Having a new baby is a life-changing experience and something that can be quite challenging for the new mother. As your body recovers from giving birth and your hormones re-stabilize, it’s normal to feel drained and sometimes stressed or anxious.
Postpartum depression is a common issue for new mothers, but learning some self-care practices can help you feel better and navigate those early months when you are enduring sleepless nights and the challenges of childcare.
Essential oils are a great form of self-care. You can use aromatherapy diffusers to keep your home smelling sweet and fresh, and you can make massage blends that will soothe your skin and aching muscles while also balancing your mood and helping with anxiety. Let’s take a look at some of the best essential oils for postpartum pampering.
Bergamot Essential Oil
If you’re finding yourself struggling with muscle cramps or a backache, bergamot could be a good option for you.1 Bergamot is a relaxing essential oil which has been found to be helpful for remedying aches and pains.2 It has a pleasing scent which makes it a good choice to add to essential oil blends with mint or lavender in a refreshing massage oil. Alternatively, try it in a portable diffuser like Relieve MONQ.
Frankincense Essential Oil
It is not uncommon for women to experience urinary tract infections (UTIs) following giving birth.3 UTIs can be unpleasant at the best of times, and when you have a little one to take care of and you are already struggling to sleep at night, it can be just another piece of stress that you would prefer not to deal with.
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Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils, being useful for reducing stress and anxiety and improving the quality of your sleep. Studies show that lavender’s anxiety-beating properties are quite powerful. One recent clinical trial looked at the impact of essential oil treatments in women who had just given birth and found that regular inhalation of lavender can help you prevent stress, anxiety, and postpartum depression.5
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon oil is also useful for remedying UTIs, and it can also help increase the excretion of oxalates, thereby reducing the risk of kidney stones.7 Lemon oil can also help with constipation and nausea, and it has been found to help clear the airways and reduce congestion, so it is a good choice for new mothers who are feeling constantly run down.8 It’s an uplifting and mood-brightening fragrance that pairs well with many other oils. Try it in Vibrant MONQ.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is renowned for its antimicrobial and antibacterial effects.9 While some people find the scent too powerful, many others enjoy the zingy and refreshing feeling. If your skin has become rather greasy or you are experiencing breakouts of spots following childbirth, then using tea tree oil as a part of a regular skin cleansing regimen could be the answer.
Helichrysum Essential Oil
If you have sore nipples because you are breastfeeding, or you had a C-section and want to make sure that it heals as well as possible, then helichrysum could be a good choice for you. This essential oil can also help with hemorrhoids and other common postpartum ailments. Overall, it is a popular essential oil with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help improve your well-being.10
Consult with your doctor about the use of helichrysum when breastfeeding to make sure that you are using it in a safe and appropriate way.
Are All Essential Oils Safe to Use If You Are Breastfeeding?
Some essential oils are safe to use when you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding, but others are not. It is important that you seek professional advice before you use any essential oils.
Some of the key ones to avoid when you are pregnant or breastfeeding because of the concern that the oil could contaminate your breast milk and harm the baby include aniseed, camphor, parsley seed, sage, tarragon, and wintergreen essential oils.
There are some others, while other oils can be used in very small quantities but not in therapeutic quantities.11 That’s why it is so important to discuss your essential oil use with an expert before you start using essential oils topically.
Using Essential Oils for Postpartum Self Care
Some people find that they reap many benefits simply from inhaling essential oils via a room diffuser or vaporizer. For oils such as lavender, which is used for relaxation, that may well be enough. Other ways of using essential oils include adding them to bathwater, using them to make soap, or using them to make massage oils and body butter.
Note that while there are some essential oils that you can apply directly to your skin, there are many others that must be diluted first. Applying the wrong kinds of essential oils topically without diluting them could cause skin irritation and potentially an allergic reaction. Ingesting essential oils can also be harmful. Even a small quantity of essential oil can be toxic if ingested orally.12
If you want to apply essential oils to your skin, then you should dilute them with a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include coconut, olive, and jojoba oil. The purpose of the carrier oil is to stop the essential oil from evaporating before it is absorbed into the skin and also to dilute it to a level where the essential oil will be beneficial instead of causing burning and irritation.
Most essential oils should be diluted to around three percent for adults. Some can be used at concentrations as high as ten percent, but it is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to dilutions in order to avoid harmful effects. Additionally, avoid ingesting essential oils unless the product specifies that it is safe to do so and you have consulted with a medical professional.
Essential oils can be a great form of self-care, but they are not a total replacement for professional medical care. If you have been struggling with anxiety, depression, or other postpartum ills and you find that self-care strategies do not help you, seek advice from your doctor so that you have peace of mind. However, if you want a bit of a pick-me-up in the postpartum period and you’ve consulted with your doctor to ensure that it’s a safe option, the essential oils mentioned above are worth a try.
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