Derived from natural products the essential oils used in aromatherapy can help with anything from nausea to anxiety. Great news for expectant mothers looking for some relief!
The benefits of aromatherapy have long been discussed, not least in relation to pregnancy and labour, and the lists are endless.
Here we’ve tried to make it a little easier for you by providing three essential oils each for pregnancy, labour and post birth.
Not all essential oils are safe to use however, so please read our shortlist carefully and check with your doctor before using any essential oils.
Although these are considered safe to use during pregnancy it’s best to only enjoy them in the second and third trimester, when your little bean is more developed.
Peppermint – (Nausea and Headaches) to relieve nausea place a few drops on a tissue, or even on your clothes, and sniff away. If nausea is waking you in the night drop a few on your pillow. If you’re being bothered by headaches place some diluted peppermint oil directly on your forehead and temples. Peppermint oil can also be used during labour to help with feelings of nausea.
Ylang Ylang – (Stress and Blemishes) more commonly used in fragrances and cosmetics ylang ylang can also help reduce stress, especially if you add a small amount to a warming and relaxing bath. For blemishes apply mixed with carrier oil to the affected area. You’ll feel and smell delicious!
German Chamomile – (Insomnia) as if looking after a newborn isn’t sleep-depriving enough, many expectant mothers suffer from the effects of insomnia during pregnancy.
German chamomile could help you get a better night’s sleep, especially if you combine it with a calming bath.
This daisy-like flower can also help relieve you of fever caused by a cold or flu at a time when more mainstream medicine is discouraged.
The following three essential oils are used to induce labour and strengthen contractions (with the idea of helping labour move at a faster pace). It’s best to stay away from these until after your due date, or just use them once labour has started.
Clary Sage – Brought to my attention by a dear friend who was given some by the midwife to whiff at during her labour, clary sage can help move things along.
Not only is it thought to help strengthen uterine contractions, but if you use it when you’re overdue could potentially kick things off.
Alternatively, especially if you have another inducing method in mind, it acts as an aphrodisiac! Beware of its heady smell. Give it a sniff before you buy it, as it can be too strong for some.
Jasmine – Another essential oil which can help get slow labours going, with the added benefit of being soothing and calming. The fact that it has one of the most gorgeous smells doesn’t go amiss. Like clary sage it can promote labour so use it carefully.
Lavender – A midwife once told me she had gone off the smell of lavender somewhat as so many mothers use it during labour.
In addition to helping speed up labour, as with the previous two, lavender has the added benefit of being an antiseptic. This can help cleanse and heal any bruising or tearing. Furthermore it’s hugely relaxing.
These three are perfect for post labour aches, pains and stress, and can aid the healing process to boot. Best enjoyed in a comforting warm bath.
Lavender – As mentioned before lavender is described as a healing and antiseptic essential oil – handy! Lavender (with a carrier oil) can also be used topically on aching muscles. A few drops on your pillow could help you to have a more relaxing night’s sleep (even if it is for a couple of hours at a time to start with).
Tea Tree – Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral…the list goes on! This wonder oil also acts as an anti-inflammatory so very soothing for the bruised bits. It has been known to sting a little on open cuts/stitches so always apply in a diluted form (one mother has described applying it (diluted) on her maternity pad), or lie in a nice hot bath with it.
Roman Chamomile – Soothing and relaxing roman chamomile can also have a healing and restorative effect on bruising and tears after birth. Chamomile can aid a good night’s sleep so you can also apply a few droplets on your pillow to help relax you.
There’s nothing stopping you from adding more than one of the above to your bath and benefiting from all their lovely properties.
Never apply essential oils directly on to your skin. Always dilute first by adding a few drops to a carrier oil of your choice (for example sunflower, coconut, avocado, almond or pomegranate oil). Even in a diluted form only ever apply it externally.
If you are suffering from any complications and your pregnancy isn’t anything other than low risk, or you’re not sure, it’s best to avoid essential oils altogether.
At the very least it’s wise to consult your GP or midwife before cracking open those little bottles!