Aromatherapy. The word itself is soothing, isn’t it?
But there’s more to essential oils than just bringing pleasure to the nose and relieving stress. They act as medicine in the body and can be very helpful during pregnancy.
Backache? Nausea? Swollen ankles? Read on.
Which Essential Oils Can Be Safely Used During Pregnancy?
Remember to always consult your doctor or midwife before trying anything new during your pregnancy! Essential oils can be used if you are having a healthy pregnancy and if your doctor gives you the go-ahead after the first trimester.
BabyCentre recommends that you do not use essential oils if you have a history of miscarriage, have had vaginal bleeding during this pregnancy, have epilepsy, heart problems, diabetes, blood clotting, or thyroid, liver, or kidney disease.
Following is a list of oils that are safe to use while pregnant, but it is important that you get pure, authentic, genuine quality oils–not synthetic oils which may contain harmful chemicals. Two reputable sources for purchasing quality oils are: Aromatics International and Ananda Apothecary, according to natural-fertility-info.com.
Citrus oils such as tangerine, neroli, grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, and sweet orange; German or Roman camomile; common lavender; frankincense; black pepper; peppermint; ylang ylang; eucalyptus; bergamot; cypress; tea tree oil (don’t use during labor or if you have sensitive skin); geranium; spearmint; cardamom; ginger; patchouli; petitgrain; rosewood; sandalwood; benzoin; sweet marjoram; and rose otto are all considered safe to use during pregnancy.
Avoid These Oils During Pregnancy
According to BabyCentre, nutmeg can have hallucinogenic effects and may react with pain relieving drugs during labor. Rosemary can increase blood pressure and cause contractions.
Basil can lead to abnormal cell development. Jasmine and clary sage could trigger contractions, so you’d only want to use those if you are overdue and trying to induce with an experienced midwife or aromatherapist. If you try to do it yourself and use too much, the contractions could become too powerful.
Stay away from sage and rose because they could cause bleeding in your uterus. Juniper berry could affect your kidneys. Laurel, angelica, thyme, cumin, aniseed, citronella, and cinnamon could also stimulate contractions and should be avoided.
Other essential oils to stay away from are:
- lavandula stoechas
- parsley seed
- hyssop, birch
- anise star
- sweet birch
How To Use Essential Oils Safely
After reading through these lists of essential oils, you may feel like a witch shopping at an apothecary’s shop.
Just wait until you start playing around with them! A little drop here, a few drops there–they can be really fun, but be sure not to overdo it.
They are very powerful little potions, so it is important to use them sparingly and safely.
It is unclear how much, if any, essential oil can actually reach your baby through the placenta, so it is best to play it on the safe side. Don’t use essential oils more than a couple times a week, and definitely not on a daily basis.Easy does it.
It should be noted, however, that there are no recorded instances of harm done to a fetus by essential oils, according to the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists. Their Pregnancy Guidelines tell us that, because pregnant women have an extra fatty layer under their skin, the essential oils have a slow-release effect when massaged onto the body, as the oils dissolve in fat and are more likely to rest in the fatty layers.
This acts as a sort of safety area between the surface of your skin and your baby.
- First of all, you should not use any essential oils during your first trimester. It is a very sensitive time as your baby’s complex body is forming, so you don’t want to do anything too drastic that may throw off your body’s natural rhythms and flows.
- Natural-Fertility-Info recommends a weekly bath for 10-15 minutes with no more than four drops of oil, or a diffuser only one or two times.per week. Don’t use a vaporizer more than 10-15 minutes per hour or it could lead to nausea, headaches, vertigo, or lethargy, according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.
- For massage, you want a 1% dilution, which means 5 to 6 drops of oil per 1oz of carrier oil, such as grapeseed, sweet almond, olive, or coconut. It is best to get aromatherapy massage from a skilled therapist, and avoid the sun afterward to avoid skin reactions. It’s probably best to avoid massage with these oils if you already have sensitive skin.
- You can also make hot or cold compresses with essential oil using 6 drops of oil in 9oz of water. Just dip a clean cloth into the oily water, ring it out, and apply to your forehead/temples, or wherever you are experiencing discomfort.
- Your midwife may recommend using essential oils during labor. That is no problem if you are having a home birth, but if you are going to hospital, be sure to check on their policies. It is likely that their health and safety regulations will not allow you to use a diffuser or vaporizer, as they may disrupt hospital equipment or affect neighboring patients.
- DO NOT USE ESSENTIAL OILS IN YOUR BIRTHING POOL. They may irritate baby’s eyes when he or she emerges. You also should not use essential oils with an epidural.
- Do not ingest essential oils while pregnant–only use them topically.
The Specific Benefits and Which Oils to Use
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What are we doing this for anyway? Relief. Sweet relief. The following ailments can be treated with these corresponding oils:
- Frequent urination: sweet marjoram, cypress, neroli
- Abdominal discomfort: juniper, benzoin, lavender
- Heartburn: sandalwood, Roman chamomile, petitgrain
- Hemorrhoids: cypress, sandalwood, peppermint, sweet orange
- Morning sickness: petitgrain, sweet orange, mandarin
- Mild nausea: ginger diffuser
- Stretch marks: lavender, frankincense, rose (postpartum), Roman chamomile
- Varicose veins: cypress, sandalwood, sweet orange
- Water retention: petitgrain, geranium, bitter orange
- Aches and pains: blend ginger and lavender with massage oil
- Mild anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia: ylang ylang in diffuser or bath
- Nausea, indigestion: blend sweet orange with ginger
- To improve mood and energy: blend sweet orange with grapefruit in diffuser
- Fatigue, fight infections: grapefruit in diffuser or bath
- Backache: chamomile massage
- Swollen ankles and feet: mandarin, lavender foot massage or soak
- Tension, relaxation: blend petitgrain and lavender with frankincense for massage
Now you know how to make little magical potions to pamper yourself and relieve various ailments that come with the beauty of childbirth.
Follow the guidelines to use these oils safely, and you will reap the many rewards they can offer you. You may be surprised and find even more benefits on your own! Just remember to take deep breaths and, most importantly, relax.