Pregnancy is an important time for self-care. Essential oils can play a vital role in the process of self-care, reducing negative symptoms, and helping you maintain a positive attitude during pregnancy. Many women often suffer from nausea, fatigue, headaches, swelling, and stretch marks. All of these symptoms can be relieved or reduced through the use of essential oils.
As with any change to your normal routine, please check with a certified aromatherapist or a doctor prior to using essential oils during pregnancy. Most experts would recommend avoiding essential oil use during the first trimester. However, since your baby is further developed during the second and third trimesters, some essential oils are safe to use during this time ( Check whether or not essential oils are safe for your babies here ). Essential oils that should be avoided during pregnancy are:
These oils may cause contractions. There are several oils that are recommended and believed to be safe for pregnancy:
- ylang ylang
These three oils provide relaxation and may also be used as sleep aids.
Guidelines for Using Essential Oils During Pregnancy
First Trimester: Do not apply essential oils directly to your skin. If you are inclined to use essential oils for aromatherapy (i.e. diffused in a spacious room), use the oils at half strength and mixed with a carrier oil to weaken the strength of the aroma.
Second and Third Trimester: You may continue using essential oils through aromatherapy at half strength. You may also introduce essential oils through body products. When using oils in the second and third trimester, consider continuing to dilute the oil with a carrier oil.
Throughout entire pregnancy: Avoid using the following essential oils directly on your skin at all times during your pregnancy: Cedarwood, clary sage, cypress, fennel, geranium, jasmine, lemongrass, marjoram, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Morning Sickness and Nausea
One of the most common complaints during pregnancy is morning sickness. There are several essential oils that can help relieve the symptoms of nausea, not just in the morning, but throughout the day.
Before you retire for the night, put 3-5 drops of grapefruit or peppermint oil in a small bowl or saucer with water or carrier oil and place it on your bedside table. The smell of these oils helps combat the typical nausea associated with pregnancy, and you will wake up refreshed and relaxed.
During the daytime, you can fold a small piece of paper or tissue and add 2-4 drops of peppermint oil. You can place the paper in your pocket and retrieve it as needed. Simply take it out of your pocket, inhale 3-5 long, deep breathes of the refreshing scent and feel the nausea fade away.
You may also consider using an aromatherapy diffuser in your bedroom or throughout your work space during the day. If you work in a public space, you can create a small personal diffuser by dropping 5-10 drops of peppermint oil into a very small, dark glass bottle (can be found at most health food stores). Simply uncap, sniff, and relax!
Experiencing swollen feet and ankles is another common side effect of pregnancy. There are several ways to reduce swelling while also allowing your partner or family members the opportunity to support you during this exciting time.
For a relaxing foot massage, add 3-5 drops of lavender oil to the carrier oil of your choice and allow your partner to gently rub your feet and ankles. Remember, you are moving fluids through your body while you receive a massage, so don’t overdo it. A ten to twenty minute massage will provide great benefits, without over-taxing your lymphatic system.
If you don’t have the benefit of a partner, consider a nice, relaxing foot soak. Simply add 5-6 drops of lavender into a warm foot bath with a ½ cup of epsom salts. Soak for about 10-15 minutes. When you are finished soaking your feet, you can also use fresh salts to give your feet a little scrub before rinsing. This will give the bonus of a relaxing massage.
Usually from the second trimester on, women report mild to severe lower back pain. Using the method above, consider allowing a partner to gift you with a mild back massage. Be aware that as you receive a massage, you are releasing built up fluids into your lymphatic system. Your lymph system is designed to transport and expel the excess fluids naturally. As wonderful as a long back or foot rub can feel, take note on the length of the massage. Usually 20-30 minutes is enough to get the fluids moving. Also, drink plenty of water after receiving a foot rub or massage. This will help flush out the excess fluids.
Create a mixture of carrier oil (we recommend sweet almond or jojoba) and lavender. Apply it to the lower back or wherever you are experiencing pain. Allow your partner to gently rub the area to relieve the pressure. Remember to massage the whole back, as pain is often deferred throughout the back, not just localized to one part. This wonderful massage also helps to calm the nervous system and can be an excellent way to prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Tiredness and Fatigue
In many of the stages of pregnancy, women complain of feeling extremely tired. This can interfere with your ability to work productively and to parent your children. Many citrus oils can help by offering a Pick Me Up during the times you experience fatigue.
Similar to the methods employed to combat nausea (see above), you can place a few drops of lemon or grapefruit oil on a piece of paper or napkin and keep it with you throughout the day. When you take it out of your pocket you will be met with a pleasant aroma and the bright, enlivening smell.
As indicated in the Nausea section of this article, you can also create a personal diffuser using a small, dark bottle or you can use a room diffuser. Simply place 5-10 drops of lemon or grapefruit oil in the diffuser. These uplifting and energizing smells will help get you through the day.
Stretch Marks ( all you need to know about essential oils for stretch marks )
The best way to get rid of stretch marks is to never get them in the first place! One way to prevent stretch marks is by using a daily massage oil to keep your skin soft and supple. There is never a guarantee that you will avoid stretch marks, but daily maintenance on your skin’s hydration is sure to help.
Carrier oils such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil with lavender or mandarin essential oils are excellent belly products. You can also add cocoa butter to create a soothing cream.
You can create a stretch mark cream by warming 2 oz. of raw shea butter until it is soft, adding 2 tbsp of jojoba oil, and then adding 5-10 drops of lavender or geranium essential oil. Mix well using a spatula. Store in a small jar. The mixture will slightly solidify and form a soft, thick cream. Simply scoop out a bit and rub on the sides of your belly, hips, and outer thighs to keep these areas thoroughly hydrated.
Insomnia ( Redemies For Stress And Insomnia )
As your body changes throughout pregnancy, you will experience many new sensations. This may cause you to be unable to fall asleep, or may cause you to wake intermittently throughout the night. The most important part to combatting insomnia is settling your mind. When you get anxious about not sleeping you fall into a vicious cycle of anxiety that causes more insomnia.
One way to calm your mind and your nervous system is through aromatherapy. The best essential oils for calming effects are lavender, rose, ylang ylang, chamomile, and frankincense. You can simply use a room diffuser with a few drops of any single oil or a combination of the ones you like best. Try to remain still as you take in long, deep breaths. The longer you can stay connected to your breathing, the more calming benefits for your nervous system.
You can also use the calming oils above on the bottom of your feet. Pick a calming essential oil of your choice and place 2-3 drops onto the bottom of each foot and rub in. If you would like to add a bit of a foot rub into the mix, use a carrier oil such coconut oil, and have your partner rub your feet gently.
Pregnancy can be a very exciting time. With the added help of essential oils and a good self-care routine, it can also be a calming, intentional time that you reconnect with your body and appreciate all of the ways it supports you and your health.