Image courtesy of doTERRA (doterra.com)
One of the worst conditions following childbirth was a case of a painfully numb thigh. I endured a long (traumatic) labor beginning with early labor for two days at home with manageable contractions, followed by 24 hours of “active” labor at the hospital that led to 3 hours of pushing until my baby stopped descending and would not pass through the pelvic bone – you could see my baby’s head – which made me believe I would successfully push him for a normal vaginal delivery. Unfortunately, after several grueling positions of pushing, baby was not budging. The doctor and nursing staff prepared me for a C-section surgery.
Somewhere within the 24 hours of active labor and pushing I asked for an epidural. And, of course, that line was used to anesthetize me from my tummy down for surgery. I was given morphine and other pain killers that ended up with alternating rounds of Ibuprofen and Tylenol.
I had been retaining a bit of water in my ankles and feet during my last trimester – normal edema. In the hospital, with the introduction of intervention medicine to induce labor, my legs swelled up a bit more. When I returned home after surgery, my legs were painfully swollen with fluids from pregnancy, hormones, and childbirth. They felt tight and somewhat numb. Over the course of a few days, the swelling went down, the water retention went away, and my left leg felt totally normal. My right thigh, however, held on to the numbness for days.
The numbness became one of the worst experiences of my healing and recovery story. It prevented me from getting much needed sleep to heal. It felt like tinnitis or some other annoying tick that just wouldn’t go away. I started researching online numbness in the thigh following childbirth – with different experiences associated with epidural, c-section, or childbirth, in general. I then polled my Facebook friends to see if other mothers had experienced either temporary or permanent numbness from an epidural or C-section. I had so many responses that it made me feel less paranoid about my own numbness. Most said they had experienced temporary numbness in a leg and most said it lasted anywhere from several weeks to a couple years!
At this point, I wasn’t concerned with what caused the numbing aches. I just wanted relief. I had tried to be patient with my recovery – they say it takes a minimum of six weeks to recover from a C-section. But, I was recovering from what was more like two birth experiences – my son making it through the birth canal and then a C-section. I was a swollen, sore mess.
After a week, much of my swelling was subsiding. I was beginning to feel a little bit better. The numb leg was making me crazy. Finally, I tried ice packs at night to see if it would help. It did not. I agonized over the thought of having this linger for months or even over a year. I tried a heating pad. It did nothing. Finally, after two and a half weeks had passed since giving birth, I pulled open my bag of doTERRA essential oils. I had one in particular that I though might be soothing – a proprietary blend called “Aromatouch”.
Now, there are clear warnings to consult your doctor before using essential oils with pregnancy or breastfeeding. So, I am not advocating that every mother start slathering up the doTERRA oils for relief. You need to know what you’re using, what risks are involved, if any, and what contraindications are involved, if any.
I used a small amount to massage into my numb thigh – a couple drops by my knee, a couple more near my hip. I rubbed out my numb thigh for about ten to fifteen minutes. I slept that night.
In the morning, my leg felt better. The numbness was still there, but it was dull. I don’t know if it was the massage, the oil blend, or the combination that eased the numbing pain. All I know was that it felt better. I walked around my house more to stretch out my thigh, get some circulation. I had been drinking copious amounts of water to assist in breastfeeding, and was eating thoroughly nourishing and nutritious snacks and meals to make my former nutrition school instructors proud. I was taking high quality, food based, organic prenatal vitamins, fish oil for omegas, vitamin D and a probiotic to supplement my diet. I was making the best choices I possibly could for healing and nourishing myself and my baby.
The next evening, I added one more application of the doTERRA “Aromatouch” massage oil with a vigorous ten to fifteen minute thigh massage. Again, I slept that night.
It’s been a couple of days and the numbness is barely there. Certain sitting positions seem to aggravate the tissue, but then I’ll get up and walk it out. It is still there, but it is very dull and at times unnoticeable.
The image above lists the ingredients in the doTERRA “Aromatouch” blend. I wasn’t sure if any of these oils specifically addressed nerve injury. So, I looked up nerve damage (neuropathy) and essential oils. The following essential oils have been long associated with addressing nerve pain: Roman chamomile, peppermint and lavender. Both peppermint and lavender are in the “Aromatouch” blend.
Peppermint essential oil is attributed to relaxing muscles, controlling muscle spasms and acting as a pain reliever. Lavender is attributed to improving sleep and acting as a pain reliever, but, recent studies suggest lavender plant extract produces an anticonvulsant and anti-spasm effect.
I’m not one to sware by essential oils. I believe they have their place in healing and wellness. But, I also believe individuals need to work with their regular healthcare providers – doctors, naturopaths, acupuncturists – to ensure safe use and dosage.