Essential Oils 101 for Doulas and Mothers, Part 1


Kyle Ellen Nuse, DTI Doula and Holistic Health Practitioner

I was introduced to Therapeutic and Food Grade Essential Oils when I was pregnant with my daughter Olive in 2009 (at this time I was not yet a Doula, but a Holistic Health Practitioner). I had some dust covered bottles of Whole Food’s brand lavender and peppermint stashed in my bathroom somewhere, but these Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, what I now refer to as, “living bottles of magic,” had a different energy, and I had to have them immediately.

I quickly ordered a starter kit of 9 different oils, got a cold water diffuser so I would not heat the oils and kill their therapeutic qualities, and learned as much as my pregnant brain could absorb from my teacher, a mother of four herself.

She taught me all the ways in which I could use the oils safely while pregnant, during my planned home-birth labor and delivery, as well as on the baby once it arrived. Knowing that I wanted to have a naturally and un-medicated labor as possible, the idea of having the oils at my side was extremely comforting and empowering.

What are Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils (TGEO), and how do they differ from the Whole Foods brands and other oils you see at health food stores?




TGEO’s are the purest essential oils on earth. In basic terms this means that the plants, trees, flowers, shrubs, from which they are extracted, are grown in the most native and organic environment possible. For example, Lavender is grown in France, Idaho Balsam Fir in Idaho, Frankincense in the Middle East, etc.  They are distilled in such a way that the oils, or the life force and immune system of the plant, are not compromised or killed. No carrier oils are added to dilute them; no chemicals are added to preserve them, and no synthetic fragrances are added to “enhance” them. They are 100%, organic, essential oils– so much so that you can eat them, as me and my family often do!

Historically, essential oils have played a prominent role in everyday life. In the Bible alone, there are over 200 references to essential oils, most commonly Frankincense, Myrrh, and Lavender, used for preventing illness, healing the sick and anointing babies, like Jesus. I am not religious, but the idea of anointing my daughter with sacred healing oils that were once more valuable than gold, was very appealing to me!

How does one use and apply oils?

There are many different ways to use the oils, which keeps it fun and exciting! Here are the most common ways, but don’t forget to let your Mother-knows-best intuition guide you:

  • Inhale: Rub 1-2 drops of oil (that’s all you need since they are not diluted and VERY concentrated) into the palm of your hands in a clock-wise direction –you do this to energize the oils since after all they are living things. Cup your hands over your nose and take a minimum of 6-8 deep breathes through your nose. Because essential oils are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, this is the fastest way to shift your mood, sharpen your mind, and alkaline your body.
  • Apply directly on your skin: Most of these oils are meant to go directly on your skin without diluting. However, some people initially feel more comfortable diluting oils with a very small amount of coconut or olive oil. The most common places to put the oils are: bottoms of the feet (great for kids), one the big toe, base of the neck, down the spine, inner wrists, behind the ears, on your chest, on your stomach/abdomen, directly on a wound, or at the epicenter of a headache, etc. Basically, you can put them anywhere EXCEPT: in your eyes and in your ears. If this happens, don’t panic, you won’t die. Simply take a clean cloth or paper towel and dip it in any vegetable based oil. Wipe down eyes and ears until the discomfort goes away. DO NOT USE WATER AS WATER DRIVES OILS DEEPER INTO THE SKIN.
  • Diffuse: Diffusing oils into the air is a fantastic way for you and your family to passively breathe the oils in all day and night. TGEO’s are naturally antibacterial and viral, so it is great to diffuse them when illnesses are going around. Diffusing TGEO’s also helps you breathe better at night, improve left and right brain function, calm or energize you, and, of course, makes your home smell amazing and inviting!
  • Take internally: TGEO’s are so pure that you can take many of them internally. The company I get my oils from have many already capped up oils that you can take like a supplement. However, more times than not, you can simply put an oil into your water and sip on it throughout the day, and/or place directly on your tongue. I will get into more specifics on which oils and why in my next post.



What really appealed to me about TGEO’s, and got me so passionate about them, is how versatile they are and how empowering it is to have them AT HOME and BY MY SIDE, literally, whenever I needed them. As most of us have experienced, having to schedule an appointment to see a doctor, or even a holistic practitioner for every scrap and fever, is impractical and expensive! Just knowing that I could say, “I have an oil for that” made me a much less stressed out pregnant lady and mother. And now, my daughter at 2.5 years old, tells me which oils she needs, and offers me an oil and a kiss when I am feeling blue.

You can never start too early teaching your little ones how to take control of their health in the most life enhancing and empowering of ways!

In Part 2, of this 3 part series, I will talk specifically about which oils a Labor Doula can use to best support herself, laboring mother, father, and child.  Stay tuned!

Kyle Ellen Nuse practices in NYC at Empower Your Birth.

Back to blog