Natural Mother Care
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Having a baby changes your entire life, to say nothing of your body. But with a gentle, caring approach you can quickly get yourself back on the road to regaining your pre-baby body, and have your skin feeling as smooth as Baby’s.
Catherine Cervasio, founder of Aromababy natural skincare, shares her insider tips for taking care of yourself throughout pregnancy and beyond…
How did you deal with pregnancy and post-baby body changes?
Firstly I tried not to be too critical of myself. Being my second pregnancy I knew what to expect to some degree which did help. Most women do carry a few extra kilos for a year or two following pregnancy, particularly if breastfeeding. And if you are able to manage it, breastfeeding works to help the body get back to normal on the inside as well as using up stored body fat that shows on the outside. I massaged myself throughout both pregnancies and continued to do so afterwards. I believe this helped tone and condition my stretched tummy skin and muscle which bounced back relatively well within a short time. Whilst pregnant I used Stretched to the Limit Massage Oil in the evening – the woody aroma of pettigrain was relaxing and I enjoyed the fluid movement the oil provides. I used this time to lie down and rest and talk to my growing baby who was quite active in the evening. In the morning I used the Stretched to the Limit cream because the quick absorbancy was important. In conjunction with the use of a good product, I believe massage to be an integral part of pregnancy and postnatal care. Not only does massaging yourself help to promote a positive self-image, but you’re moisturising your skin at the same time. Massage can also be instrumental in promoting a healthy post-baby relationship with your partner. Our Great Expectations oil is ideal for this. Take time out to massage each other and work on rekindling the pre-baby romance. Massage can be used to introduce an older sibling to the new baby by suggesting the older child use gentle massage strokes on the soles of Baby’s feet, for example, as a ‘getting to know each other’ exercise. Our aroma-free Mother & Child Massage Oil is a great choice.
I found the breast area also benefited from massage. With the substantial amount of stretching experienced in this area, both during pregnancy and early on postnatally with the arrival of breast milk, to ‘keep things moving’ by using gentle massage strokes around the breast area may assist in the reduction of blockages which sometimes lead to mastitis.
Buttocks and thighs too tend to expand a few inches during pregnancy and with the body more prone to cellulite during this period, the massage action itself can be used to stimulate the area, helping to ease congestion and break up pockets of accumulated fluids beneath the skin, reducing the ‘orange-peel’ appearance associated with cellulite. Aromababy’s On the Run Massage Oil includes lemon, a great essential oil for congestion and also chamomile to relax tired legs.
Did you have any problems with your skin?
Not with this pregnancy, I found drinking at least two litres of water each day and eating well – including lots of organic fruit and vegetables in every way, shape and form, was beneficial and helped keep my digestive system working well. The result of this type of eating is proper elimination of waste and obviously this is also beneficial to avoid skin congestion. As hormones are on the rampage during pregnancy, some women are more prone to breakouts and oiliness throughout. Ensure your water intake is adequate and use a drop each of cistus and frankincense (for dry skin) or lemon and patchouli (for regulating excess sebum which can lead to blocked pores or ‘blackheads’) in a floral water spray to hydrate your skin. Try our Orange Flower Refresher as a base for your spray. This doubles as a quick pick-me-up during the day (great for during labour) and can be used as a nappy change mist for babies. I used our Moisturising Nappy Change Cream to remove makeup, the Orange Flower Refresher as a toner and our organic Aromabath Powder as a weekly facial scrub. The Stretched to the Limit cream was and still is my facial moisturiser as it was formulated for damaged skin and contains loads of natural ingredients to heal and moisturise.
How did you look after your hair?
My hair is normally dry, and coloring it doesn’t help. I found it difficult to treat myself to regular visits to the hairdresser because of my workload, but did manage to use a good cold-pressed avocado oil as a treatment. Simply add this warm to your existing conditioner, put it on your hair and wrap hair in plastic film. Relax for an hour, and then rinse out. You could also add a couple of drops of pure essential oils to soothe the senses and balance the skin’s acid mantle. Try one drop each of geranium, sandalwood and sweet orange in your final rinse. I used our Pure Hair Cleanse as a shampoo that is gentle on the scalp.
What would be the best thing for a new mum to do for herself when she comes home from hospital?
A new mum’s most usual complaints would be sleep deprivations, problems with breastfeeding or the baby not sleeping. Be kind to yourself – take that bath when you can, take a short nap when baby is sleeping and say ‘yes’ when friends offer to help. Seek help from the experts when it comes to problems with breastfeeding. There are great Associations that offer support for breastfeeding Mums in most countries (check out our Links page). Aromababy’s Back on Track Massage Oil is great to aid relaxation and a quick self-massage to the back of the neck and shoulders is enough to help me wind down after a stressful day.
What remedies are good for tired mum?
Use essential oils at home to uplift and revitalize. Not only do they work, but their anti-bacterial properties help to keep airborne bugs to a minimum. Use an electronic vaporizer for essential oils, and avoid flame oil burners around children, new babies and extremely tired mums. Oils to help relax include lavender, Roman chamomile, sandalwood and frankincense. One or two of these blended with citrus oils, such as mandarin or bergamot will help to uplift without overstimulating. Herbal tea such as those containing peppermint and lemonbalm are great to revitalise and try chamomile to aid relaxation. I also drank raspberry leaf tea during the last months of my pregnancies.
Some essential oils and herbal teas are not recommended during pregnancy, while you are breastfeeding or for babies. If you are unsure about using or blending essential oils or herbs, ask a professional aromatherapist/naturopath or use a reputable pre-blended product that will eliminate the guesswork.
How would you deal with stretchmarks?
Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure; for some they’re simply part and parcel of the body’s changing shape. However, I do believe in the importance of nourishing the skin, particularly throughout pregnancy. Take the opportunity to talk to Baby whilst you apply your oil or cream. The massage action itself is beneficial and may aid muscle tone. Stretched to the Limit cream is enriched with shea butter, avocado oil and hypericum, as well as pure essential oils of lavender, frankincense and mandarin. Our Stretched to the Limit oil includes pettigrain and neroli. Not only are these products great for during pregnancy, I suggest to keep massaging post baby for at least 12 weeks while your body is returning to its pre-baby shape and size.
Can you suggest some other Aromababy products for new mums to use on themselves?
Absolutely! The Moisturising Nappy Change Cream is a fabulous all-over moisturiser and our Baby Bath Gel with lavender and chamomile is great for a relaxing bath at the end of a busy day. For an uplifting shower in the morning, use the Pure Hair Cleanse as an invigorating body wash. This blend of geranium and orange is great to get you going, and for the brave, apply the Cleanse to a loofah mitt and massage the body in a circular motion. This helps to smooth the skin and slough off any roughness. Finish off with an oil or cream to moisturise the skin. The Barrier Balm is a good all-round healing product for everything from sunburn to cracked, sore nipples. It can be used on dry lips, on heels and elbows and as a nail treatment balm. Simply massage into the cuticle area each night.