With careful use, aromatherapy is a natural therapy that’s great to use during pregnancy, throughout labour and also in the months following the birth. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at some of the essential oils that are safe and beneficial to use during the term of pregnancy.
First of all, what exactly is aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is basically the therapeutic use of essential oils. Essential oils are the fragrant part of a plant which have properties that can help us physically and emotionally. The most popular way to apply these oils is through massage, and this increases the effects of the oils by greatly relaxing body and mind, but the oils can also be used in a number of other ways and still produce great benefits, such as in the bath or in a vapouriser.
Pregnancy is a very exciting time (and sometimes unexpected!) and it is a time of immense emotional and physical change. It is good to take a holistic approach to your pregnancy, and that can include eating a nutritious and balanced diet, exercising and taking adequate rest and relaxation. Pregnancy does usually come with it’s minor discomforts, and aromatherapy is on hand to help!
Safety: Most oils are safe to use at the correct dosage, however AVOID the following during pregnancy: Basil, Camphor, Hyssop, Pennyroyal, Sage, Savoury, Thuja, Wintergreen. If you are at all worried about using essential oils, you could start using them after three months, or use them at half the normal dilutions.
Common complaints during pregnancy
Stretch marks are a form of scarring due to the stretching of skin. It is good to start rubbing oils into your tummy and hips as early as three months into pregnancy. The best way of treating stretch marks is to treat them before they have happened!
Good base oils to use are almond and rosehip seed oil, and essential oils which are good to add are frankinsence, mandarin, neroi and rose. Neal’s Yard Remedies does a lovely blended oil called ‘Mother’s Massage Oil’ which is great to use before and after pregnancy.
Small inhalations of essential oils can help relieve nausea in the early stages –
try a drop of one of the following oils on a tissue and inhale – peppermint, lime, ginger or chamomile. You could also vapourise these oils into the room, as it will be early days and you may feel more comfortable doing this rather than applying the oils to your skin. Try to eat little but often, as the nausea tends to be worse when you haven’t eaten for long periods of time, this being why it’s most common in the morning.
General muscle and back pain
Carrying around the extra weight can put stress on joints and muscles, especially the lower back region. Regular massage with essential oils is a very effective way to relax tense muscles. And after all, pregnancy is also a time to pamper yourself! Babies whose mothers have received regular massage throughout pregnancy have been shown to be more peaceful when they are born.
4-5 drops of essential oil in a warm bath can also help – good muscle relaxants are lavender, chamomile and marjoram.
In the later stages of pregnancy, water retention can build up in the tissues, most noticeable in the ankles, legs and hands. Good oils to help get fluid moving are lemon, geranium and grapefruit. Massage also helps to drain the lymphatic system where fluid can build up.
The bulk and weight of the baby can cause pressure on the veins. Make up a lotion with lemon oil and a small amount of cypress, and apply daily. It is a good idea to use this lotion in a preventative way.
Anxiety and Stress
Mood swings and stress can be exasperated by fluctuating hormone levels, especially when the pregnant woman may have all the other usual day-to-day stress such as work or having other children to look after. Nice oils to use for relaxation and unwinding include bergamot, lavender, neroli, orange and lime. As the birth comes nearer, oils can help you trust in the body’s ability to do what is a completely natural process:
- Lavender and chamomile in a bath before bedtime
- Sandalwood and patchouli in an oil burner boost confidence
- Rose and jasmine help celebrate your feminine power!
Good oils to take into the delivery room include jasmine and lavender (help strengthen and deepen contractions). Clary sage is also said to help with pain relief. It would be good to take a ready made massage blend with these oils, and they can be rubbed into your belly or lower back a few days before and during birth.
Good luck with your pregnancy!
Please note that it is always best to consult a qualified aromatherapist if you are in any doubt about the use of essential oils during pregnancy.