30 Uses for Aromatherapy During Your Fourth Trimester
Essential oils can be an appropriate, effective and safe way to treat many of the ailments that families face after birth. With correct use and safety precautions, they can support you through the emotional, physical and hormonal changes that take place after having a baby. The Fragrant Pharmacy (Worwood, 1990, p. 279) lists the top postnatal oils as: Rose, Neroli, Lavender, Nutmeg, Clary-sage, Geranium, Grapefruit, Fennel, Calendula, Frankincense, Myrrh, Patchouli & Bois de rose. Denise Tiran has also written a comprehensive exploration on using essential oils in maternity care including the postnatal period (Tiran, 2000).
Below is a list of 30 uses for different essential oils for both Mumma and her babe.
Infections after Birth
1. Yeast infections (thrush) – Mix 15-20 drops Tea Tree oil in a spray bottle and apply after urinating (Amanda, 2015).
2. Urinary Tract Infections – Lemongrass, Melaleuca, Frankincense, Oregano and Helichrisum 2 drops of each in 1tbsp carrier oil. Rub oil on very lower abdomen/pubic region (avoiding mucous membranes) every time you urinate or every two hours, whichever is more often (Amanda, 2015). Or you can use compresses of warm water and essential oils pressed against the suprapubic and sacral areas for UTIs (Tiran, 2000)
3. Oils in the bath to prevent perineal or abdominal wound infection
4. Inhalations after Caesarean sections where respiratory tract infection is threatened (Tiran, 2000)
5. Cracked nipples/ nipple soreness – Helichrysum & Lavender blend can be rubbed on after each feed (Amanda, 2015)
6. Breast abscess massage oil
7. Massage oils to increase the flow of breastmilk (Worwood, 1990)
8. Compresses of tea tree oil or geranium oil to treat the signs and symptoms of mastitis (Tiran, 2000)
9. A sitz bath with lavender, myrrh, neroli, rose, grapefruit, mandarin, orange and roman chamomile could be effective in healing the perineum (Hur & Han, 2004)
10. Pain and inflammation – Add two drops each of Frankincense and Lavender to water to make frozen feminine pads for soothing, healing and inflammation immediately after birth
Haemorrhage / Lochia
11. Haemorrhaging – helichrysum on lower back, lower belly over uterus to prevent haemorrhage
12. Lochia – A blend of Clary Sage, Helichrysum, and Ylang Ylang will tone things back up quickly (Amanda, 2015)
Baby Blues / Postpartum Depression
13. A postnatal lift special oil to bring you physically and emotionally “back to normal” using Rose, Lemon, Frankincense, Bois de rose and Nutmeg.
14. Synergistic blends to help banish the baby blues by helping you feel special, calm you down, strengthen the nervous system and lift depression (Worwood, 1990)
15. Aromatherapy massage might be an effective intervention for postpartum mothers to improve physical and mental state and to facilitate mother-infant bonding (Imura, et al., 2006).
16. A blend of Rose otto and Lavandula angustifolia in a 2% dilution was inhaled or applied for a 15 minute sessions, twice a week for 4 weeks in a group of postpartum mothers. Testing using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale showed significant improvements greater than the control group. These are positive findings for aromatherapy as a complimentary therapy in both postpartum anxiety and depression (Conrad & Adams, 2012)
17. Add a couple of drops of peppermint to the toilet before taking a seat. Be careful with the peppermint oil if you are breastfeeding as it has been shown to decrease milk supply
18. Cramping and abdominal pain – use a cloth soaked in warm water with lavender and frankincense oils added (Amanda, 2015)
19. Lavender inhalation for caesarean post-operative pain – Patients in the Lavender group had less post-operative pain in four, eight and twelve hours after first medication than the placebo group (Olapour, et al., 2013).
20. Astringent and vasoconstrictor properties of oils such as cypress, juniper and frankincense may help to relieve the pain of haemorrhoids. They can be applied diluted as a compress or added to a shallow bath (Tiran, 2000)
21. The hair loss commonly seen in the postnatal period can be treated with oils such as rosemary, rose, camomile, lemon, cypress, clary-sage or calendula (Tiran, 2000)
22. A small study found that nausea levels in post-operative caesarean mothers were significantly lower 2 & 5 minutes after inhaling peppermint spirits comparted to the placebo group (Lane, et al., 2012).
23. Lavender and eucalyptus necklaces worn between 2-8pm every day, significantly reduced the fatigue felt by postpartum mothers (Lee, 2004)
When treating newborns with essential oils, not all are suitable and must be used in greater dilutions than for older children or adults (Worwood, 1990, p. 211). Some gentle oils you can use include Chamomile, Lavender, Yarrow and Dill for making up remedies for:
24. Dry, peeling newborn skin
25. Nappy rash
26. Cradle cap – lavender and chamomile
27. Diluted dill oil in a diffuser for digestive problems
Maxine Green (Green, 2006, p. 29) contributes a number of ways aromatherapy can be diffused therapeutically for babies and children using only a single drop or two of essential oils
28. Lavender, sweet basil and citrus oils can scent a room and dispel unwanted odours
29. Eucalyptus can help rid a room of germs and help with respiratory complaints
30. Oils such as citronella can be used to repel mosquitoes and other insects
31. Lavender can give a sedative and relaxing effect
32. Lavender, rose, chamomile or neroli can be used to help ease restlessness and insomnia
33. Frankincense can have a calming effect on restless children.
Essential oils have the power to provide you and your family with a more comfortable fourth trimester and can be used to compliment conventional care as well. Don’t forget to check with your, midwife or health care provider for personal recommendations and detailed instructions.
About the Author
Kelly Harper is the owner of Elemental Beginnings Postnatal Services (www.elementalbeginnings.net) in Adelaide, South Australia. She provides in-home postpartum support including postnatal doula care, belly-binding and mother roasting and help with understanding your newborn. She is a placenta encapsulation specialist and the founder of Placenta Services Australia (www.placentaservices.com.au). This is all done in Kelly’s “spare time” from being a solo mumma to four energetic children and sometimes she sleeps.
Amanda, 2015. Essential Oils Postpartum – Part 1: For Mamma. [Online] Available at: http://naturallivingmamma.com/2012/08/27/essential-oil-use-postpartum/
Conrad, P. & Adams, C., 2012. The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman – A pilot study. Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 18(3), pp. 164-168.
Green, M., 2006. Massage Your Baby With Love: Massage for Babies and Children. Balmain: Limelight Press Pty Ltd.
Hur, M. H. & Han, S. H., 2004. Clinical trial of aromatherapy on postpartum mother’s perineal healing. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, 34(1), pp. 53-62.
Imura, M., Misao, H. & Ushijima, H., 2006. The Psychological Effects of Aromatherapy Massage in Healthy Postpartum Mothers. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 51(2), p. 21–27.
Lane, B. et al., 2012. Examination of the effectiveness of peppermint aromatherapy on nausea in women post C-section. J Holist Nurs, 30(2), pp. 90-104.
Lee, S.-H., 2004. Effects of Aroma Inhalation on Fatigue and Sleep Quality of Postpartum Mothers. Korean J Women Health Nurs, 10(3), pp. 235-243.
Olapour, A. et al., 2013. The Effect of Inhalation of Aromatherapy Blend containing Lavender Essential Oil on Cesarean Postoperative Pain. Anesth Pain, 3(1), pp. 203-207.
Tiran, D., 2000. Clinical Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2nd ed. s.l.:Churchill Livingstone.
Worwood, V. A., 1990. The Fragrant Pharmacy: A Complete Guide to Aromatherapy and Essential OIls. s.l.:Bantam Books.