pregnant-woman-flowersToday I have a special guest blogger, Hemla S., an Israeli student at the Natural Perfumery Institute.  She was a little overdue getting her assignments to me, and she wrote…well, the spoiler is at the end of the blog.

Hemla: I remember when pregnant with my eldest, prior to giving birth, I read a lot about labor, the human anatomy, the hormones in action, and how to combine all these different aspects of the human to allow a truly empowering birth to happen. I read an article that discussed how to know how dilated the laboring woman is, without actually checking her cervix –the pupils, behavior, sounds made by the woman and more. one thing that really caught my attention: it said, that just before giving birth there is a smell in the room, many people forget it was there, but if you mention it to a woman who had given birth, or she smells it again she will say ‘oh yes’ the article said there is a distinctly animal smell in the air before the baby is ready to be pushed out.
This is true. There is a very musky –not dirty, but animal smell in the air.
It is believed that in utero, the fetus can smell –with all the amniotic fluid which he ‘breaths’ freely, not getting his supply of oxygen from the nose/lungs. And thus, when the baby is born, he knows the smell of his mother, from without, as he grew so familiar with it from within.
Nursing, too, is very scent sensitive. When my child was 3-4 months old, for the first time I went into the studio and played around with my blends. I came out smelling like a garden, with all these gorgeous florals and balsams on my fingers and arms. I sat down to nurse my baby, and she wouldn’t nurse. She did not like being held by me with me masked –so close, and yet so far. (After that experience, I didn’t go back to blending until she was around a year old)
Pregnant ladies have an extremely sensitive sense of smell, laboring ladies even more. It is common to hear ladies talking of the smells they simply could not stand –especially in their first trimester smells such as eggs, cooked foods, musks –even synthetic- are commonly shunned by expecting mothers. I remember speaking with an older lady about her birth experiences, and she was discussing the birth of one of her sons, and how the midwife had on this awful, musky perfume! And she could not stand whenever she entered the room! (to think, such a small detail, to be remembered so strongly after so many years)
The Mother relies on her sense of smell to love her baby as well. It is now known that washing a just born child is not necessary, and can even hinder the bonding supposed to occur between mommy and baby.
I believe that nursing babies will always smell a bit like their mother, not only for the shared genealogy, but also since their diet is the same, another thing that plays a big roll in keeping the mom attracted to her baby –we are easily attracted to what is familiar, and similar to us.
Chinese medicine says pregnant women are not allowed to smell Musk pods –It can put her immediately into labor –whether she is 6, 8 or 9 months pregnant.
Our sense of smell plays a strong role in helping us chose a compatible partner – A friend of mine told me that when he learnt that, he stopped using scented deodorant. He did not want to attract someone who would not be attracted to him over time.
There are many aromatics that I detect a smell that strongly reminds me of sex –Sandalwood being the strongest of these. Not dirty, musky and moist. I believe this plays a strong role in people’s’ attraction to these scents, after all, scent is the foreplay of the plants and bugs.
There can be no reproduction without scent, there can be no continuation, attraction, nourishment, without scent. Our society does not see this as such an important sense, and we are not brought up in a way that develops and sharpens our sense of smell, the opposite is more true, usually it goes overlooked. Yet it’s role is just as important, whether known or ignored.
Natural aromatics do not cover ones natural scent, they melds with, and enhance. But still, it is very possible to detect –on a primal level – whether this partner is compatible with you. Attractive, healthy, etc
May we be blessed to share many more smelly days, sharing with our loved ones in the beauty of this world.

Small note: this essay is a melding of two of my passions – birth and perfume. I am a doula, and am constantly blown away by what really goes on when a child is born –in the mother, in the child, in the people surrounding and on a spiritual level-in all the world. I enjoyed melding one passion with another.

And another note: Anya, I wrote this before I had gotten pregnant, funny, I guess on some psychic level, I knew that this is a direction I will soon be taking once more

Anya’s note:  Hemla is the first student to write in depth about her experiences working with aromatics while pregnant, and it’s more informative because she is a doula.  I remember reading about the smell/repulsion factor during pregnancy in many aromatherapy books, and how many posted in aromatherapy forums that jasmine grandiflorum absolute was used at a certain stage of labor.

Does anyone have a “pregnant perfumer” or “pregnant aromatherapist” story to share?

Leave a comment by 11:59 PM April 5, 2013 and you’ll be in a drawing to receive a 4ml bottle of exquisite jasmine grandiflorum absolute, diluted 10% in organic grain alcohol.  It’s the same jasmine my students receive in their kits.  The alcohol helps ‘open up’ the jasmine and it’s wearable as a perfume on its own.  If you’ve never experienced true, high-quality jasmine, this will delight you.

PS: don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and/or all the posts.  My focus on blogging is to bring the most interesting and informative topics to you, most centered around natural aromatics, perfumery education, the Natural Perfumers Guild and all things that smell wonderful!