Throughout my pregnancies, I loved working regularly with my massage therapist Brandi to support all the changes my body was going through. On top of being an extra cool human, Brandi is also a yoga teacher and essential oils specialist so I always had a million questions for her!
Here is a Q & A I did with Brandi Ryans, covering everything I could think of related to fertility, pregnancy, birth, postpartum and baby! Just a reminder: everyone’s body is different and the following information is based on personal experience - always consult your medical professionals before taking any advice!
Hi Brandi! How did you get into essential oils and massage?
I got into essential oils when I was a teenager. I was a bit of a tomboy and essential oils were cooler than perfume. I started making shampoos after collage and was interested in what essential oils could do for my body and brain. This all led to using essential oils as a vehicle to support me as a massage therapist. I studied in a small department at a large acupuncture school. We learned about both Western and Eastern techniques, acupressure points, meridian theory, traditional Chinese medicine and how to use essential oils to heal.
When it comes to using essential oils, do you recommend organic?
As much as possible, yes. Especially for oils that come from peels such as lemons or oranges, it is crucial that they are organic.
What are the best carrier oils and how do they work?
It’s always a good idea to dilute as essential oils are powerful. For 1 oz of carrier oil, you can put around 15-20 drops. You can also adjust if you find it is too strong or too weak, you just don't want to irritate the skin. Grapeseed oil is a nice light carrier oil. If you don’t have a nut allergy, almond oil is also great. Coconut oil is particularly good for prenatal massage as it is cooling - helpful for swollen feet, etc.
You have your own line of oils - can you tell us more about it? Why did you decide to make them?
They are all pre-diluted which is useful because you don’t have to deal with the ratio. Working at a yoga studio, I learned a lot about chakras. There’s a set for chakras, moon, cleansers, calmers, coolers - it’s all about looking for balance.
Can you talk about the Baby Oil you formulated?
It’s for when you’re at the end of your pregnancy and ready for it to be done. Clary Sage has a very downward motion so it will ask your body to release towards your feet if you put the oil on them. Clary Sage is also antispasmodic so helps to release tension in uterus - it’s the number one oil for labor, and you can rub it on your back. Jasmine oil is good for being brave in vulnerable situations. Lavender balances the nervous system and helps to calm the body.
Are there essential oils you recommend for fertility?
For females, geranium oil! It helps with regulating hormones, supports kidneys, drops levels of cortisol so you’re not as stressed. It pushes into your brain’s limbic system and takes you out of your ‘thinking mind’ and puts you in your ‘feeling mind’ - help your mindset become less intellectual and more instinctive. Geranium is also a flower and flowers are aphrodisiacs!
For both partners together, neroli! It supports long relationships, sexually and intellectually. It helps stabilise the heart through the ups and the downs. It helps you find the connection, the idea that “we’re in this together”. Neroli is a great pre-labor massage oil and is good for relieving anxiety as well.
What essential oils do you like for pregnancy?
Vetiver oil. It is anti-inflammatory and everything is inflamed when you’re pregnant! Vetiver is also restorative - it helps support you to be a strong mama, supporting yourself and your baby.
Essential oils for belly birth/ c-section?
Frankincense is great for post surgery and scars. It supports the kidneys and lungs, helping you to breathe after a major loss of energy. You can also put frankincense on before a surgery, and it will ask your diaphragm to release and take in more air into lungs, enhancing your lung capacity.
Essential oils for postpartum recovery?
Orange. It’s uplifting in the case where you might be getting bluesy. It is really good for depression, promotes abundance and asks you to look at what parts of your life you are grateful for. It can also help get you out of a funk, and it also helps you ask for help so you don’t feel like you have to do it all alone.
Essential oils for new baby and parent?
Roman chamomile is amazing for calming sensitive hearts, headaches, muscle aches and is safe for baby’s room.
Cedarwood gives strength and a grounded presence, helping turn vulnerable situations into things you can learn from and love from. It’s great during any new experience not just parenting - traveling somewhere new or a starting a new job, etc.
When can a pregnant person get a massage?
Some people not to get one until the end of your 1st trimester because the threat of a miscarriage goes down a lot then. Massage promotes circulation, and sometimes circulation is linked with miscarriage. It’s important to listen to your body (and consult with your medical professionals of course!).
How soon after giving birth can someone get a massage?
It depends. 3 weeks for vaginal delivery, 6 weeks for c-section but I have seen people before. Listening to your body is the main message.
Besides being super relaxing and a great self-care activity, what can massage do for all of the above?
When your body starts to expand, and you have the hormones that are helping release tension in your connective tissues - Relaxin makes it so your connective tissue loosens up. Then you also have areas of tension in your body from other things and this muscle tension is running up against the hormone that helps you relax. They are up against each other. Massage finds areas of resistance and releases them so it is easier to sleep, walk around, etc. Release of tension helps support healthy blood flow and calms the brain and nervous system.
What is your favorite song to massage to?
Générique - BOF “Ascenseur pour l’échafaud” by Miles Davis
Where can we find more information on you?
Gian, Marc J. Holistic Aromatherapy : Practical Self-Healing with Essential Oils. Ryland Peters & Small, 2017.
Holmes, Peter, et al. Aromatica : A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. London ; Philadelphia, Singing Dragon, 2016.
Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit : A Guide to Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance through Essential Oils. London, Gaia.
These are some of my favorite books on oils.
The last one by Mojay is a classic and is a great source for beginners to get into spiritual healing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christine is a mother of two with a Master’s in Early Years Education. She has always been passionate about teaching and working with the tiniest humans. Her goal is to provide her family with healthy and sustainable choices at all times, and to share those tips with you!