Aromatherapy is the practice of using extracts from flowers, leaves, roots and aromatic plants to boost health and overall well being. Dealing with pregnancy symptoms is a challenge for all mothers-to-be. If you like natural treatments aromatherapy can be a great choice. Thousands of women use aromatherapy to alleviate pregnancy related symptoms. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries by Indians, Arabs, Roman and Chinese to improve their health and alleviate pains and, aches. Scented oils used in aromatherapy are diluted using a carrier oil for massage, or put in a vapourizer and breathed in or added to a warm bath.
Is Aromatherapy safe?
You should remember that doctors are unclear on how aromatic oils impact your baby. While the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) says that there are no records of any birth defects or even miscarriages caused due to aromatherapy. However, caution is recommended and most women use aromatherapy only in the second and third trimester. As oils and vapour are absorbed by the body, they can potentially cross the placenta and reach the baby. Hence, experts recommend not using them in the first trimester as that is the most critical growth phase.
Precautions before Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy gives nourishment to your body and stimulates your mood. As a rule, consult your doctor before you consider aromatherapy. Keep in mind the following points to ensure a safe aromatherapy session:
- Don’t apply an essential oil directly on your body. Always use a carrier oil and preferably use a concentration lower than the recommended usage
- Avoid using the same oil for an extended period
- Store the oil as per the instructions in a location safe from pets and children
- While using a vapourizer make sure the room is well ventilated as inhaling the oils for too long could cause nausea (and we definitely don’t want any more of that happening!)
- Be extra careful while choosing your essential oils. Don’t use one that you are unaware of.
Which essential oils can I use?
The following essential oils are generally considered safe during pregnancy (We would highly recommend taking your doctor’s go ahead before finalizing the oils):
- Citrus (lowers blood pressure, anxiety)
- German and Roman Chamomile (soothes you mind and helps keep calm)
- Lavender (reduces stress and depression, helps you sleep better)
- Cardamon (improves your comfort)
- Geranium (reduces swellings and helps with stress)
- Ginger (helps alleviate nausea)
You should be careful about certain essential oils as they can cause uterine contractions. Here is a list of what you should be staying away from:
How do I use essential oils?
Adding them to your bath
Use about four drops of aromatic oil in warm water and it can be used for one bath. Warm water helps the body in absorbing the oil. Make sure you mix it with a carrier or base oil. Use vegetable or coconut oil as a base. You can also use full-fat milk as your base because it helps the oil spread throughout the water.
Breathing in the oils
Add four drops of essential oil with one teaspoon of base oil and use it in a vaporizer or burner. Make sure you don’t do this for more than 15 mins in one sitting as it can cause nausea.
Choose a base oil and mix it with essential oil. Make sure you aren’t allergic to either of the oils. In case you are not sure, do at a skin patch test with your chosen base and essential oil. Make sure your masseuse is aware of your pregnancy. Tell her to use strokes which are comfortable for you.
How is aromatherapy helpful?
- Lemon oil can help you by alleviating symptoms of morning sickness.
- Helps alleviate heartburn and constipation. Try sweet orange oil for constipation and Neroli for heartburn.
- Lavender oil helps you sleep better.
Can I use aromatherapy for labour?
Yes you can use it during labour. The research on using aromatherapy during labour is mixed as doctors are unclear what impact it can have on the baby. Your mid wife will use aromatherapy only if you are more than 37 weeks pregnant. Your midwife may recommend not using aromatherapy if you have any of the following conditions:
- high blood pressure
- skin allergies
As a general rule, always consult your doctor before starting or trying any natural therapies.