Pregnancy is a joyous time for every mom-to-be, what with the excitement of having a new addition to your family and the thrill of imagining who your baby looks like. For many expecting mothers, however, this excitement also comes with a variety of symptoms that may be uncomfortable at the least, and extremely annoying at the worst.
The good news is that, you can use essential oils to help cope with the many bothersome symptoms of this delicate phase.
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Safety tips during pregnancy
Before you read any further, you may be asking that one important question many pregnant women ask: Are essential oils safe for me to use now?
The answer isn’t the same for all essential oils. There are many that are safe to use during pregnancy via topical application and inhalation routes. On the other hand, there are also a number of oils that should be avoided via any route since they are unsafe for the growing fetus or may cause contractions.
Oils to completely avoid during pregnancy include:
- Cinnamon, clove, rosemary, thyme, laurel, angelica, aniseed, citronella, cumin and clary sage (can stimulate contractions)
- Basil (can contribute to abnormal cell development)
- Sage and rose (can cause bleeding in the womb/uterus)
- Juniper berry (can affect kidneys)
- Nutmeg (can have psychological effects & react negatively with pain-relieving drugs during labour)
Now, with those oils out of the way, all of the oils mentioned below for pregnancy symptoms are safe to use for pregnant women, unless you are allergic to any of them.
Before using any essential oils on yourself, it’s good to keep the following safety tips in mind:
General Pregnancy Tips
- If you’re still in your first trimester, it’s best to avoid using any essential oil via any route. The first three months of pregnancy is where fetal organ formation happens, thus is a very delicate time for the growing baby. These first few months are also where most miscarriages happen, so it’s better to be cautious of anything you use, especially if your physician says that you have a high-risk pregnancy.
- Always, always dilute the oil. You may now know that the proper way to use essential oils when applying them to the skin is to first dilute them with a carrier oil, like fractionated coconut oil or sunflower oil. Essential oils in their pure form are very potent, and thus, have to be diluted. If you have a list of recipes, it’s also a good idea to modify them a bit and cut down on the amount of essential oils to be used. This is helpful because it tones down the potency of the oil. Also, when pregnant, a woman has a much sharper sense of smell, so cutting back on the number of drops to use can prevent an overpowering scent.
- Do not ingest any essential oil while pregnant. Again, we have to emphasize that essential oils are very potent and taking them in by mouth can cause harmful effects. It’s best to stick to topical application and inhalation. Applying oils onto the skin is safe, provided that they are properly diluted. Diffusing oils aromatically for inhalation is also one of the safest ways to obtain their many benefits, especially while pregnant. Check out this link to learn more about how to safely inhale essential oils.
- Always do a skin test first. Pregnancy can cause you to have more sensitive skin than usual, so it’s a good idea to do a skin patch test first. To do this, place a couple drops of the diluted essential oil on the inside part of your elbow or forearm. Apply a bandage (or Band-aid) to the area, allowing the oil to soak into the pad. Keep the bandage on for 24 hours, making sure that you don’t wet the area. After 24 hours, remove the bandage and check for any irritation, which could be in the form of redness, stinging, swelling or itchiness. If within the test period, you feel any irritation, immediately remove the bandage and wash the area well with water. This may mean that the essential oil isn’t safe for you to use. If after 24 hours, you don’t observe any kind of irritation, then the oil is safe to apply on your skin.
Pregnancy symptoms that essential oils can help with
Here are some of the most common pregnancy symptoms along with some of the essential oils that can help make you feel better during this period.
- Morning sickness and nausea: That nauseous feeling is among the most annoying symptoms of being pregnant, and despite how it’s called, it can strike at any time of the day. One of the best remedies for this is a mixture of ginger and spearmint oils. You can place a drop or two on a handkerchief or tissue and slowly inhale until the nausea goes away. You can also keep them handy in a pocket inhaler for you to whip out wherever you are. Other oils that refresh and relieve you of the nasty feeling are sweet orange, lemon, and grapefruit oils. These oils can also help relieve the nausea that comes with cases of heartburn. If you seem to wake up already nauseous, many moms find that it helps to place a few drops of these oils in a saucer with water by their bedside table.
- Insomnia: Many an expecting mom has experienced sleepless nights of tossing and turning, leading to sleep deprivation that adds to the stress of pregnancy. To get a more restful sleep, the best oil to use is still lavender. Other calming oils that can help are chamomile, neroli, bergamot, sandalwood, and sweet marjoram. To use these oils, you can dilute the oil and place a few drops on your pillow for the scent to envelope you and lull you to sleep. Another way is to make a spray dilution with water, a bit of alcohol, and a few drops of your chosen oil, and spray this around your room before sleeping. You can also use a diffuser and run it in the room for 20-30 minutes before settling in to sleep.
- Lower back pain: The added weight on your belly plus the loosening pelvic bones and ligaments can make for terrible lower back pain. Ask your partner to massage your aching back with either chamomile, black pepper, lavender or sweet marjoram oil, or a blend of these oils, diluted with a carrier oil.
- Sciatica/ Nerve pains: Shooting pains by your thighs, hips and back may be due to the pressing of the growing uterus on the sciatic nerve. Relieve such pains with a massage blend made up of a carrier oil plus any one or more of the following essential oils: lavender, cypress, chamomile, thyme and sweet marjoram.
- Leg cramps and swelling: Toward the later part of your pregnancy, some moms experience frequent cramping in their legs, along with swollen ankles and feet. Cypress oil blended with grapefruit oil is particularly useful for relieving the discomfort from cramps and swelling. Simply dilute with a carrier oil and massage onto your legs and feet. Another great blend is to mix ginger and black pepper oil with a carrier to ease the cramps and promote blood flow.
- Fatigue and tiredness: Citrus and mint scents help refresh the senses and perk you up from feeling fatigued. Your best bets for a pick-me-up are lemon, grapefruit, sweet orange, lime or spearmint oil. You can also blend a drop each of whichever of these oils you like, and place in a personal inhaler, drop onto a handkerchief, or load into the diffuser to help you feel refreshed and invigorated.
- Stretch marks: Oh, the fears of those unwanted white, silvery streaks on your skin! A lot of skin stretching occurs during pregnancy, sometimes leaving those horrid stretch marks in its wake. A solution to this is daily application of moisturizing oils that help nourish the skin to prevent any of these marks. Aside from using body butter, a great alternative is to mix a couple drops each of sweet orange and chamomile oil with about 30 ml of rosehip oil as the carrier. Apply daily all over your belly, back, and thighs to prevent those sneaky stretch marks. You can also use coconut oil as a carrier base, as it has a great moisturizing ability as well.
- Anxiety and stress: Many moms-to-be are often more stressed and emotional due to the surge of hormones in the body. Relax and calm yourself with lavender, neroli, geranium, chamomile, sweet orange, or ylang-ylang essential oils during moments of worry and stress. Massage a few drops with a carrier oil on your temples, or inhale via a handkerchief or inhaler. You can also diffuse some into your room or work area. You can also couple their use with deep breathing and meditation for optimal relaxation and tranquility. Plus, you can also use these same oils to calm you down when those labor pains are coming when it’s time for you to deliver your baby.
During pregnancy, it’s crucial to take good care of yourself and your well-being. Essential oils, when used properly, can help you do just that. Additionally, you can also use a variety of the oils above to help you relax and cope after delivery.
A final note: even though many oils can generally be used safely during pregnancy, it is important that some women, regardless of their desire to use oils, avoid them through the duration of their pregnancy.
This is true for women who:
- have had any miscarriages
- have a history of epilepsy
- have known heart problems
- experience vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy
- have diabetes, blood clotting, or have thyroid, kidney or liver disease or disorders
If you don’t have those issues, then you’re in the clear to enjoy your oils!
Pregnancy need not be a very difficult time for you. Using these oils can help make you feel happy, refreshed and relaxed enough to deal with the temporary aches and pains while waiting for your precious little one!
Hopefully this post has been helpful for you!
If you have any questions, comments or recommendations of your own regarding essential oils and aromatherapy during pregnancy please let us know in the comment section below!