More and more pregnant women and new parents are looking for natural alternatives to prescription drugs. Although conventional medicine and medicines can be helpful in more extreme cases, for the more common ailments associated with child birth and parenting, natural alternatives like Essential Oil Therapy can prove to be just as, if not more, effective. Below are just a few ways that Essential Oil Therapy can help with a more natural pregnancy and childbirth.
Massaging yourself with nourishing carrier oils and the essential oils of neroli and mandarin during your pregnancy may help to reduce the chance of getting stretch marks, and alleviate dry, itchy skin. Be sure not to forget to massage your breasts and thighs, along with your growing belly.
For those who suffer from headaches and migraines, using essential oils such as lavender and peppermint can be a good alternative to conventional pain relievers. The essential oils of peppermint, chamomile or ginger can be effective in relieving the nausea associated with morning sickness. Pieces of dried ginger can also be chewed, or peppermint and/or chamomile tea can be drunk to ease nausea. For some women, simply inhaling peppermint essential oil can ease the nausea.
A warm bath with essential oils added, can soothe your sore muscles, help you to relax, and be emotionally uplifting as well. Research has confirmed that the mother’s emotional state affects the child, both pre and post natal. Massage yourself, or even better, have a partner massage you, to help with sore muscles, relaxation, strengthening the emotional bonds and help prevent fluid retention in your legs and feet. For massaging your feet and legs, try our cooling Peppermint Foot Lotion.
For years, many midwives have recommended massaging your perineum daily in the last six weeks of pregnancy, to help reduce the chances of tearing or having an episiotomy (Perineal Oil).
For inflammation, acne and other skin issues, toners with lavender and chamomile hydrosols are soothing and calming to the skin. Many women see changes in their skin and some develop acne, similar to when they were in their teens.
The essential oils of neroli and lavender can be used to help with fear and anxiety with the labour. If you have a long labour and fatigue has set in, the essential oils of peppermint and sage can be used for energy or alertness. Also during a long labour, misting your face with the hydrosols of lavender, neroli or rose, will refresh you. Use any hydrosol that you enjoy.
During labour, have your labour partner massage your lower back with the essential oils of chamomile (Roman and/or German), clary sage and lavender in a carrier oil. A compress with the essential oil of clary sage and the hydrosol of clary sage will greatly reduce labour pain when applied to the lower abdomen and back. If you are having a water birth, the EO and hydrosol can be added directly to the tub.
Essential Oil Therapy during pregnancy:
- can help reduce stretch marks can help deal with stress and promote relaxation
- can ease cramping and pains experienced during pregnancy
- can help you keep in tune with your body and your baby
- can provide relief from ailments such as headaches, nausea, varicose veins, edema
- can aid in ‘recovery’ after childbirth
Applying hydrosols directly to the area, or adding essential oils to a sitz bath can aid discomfort and healing of the perineum. As some women find it uncomfortable to use the sitz bath method, a spray is a more convenient method of application (Postpartum Perineum Spray). Applying witch hazel hydrosol, with a cotton pad, can relieve hemorrhoids. For added relief, the cotton pad can be left in place.
Postpartum depression can be helped with many citrus oils, which are anti-depressants and help with anxiety. Some of these oils include orange, bermagot, neroli and grapefruit.
Engorged breasts can be helped with a compress of geranium, as well as a cabbage leaf being inserted into your bra. For cracked and sore nipples, calendula can aid in healing (Calendula Nursing Ointment). For dry skin during breastfeeding, there are a number of essential and carrier oils that can be used.
Below is a summary of some of the essential oils and hydrosols which can be used during pregnancy and some of their benefits:
Calendula – skin irritations, minor infections, wound healing
Chamomile – muscular pain, labour, morning sickness, perineum healing
Clary Sage – muscular pain, headaches, labour
Cypress – edema, prevent stretch marks
Ginger – morning sickness
Juniper Berry – edema
Lavender – muscular pain, headaches, labour, stress, perineum healing
Mandarin – prevent stretch marks, stress, and depression
Neroli – anxiety, prevent stretch marks, depression
Peppermint – headaches, morning sickness, nausea, alertness
Witch Hazel – apply the hydrosol to hemorrhoids and varicose veins
Yarrow – apply the hydrosol for postpartum healing
There has been some debate as to whether essential oils are safe for use during pregnancy and on babies. There are some essential oils which are not recommended for use during the first trimester such as: rose, jasmine and chamomile, to name a few. Generally though, the use of flower and citrus oils can be considered safe for use throughout the entire pregnancy. You should consult with an aromatherapist to be sure. It’s best to check the label for any warnings and/or directions, as they are usually printed on commercially available essential oils. During pregnancy, you should use a dilution of 1-3% essential oil, or 3-9 drops in 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of carrier oil. That being said, as with all alternative forms of therapy and non-prescribed drugs, especially during pregnancy and on newborns, you should consult with your health care professional before use.
by Michelle Reynolds
Michelle Reynolds is an aromatherapist and founder of Aromatic Health, a beautiful line of non-toxic natural body products. She has an amazing pregnancy line that includes a Belly Butter (for stretch marks), Nursing Ointment, Perineal Oil, Post Caesarean Healing Oil, Post Perineal Spray (what a great idea!!!). This would be an amazing shower gift and I think that every Midwife should provide these awesome products for their clients. To purchase, visit www.aromatichealth.ca.