If you're looking for a natural way to ease pregnancy-related health conditions, here's my list of all-important essential oils for mums-to-be:
Essential oils for pregnancy and childbirth
How to use aromatherapy oils for a healthy pregnancy
Here are some of the most common pregnancy-related ailments and how aromatherapy essential oils may help:
Backache/pelvic girdle pain - Many changes take place to the pelvic joints and ligaments during pregnancy and as a result, women may experience back and pelvic girdle pain. An anti-inflammatory and pain relieving blend of lavender and chamomile essential oils may ease the symptoms of pregnancy-related back pain and pelvic girdle pain/symphysis pubis dysfunction.
Constipation - Changes in bowel transit time can occur due to increased levels of the hormone progesterone, which has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles of the intestines. Massaging the abdomen in a clockwise direction using ginger and chamomile essential oils diluted in a carrier oil may get things moving.
Haemorrhoids (piles) - Caused as a result of increased weight placing pressure on dilated veins and often linked to straining due to constipation, haemorrhoids, once formed, can be difficult to treat. A tried and tested natural remedy to shrink haemorrhoids is the astringent witch hazel. Combine one part in a bottle with three parts distilled water, geranium and lavender essential oils and apply using a cold compress or spray to soothe the area.
Heartburn - Pregnant women may experience heartburn, a burning pain in the chest caused by upwards pressure from the expanding bump. To ease this uncomfortable sensation, a blend of ginger and lavender essential oils diluted in a carrier oil can be applied to the abdomen and bra strap area of the back.
Morning sickness - Often one of the first signs of pregnancy, morning sickness is thought to be caused by hormonal changes that occur in early pregnancy. It can also affect women in the third trimester. Inhaling essential oils of either peppermint or ginger may alleviate nausea in mums-to-be.
Stretch marks - During pregnancy, stretch marks are formed on the abdomen and lower back as a result of skin stretching over the expanding bump. As always, prevention is better than cure, so keep skin supple by massaging your bump daily with skin-strengthening essential oils. A blend of geranium, frankincense and lavender in a sweet almond and wheatgerm carrier oil base works well.
Swollen hands and feet - Fluid retention, or oedema, is believed to occur in pregnancy as a result of rising levels of the hormone oestrogen. Arm and leg massage using essential oils of geranium, peppermint or ginger diluted in a carrier oil, using long strokes towards the heart is a fantastic way to reduce swelling.
How to use aromatherapy during labour
Calm - Create a peaceful atmosphere in the delivery room by vapourising essential oils or making a room spray. Geranium, frankincense, rose, jasmine and lavender are some of the best oils for this purpose.
Confidence - Essential oils of rose, jasmine and frankincense are thought to evoke feelings of inner strength and positivity during labour. Inhale a few drops from a tissue or apply a drop to your inner wrist as needed.
Insomnia/fatigue - Lavender can be used in early labour to help ease anxiety and to promote rest and relaxation. It is also beneficial for women experiencing a slow labour as it may calm contractions and give the exhausted mum-to-be a break.
Nausea/vomiting - Peppermint and ginger essential oils may relieve nausea in labour. Avoid peppermint oil if you are also using homeopathic remedies.
Pain relief - A blend of lavender, chamomile and jasmine diluted in carrier oil is wonderful to ease painful contractions and backache, which may be experienced if your baby is in a back-to-back position.
Weak contractions - Clary sage has been shown to have a similar effect as the Syntocinon drip and can be used to strengthen contractions during a slow labour. Inhale or apply diluted onto the abdomen and lower back.
How aromatherapy can help in the post natal period
Aromatherapy can aid in physical recovery from childbirth as well as help with the emotional rollercoaster that new mums find themselves on.
It goes without saying that new mums should seek advice from their GP, midwife or health visitor if there are any health concerns post labour, especially if infection is suspected.
If you feel that you may have post natal depression, your health visitor and GP can provide advice and support.
Aromatherapy and breast feeding - Essential oils can be very helpful if you choose to breastfeed. If you have problems with low milk production, geranium and clary sage (one or the other) diluted in carrier oil and massaged onto the breasts daily may increase breast milk. Always wipe off before feeding. Should you be unfortunate enough to experience mastitis, a warm compress of lavender and chamomile oils can ease pain and inflammation.
Aromatherapy for 'baby blues' - Low mood in the post natal period is very common, especially around day 3-5, thought to be due to fluctuating hormone levels. Mood enhancing aromatherapy oils for the post natal period include rose, jasmine, frankincense and geranium. Adding a combination of these oils to a warm bath (diluted in carrier oil or full fat milk) is a wonderful way to rebalance mind, body and soul. If you can't find the time, rub a diluted blend of oils onto your inner wrist and inhale throughout the day.
Perineum/haemorrhoid soothing oils - Use a combination of geranium and lavender essential oils, one part witch hazel and three parts distilled water in a spray bottle or cold compress to soothe and repair swollen and damaged perineal tissue. The antibacterial oils may also help prevent infection. This blend can also be used to provide relief when applied to haemorrhoids.
So there you have it; nine essential oils that will help you through the pre and post natal period. Which is your go to aromatherapy oil during pregnancy and why?
The advice in this article is generic; a full consultation with a qualified aromatherapist is recommended. To find a practitioner in your area, search the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) register - http://www.fht.org.uk/search-directory
Complementary therapist and natural health expert. On a mission to sprinkle health and wellness wherever I go...