On the Birth and Being of Babes
Plants and flowers brim with vigorous, ever renewing life, and they symbiotically lend their life energy to sustain us. The life force of the plants oils in aromatherapy make them natural and wise attendants to births and babies. Following a few simple guidelines and your own intuition, essential oils will bless your birthing rite and befriend your new little one.
Before you put anything on yourself or your baby, you want to know that it is pure and really real. Essential oils available in the market, even those sold in health food stores, are often of questionable quality. Mass distilled for the food, flavor and perfume industry, these oils are cheaply produced, further adulterated in labs and may even be imitations. Issues with safety and effectiveness make it inadvisable to use low quality essential oils. Only authentic oils, distilled carefully and truthfully from organically grown plant matter, can fulfill the promises of plant wisdom.
Labor and Delivery
Essential oils are natural and reliable helpers as you prepare yourself and your home for your new arrival.
A few drops of Tea Tree oil, a potent botanicalbiotic, in warm water can keep you and your baby's world clean, starting with the birthing pool. You can also make a spray of water and Tea Tree to wipe down high chairs, car seats, crib railings and baby toys.
When labor begins, use an essential oil diffuser to fill the air of your birthing space with an aroma that creates a calming and welcoming atmosphere. Neroli, bergamot, grapefruit, lavender, white fir and cape chamomile are lovely… and I really like frankincense for this. As a sacred oil and a portal oil, frankincense opens us during transition periods and welcomes us to new places and stages of life.
The essential oil of marjoram is an excellent choice to melt stiff and knotting muscles during labor. As I was delivering our baby, Ron, my partner, massaged a 10% dilution of marjoram and lavender in jojoba oil on to my back right in the pelvic region in rhythmic circles. It was amazing!
Let Bath Time Wait
The first few precious moments after birth is a time of celebration and bonding with your baby. Try to let this moment last for hours! It is common for medical staff to whisk away the newborn for a quick bath. Washing a baby's skin immediately after birth is unnecessary and perhaps even counterproductive. Bathing lowers the baby's already falling body temperature, and infants have a very limited ability to create their own body heat in the first few hours of life. Neonatal experts urge us to let the bath time wait; "Washing a baby soon after birth clearly contributes to a fall in body temperature, and for this reason it is difficult to justify this practice." Instead, let your baby rest on your belly under a warm, dry blanket and let the skin contact keep the little one's body temperature up.
The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology gives an even stronger reason for delaying that first bath. Researchers reported that the white waxy substance, called vernix, that coats a newborn's skin is a valuable part of the infant immune system. Vernix is a wide spectrum antimicrobial agent that protects against bacterial and fungal infections, like B streptococcus and E. coli. The researchers advised, "Delaying the bath and keeping the newborn together with his or her mother until breastfeeding is established may prevent some cases of devastating infections caused by these bacteria."
Loving the Mother’s Body after the Birth
After the birth, essential oils can help you cool, recover, and get a little relief for the majestic accomplishment of your yoni. Make a little bottle for your bathroom of 30% virgin coconut oil, 55% organic jojoba oil mixed with 15% peppermint essential oil. This will help your yoni recover and ease you back into your normal daily routine.
Here are a few more useful and beautiful oils that support healthy, new motherhood:
• A few dabs of Neroli oil in a diffuser or as a pillow spray will help the family ease into new rhythms.
• One drop of fennel oil taken internally in a glass of water or with a spoonful of honey may assist with breast milk production.
• Reduce the soothe and relieve the itching of hemorrhoids by applying a 4% combination of German Chamomile, yarrow, and cypress in organic jojoba.
• A 15% combination immortelle, rose otto and seabuckthorn berry in jojoba oil will smooth stretch marks. Or, you can also use Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever. You can help the skin stretch without marks by liberally applying Best Skin Ever to your hips, breasts and belly a few times a day and right after a shower.
Breast Feeding for Baby's Immunity
Breastfeeding is the best thing that you can do for your baby's health. Each drop of breast milk contains over a million white blood cells and actually builds antibodies through all the years of breastfeeding. The substances in the milk shift and change to develop along with the child's changing needs.
Breastfeeding is also of prime importance in taking care of your baby’s teeth. Generally, newborns are born without teeth, yet their teeth are already forming. Nutrition is key for tooth development, so make sure that mom is getting enough of the fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D3 and K2 in her daily diet to pass on to baby. Tooth decay in babies and toddlers is never caused by breastfeeding. Nighttime nursing, which has been done since the beginning of time, has never caused a cavity. However, juices are very acidic and can promote cavities, so limit night time drinks to breast milk and water.
Some women are concerned that the essential oils they consume or use on their skin may pass through breast milk and harm the baby. Compounds from essential oils do pass through breast milk, and this is good. The oils will enhance the baby's health. To ensure safety, simply avoid using on yourself the few oils that are best left unused on young children. (See the list below.)
Botanical Baby Care
Essential oils provide simple solutions to common childhood issues, and may help you avoid trips to the doctor. There are hundreds of effective and easy to use essential oils. My favorite oils to use with babies are Roman and German chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, and rose otto. The general guideline for using oils on infants and young children is to keep the mixture of oils and carrier oil to a 1-2% dilution: 7-12 drops essential oil per ounce (2 tablespoons or 15 ml) of organic carrier oil.
There are only a handful of oils best avoided by little ones younger than 2 years old. These oils are:
• Citronella (which is not an authentic essential oil)
• Clove (undiluted),
• Pines and spruces
Also, you should avoid applying peppermint to infants because it is very cooling, like an ice cube, and can unsafely lower body temperature. As the child grows and is able to more efficiently regulate body temperature, you can start using peppermint – it is effective cleanser and soother for boo-boos.
It is very important to store your enticingly pretty bottles of essential oils out of the reach of children. Essential oils are very potent! Most oils taste like a pine tree and unappealing to a child's palate. Even so, for safety and ease of use, be sure to store all essential oils away from curious children and keep them in bottles with integrated drop-dispensing lids.
Teething can often challenge a baby’s immune system and may be accompanied by swollen gums, ear infections, colds, diarrhea and irritability. Raising your little ones dietary intake of phosphorus and vitamin C can be very helpful during teething.
To soothe gums, massage into the cheeks and jaw one drop of the essential oil of Roman Chamomile or lavender diluted with one drop of jojoba oil. To calm redness, half a drop of organic clove oil diluted in virgin coconut oil, or half a drop of Wild Child Happy Gum Drops can be applied to the gums.
Eucalyptus oil has a long history as beautiful chest balm. It blesses the chest with an easing essence. There are two great ways to use this oil. Rub a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil all over the bed sheets, rather than on the baby. Or, add a few drops to a vaporizer going in the baby's room.
Our teeth, jaws, sinuses, and ears are intricately connected, so teething can cause some ear issues in babies. These ear issues can be soothed with eucalyptus oil. Place 1-2 drops on a cotton ball and gently insert it into the ear for a few hours. You can also massage diluted lavender around the jaw and the area behind the ear.
Babies' soft, delicate skin is sensitive and can be easily irritated. When you clean and moisturize your baby, it is important to avoid petroleum based products frequently marketed for babies, like baby oil. Infants need to be cleaned, though, and essential oils can help you with that.
After I gave birth, the midwives warned me to keep Leif's belly button clean. I put on his belly button one drop of undiluted tea tree oil, widely heralded as a gentle cleaner, and then I put him in the warm sun for just 2 minutes. When the midwives returned the next day, his little belly was clean and his belly button was totally healed and formed. Normally it takes about two weeks to heal. (Still, I recommend that you dilute the oils for use on babies.)
Babies can be cleaned and protected, even from diaper rash, using a warm, damp cloth along with a mixture of Roman Chamomile in a carrier oil with a little bit of Calendula. Ron and I cut up an old flannel sheet into squares to use as wipes and used a little warm water and a squirt of Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever. You can also use Jai Baby Joy to promote healthy skin and to clean up during a diaper change. They both are great for an after-bath skin softening lotion – for you and your baby.
We all love a good massage and babies do, too. Massage stimulates circulation, gets the lymph system moving, improves the immune system and relaxes and calms baby, preparing her for deep sleep. I like jojoba or pure coconut oil as a massage oil, adding a little bit of lavender oil as I massage the baby's feet.
Colicky tummies are unpleasant for babies and tough on parents. A change in mom's diet is the first step to easing colic. Try eliminating from your diet the common childhood allergens to determine which foods upset your baby's tummy. These foods are: dairy, nuts, soy, eggs, wheat and fish. Also, you can add ginger and fennel to your diet to pass along the tummy-calming elements to baby through your breast milk.
In the meantime, as your diet takes effect, you can help your baby's digestion by dabbing a few drops of Colic Calmer to your little one's lower back and feet – places where her little wandering hands can't reach.
2 tablespoons jojoba
2 drops German Chamomile
3 drops Lavender
3 drops Cardamom
3 drops Fennel
3 drops Ginger
A responsible use of essential oils will bless you and your baby with good health. Always trust your intuition and common sense as you care for your child. As your knowledge of plant botanicals grow, your intuition and attunement to your child's needs will also strengthen. Let your mother's and father’s intuition guide you.
Nadine Artemis, the founder of Living Libations, is the author of Holistic Dental Care: The Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums, and Renegade Beauty: Reveal and Revive Your Natural Radiance, which was named one of “The Top 10 Books on Skin Care” by The Strategist of New York Magazine. She is a respected media guest and contributor, and her products have received rave reviews in the New York Times, LA Times, Elle, People, Vogue, and Hollywood Reporter. Described by Alanis Morissette as “a true-sense visionary,” Nadine crafts elegant formulations and healing creations from rare botanicals that have skin glowing around the world. Her concept of Renegade Beauty encourages effortlessness and inspires people to rethink conventional notions of beauty and wellness.