If you’ve ever been pregnant, then you know about the game where one person tells you her best pregnancy horror story and then the next woman tries to outdo her.
The best way to celebrate a new mom is to make sure she is thoroughly terrified to become one, apparently.
People tell you about swollen feet and sleepless nights, but the most schocking part of pregnancy is one that no one will tell you about.
So of course, I was entirely unprepared for the way that people started pushing their own narrative on me even before my jeans stopped buttoning.
I was annoyed by so many blatant intrusions into a story that I had only just sat down to write.
Of course, she’ll find out the sex. Of course, she’ll have a hospital birth. Of course, she’ll ask for the epidural, (silly girl just doesn’t understand how painful it’s going to be).
Obviously, she’s miserable; look at those feet! Obviously, she’s keeping her job. Obviously she doesn’t know how much sleep she’ll be missing.
No doubt, no doubt, no doubt that your story will read exactly the way theirs did.
While all three of my pregnancies have been easy and uncomplicated, the first two left me feeling very much like a puppet in someone else’s play - bopped here and tugged there by a slew of well-meaning but presumptuous puppeteers.
Using Essential Oils During Pregnancy (And Other Eccentric Ideas)
This pregnancy with Isaac was my first one using essential oils. Because I wanted to prevent uninvited advice from derailing my happiness over this new baby, I made a point of creating routines that felt peaceful and empowering.
Every morning, I let the sweet smell of Geranium essential oil mingle with the fried-eggs-and-coffee-scent of my kitchen. Now, it’s a forever reminder of my big kids coming to plant sleepy morning kisses on my growing bump.
Each night, when everyone was asleep, I sat in the dim light and massaged Gentle Baby onto my belly.
Those quiet moments with just my third-born, learning his habits and feeling his ever-stronger kicks, reminded me that I was chosen to be his mama because I’m exactly the mama he needs.
And for the first time, I felt like my voice was the one telling the story of my pregnancy.
As with any unconventional idea, plenty of people will (perhaps not politely) suggest that using essential oils while you’re pregnant is silly, misguided, or even dangerous.
I (politely) suggest that you read up on the topic and make whichever choice your gut tells you is the right one.
I used the Gentle Babies book for suggestions about specific oils and general precautions to take during pregnancy. I also double-checked with my chiropractor and midwife that oil-infused supplements were safe to continue taking.
Using Essential Oils During Labor
I went into my first two labors with the mindset that childbirth was something that was going to happen to me, not something that I was going to take part in.
I had an epidural with my first baby, but my second labor progressed too quickly for even an IV port.
I walked into labor and delivery seven centimeters dilated and pushed our baby girl out half an hour later as Trey rushed back into the room with nurses he pulled from the hallway.
There was no doctor instructing me to push. No medicated fog to dull my senses. No monitors or wires or needles taped to my hand.
In the last moments that my daughter was a physical part of me, I got to feel everything my body and hers were doing together to bring her out of my belly and into my arms.
I knew then that birthing my babies was the most profound work I would ever do and if I was fortunate enough to one day do this work again, I didn’t want to be numb for it.
No, I wanted to own my own story.
Essential Oils Create a Calm + Confident Labor Environment
With this pregnancy, I knew that I wanted to avoid an epidural or any other interventions. Still, I remembered clearly the intensity of birthing a baby; I knew, too, that complications could interfere with my careful plans.
What if this labor is unbearably long? What if I have awful back labor? What if my body gets exhausted? What if I have to transfer to the hospital instead of delivering at the birth center?
The only thing I could personally guarantee was my own mindset, so I prepared for the labor I wanted by creating ways to ground my anxious feelings and remind myself of my own strength.
My 3 Favorite Oils to Use During Labor
I planned to deliver at a birth center, but my blood pressure began to creep higher as my due date neared. After a few days of monitoring, I decided (along with my midwife) that a hospital induction was now our safest choice.
As I gathered our bags that night, memories of my first two labors played back in my mind.
Specifically, I remembered how I felt afraid and angry with my body during my first induction. I remembered how sweet it was to hold my baby, but also the odd feeling that someone else had done the work of birthing him.
I remembered Ella Claire’s fast and furious arrival; how proud I was of what my body had accomplished but also how I felt some disappointment, like I had just been an observer from the sidelines for the whole event.
This time, I wanted to feel like I and my body were one. When it was all over, I wanted to be proud of what I had accomplished - not what my body had accomplished without me.
So while we waited (all night and the next day) for the medication to do it’s job and get labor started, I rolled Stress Away essential oil blend on my chest and wrists.
Besides giving me a tangible something to do so that I didn’t feel completely at the mercy of Cervadil, the scent of vanilla + cedarwood essential oils worked to minimize the big feelings I had about being at the hospital and having an induction.
When active labor was starting, I rolled Valor on my spine and forehead and recalled the affirmations I had practiced during my pregnancy.
Certain smells trigger our brain in specific ways and I was relying on Valor to keep those positive words in my memory even as labor became intense.
Finally, sometime between three centimeters and seven, Trey filled our diffuser full of Lavender + Frankincense and with total peace and strength, I delivered our sweet boy after six short hours of labor.
Even in a hospital, even with a medical induction, I achieved exactly the kind of birth I needed to experience.
How to Safely Introduce Essential Oils to a Newborn
Now that we’re home, of course I’m continuing to use essential oils on and around Isaac.
I’m introducing them to his body one at a time and I always dilute them in a carrier oil.
So far, Gentle Baby blend on his belly seems to be really comforting for him when he’s fussy. I keep Lavender + Frankincense in the diffuser by our bed, too; we all feel well-rested!
I took this picture a few days ago to capture everything that is beautiful to me about this sweet new season: I’m less anxious and more rested than people say I’m supposed to be. I’m kinder to myself than I was before. I’m writing when I can and, for the first time, finding contentment when I can’t.
Mostly, I just finally feel like I’m telling the story I’ve always wanted to write.