Last week slipped away from me as follows: WE FINALLY GOT OUR TAX REFUND, SO NOW I CAN BUY CLOTH DIAPERS AND NURSING TANKS–AND, OH, IT’S GETTING HOT, HOT, HOT OUTSIDE AND MY DAUGHTER DOESN’T HAVE ANY SUMMER CLOTHES FOR HER SIZE, SO WE NEED SOME OF THOSE TOO! Needless to say, with my head swimming with baby and toddler needs, I didn’t get this post out, but as I’ve had several pregnant women in my classes come up to me asking about my experience with natural childbirth and any advice I can give them, I thought I’d pass along the information here.

Please note: I’m not a medical practitioner. All of the advice that follows merely comes from my own experience. Seek a qualified medical practitioner to answer any and all your questions with regards to your health care options.

Almost all mothers, particularly first-time mothers, have fears. Many of these are related to the pain, or perceived pain, that you’ll encounter while giving birth. Make no mistakes–I’m not going to lie–giving birth to a child hurtsA lot. Underline that at least three times.

With that said, here are the four main points I tell mothers interested in going a natural route for childbirth:

  • Trust your body: it knows what it’s doing. The key is to keep your head when the going starts getting rough.
  • It’s a mind game: in order to achieve that natural birth plan, you’ve got to be mentally prepared to override your impulses for pain-relief. You’ve got to be tougher mentally than the contractions that can–and do–make you cry.
  • Breathe: practicing yoga breathing (slow, steady breaths) is one of the best ways to help your body relax as you’re going through contractions. You can also look to see if there are birthing classes in your area for breathing tips and techniques. Relaxation is key to a successful natural birth.
  • Go with the flow: stuff happens. All our perfectly laid-out plans don’t always go accordingly, and sometimes we’re totally thrown off by the sudden need for medical intervention. Don’t beat yourself up because your drug-free plans went awry. It’s better than you and baby are safe (via a c-section, etc.) than risk further complications and your lives.

One final thought I’ll touch upon before I wrap up. Make sure that you’ve got a good “team” or support person with you while you go through the birthing process. My husband was fantastic. He jumped right in, did what the nurses and midwife instructed him to do without batting an eyelash. They were even cracking jokes!

Not all men are like that. We know families whose guys were squeamish, and that just creates more stress than a mother in the middle of childbirth needs. Seek someone else (a parent or friend) or hire a doula (birthing coach) to help you if your significant other can’t or won’t be there for you physically, emotionally, etc.

Most importantly, make sure that you are completely comfortable with how your doctor will be delivering your child(ren). If you aren’t, I suggest finding someone you’ll like well, or even love. Even with all our amazing technological advances in medicine today, childbirth is still a risky business as well as being a very personal experience. The fewer worries you have going into the birthing process, the more you’ll be able to put your game face on, concentrate on having baby, and celebrating the life that’s coming to rest in your arms.

There are a lot of opinions out there on how to use essential oils (EO’s). So many, in fact, that it can leave you scratching your head wondering what way to go. Companies like doTERRA, for whom I sell, claim that many of their products can be applied directly to the skin without dilution, or neat; those that are considered “hot” need a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. On the other side of the coin, many aromatherapists state that essential oils are such strong compounds that you should always diffuse them and/or use them with carrier oils. Then there are the age ranges, like how and when and how much to use on young children.

Truth be told, it gets overwhelming!

Even though I represent doTERRA, I fall on the side of caution for several reasons: 1) scientific research, while being done, isn’t finished yet on many/most EO’s; 2) diffusion/dilution of EO’s reduces the risks of sensitivity reactions and/or sensitization; 3) there’s a lot of reading I need to do on the various EO’s genotypes and any safety concerns that go along with them; 4) I typically believe in the less-is-more approach. Even Modern Essentials, the reference book many doTERRA wellness advocates regularly consult, suggests diffusion/dilution for a good many of the oils listed, and to not use any oil (except, perhaps, lavender) on children under the age of 6 neat, or even at all.

Then, for many of us who use Dr. Google to find out more information on a particular topic of choice, there are the internal disagreements in the EO community, both between traditional aromatherapists and corporations, and between corporation and corporation. I’m not one to bash any company or way of using EO’s. I merely promote doing your own research. Therefore, I’ve dug around and come up with a starter list of good places to go when you want to know more (regardless of any company affiliation):

  • Using Essential Oils Safely (Facebook group): where education is the primary focus, not sales or support of brands, and moderated by a group of trained aromatherapists who, in my opinion, give good advice on EO use. They also have a list of good websites to go to for more EO information under their files.
  • Learning about EOs: a website run by an aromatherapist trained through AromaHead Institute, one of the leading aromatherapy schools in the USA.
  • The Tisserand Institute: Robert Tisserand is, perhaps, the foremost expert on EO’s, their constituents, their uses, and their safety concerns. He also sends out a newsletter, to which you can subscribe, and also wrote Essential Oil Safety, a huge compendium of his lifelong research in the field.
  • Essential Oil Blogging: run by Plant Therapy, a company that I’ve heard recently began working with Tisserand, and whose blog is extremely friendly for those who aren’t into scientific terminology.

I’ve deliberately stayed away from websites linked to big corporations, like doTERRA and Young Living, merely because my primary goal here is to educate rather than sell (though I do list the monthly promotions in each month’s EO blog post), and because there is a lot of contention between companies that, frankly, I’d rather not get into as it makes my head spin. I think that the EO community is better off with good, solid information from non-biased sources (or as non-biased as I can find currently) rather than any propaganda aimed at undermining a competitor. Where you go to purchase quality therapeutic-grade oils is entirely up to you, as each person will swear by what works for them–and what works for them isn’t necessarily what will work for others. (DoTERRA has worked well for me, which is why I chose to become a wellness advocate in addition to how they source their oils and work to give back to the distillation communities. Likewise, a friend of mine swears by her Young Living oils. It all comes down to personal preference and what works for you.)

So how do you use EO’s safely?

  • Read the Latin name of the oil being used–this is really important so you aren’t using the wrong type of, say, lavender.
  • Check out material safety data sheets, if available, or another source (like Tisserand) to find out what safety concerns there are.
  • When in doubt, dilute, diffuse, or avoid all together.
  • Always consult your physician before starting a new regimen (even an EO regimen) and/or an aromatherapist for details on EO’s that will benefit you.

The biggest part of using EO’s safely is to read, read, read, and talk with those who have experience in the field. If you aren’t certain that the information you received from a company sales rep is accurate, look for good, non-biased EO sources that can just focus on what EO’s and their blends are about without regard to brand name and the bottom line. In my own personal experience, the more I research, the more I am considering becoming a certified aromatherapist so that I know what I’m selling better in order to give the very best advice to those seeking to use EO’s.

For those who are interested, there are many good aromatherapy training options out there. Check out the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy for lists of approved schools. Those that cross over in both lists are, it seems, the most highly recommended.

See more on EO’s here and here.

Speaking of how doTERRA sources, here is a spotlight on the process they go through on sourcing their lemon and bergamot essential oils in addition to a closer look at lemon oil.

March 2015 Specials

Visit www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit http://www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit http://www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information