Floral Waters in the Fourth Trimester

Aromatherapy in the Fourth Trimester:

Aarin with rose scented pram.

After giving birth recently, I have found myself using floral waters (also known as flower waters, hydrolats & hydrosols) in various ways to support myself and my new born son.

In the main I avoided using essential oils in pregnancy because they are so potent and can cross the placenta*, but floral waters are extremely gentle so are perfect in pregnancy, when breast feeding and for baby care as well as for delicate sensitive skin. You do need to make sure you get a good source of floral water, so you get the qualities, similar to the essential oil, in it (don’t grab a rose water from the supermarket). I have a small range of the most useful flower waters here that come in spray bottles: rose, lavender, chamomile & neroli. https://shop.essentialoilsandyou.co.uk/collections/custom-skin-care

You can get a wider range of floral waters from Oshadhi here: https://oshadhi.co.uk/hydrosols-hydrolats/

Here are my top tips on using floral waters in the fourth trimester:

Click to shop floral waters.

Baby bottom care: I have spent a lot of my time cleaning a tiny bottom with rose water during nappy changes to make sure his skin doesn’t get sore. A friend recommended I make up a flask of hot water to keep by my nappy changing station, so I had this with a small bowl and some cotton pads ready for cleaning when nappy changing. I pour a little of the hot water from the flask into the bowl, allow to cool slightly, dip the cotton pad into the water and then spritz rose water on each side of the pad. Depending on how messy it is I may do this a few times and his delicate skin gets the nourishing properties of the rose water along with the anti-microbial action.

When I notice his skin is red, then I use chamomile water as it’s particularly anti-inflammatory, so more helpful for this, lavender water would also be suitable. I sometimes just pat the chamomile or lavender water on his skin so it’s more effective. If I’m out and about, I just use a gentle wet wipe, and can spritz the floral water on this for extra nourishment.

Nipple care: to make sure my nipples don’t get sore from breast feeding I spritz them with lavender or rose water several times throughout the day. It’s so gentle it would not be an issue using it if the baby is then feeding shortly after.

Episiotomy care: I had an episiotomy which made life a bit more uncomfortable for the first few weeks after the birth, it meant I had to be careful keeping the cut clean to avoid infection and as I couldn’t have a bath due to stitches. I used lavender flower water which acts as a gentle antiseptic. After a shower and before bed I would soak a cotton pad in lavender or chamomile water and gently clean the area.

I also applied my scar care balm (click here for recipe or click here to order) made of rosehip oil, myrrh, lavender and chamomile essential oils, to support the cut healing & avoid infection. I applied this around the area while it was still closing and directly on it when completely sealed.

Skin care: I ended up with several spritzer bottles of lavender, rose, chamomile & neroli flower waters around the house so I would also give my face a spray whenever one was nearby for nourishing my skin and refreshing my senses.

*It is possible to use certain essential oils in pregnancy and with babies, but generally only for specific issues and you would need to be treated by an experienced, qualified practitioner.

 

Deepening Self-Care and Care for All.

Illustration by Kelly Basford.

When I first completed my aromatherapy training, I treated a lot of pregnant women. It was a true pleasure and privilege and I noticed how willing they were to bring a much deeper level of care to themselves, something that I did not see as abundant among women. Of course, it is a time when in many ways a woman is at the mercy of her body and has to adjust many things in the way she lives her life. But I did note, that many chose to do more loving things for the sake of the baby they were carrying, that they would not have made solely for themselves. For example eating more carefully, not pushing themselves, cutting out food and drink that wasn’t supportive, such as alcohol and coffee.
There were things that I was choosing for myself back then, even though I wasn’t pregnant, nor had been. The overriding reason for making these choices was still the messages I received from my body that I chose to respond to, although perhaps not as obvious as when someone is pregnant, they are still there. I was more focussed on health generally due to having entered a career in the healthcare industry. The more I did listen to my body, the more I became aware of my body’s messages and the more deeply I began to care for myself, with the results being many amazing and sometimes quite unexpected unfoldments, change and opportunities.

Art by Kelly Basford.
Now, more than 10 years later I am pregnant myself and a realisation dropped in. Even though I feel I do take care of myself, without perfection and listen to my body, as the realisation of carrying a child and preparing to bring them into the world began to feel real, I had a thought: my choices were now, not just about me, they were about me and one other. As this thought came, I immediately realised that I still, in the main, live my life for myself, and that really it should not take having another being inside me to make me consider more than myself in any choice I make – it was a bit of a shock and felt horrible to admit. True, building a self caring way in my every day means I am able to support myself and others more so than if I didn’t, so self care is still a priority, infact my foundation. And true, there is a huge impact on my child whatever I do, especially when I’m pregnant and in the early childhood stages, so the child will naturally be considered. But, the question that came was: is that really any different to the impact that the way I live every part of my life has on all others?
 
Painting by Kelly Basford.
What if we all truly understood that every choice, action, movement, even thought, actually does have an impact on everyone? There is a huge ripple effect that comes from each of us, and that can be felt by all on some level.
 
If we were fish in the sea, each movement of our fins, tails, mouth, etc. would have a tangible ripple effect in the water, that all the other fish and sea life live in and would feel. Just because we don’t see air in the same way as the water they live in, it is surely just another medium that our movements will ripple out and touch others by…
So, this mini revelation really highlighted to me that every choice I take, every move I make, counts for all.
 
For more writing on the philosophy of life, I recommend checking out the following fabulous blogs:
 
 
 

How to make a Stretch Mark Balm

I made a balm to help with stretch marks this week. I’m 15 weeks pregnant and my tummy is beginning to expand, so this is to help ensure I am not left with stretch mark scars as my body changes. You can use this balm to help avoid stretch marks when gaining or losing weight for what ever reason, including during and after pregnancy. Since my breasts have also increased in size, I will be using it on them until the baby is born. If breast feeding, then only apply at times when there is space between your baby feeding as you don’t want them feeding on the balm, or being put off by it.

Stretch Mark Balm – Recipe for 50g Pot

  • Beeswax, 5g
  • Shea butter, 5g
  • Rosehip oil, 20g
  • Calendula oil*, 20g
  • Essential Oils (optional):
  • Caution: not all essential oils are safe to use in pregnancy, so check any safety advice if you want to tweak the recipe. Also, essential oils should be used at a much lower dose in pregnancy, as they can cross the placenta, so use around 0.25%.  I always imagine I’m choosing oils that will be safe for the baby if I’m making something for someone who is pregnant.
  • *You can replace the calendula oil with something else if you wish for example daisy oil, olive oil, apricot oil, safflower oil or camellia oil. You can also replace the rosehip oil, but this is particularly useful for scars.

Instructions:

  • Weigh out the beeswax and shea butter using the scale and weigh or measure out the base oil.
  • Use a bain marie or double boiler to melt the beeswax (do not heat directly), then add the base oil and continue to gently heat. Add the shea butter at the end so it is not heated longer than necessary. As soon as it’s completely melted remove from the heat.
  • Let it cool a little before adding essential oils, so they are not affected too much by the heat.  If it begins to solidify give the mixture a stir.
  • Pour the mixture into a clean, dry container and leave to cool and set before applying the lid and labelling so you don’t forget what’s inside.
  • The balm should last for 12-18 months, but if it smells rancid, it may have been contaminated and should not be used.

Click here for more details on making a Balm.

You can order a custom made massage balm for pregnancy, stretch marks, scars and many other health & wellbeing conditions here: Bespoke Blends.

How to use Essential Oils in Pregnancy

Can you use essential oils in pregnancy?

Essential Oils can actually be very supportive in pregnancy, many women naturally become more connected to their body and more considerate and caring of themselves at this time – so using essential oils can be a lovely way to nurture and support through out this precious cycle.

There are important cautions to be observed when using essential oils anyway and a few more during pregnancy so I have written this blog to ensure you use them safely and confidently.

Professionals are advised not to treat during the first tri-mester in training, I’m sure this is because miscarriage is so common during this period and because there are cautions with using essential oils, therefore it may be simpler and safer to take them out of the equation. I suspect most people are exposed to millions more harmful products than essential oils through out their day but I would still err on the side of caution and avoid them in the initial stages unless you have support from an experienced professional and feel 100% confident.

Below are the most useful ways I have used essential oils with clients… (use the links at the end for instructions on how to make balms, creams, massage blends & roller ball blends).

  • Which Essential Oils?

Some essential oils are contraindicated in pregnancy and should not be used. Those mentioned in this blog are safe to use but you should ensure you use a trustworthy source*. Those that are suitable must be used at a much lower dilution as they are absorbed through the skin and as with most things you do during pregnancy, can have an affect on the baby too

  • Dilution

Essential Oils should always be diluted before skin application. In pregnancy I usually go with 0.25-0.5% but 1% is the maximum dilution I would use. The scent may be quite delicate but this is more than enough to be effective. Click to view a chart showing how many drops to use.

  • Nausea & Morning Sickness

Essential Oils: I use a blend of cardamom, spearmint & neroli – you could use a mix of these or on their own depending on which scents you like, many women become hypersensitive to smell during pregnancy. All three are soothing & calming to the digestive system & their scent not too intense. You could also try simply lemon essential oil, the fresh, clean scent can also help.

Use: An inhaler stick or roller ball bottle is most practical for this blend as you can carry it around and breath in or apply it whenever you feel to, whether it is to avoid the feeling of sickness or to soothe it when you do feel it.

  • Stretch Marks

Essential Oils: Lavender, roman chamomile and mandarin with a base of rosehip and calendula carrier oils. The essential oils are all great for skin care but remember to ensure you get pure Lavender Oil with the Latin name Lavandula angustifolia*.

Use: A massage oil, balm or cream would work best in this case, I would suggest which ever you like the feel of most because consistency is key in nourishing your skin at this time – if you love using it you’re more likely to do so everyday. You can start application when ever you notice that your tummy is beginning to grow, check out the blog How to make a Stretch Mark Balm for more details on making and using this.

  • Back Ache

Essential Oils: Back pain and ache is common especially during the later stages of pregnancy along with various other aching body parts so using a massage oil or balm with lavender and chamomile essential oil would help to ease this.

Use: It is not usually appropriate or comfortable to lie on your tummy to receive a back massage, I have done them with a client lying on their side, or seated –which ever is most comfortable for you. ‘Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant women sleep on the left side. Because your liver is on the right side of your abdomen, lying on your left side helps keep the uterus off that large organ. Sleeping on the left side also improves circulation to the heart and allows for the best blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys.’ https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sleep-during-pregnancy.html

  • Tired Feet

A foot massage with a cooling aloe gel mixed with spearmint (not peppermint as it is much stronger so avoid this) or lavender to ease and refresh tired weary feet (Lavandula angustifolia).

  • Oedema/ Water Retention

Essential Oil: Geranium essential oil can help with water retention.

Use: In a cream, balm or massage oil to apply to the affected area can be supportive.

  • Moods

Essential Oil: Geranium essential oil has a balancing effect on the endocrine system so can be very supportive through out pregnancy.

Use: See blog on How to Use Geranium Essential Oil to Support Women’s Health.

  • Inducing Labour

Many people ask me about using essential oils to help induce labour. Although I would advise letting things unfold naturally, myrrh oil is a uterine tonic and so can be used to prepare for the birth but not during the rest of the pregnancy. I would wait for the due date to pass and use in a massage oil around your bump.

  • Labour

Something practical and easy to use is a floral water, you can spritz this on your face and across your body – it’s very gentle – much more so than essential oils and has a refreshing and calming effect – rose water is my favourite but you could use lavender or neroli. It also has the added benefit of calming others in the room and cleansing the atmosphere which is desirable, especially if you are in a hospital setting.

  • *Lavender Oil in Pregnancy

When it comes to lavender there is some concern about its use, but ‘Lavandula angustifolia‘ is safe to use –some other types of lavender oil have a higher camphor content. It’s important to use a trustworthy source of essential oil because some can be adulterated and mixed with synthetic products or mixed with cheaper lavender oils which are higher in camphor.

All of the products mentioned can be purchased as bespoke blends made especially for you. Please get in touch if you have any concerns or queries or would like personal support and remember to continue to care and nurture yourself just as much as your baby.