We aren’t strangers to essential oils these days. Between the holistic health movement and the green beauty movement, essential oils get a lot of talk time. While I have diffused a few essential oils around our home, that is the extent to which I have used them. So, I want to know more. And in particular, I want to know what is best and most safe for use during pregnancy, labour and postpartum.
I was glad to meet Laura Otten, an essential oil and dōTERRA representative. We sat down to have all of my questions answered.
Essential Oils During Pregnancy, Labour and Postpartum
Can you start by giving us a quick description of what essential oils are?
Essential oils are naturally occurring aromatic compounds extracted from different parts of a plant. They are highly concentrated, making them 50—70 times more powerful than herbs while providing endless health benefits.
Can you tell us about your journey with essential oils? When did you start using them and what drew you to them?
I’d love to share my journey with you. It really began 10 years ago in my early 20s when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which is an endocrine disorder affecting your hormones and fertility. Classic symptoms include irregular or absence of menstruation, excessive hair growth on face and chest, weight gain, thinning hair on head and depression. Professionals told me I would have trouble conceiving children naturally and wanted to prescribe me the pill as a solution until the time came that we were ready to start trying. My heart instantly shattered because I always envisioned myself being a momma. Working as a paramedic quickly opened my eyes to how easily the solution is always a pill, when really we can be doing so much more with a proactive approach and ownership of our own health and well-being. I wanted to know what was causing it and how I could help my body naturally heal from it. From there I basically began on a quest for wellness and would spend my free time researching natural alternatives for PCOS. This is when I first learned about essential oils and what eventually led me to dōTERRA and this lifestyle. I began using the essential oils and many other dōTERRA products to reduce the amount of toxins in our home and bodies while supporting my hormones, my sleep, my stress levels, my emotions, and they became my life.
But my favourite part of this journey is that we were surprised and blessed with two naturally conceived babies. Jack is three-and-a-half and our baby girl Coby will be two this June. I truly can’t express to you all how grateful I am to be sharing my story with you because if there is one thing I can give to just one girl reading this, it’s hope.
What is the difference between topically applying an oil, ingesting it internally and using it in a diffuser?
There are three different methods of using essential oils (i.e. routes they enter our bodies). Topical application is by means of applying to the skin or exterior of body to promote rapid absorption. Internally consuming essential oils can be done by ingesting in a gel cap, adding drops under the tongue or drinking in a glass of water to affect the whole body quickly. And breathing in essential oils by inhaling from the bottle or diffusing as smell is one of the most powerful senses we have. The aromatic compounds travel through your nose to the olfactory bulb where they convert to messages that travel though the nervous system.
Can pregnant women do all three?
A woman’s body goes through many uncomfortable changes during pregnancy, labour, postpartum and breastfeeding. Essential oils can provide valuable support in so many ways. For example, I had such relief using Deep Blue topically on the aches and pains in my hips and was able to relieve uncomfortable burning in my chest with a drop of digestive blend internally. The important guidelines to follow are: do your research, use only certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils, pay attention to your body’s response and discuss it with your physician, midwife or other healthcare provider first. Personally, I continued using all three methods during my pregnancy and while breastfeeding but I did not introduce any products that I hadn’t already been taking internally prior to pregnancy. Essential oils, when used appropriately and as directed, can provide great support to pregnant and postpartum women, plus baby too.
Where are the best places to shop for essential oils and how can a mom search for purity in the essential oils that she is looking to purchase? What information should she be asking for and hoping to find?
Transparency in the company — there is little regulation on quality in the essential oil industry. Look for where the oils are being sourced from. You want plants harvested in their natural habitat for best quality and purity. Look for verified pure and free of fillers and harmful contaminants. I chose dōTERRA for my family because they are certified pure therapeutic grade with third party testing. Check out https://sourcetoyou.com/en
As for where is the best place to shop, the founders of dōTERRA have a vision that goes much deeper than the product. They chose a direct sales approach to allow people to share the powerful benefits of essential oils from personal experience and build trust with customers. In my opinion, the best place to shop from is your own personal online store at wholesale price — it’s like Costco but from the comfort of your home! Check out the link at the bottom to explore this option.
Do you have a favorite diffuser? What should people look for when shopping for a diffuser?
My favourite diffuser is the dōTERRA Lumo. It has a sleek maple wood base that I find goes great with any decor. I love that you can choose for it to run from two, five or ten hours plus have the option of choosing no light or from seven different colour options.
There are several different types of diffusers available. When diffusing essential oils you want to look for an ultrasonic diffuser. They work via a tiny vibrating disc that vaporizes the essential oils into the air. Avoid using devices that heat the essential oils as this will alter their chemistry taking away from the therapeutic benefits.
How important is it to keep an eye on which essential oils are in our beauty products during pregnancy? Is there a concentration level that is deemed safe?
When you Google search toxins in umbilical cord blood you can sift through dozens of articles outlining the impact of what a mother passes on to her child in utero. For this reason it is very important to be aware of what ingredients are in any product we use. I recommend the same diligence as when researching what essential oils to use — look for company transparency, purity, quality, and where are the oils coming from. And always follow your intuition and err on the side of safety.
For reference, here are the dilution ratios suggested by dōTERRA:
Babies – 0.3% dilution (1 drop to 1 tablespoon)
Children – 1.0% dilution (1 drop to 1 teaspoon)
Adults – 2.0 – 4.0% dilution (3-6 drops to 1 teaspoon)
Can you list your favorite essential oils for:
dōTERRA Life Long Vitality supplements: I swear by these for increased energy, better sleep, clearer skin and reduced brain fog (I used these in place of prenatal pills but continue to take them everyday.)
dōTERRA Digestive Blend: for nausea and heartburn discomfort. Bonus — this blend is such a great tool to have for a fussy new baby. Massage around baby’s belly button to help soothe tiny tummy discomforts.
dōTERRA Deep Blue: ‘Cause girlfriends, those aches and pains are for real!
dōTERRA Serenity: For a restful night’s sleep (at least between pee breaks that is!)
dōTERRA Immortelle: Because as proud as we are of those tiger stripes, we don’t need to sport them for the rest of our lives!
Frankincense: Well-known for its extraordinary health benefits, it promotes feelings of peace, relaxation and overall wellness. I had such a powerful experience grounding my mind and body through my labour with Coby and even placed a swipe across her forehead the moment they placed her on my chest.
Lavender: An epsom salt bath can provide relaxation and decrease stress during labour. Add two drops of lavender to 1 cup epsom salt and add to your bath water.
A DIY Perineal Healing Spray and/or Padsicles: Few women share the traumatic details of what happens to your lady parts. (Jack was a forceps delivery and quite literally ripped out of me, ouch).
Prior to my due date, I whipped up a mixture of witch hazel and aloe vera gel with drops of frankincense, lavender and dōTERRA Immortelle. You can add the solution directly to your extra-large organic pads, wrap with foil and toss in the freezer for soothing cold packs in the weeks post-delivery.
DIY Perineum Cold Packs
In a bowl combine:
1/2 cup aloe vera
1/2 cup witch hazel
4 drops each frankincense, lavender and Immortelle
Stir to combine. Spread one to two tablespoons of mixture over entire pad. You want all areas covered but not overly saturated. Continue with remaining pads. Place in freezer!
Clary Sage: It’s one to avoid throughout your pregnancy but is packed full of benefits once labour has begun for its ability to help strengthen contractions, increase milk supply and support your hormones.
So, how can moms reach out to you with further questions and to start stocking up on essential oils?
It is such a pleasure to be able to share my love of essential oils with you. All of my favourite DIYs, social media links and more goodness can be found here:
Thank you Laura! I appreciate your time and guidance so much. I encourage all parents to reach out with more questions because Laura is someone who will take her time to walk you through everything you want to know and should know about essential oils, whether you are a total newbie or have been dabbling in them for some time.
Also, so important to mention, please make sure that you check with your health care practitioners before using any essential oils. All bodies are different, right? That way you’ll have an idea of what might be the most effective and safe oils for you and your family.
I hope everyone begins to find a little plant therapy.