Aromatherapy during pregnancy
Tips for the pregnant woman for essential oils and aroma massage
Aromatherapy - the use of essential oils extracted from natural or plant souces to treat an ailment or maintain a person's well-being – is a very popular treatment at beauty salons these days.
An aromatherapy session can be of two types: either the aromatherapist makes up a blend of essentail oils for you based on a detailed consultation, or a masseuse (who may or may not be trained in aromatherapy) gives a massage using essential oils in the massage oil.
Note: sometimes in salons, you cannot tell the difference between these 2 types of treatment because both are given the same name and the price is often about the same, so you may want to inquire if you specifically want an oil blend to be mixed for you.article continued
Whichever type of aromatherapy you choose, if you are pregnant you must of course take extra care not to do anything that might harm you or your child.
No matter how much you may yearn to try aromatherapy during your pregnancy, DO NOT do it during the 1st 12 weeks. The foetus is at its most vulnerable and, although it is not proven that any complementary therapy can cause a miscarriage, it is not worth the risk. The same goes if you have been bleeding during the pregnancy.
There is also the possibility that you undergo aromatherapy or other complementary treatment but don't know you're pregnant. Be honest with the therapist and tell her/him you are trying for a baby and they will treat you as though you were pregnant.
Some salons do carry out massage specifically for pregnant women. If you feel uncomfortable about lying your tummy, then don't do it, and the therapist should place you on your side with a pillow for support. When pregnant I personally preferred to sit on a chair leaning forward against the massage couch, but the setup all depends on the therapist and you.
If you do decide to have aromatherapy or any type of massage, you should first ask permission from your midwife or doctor. This is because you could have symptoms resulting from the pregnancy such as high blood pressure or varicose veins which contra-indicate a massage.
Essential oils for the pregnant woman
If you want to try aromatherapy at home, it is very easy to obtain some essential oils, put them in the bath, burn them or make your own blend. Never underestimate the potency of essential oils. Even if not applied to the skin, by breathing in the aroma, the oils enter your bloodstream. One of the safest oils to try is mandarin (citrus reticulata). You could also use a carrier oil without essential oils. Here are a few that are good for the pregnant woman:
- Grapeseed is an all-purpose oil, good for all skin types
- Almond is oilier, good for itchy skins
- Avocado, rich in vitamins A, B and D. Suits very dry skin and fatty areas. Better diluted with another oil as can be quite pungent
- Wheatgerm is very thick and must be diluted with a thinner oil such as grapeseed. 10% dilution. Rich in vitamin E, good for dry skin
- Peach kernel and apricot kernel are like almond oil but more expensive
- Evening primrose rich in GLA (gamma linoleic acids) so good for dry skins and premature ageing. Quite thick so should be diluted, 10% dilution
- Olive oil - a bit similar to almond but has a strong odour.
If you're interested in reading more, a good book is "Aromatherapy Workbook" (see below), which includes a chapter on pregnancy and babies.
Some good aromatherapy suppliers are: Tisserand, Cariad, Mother Earth, Penny Price and Eve Taylor. They sell in shops and do mail order.
Essential oils to avoid
My recommendation is, during the pregnancy, stay away from the following essential oils, which all have emmenagogue properties ie they are used to induce menstruation:
- clary sage
- rose damascena (until the 3rd trimester if you're healthy).
Jasmine and clary sage are especially risky and these are the oils that, if you are using a "doula", may be chosen for labour!
You may have read of potions and lotions which prevent stretchmarks, to name a few: Japanese camellia oil, calendula, St John's wort oil. I’m afraid to say I don't believe it! I have met women who have used nothing on their abdomens, have dry skin but no stretchmarks and those who've religiously plastered themselves in their chosen potion but still get a nasty surprise. Either way seems to make no difference. True, your skin will feel beautifully soft and silky - and the manufacturers will have made a packet because they always price these items more expensively, but if you're gonna to get stretchmarks, you're gonna get them!
- "Aromatherapy Workbook" by Shirley Price
About the Author
Doreen has had a passion for massage since she was 15 years old. She still has that passion, and offers massage, specialist facials and other beauty treatments in her home-based salon in Surrey. With any energy left over she will devour all the beauty pages of all the magazines she can lay her hands on!
Doreen's homepage: Bellessence
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