Pregnancy is both a wonderful time and an also a time for stress and apprehension. Aromas have a powerful effect on our bodies and can influence our emotional state. Aromatherapy roughly translates as “treatment with scents.” It is the practice of using essential oils as a therapy to go with the program your doctor has you on. It heals and uplifts the mind, body, and spirit. Aromatherapy can be a great benefit throughout pregnancy and during birth.
Can aromatherapy help you to have an easier pregnancy and birth? It can be safe if used in moderation and only after the first trimester. During pregnancy, our sense of smell is heightened so what would normally smell good to us, may be excessively strong during pregnancy.
Aromatherapy uses many different methods to get the essential oils into the body. A massage with essential oils in carrier oil is one of the most popular but other methods are baths, vaporizers, inhalations, and scented compresses.
A massage from a knowledgeable therapist can be done after first consulting with the client’s doctor. Gentle massaging or stroking the back and the legs can help ease them through this emotionally and physically demanding time. It is important that you use only half the essential oils as for a normal person. The therapist should be sure the client is comfortable, never making her lie on her front. She can lie on her side with her legs drawn up and a pillow under her knees that will make her comfortable. On the other hand, she can use pillows and lean forward on the therapist couch or table.
Using Essential Oils with Caution
All essential oils should be diluted in carrier oils, creams, or lotions for massages. It is important to remember that during pregnancy you should use half of what a normal adult would use, whether it’s in a bath or a massage, or even in the air.
Some essential oils should not be used during pregnancy at all and are considered a health risk. These oils should not be used during pregnancy: thyme, rosemary, rose, peppermint, origanum, parsley, myrrh, lemongrass, marjoram, basil, cedarwood, fennel, juniper, clary sage, cypress, and jasmine. During the first trimester if you are using aromatherapy at all, it’s important you avoid chamomile and lavender. After the first trimester, they may be used and are helpful.
Citrus oils such as orange, lemon, and grapefruit are considered safe to use during pregnancy and have an uplifting affect on the body. Don’t use them before being exposed to direct sunlight because it could cause skin discoloration.
A therapist can be helpful while giving a gentle massage for poor circulation problems, backache, apprehension, and water retention, all which are common during the last two trimesters of pregnancy.
Another word of caution is that aromatherapy and massages should not be given during pregnancy if the patient has had prior miscarriages or other complications during pregnancy. If she has experienced any bleeding, she should not be treated with massage or aromatherapy. Varicose veins, high blood pressure may suggest different complications and should be treated by the client’s doctor or midwife. A well-known medical saying used by nurses and doctors alike is “First, do no harm.”
Aromatherapy During Labor
Essential oils and aromatherapy can also be used safely during labor. Jasmine is warm, fragrant and has antispasmodic and analgesic properties. Lavender is an antiseptic and is great for aching back and limbs. Geranium helps breathing and is good for circulation. Ylang Ylang is calming and lowers blood pressure during a stressful time.
Aromatherapy can be an important part of having an easier pregnancy, but stay away from the oils that are listed above as harmful to pregnancy. The same calming scents you use during your time of labor can also be helpful to your birth partner. Remember, use essential oils with caution during pregnancy, and consult a professional first.
Aromatherapy and therapeutic massage can be good for pregnancy, especially as a means of relaxation. Relieving stress and being able to enjoy this special time in your life is one area that aromatherapy will help. So relax, enjoy this period of your life, and get all the rest you can. You may not be able to get much rest after the baby is born.