Category Archives: mother

Walnut Brownie Energy Balls (with a Divine superfood twist-vegan/glutenfree)

From breastfeeding to errands and work schedules, it can feel overwhelming to prepare snacks at home that are high in nutrition and easy to eat on the go. When I was making this Walnut Brownie Energy Ball recipe, I wanted to create something that was easy to prepare and tasted like a treat without the sugar crash to get myself through my daily errands. With only three steps to make, these energy balls are quick to assemble and even easier to eat!

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With the bitterness of walnuts and richness of chocolate, the base of nut butter and dates provides a creamy texture for these energy balls. The recipe itself is very versatile depending on your pallet. Try playing with the amount of walnuts and coconut flakes if you want something with less bitterness. There is also an option to add sweetener to the recipe if your sweet tooth desires!

energyballsss

You can also change-up the type of nut butter you use.  I used peanut butter when I made these but the possibilities are endless: cashew butter, pumpkin butter, or tahini.

I also wanted to try out Harmonic Arts new Divine Feminine Herbal Tonic Blend so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. With a rich amount of adaptogens and hormone regulators, the Divine feminine Blend is an opportunity to reset your body and create balance within the many cycles and systems of your body.

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As each person has different needs, the addition of this blend is not a required element of the Walnut Brownie Energy Ball recipe. If you are breastfeeding, you may be interested in adding Brewer’s Yeast to turn these into lactation energy balls, or maca if you want to stick to one herb.

energyballs

The key to a good energy ball is making something that is tasty, nutritious, and easy to prepare. Try exploring with this recipe as a guideline and create something that you’ll want to make again!

Walnut Brownie Energy Balls
½ cup chopped and soaked dates
¼ cup nut butter
½ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup hemp hearts
¼ cup coconut flakes
1 tsp Harmonic Arts Divine Feminine Blend *if desired
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

*¼ cup chocolate chips if desired
* 1-2 tbsp sweetener like honey or maple syrup if desired

Using a hand emulsifier, pulse dates and nut butter together until smooth (If using a food processor, pulse walnuts until they are a desired consistency first and remove. Continue to use food processor on pulse setting as to not over-mix the batter once all ingredients are added).

Add in remaining ingredients and fold together using a spatula. Taste batter and add sweetener if desired.

Roll dough into teaspoon sized balls using the palms of your hand. Roll in coconut or hemp flakes if desired.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze.

 

With Love, From Ficus.

http://www.ficusdoula.com

 

 

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Making Informed Decisions Before Your Birth

We’ve all heard the birth stories about the parents who goes in with their ideal birth plan and end up with a number of procedures that they felt were unnecessary. They might have thought I won’t have to have a c-birth because I have had a healthy pregnancy or I am going to birth at home because that was what I was able to do with my first child. There are a number of reasons why we don’t focus on the fact that birth can change paths so quickly but it is something that needs to be recognized.
Here in the Comox Valley, I am fortunate enough to be part of the Comox Valley Doulas– a collection of empowering birth advocates who get together once a month that have worked as Doulas amongst other titles within our community. Every time I walk away from a meeting, my mind races with many ideas of how I can integrate my training to be a better doula, how can I help families recognize their strengths, how can I open up their ability to make informed decisions during their birth?
And then the answers started to hit me: It starts with the power we have as individuals to make informed decisions outside of the critical moment. If I can help women understand many avenues of birth that they are not focusing on, will they feel the power of consent when it comes to procedures? Will they feel like they are making the best choice for themselves and their baby when they say “Yes” or “no” to something because they know what their medical care is talking about before hand? Can I help them take away the fears surrounding interventions before they may or may not be approached with them so they can keep their confidence as a birth warrior?
The answer: I know I can.As doulas, we cannot speak for you. We cannot replace your consent with our own and we cannot speak on your behalf. No matter how close we become during your prenatal care, it is a line we do not cross. We can ask you questions, we can help you look for answers, but in no way, shape or form can we put our voice where yours belongs. So what can we do? We can help you search for the answers to questions about interventions, inductions, tests and monitoring during your pregnancy so you are confident in your words if these situations come up. We do not doubt your abilities to create your birth wishes (we love those wishes) but in a world where birth is unpredictable– may that be because of hospital staff, stress levels, positioning of baby or even lack of sleep, it is so incredibly important to be able to speak confidently for your body and your baby.

So where does this all begin? The minute you find out your pregnant! Our minds swirl through ideas of morning sickness, when to tell people, when to have a baby shower, who is going to be at the birth, who is going to watch previous children, what will you eat and most importantly what kind of caregiver are you looking for.
The first step in your pregnancy is not only finding a medical caregiver (may that be a doctor or midwife) but finding a medical caregiver that has views similar to your own.
This basic relationship and understanding of your body in connection with their level of care is vital for your confidence and keeping the birth power flowing during labour. You can look through your community for different practitioners and ask them questions about their intervention rates, how they feel about everything from episiotomies to c-births and what kind of medications they feel comfortable working with. If there are views or statistics they bring up that make you cringe or feel uncomfortable, you CAN keep searching for the level of care you and your baby deserve. Just like interviewing a doula, it is important to find that your birth support is on the same page as you. You want that emotional connection and understanding of the birthing body, the changes that might happen to you before you sway into transition and the choices you need to make immediately after the birth of your child. You want to understand, you want to be judgement free and most of all, you want to be empowered.

So how do you do this? It may sound like you’re going to university, but research.. And lots of it. You might groan or drift off through parts of it, but this birth will only happen once and feeling like you are prepared will keep you calm and proactive in the deep waves of labourland. It doesn’t have to be all textbooks and articles– you can ask your healthcare provider for answer, you can ask your friends for their birth stories, and your doula can guide you through materials as well(We’re really good at finding information in your study language). The goal is to remove fear associated with some of the unknowns of pregnancy and birth. If you can understand even a little bit of what doctors are talking about before you make your way to your birth location, you are removing the negative reactions within your body and keeping your labour hormones flowing (removing the fight or flight response). There are lots of resources available and I really mean lots.. So let’s work together to make your choices during birth yours!

books

Here are a few questions you and your birth partner can ask prenatally about tests and procedures:

– What is the reason for this test and how will the answers effect my pregnancy and baby?
– Will this procedure be repeated through my pregnancy/birth and what are the risks associated?
– What does that “insert big word here” mean? Can you walk me through what it means for my baby and my body?
– How urgent is this treatment? What are the risks associated with waiting?
– If I consent to this treatment, how long after am I able to walk/leave the hospital?
– If I consent to this monitoring, will I be able to continue with movement?
– If I consent to this intervention, how long does it last and flow through my body? How does it effect my baby in the womb/after birth?
– This is a procedure I was strongly against, can you provide a less invasive alternative?
– How/when do you suggest episiotemies/epidurals for your patients?
– What interventions do you seem to use the most? What interventions does your back-up colleague seem to use the most?

-Can we please have some alone time to discuss this option? I need a minute to make an informed choice.

Best wishes exploring your options, and remember, this is your birth, your body and your baby!

With Love, from Ficus.
Ficus Holistic Doula Services
http://www.ficusdoula.com

Birth Happens: A journey of Wombs in Bloom.

One of the things about birth is that you can never predict when the baby is going to come. A due date is really just an estimated marker, but baby can come any day of the week. One of my dear doula sisters had the opportunity to be present at her sister’s birth. The catch: They live on opposite sides of the country. This is her experience of being a long distance doula and what she did to overcome her expectations of being present during the birth.

Birth happens.

As much as you may try, you cannot predict its unique process. That’s the beauty of it. Having the wisdom to accept that your baby knows when and your body knows how. Be at peace and surrender to the rhythmic waves of your rite of passage. Let others lucky enough watch in awe as you conquer each one.

I was one of those lucky ones chosen to watch another bring new life earth-side. A gift not many receive–The gift of witnessing strength and courage.

Being invited to be in the presence of the most powerful of feminine energies.

To hold space and to hold hands.

To support birth wishes and support new families.

I was chosen to be my sister’s doula.     With four years apart, I was constantly amazed by my big sister. Copying every movement she made, every word she spoke. Once becoming the middle child I came to understand this is quite annoying. But irritating or not, I was to fly back home to Ontario to be by her side. Fresh out of school and trained as a holistic doula, I had travelled to Victoria, BC to pursue a calling from my soul. A calling which had me leaving everything and everyone I knew and I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that this is what I am meant to be doing and there is nothing else suited for me out there. I had been given valuable skills. My mind filled with knowledge, my heart with compassion and empathy. It was time to put all of these to work.

We spoke over Skype and through text messages of natural birth wishes and comfort measures, herbs and skin to skin contact. I gave her resources and advice. She gave me the blessing of my very first client. She wanted a different birth experience than the previous: She wanted to feel empowered and in control. We did not need to meet every month to create a bond. The trust and comfort was already there running through our veins. We had stories and inside jokes, family vacations and family pets. We shared the same upbringing. We were children of divorce and we share the same emptiness in our hearts of an absentee father. I knew just as well as she did what support she needed, and we were both ready to learn, grow and birth together.

With signs of a preterm birth (low cramping, belly drop and already 3 cm dilated) weeks before her EDD we decided it would be best if I flew in two weeks early and we could all prepare together. But baby V was to enter this world at a pace no one could see coming. She was anxious to lock eyes with the familiar voice that calmed her growing body, the woman whose womb created safe and ancient territory. She wanted to meet her mama and no one was going to stop her.

It was settled. I was leaving work and all packed to go. I said goodbye to the animals and my partner and headed out to take part in the most intimate and sacred of moments. I felt fear and disbelief in myself. I can admit that now. The very thought of letting her down shook me to the core. I felt like I needed to prove myself. I desperately needed my family to see that going to the other side of the country had paid off. I would catch myself in this negative space and quickly remind myself of all the training I had received, all of the experienced and enlightened instructors who filled my life with wonder and curiosity. They instilled a yearning for personal and professional growth. My heart was ready whether my brain knew it or not.

Baby V was growing fast and a stretch and sweep was to be done on the day I would be leaving. A stripping of the membranes can take days, even weeks and sometimes they don’t take at all. In case of baby V this was it! Her pathway was within view and she was that much closer to meeting those who already loved her. My flight was at 9pm and I had three layovers before I could get to Ottawa. I tried desperately to change my flight, but in the end my heart knew what was happening. A call from my mother made it real.

“She’s 8cm dilated.” “But I’m still in Vancouver, my flight isn’t for another hour. This is my job and I’m missing it.” I rambled and raged. I sobbed and kicked my luggage. I didn’t care that people were staring. They’d be crying too I they were me!

I had done what I feared the most: I was letting my big sister down.

How could she ever forgive me for missing the birth? How could I ever look into her eyes knowing that I disappointed her so much?  For hours these thoughts ran through my head. I was wondering if she was coping and if she had stayed drug free like she had wished for. Did she feel safe and empowered? Were the doctors and nurses giving her time to labour? Each plane could not go fast enough. I couldn’t sleep; I just wanted to be by her side. I wanted to look her in the eyes and say “You’re doing it!” I knew I couldn’t do any of these things and I felt raw and powerless.

I finally landed in Edmonton, ran into the airport and checked my phone. My sister had birthed a healthy baby girl completely drug free just like we had talked about. She did it! Everyone was happy and safe. Despite the wonderful news, I was still upset about the situation and angry that it was still going to be another 5 hours and another layover in Toronto until I could see my sister and meet my new niece.

 And then something hit me like a ton of bricks; I was being selfish.

I was letting something so special and beautiful hurt my feelings. I was being childish and it needed to stop. As much as I tried, I couldn’t shake my grumpiness. What if I had jinxed myself and my career?

I finally passed out for the 40 minute flight from Toronto to Ottawa. I woke up feeling more like myself. My mom picked me up at the airport, bought me breakfast (finally food!) and then we were on our way to the hospital. All of my anger and resentment towards the situation and me quickly melted away once I walked into that room. I saw my glowing sister and the first thing she said to me was “I did it.” My eyes filled with tears and I replied with “yes you did. You’re a birth warrior.”

I knew I couldn’t turn back time and be my sister’s birth doula but I could use my skills and be her postpartum doula. I stayed for a week to help her and her husband as much as possible. For the first few days, I was on sibling and dog duty. Baby V’s hilarious big sister, A, kept me busy with cartoons and stories of karate. She called her new little sister “sweet baby” and always wanted to hold her as soon as she got home from school. She is in awe of this new life and she is going to be the best big sister.

Then it was placenta time. I was going to be able to give my sister back so many of the nutrients she had shed during birth. I had done a raw dehydration and encapsulated 100 pills but could have easily done another 100, I unfortunately ran out of capsules. She credits these pills for her exceptional milk supply and increase in mood.

I tried to let my sister and her husband sleep as much as possible so I would take the night shift–caring for babe from the hours of 11pm- 6am. I quickly fell in love. She is pure magic. We would stare at each other and I felt like she was looking right into my soul, like she knew who I really was. I wondered what her journey was like and if she remembered my voice from the first time I had talked to her in the womb. I played her sitar when she fussed and within seconds she was either mesmerized or fast asleep. Despite what everyone says, sleeping when baby sleeps was impossible. I couldn’t miss one second of those eyes, that yawn or those impressive farts. I felt capable and proud of myself that I was trusted with this precious being. She felt safe enough to fall asleep in my arms every night and I can never forget our time together.

It was hard leaving and it’s even harder being so far away and not continuing this bond. I love the island and I know that my heart belong to this land, but it stills yearns for the familiarity of home –like the smell of cinnamon that fills my mother’s home. Maybe one day I’ll go back, but for now I have a future to build here and I’m very blessed to know that I am being fully supported by those around me.

I will cherish my first experience with birth and even though it wasn’t exactly what I had imagined, it was still powerful and unique. I grew a new understanding for my sister and what she is capable of. I had always looked up to her because of her sense of humour and for always being the cool one; now I stare up at her with completely different eyes.

She is strong, she is powerful. She is a Birth Warrior!

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A Moment of Self Realization through Doubt.

As we know, pregnancy is an exceptionally sensitive part of life. Between the hormonal and life changes, women experience a series of ups and downs that may be hard to overcome. Some women find stability in those around them while others find strength in activities and keeping busy. We all have our own ways of working through these discomforts. There is a piece to pregnancy that we might not have seen coming- the part where we doubt if we enjoy being pregnant. It’s not all we thought it would be. The ideas that have been created for us or by us around the idea of pregnancy probably won’t be how the 42 weeks actually go.. And that’s okay as long as we can understand what is going on in our bodies and learn how to work with it instead of against it.

As a 21 year old female who is just trying to make her mark in the world, I am not claiming to understand the feelings of a pregnant woman. I have never had a child, I have never raised a child, but I have experienced many ups and downs in life. I know how our minds can pin ourselves against our bodies, I know how doubt can creep through the door when you thought it was locked. I know how hormones can trigger so many different thoughts and feelings that might not be true. A dear Love in my life has even told me that I need to take a look at where I am in my cycle and dissect if these feelings are real or are they being triggered by hormones.

Well let me tell you: They are real. They are being triggered by hormones. But not every experience is based off hormones.

There are real fears and real situations that we need to understand and overcome. Some things are easier to work through and sweep off the mat, others are swept under and collect more questions and stress. But what can I do about it? What aspects of my life am I taking to the grave with me that I could usually brush off my shoulders? What realizations do I need to face to find contentment in my life?  And most importantly (in my opinion), how can my feelings and experiences change and influence the lives and reactions of the ones around me.

As a doula, I am here to help. I am here to support self realization and the growth surrounding it. I am here to improve the thoughts and feelings throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Through bad days, awkward appointments, family gatherings, over-eating at dinner, days of exploring, meditations, morning sickness, orgasmic births, miscarriage, sugar highs, mental breakdowns, everything- I am here. I don’t know what it feels like to have another set of toes kicking into your spine, but I do know what it feels like to be hit hard and what I did to understand the soreness. I’m not saying my way of dealing with these things is right for everyone, I am just saying it’s a way.

This morning, I attended a yoga class that really hit me hard. The instructor is a beautiful mother of two who makes me focus AND laugh through all the hardest poses. She makes the time pass, she makes me feel strong and most importantly she makes me realize that I have to be willing to change myself to see results. As the class was coming to a hard end she said to us

“Feelings, people, experiences- We don’t get what we want, we get what we need. The Universe works in interesting ways to give us what we need, but know that all things will pass. ”

I still can’t stop thinking about this.

Looking back at the experiences in my life that have changed me, I can truly say I have not always received what I wanted. I think everyone knows what it is like to be let down or get a different result than what you expected. But how much time do we spend exploring why we feel indifferent to not getting what we wanted? Better yet, how much time to we spend exploring the idea that the end result was what we needed? The universe works in strange ways, why can’t we accept these ways at times?

We usually give a huff and a puff and move forward or in some cases, hold onto this experience for way too long. We let it build up and struggle with letting go. We don’t fully acknowledge what is going on and then all of a sudden, time has passed. We can’t go back and change the way things were, we cannot alter our memory of the experience. Sometimes when we hold onto things, they can damage us or fill our memory with negativity- leave us thinking “I wish I could have experienced this differently.”

There may be parts of your pregnancy that you find more challenging than others. Maybe it’s overcoming morning sickness or learning how to deal with a lack of sleep and shortness of breath. Maybe these physical symptoms are challenging your mentality- Are you as strong as you thought you were? Are you cut out to be a mother? Did or did you not take care of yourself well enough prenatally?

Being pregnant doesn’t come easy for everyone: The feelings that come along with being pregnant will make you stronger if you decide to learn from them.

The feelings that come along with pregnancy will also pass.

Pregnancy is such an incredible time for self exploration- What if some of these feelings of doubt and discomfort can be relieved by actually acknowledging them instead of building resistance? I know that in my own struggles, exploration has solved a lot and has turned a lot of what would be negative experiences into ones that I have not only learned from, but enjoyed.

I was recently speaking with a Doula Sister about change and doubt, happiness and expectations. As we were talking, my love grew for the life changing pregnancy she is going through and how open she is to the physical and emotional feelings that are coming her way. The strength and understanding that she brings to each day as it comes and goes is remarkable. Each feeling, each cell as it goes, dies and regenerates, all of it. She inspires me to take a good look at the things around me and truly feel. She inspires me to find love and understanding and in talking with her, I even found the strength to understand some of the changes I am currently going through. If I can give one piece of advice to help you through your pregnancy, it would be to explore. This is what I drew from my conversation with her. I hope that you can find the guidance that you need in the universe through this.

Every pinch, twinge, and wave: It’s there to teach us something. May that be about our feelings towards how we handle things, may it be about growth itself. The important thing to remember is that these feelings will pass. Explore them while they are there- Why are you kicking like that baby? What position are you in today? Muscles: How are you working? How are you contracting to keep my body in a position that keeps me going? To my significant other- When you touch me in specific areas, how does that relieve or enhance what I am feeling? Sleep, why do you come and go as you do? Why am I feeling these certain things at certain times?

I am a firm believer in the act of writing. I write every day, sometimes even a few times a day to let out what I am thinking. So much self realization has been done by reflecting back on these writings. My biggest recommendation is to find something that lets you relieve your feelings but also lets you reflect on them to see your growth. You are always growing and improving, you are so incredibly strong. Write out what comes and goes. You can write a letter to your body or someone that you are having feelings towards. Get it out- positive, negative, questions, realizations. Write a letter to your baby, you are doing this growth together and another medium of communication can be really powerful. Even reading what you wrote can change your feelings towards a situation or stage of pregnancy. You can feel different tones, reflect as to why you felt that way- see if you can understand what was really going on. Ask yourself these questions. Talk though them with someone close or important to you. Talk to yourself, talk to your partner and definitely talk to your baby. Get into a meditative practice or relieve yourself through artistic expression.

While time passes so quickly, I want you to know that it is important. You deserve the time to understand yourself, your thoughts, your pregnancy and how you feel.

“Don’t discredit a momma-to-be for what real discomforts she has.. But finding peace within them is definitely necessary.”

If you need guidance through your pregnancy or just need someone to talk, please contact me. The universe works in interesting ways, so let’s explore how we can find what you need.

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With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com
ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com

Hot Molasses

If you are a fan of the flavour of molasses, hot molasses is the drink for you! Filled with iron, B vitamins, manganese, selenium, calcium, and potassium, molasses is a sweet alternative for coffee in the morning or an additional nutritional boost if you are on the brink of anemia. Blackstrap molasses is made by boiling down raw sugar three times to make this nutritious, thick and sticky liquid. It is important to use blackstrap molasses as regular molasses is only boiled down twice and this style of boiling does not obtain the same nutritional density. If you have gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, be cautious of the sugar content in molasses and make the choice to use it as a supplement or not.

Most women have found themselves to have anemia or low iron at one point in their life or another. Even I have trouble keeping my iron at a healthy level but try to incorporate iron rich foods into every meal. If you find that you are feeling tired and sluggish or feel like you’re removed from your body, you may want to get your iron and ferritin levels checked with a blood test. Boosting your iron levels can not only physically make a difference to your body but can help with your mental state as well. If you are trying to become pregnant, you can request to get your iron levels checked to see if you should incorporate more iron rich foods into your diet. Obtaining optimal nutrition before you are pregnant can make a huge different throughout your pregnancy and delivery.

As you reach the third trimester, your midwife or doctor will check your iron levels to ensure that you are not suffering from anemia. It is not irregular for iron levels to come back low during this time because you have been making enough blood for you and baby. By incorporating iron rich foods into your diet, you can raise your iron levels in a way that is less harsh on your system. Most women find that iron supplements constipate and cause other digestive upsets but if you are able to draw iron naturally out of the foods around you, you can avoid these feelings altogether. Some examples of iron rich foods are greens like spinach and kale, dried fruit like apricots and prunes, red meat, beans, and of course, molasses!

So if you are a fan of molasses, give a cup of these hot molasses drink a try.

Hot Molasses Drink:

16 ounces of milk/alternative milk of your choice
1 1/2-2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
dash of nutmeg and cinnamon

Put your milk of choice in a pot over the stove and turn to med-high heat. When the liquid is hot, whisk in molasses and spices. At this point, the liquid may get a little frothy on top and it’s absolutely delicious! Transfer into mug and enjoy!

Lemon Molasses drink:

16 ounces hot water
1 1/2- 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
Lemon wedge

Dissolve molasses into a cup of hot water and squeeze lemon juice on top. Enjoy!

Essential Oils

Scents have always had a way of calming people and bringing them back into a moment. I can always think back to my grandmother and the sweet smell of cinnamon warmed apples baking in her oven or walking through Fernwood in the spring to find myself greeted by lavender on the street corners. I can even remember the smell of eucalyptus being rubbed onto my chest when I was a sick child and needed to clear up my air passages.

If you take the natural oils from these substances—may the oils come from the roots, leaves, bark, stems, you are creating an essential oil. The processing isn’t as simple as just collecting the oils though. They will need to be distilled and cold pressed to extract the oils and this can take a lot of work but in the end, you are left with an essential oil. Most of us will choose to source out companies that have a respectable crop and harvesting system to buy essential oils from. With these oils, you can incorporate Aromatherapy into your daily routine. Aromatherapy is used to enhance physical and mental wellbeing by promoting relaxation, pain relief, emotional support, skin support and many other aspects of life by stimulating brain function or absorbing through the skin into the bloodstream. Many of the oils have antifungal, antiviral, soothing, calming, and nourishing qualities making them a useful alternative for not only our bodies but for cleaning surfaces as well. These qualities also make essential oils and the use of aromatherapy a perfect form of alternative medicine during pregnancy.

From reducing anxiety and tension to enhancing sleep quality, the use of essential oils can be blended into any trimester and labor. With a world of oils available, most women can find at least one or two scents that resonate with them during their pregnancy and can even be useful in their postpartum period. If you find an essential oil or blend that works with you, you may find it increases your quality of sleep, reduces tension and stress, balances the body, clears the skin, minimizes cold and allergy symptoms and increases your overall mood. When diluted, essential oils are safe to use on baby as well and can even help with diaper rash or increasing milk supply.

While there are three main ways to incorporate essential oils into your pregnancy, I am going to focus on two. The third way to use essential oils is by ingesting them and I do not want to promote ingestion as there are many different qualities of essential oils available and one kind may be harmful. The other two ways of using oils is aromatically and topically.

When using Essential oils aromatically, you can inhale the oils directly from the bottle, place a few drops onto your hands or use a diffuser and fill your home with the aroma of your choice. This is great for emotional support, respiratory support and sleep support. Try taking in a deep inhale of the scent while thinking your favorite mantra or qualities and feelings that you would like for you, your baby, and your family. On the exhales, breathe out qualities you don’t need or feelings that are holding you back. This practice is a great addition to your morning and nightly routine as it can set your mind up for a day of positive feelings and relieve any stresses at night that you might have picked up throughout the day. Try stimulation scents like citrus or peppermint in the morning and calming scents like lavender or sandalwood at night.

When using Essential oils topically, you can directly place the oils onto your skin or dilute them in carrier oil. This method is ideal for spot treating pains and skin irritations. It is also wonderful for immune support or allergy relief. It is always best to test the oils on a patch of skin before applying to multiple places on your body. I only apply oils directly to the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands. If I use them anywhere else, I dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil—usually coconut. Some other carrier oils are jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, avocado oil, calendula oil, or arnica oil (you can make a great muscle treatment for sore legs and joints). My favourite skin moisturiser is using a base of coconut oil (1/2 cup), shea butter (1/4 cup), add in two capsules of vitamin E, a pinkie nail sized dollop of rosehip oil, mixed with lavender and rose essential oils until you get a desired scent. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to water with a splash of witch hazel to make a facial toner—I like lavender, tea tree and rose.

Essential oils are a great way to enhance your pregnancy but there are some oils that come with warning. Clary sage is an amazing essential oil to use during labour but it should be left untouched in your pregnancy until you are full term. Its powerful induction properties can help jump start contractions and give baby the strength to move down the birth canal. Applying clary sage to the beautiful baby point (TCM) in my experiences can get baby moving quickly. You can also mix clary sage with coconut oil to smooth over your belly. A combination of clary sage, lavender, bergamot, grapefruit, peppermint and rose can be added into a spritz bottle to help relieve nausea during active labor and provide another wave of power for you to work with contractions. Sage can also decrease milk supply in not only essential oil form but as a culinary herb as well so once baby is here it is best to avoid it in all forms. Peppermint as we know is an amazing digestive aid especially when it comes to nausea. You can apply a few drops of peppermint to a warm facecloth and place over your eyes or around the back of your neck to relieve symptoms of a cold or headache. It should be used with caution in the postpartum period as it may decrease milk supply. That being said, if you are trying to decrease milk supply, you can combine peppermint and clary sage and rub onto your breasts as well as the highest point between your shoulders and neck and see if it will help.  Fennel can help with milk production if you apply it with a carrier oil or onto a facecloth compress onto the breasts. This essential oil should only be used for a few days at most as it may increase urination. If you have high blood pressure, it is best to avoid peppermint, rosemary and clove as they will increase your blood pressure.
If you are using essential oils on your breasts and are breastfeeding, it is important to wipe the breasts before a feeding period. Using a hot cloth, you can wipe the remaining essential oils from your skin. The oils will have already released their healing properties into your bloodstream after a few minutes of application so it is okay to wipe off if you need to feed right away.

Although essential oils are used to enhance your pregnancy instead of harm, they should always be used at your own risk. Each body will react to oils differently than the next and some scents may make you feel ill while others will invigorate you. If you are using scents during labor or having someone who is planning to make you a calming labor spray, make sure you are alright with the smell before you fill your birthing room with it. If you are birthing at the hospital, it is best to smell the oil directly from the bottle in respects to the other birthing mothers and sensitivities of staff.

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Here are a few of my favorite oils with their healing properties:

Lavender: Good for all stages in pregnancy, calming, reduces stress and tension, aids in postpartum depression, calms skin tenderness(acne, bruises, bumps, rashes), sleep support, seasonal allergy support, grounding, prevents stretch marks, helpful in healing after labor, decrease high blood pressure, mastitis, safe for household cleaning.

Lemon: Good for morning sickness, uplifting, seasonal allergy support, digestive support, aids in postpartum depression, increases lymphatic function, cools the body when applied to the feet, invigorating, great oil to use in the morning.

Bergamot: Uplifting and calming, relieves anxiety and tension, soothes muscles, cooling properties, balances female energies, aids in postpartum depression.

Rose: Promotes skin healing, relaxation, reduces scarring, promotes elasticity.

Peppermint: Aids in morning sickness, reduces headaches and tension, helpful during transition, mental clarity, helps urinate during labor, reduces nausea.

These are only a handful of oils and their descriptions. If there was an oil you are interested in using during your pregnancy, please feel free to e-mail me and I can give you suggestions on blends and application processes.

Ficus
http://www.ficusdoula.com
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