, which can cause discouragement and even heartache. The importance of aromatherapy support through this time is focused mostly on hormonal and emotional support.
Through consistent “trying”, many couples may begin to feel like their sexual relationship is losing its passion and may even feel like sex is becoming a chore – in some cases – a disappointing chore; this can make conception exceedingly more difficult: physically, psychologically and emotionally. The use of aphrodisiac, stimulant and comfort oils can be extremely beneficial to keep the atmosphere of passion alive between the partners and in the bedroom. Since a couple’s sexual relationship is the foundation of conception, it is important to nurture and support this area in a couple’s life who may be walking along this journey.
Oils such as frankincense, rose, sandalwood, vanilla, clary sage, geranium, ylang ylang, neroli, lavender, chamomile, and mandarin (depending on their dosage and mode of administration), can help to support the physiological and hormonal female reproductive cycle; stimulate sexual desire; create a euphoric and relaxed atmosphere for sexual activity; and bring a sense of comfort and healing to the heart when disappointment or discouragement surfaces.
This area in a woman’s life can be deeply discouraging and painful to go through, especially when there have been multiple miscarriages in a relationship. The depth of the emotional and psychological difficulty is greatly magnified when a miscarriage has occurred through infertility or extended conception journeys. While there are oils that work to support and strengthen the female reproductive system, the main focus of aromatherapy within the field of miscarriage is to heal and comfort the heart and to encourage a sense of comfort and peace through the grief process.
Oils such as chamomile, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, neroli, palmarosa, rose and rosewood (depending on their dosage and mode of administration), can help to ground and calm intense emotions; balance the adrenal responses of the body and mind; soothe the heart; and create a sense of security, peace and comfort, to support a couple through their grief and encourage emotional healing in order to proceed with conception again in a gentle and relaxed approach.
In cases where the grief of miscarriage is too difficult and begins to create distance and difficulty with resuming physical intimacy in the relationship; then the use of aphrodisiac, stimulant and comfort oils such as frankincense, rose, sandalwood, vanilla, clary sage, geranium, ylang ylang, neroli, lavender, chamomile, and mandarin (depending on their dosage and mode of administration) can help to encourage sexual desire by creating a euphoric, relaxed and safe atmosphere for sexual activity to resume.
In the following months, we’ll explore aromatherapy in other areas of the maternal space – pregnancy; labour and birth; postpartum maternal support; lactation and newborn support.
Safety Consideration within Aromatherapy
Now that you have run through how aromatherapy can benefit the maternal journey, it is also incredibly important to note that this therapy is intensely effective and can cause profound physiological, hormonal, psychological and emotional responses from the body due to the individual chemical composition of the oils and how these chemicals affect each person. Therefore, it is imperative that you practice responsible use of essential oils during the maternal period, preferably
with the advice and guidance of a qualified Aromatherapist who specialises in maternal care, even more so if:
– Your pregnancy is classed as high risk
– You‟re attempting a vaginal birth for the first time after a cesarean
– You‟re on any medication or herbal supplements
– You have any serious medical, neurological, or psychological conditions
– You‟re attempting a home birth.
The practise of aromatherapy is a complementary/supportive/integrative therapy that works alongside standard, allopathic healthcare – it does not replace it – it is important to be sure to practice open communication with all your care providers regarding which therapies/treatments you are currently undergoing, to ensure that all treatments, when combined, serve your maternal journey in a safe, effective and balanced way.