Pregnancy can be a challenging time in a woman’s life, despite the joy of parenthood to look forward to. From swollen ankles to a sore back, to morning sickness, it may seem like a never-ending circle of challenges!
However, there are holistic solutions out there which may help. Aromatherapy is one holistic therapy that can benefit women in pregnancy, just like a prenatal massage. But you should choose essential oils wisely for use in pregnancy, as not all essential oils are created equally. And sometimes, hydrosols might be the better option.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of aromatherapy and discuss some of the cautions to be aware of during pregnancy, giving you the right information for a safe, holistic pregnancy.
Benefits of Aromatherapy in Pregnancy
There are many benefits of using aromatherapy when pregnant. With correct usage (including dilution rate and application method), aromatherapy may help with the following issues during pregnancy:
- Morning nausea and sickness
- Reduce swelling in extremities such as the ankles and wrists
- Muscle pain (especially the back)
- Ease insomnia
- Reduce the appearance of stretch marks
- Improve the condition of overall skin
- Reduce anxiety (especially during labor)
- Combined with massage: Reduce anxiety and boost immune function.1
Essential Oils in Pregnancy
Let’s first take a look at the use of essential oils in pregnancy. This is by far the most popular use. However, you should always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil or base such as jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) before topical application. The ideal dilution rate for using essential oils for pregnancy is 1%; that is, 6 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil or base.
Not all essential oils are safe for use in pregnancy, so get to know the essential oil (and associated cautions for use) before applying. Here are some of our favorite (and safest) essential oils for pregnancy use and why:
- Rose (Rosa damascena): Aside from its alluring and gentle aroma, rose essential oil is calming, skin-friendly, and stress-relieving. Use rose essential oil to reduce anxiety and stress, alleviate the appearance of stretch marks, and ease insomnia.
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Versatile lavender essential oil is an all-round care giver which can help to ease insomnia, ease muscle pain, reduce stretch marks’ appearance and reduce anxiety, among other things.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale): A great oil for nausea and sickness, muscle pain, poor circulation in ankles and wrists, and indigestion.
- Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): Soothing to the skin and reducing skin inflammation and redness, Roman chamomile essential oil can also assist with reducing muscle pain, easing insomnia, balancing stress and anxiety, and ease digestive issues. In addition, it may help with cracked nipples.
Hydrosols in Pregnancy
If you are looking for a water-based alternative to essential oils, take a look at hydrosols. Hydrosols are often lighter in aroma, too, a consideration for women whose sense of smell is heightened in pregnancy. Simply spray hydrosol on the skin. We like both frankincense (Boswellia carteri) and rose (Rosa damascena) hydrosol for pregnancy use. They are calming, can help to smooth stretch marks, rejuvenating, and restorative.
Cautions for Using Aromatherapy in Pregnancy
There are several essential oils which shouldn’t be used in pregnancy. These include (but not limited to) clary sage (Salvia sclarea), jasmine (Jasminum officinale), peppermint (Mentha piperita), and thyme (Thymus vulgaris).
In addition, a woman’s skin may become more sensitized during pregnancy and her sense of smell heightened. Pay particular attention to any unusual rashes or skin appearance and if you can’t tolerate one particular aroma and/or amount of essential oil.
As always, check for any other contra-indications for use with regard to the type of essential oil and individual health conditions. Avoid the use of essential oils in the first trimester of pregnancy, particularly if there is a history of miscarriage. Consult a certified aromatherapist for further information.
Aromatherapy and Massage in Pregnancy at Your Body Needs
Looking for an experienced therapist who can attend to both your massage and aromatherapy needs in pregnancy? Look no further! We have you covered at Your Body Needs with our special pre-natal massage. We adjust our techniques and positions to accommodate you and your growing baby. Contact us today to book an appointment!
- Chen PJ, Chou CC, Yang L, Tsai YL, Chang YC, Liaw JJ. Effects of Aromatherapy Massage on Pregnant Women's Stress and Immune Function: A Longitudinal, Prospective, Randomized Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Oct;23(10):778-786. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0426. Epub 2017 Aug 7. PMID: 28783372.