New parents are so bombarded with information it’s often hard to know what to do or what advice to follow. Modern medicine has made us think we need a “pill for every ill.” However, there are alternative means to enhance our overall health and natural remedies to help us feel better. Massage, rocking a baby, comforting toddlers and hugs are instinctive, natural ways that are very important in the well-being of babies, children and adults.
Aromatherapy enhances the benefits of massage and can also be used aromatically to have a calming, soothing, or desired effect. Essential oils are the ingredients of aromatherapy. They naturally occur in plants and must be used cautiously during pregnancy and with babies and toddlers.
Natural does not mean safe, but at the same time, it is not harmful when used correctly. The safe and effective use of aromatherapy (essential oils) can be very beneficial. Here are some tips:
- Essential oils are in harmony with our bodies (rather than synthetic toxic foreign chemicals). They are rapidly absorbed and speedily metabolised.
- How essential oils are used and the quantities needed require careful consideration.
- Topical use of aromatherapy is the best option. (It is suggested not to ingest oils )
- It is better to err on the side of caution, using aromatherapy for its tremendous benefits. As more research is done, using oils in minute quantities is shown to have excellent healing properties as the first line of treatment for common ailments. For example, inhaling peppermint and lavender for mild headaches is effective with a simple whiff, but not when the smell is overpowering.
- Pregnant moms and babies are more sensitive to oils and smells, so choosing oils carefully and less frequent use or smaller doses are recommended.
Pregnancy (Please always check healthcare procedures with your healthcare practitioner first)
- Certain oils are known to be safe in pregnancy. The citrus oils of Neroli, orange, mandarin, grapefruit, and petitgrain are examples.
- The pregnant mom will instinctively use what makes her feel nice to avoid over-inhaling oils. Lemon and peppermint inhaled may help with nausea in early pregnancy. Eucalyptus and Tea tree can be inhaled for blocked noses and tight chests, and once again, “less is better than more “. Camomile and Neroli are beautifully calming and helpful for relaxation and sleep.
- After the first trimester, one can use lavender, geranium, rose, and jasmine.
- Stimulating oils such as rosemary, juniper, and ginger may promote detoxification, so they are not suggested during pregnancy. Still, they can be used after six months of pregnancy.
- The benefits of massage in pregnancy are very soothing and can go a long way toward reducing stress.
- Gently massaging the stomach with nourishing vegetable oils* can help with stretchmarks.
- Use minimal quantities of essential oils diluted in a non-irritant carrier oil or cream.
- Can use aqueous cream or another non-scented cream as a base, or natural vegetable oil*
- Only use essential oils after babies are four to six months old, depending on their size and weight. Some babies are strong at four months, and some are still frail at six months. This guideline is for the average baby’s condition.
- Baby massage benefits the entire metabolism and can help with digestion and well-being.
- Use similar oils to those used in pregnancy, like lavender for calming, mandarin for general massage, Neroli, and geranium. Significantly few drops of enough base oil or cream to massage a whole baby are needed. Even one drop of essential oil could be sufficient.
- Do not use neat (concentrated oils) in a baby’s bath. Instead, use diluted base oil, but babies can be slippery in the tub, so it is safer to massage after a bath.
- Massage is calming for parents and babies. Involved dads can enjoy being the home masseur when massaging slowly, gently, and firmly the feet, limbs, tummy, and back. (psssst, mom may want a massage or two).
- Using oils such as eucalyptus and tea tree in a very mild mix on the chest, back, and feet helps with congestion. A few drops of pure oils on a tissue in the room can be sufficient to aid in alleviating stuffy noses – not too close to the baby.
- It is suggested to use prepared massage oils.
*Natural vegetable oils like almond, grape-seed, and jojoba are often used with essential oils as base oil, but they are not considered aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy has many incredible benefits that will create memorable bonding moments over this holiday season.
Doryce Sher | (Dip Pharm; Aromatherapist)
Founder – Aromatic Apothecary | | www.aromatic.co.za