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Shannon E. Becker

“at first I thought I am failing her with my breastfeeding, there is something wrong with me so that was really hard, the other thing that worried me was no one realized she was jaundice and I thought in some way I thought I should have known that..”

Episode 61     Shannon E. Becker, PhD candidate is a Certified Aromatherapist, whose mission is to combine her scientific training with clinical aromatherapy training in order to help others.


Her Story.

Shannon E Becker, PhD candidate is a Certified Aromatherapist, Professional Member of Alliance of International Aromatherapists and National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists.  She is a  scientist finishing my PhD in Cell Biology, and while finishing my PhD, she learned that relaxation exercises, physical exercise, and essential oils form a great complement to traditional treatments. She decided to further her study of essential oils and became a certified aromatherapist with Aromahead Institute, which is one of the only nationally and internationally recognized aromatherapy schools. What makes Shannon distinct from other essential oil enthusiasts and sales people is that her PhD and scientific training allows her to understand the chemical aspects of aromatherapy. Her extensive benchwork in the lab means that you can trust the blends she makes are mixed in proper dilutions and are therapeutic strength.Her mission is to combine her scientific training with clinical aromatherapy training in order to help others.

Her background: Shannon tells us that she is the product of a very crunchy family. She grew up in Chicago and her parents were into homebirth and attachment parenting. She was breastfed for a long time and carried around in baby carriers and slept in the family bed. She always thought of the way she grew up as sort of normal and she was surprised to hear about other parenting practices. She carried on the traditions that she grew up with. This included babywearing and breastfeeding and the family bed. She was a volunteer for Babywearing International. She was dedicated to breastfeeding as long as possible as she was well aware of bonding time and health benefits. She did have a few hiccups early on. Her daughter was diagnosed with tongue tie and had two frenulectomies. Even with all the initial troubles, she was able to breastfeed her right up until after her 2nd birthday when she had to take medication that was not compatible with breastfeeding. Sharon tells us that she still enjoys spending time cuddling with her 5 year old daughter.

She recognizes now that many of her friends were brought up differently. She treats her daughters as she is a person who has feelings and she talks to her logically. There is not a lot of “I said so.”  She pays attention to her daughter’s body language. It just makes parenting easier. My parents did not have specific names for their parenting style it is just something that they did. Her parents hung out with neighbors who all had similar parenting lifestyles. She knows that she was breastfed for a long time, she knows that she slept with her parents for a long time, however, she does not remember clearly how old she was when she weaned and when she stopped co-sleeping. She thinks she stopped about 3 years old because that is when her sister was born. She surmises that since this was just normal family stuff, it did not stand out as anything different.

Her parents raised her the way she is raising her daughter. She has lots of questions and there was a lot of logical thinking. Her parents would have to give her a good answer otherwise she would follow it up with her stating that it did not make sense. My Dad started out as a math major and went into computers. Her mom is teaching computer science now. There was a lot of analytical thinking growing up. She does not remember stating that she wanted to be one specific profession when she grew up. Instead, she had interests and liked art and math and sciences. When she was in High School she had an epiphany in her freshman year that she really liked biology. There is a lot of observing and trying to understand the world around you. When she went to college, she decided she wanted to be in the biology program. She spent time after being an undergraduate, working in different labs, then realized that research is what she wanted to do. Shannon switched over to the vet school research lab where she is now and then worked there as an employee and is now a grad student there. Her parents call her “Dr. Science.” so it is no surprise what she is doing now.

Breastfeeding journey: Her mom had 2 home births and birthing center births. After  researching  different OBs and birth centers  she eventually chose a birth center, Fro her research she  realized there were not a lot of home birth midwives to choose from. One thing that she investigated was c/sec rates, induction rates as she knew she did not want to be in that position. She had read about the correlation between an increased risk of c/sec with induction rates. Wound up going with the birth center and then began second guessing and wondering if she should have gone with a home birth.

Shannon had a birth doula, which is a laymen helpers, who sometimes go through a certification, who are there to support the mother and/or the family during their birth. Her doula also took pictures of the birth. She had a history of helping families who desired a natural birth. Doula, husband and mother, and sister were at her birth. She felt like her birth was putting her into a sisterhood. During her time at the birthing center, her doula helped with the first latch. At the birthing center, they had 8 mothers give birth. It was so busy they moved her into another private room, so they could have the birthing room available to another laboring mom. Even though they were busy, Shannon still felt well cared for.

Her daughter nursed at home and did not seem to be feeding as frequently as she knew she should and not latching as well as she should be. She went back to the birth center and was diagnosed with jaundice. Her baby had a difficult time latching on and they decided to use the scissor technique for releasing the frenulum. She nursed right away after that. For the first 3-4 weeks, I was pumping milk and then she would suck on my pinky while she sucked milk from the syringe. Shannon explains to us what it means to be tongue tied and how that interferes with normal breastfeeding. Her baby was spending a long time at the breast, but not getting good milk transfer which creates poor weight gain, lack of proper output, poor milk supply. Shannon tells us that at first she thought she was failing her with breastfeeding. The other thing is that no one realized she was jaundice and she felt badly because she thought she should have seen that herself. When she was told that she needed to have a procedure for the tongue tie, it worried her as it would any other mother in the same situation where they are talking about cutting tissue under her tongue. She could not watch the procedure, but her husband did. Everyone was very positive about the procedure and she recognizes that her nervousness was normal.

Once the procedure was done, she used some donor milk, and syringe feeding because her baby was still not able to breastfeed well. Shannon did wind up with an abundant supply, but the feedings were not comfortable for her baby. She was gaining weight and acted as if she was trying to drink from a straw. She wound up going to a lactation consultant who diagnosed her with oversupply. She observed a breastfeeding, and while she could tell baby got enough at the feeding because she was weighed on the scale, the LC also noted that she was not breastfeeding well. It seems that she needed additional tissue removed because she was not using her tongue effectively. Shannon’s daughter needed to have the procedure done again because she wanted to give her the best chance to have a better latch. She also  wanted to give her  the best chance at transferring milk effectively as she had learned that while her baby could get a good feeding, she recognized that it was not normal breastfeeding.

Shannon says that breastfeeding went so much better after the second procedure. She had regulated her supply with blocked feeding, her baby was using her tongue much more effectively after the procedure and by the time her baby was about 4 months, she had finally reached the point where breastfeeding was normal, just the way she had envisioned it should be. She had no problem going out in public and breastfeeding because it was so easy and so convenient. Shannon talks about her feelings of empowerment and enjoyed nursing in public and felt proud of herself for doing so. She had a “prepared” speech if anyone came up to her and said something negative about nursing in public. She purposefully did not use nursing covers because she wants others to see moms nursing in public. Shannon talks about her “I am women hear me roar.” moment when she led the Seder while she breastfed. While she did have her struggles, she felt very strongly against the use of formula and so she just kept breastfeeding, and worked through her struggles until it got better.

Weaning: Shannon was looking forward to her daughter naturally weaning whenever her daughter was ready. Unfortunately, she had to take the initiative for weaning. This came with guilt on her part… maybe she should have waited longer, maybe she should have held off on taking medication that she needed to take. The weaning turned out to be emotional and tough on her, but surprisingly to her, the weaning process was not difficult for her. It happened gradually over a weeks time. When her daughter wanted to nurse, she redirected her attention. She exchanged nursing snuggles to just regular snuggles. She worked at reducing the frequency of nursing sessions. At two years old, they had transitioned to a toddler bed in her own room, which she felt helped with the process. She anticipated it being emotional for her daughter and it really was not.

Working with Shannon remotely: [email protected]

Contact Info: petrichorapotherapy.com work sheets can be found on her website
blog posts can be found on her website

FB website:

E-Commerce site :squareup.com/market/Petrichor-Apothecary 

Part 2 Aromatherapy: Shannon talks about medical issues she had with anxiety and chronic pain. Along with medical physicians, she researched on what else she could do to help herself. She learned a lot about aromatherapy and herbal remedies. She felt at home with the aromatherapy and began making a lot of blends for herself. She decided to take her training further and attended Aromatherapy Institute. She discussed in detail the thoroughness of her training. When working with a client this includes a very thorough questionnaire and a full consultation and follow up care. She did several case studies and wrote a research paper on the cooperation of lavendar and citrus oils in treating chronic anxiety and situational anxiety. This published paper can be found on her website.

Essential oil (EO)use and the safety of the oils: Topical and oral use. Many people talk about using EO in water and using them on your skin. However, the most effective way to use EO is through inhalation. Shannon does an excellent job of explaining this in detail. Inhalation is a very quick and effective way to use EO. When you are smelling is there any danger to any population in smelling. Peppermint and Eucalyptus, and those 2 EO are often used a lot in Vicks Vapo rub when you are having trouble breathing/congested. Because people are wanting to use something more natural instead of using Vicks vaporub, they are attracted to these and a few others and they actually contain 2 chemicals that can trigger a response in lungs to suppress the breathing and central nervous system. So when you are talking about using these oils with a child who is already having problems breathing and then you use these 2 oils that can suppress breathing this becomes a problem. When you use these EO for adults, we can because or bodies are more developed but with kids it can be tricky.

Is there a difference between holding a bottle of EO under their nose or putting in a diffuser. Shannon explains the differences between all the different methods of inhalation. She also explains the differences between inhaling the oils and breathing it in with a diffuser that is going all night. I learned something new today in that it is not necessary to keep the diffuser going on all night. If you are using it for congestion it might be helpful. If you are looking for it to help with moods/emotion it is essentially a waste of have the diffuser going all day or night.

It is more dangerous to apply EO directly to the skin. Their are lots of chemicals in each EO, and they will be able to pass through the cells in your skin and travel directly into your bloodstream. With young children who have underdeveloped organs, especially their livers it is less safe than inhalation. The other concern is the amount of EO being used. She says that some of the recipes she sees does not have a carrier oil, which means there is the potential to overdose. Most should be used at 1% dilution and for newborns and kids the dilution is greater.

Ingesting the oils: A lot of people who enjoy putting citrus EO in their water and drink it throughout the day. Shannon takes her time and explains to us why this is a dangerous habit. She cautions us against this practice as it causes chemical burns and permanent scars in their esophagus and stomach. It is not uncommon for people to say: “I like the flavor but it burns.” A misconception is that when someone complains about it, they will be disregarded or will be told this is how they know it is working. Shannon feels that if it is hurting you, be skeptical. Even if you don’t feel the burn now, you are still at risk of developing chemical burns or even more dangerous you can be a risk of developing a sensitivity to that EO and you can have a pretty severe allergic reaction.

Babies under 3 months who are congested: Aromatherapy is not suggested. You should try humidity and lots of nursing. Their internal organs are not well developed and are much more sensitive to anything in their environment. Ideally you will wait 6 months, but after 3 months, you can begin to use lavender – If used with a diffuser this is safe. You want to stay away from using this topically.

Helping a baby to mellow out before bedtime, using a diffuser which is on a timer is best. When you diffuse something and then turn it off, it allows your system to reset. At bedtime for a 6-8 month old, with lavendar open on the table and nursing would be a good way to use this EO. With a 4 year old, you can begin to explore using other EO.

Pregnant and Breastfeeding moms: EO have not been studied on pregnant and nursing women, however, they have been tested on pregnant and nursing mice and rats. She would not use EO that have estrogenic activity. Their are a number of chemicals found in EO that do have estrogenic activity. This can be confusing and Shannon explains it very clearly in the recorded show. Fennel and peppermint both have estrogenic activity and Shannon suggests not using these when breastfeeding as the estrogen can lower supply. Anise seed is a problem and so is fennel. Pregnant woman should not be using EO that have teratogenic properties as this can cause birth defects. Shannon discusses this in more depth also.

Shannon is concerned about breastfeeding moms peppermint, rosemary, can sow breathing in th child. Also cinnamon leaf and clove bud have chemicals that are not safe for kids. Five Thieves and On Guard are very popular because they contain chemicals that are germ fighters. They are great germ fighters and she can see why it can be very attractive to use. But when you put it on their skin you are exposing them to chemicals that are not safe for them.

Working with Shannon remotely: [email protected]

Contact Info: petrichorapotherapy.com work sheets can be found on her website
blog posts can be found on her website

FB website:

E-Commerce site :squareup.com/market/Petrichor-Apothecary 

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