During pregnancy, self-care is more important than ever. Essential oils and pregnancy can help you relax (very important!) and deal with some of pregnancy's uncomfortable symptoms.
For many women, nausea, fatigue, stretch marks and swelling are a normal part of pregnancy.
Using aromatherapy recipes for pregnancy won't cure everything, but it can help ease symptoms and support a positive attitude - especially when you're feeling as big as a house!
Before we get into the recipes, I want to take a moment to talk about essential oil safety and pregnancy safety.
During pregnancy, everything you eat and put on your skin filters through to your baby.
Essential oils can have powerful effects on our bodies. Some essential oils contain plant hormones, while others strongly affect the central nervous system, which makes them unsafe for use during pregnancy.
You may want to talk to a certified Aromatherapist before using aromatherapy in pregnancy. There are many different opinions regarding which essential oils are safe for pregnancy and which are not.
Based on my research, the following guidelines provide a safe, workable rule of thumb.
Do not apply any essential oils to your skin. Use unscented, all-natural body lotions, oils and bath products to help relax and relieve discomfort.
Use aromatherapy bath and body products at half the normal strength.
Avoid using these essential oils on your skin at any time during pregnancy: Basil, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Cypress, Fennel, Geranium, Jasmine, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Peppermint, Rosemary, Rosewood, Sage and Thyme.
Use an aromatherapy diffuser throughout your pregnancy to help deal with pregnancy symptoms and to support relaxation.
And now... On to the recipes!
Scroll down to find some essential oil recipes, tips for using aromatherapy in pregnancy, plus some helpful suggestions for relaxation and postpartum issues.
For morning sickness, put three drops of grapefruit or peppermint essential oil into a saucer with water and keep it on your bedside table. You may find that waking up to these scents helps reduce nausea.
For a quick fix during the day, fold a tissue into a small square and add three drops of peppermint essential oil. Inhale as needed for either nausea or heartburn. Or mist your face with a refreshing spritz of peppermint hydrosol (floral water).
Grapefruit and peppermint essential oils are also good choices for using in your aromatherapy diffuser along with chamomile, coriander and ginger (a mix of ginger and mint is nice.)
Make your own aromatherapy inhaler by putting a teaspoon of salt into a very small dark glass or PET plastic bottle and add 15 drops of peppermint essential oil (actually, any oil that works for you will do!) Uncap the bottle and sniff whenever you need to.
It's safe to drink herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile or ginger during pregnancy because they're not so concentrated as essential oils. Try some - it just might work!
There's no guarantee that you can avoid stretch marks - BUT you can help minimize them by keeping your skin supple.
After the first trimester, make your own aromatherapy belly oil by adding five drops of mandarin or lavender essential oil to a tablespoon (15ml) of sweet almond, jojoba or calendula oil. Gently rub it on your belly, thighs and lower back.
Or make a rich, skin-repairing body butter (without the essential oils) and use it every morning and night.
For constipation use the belly oil to massage your stomach in a clockwise direction. This follows the natural movement of your colon and may help move things along.
From the second trimester onward, lower backache is a pretty common problem for new mamas.
Try a massage using the belly oil recipe above. (Optional: Replace the lavender with chamomile essential oil.) Ask a partner to gently rub the aromatherapy massage pregnancy oil into your back from your tailbone to your shoulders.
Achy, swollen feet are normal during the later part of pregnancy - after all, your feet are carrying two people!
For a relaxing foot massage add two to three drops of mandarin oil to half a tablespoon sweet almond or calendula oil and gently massage it into your aching feet.
This is a perfect opportunity for your partner and friends to support you - there's nothing better than a massage when you're feeling all achy and cranky!
Or give yourself a soothing foot soak by adding five drops lavender essential oil to one-third of a cup of Dead Sea salt and one liter of water. Finish the treatment with a gentle foot massage... aaahhh!
Use an aromatherapy diffuser in your bedroom to create a calm, sleep-inducing atmosphere. Try using chamomile, lavender, frankincense or mandarin essential oil.
During the second and third trimesters, use your aromatherapy belly oil (above) every night before bed. Lavender is especially good for helping to relax both your body and your mind.
Insomnia Quick Trick: Place two drops of lavender essential oil on your hand and rub it onto your pillowcase. Its peaceful scent will dissipate around you, lulling you into a deep, restful sleep.
For an afternoon pick-me-up, try citrus essential oils. Peppermint is also good here. Place three drops lemon, peppermint or grapefruit essential oil on a folded tissue and inhale its reviving scent to feel uplifted and refreshed.
Alternatively, follow the directions above for making your own aromatherapy inhaler (above under Nausea), using peppermint, lemon, bergamot or grapefruit.
This is also a good time to use your aromatherapy diffuser. Stick with the citrus or mint essential oils and fill your house with their energizing aromas. Click here for some uplifting diffuser blends.
Caring for yourself is caring for your baby. Relaxation is not only important during pregnancy but is also a powerful tool for creating a positive birth experience.
Aromatherapy massage in pregnancy is wonderful for relaxing muscles and easing your sore back and swollen feet.
While you lie on your side, your partner can give you a back and neck massage. If you're more comfortable sitting up, you can get an arm or leg massage... a hand and foot massage... a VERY gentle tummy massage...
Make your own soothing, comforting aromatherapy massage pregnancy oil by adding five drops of rose essential oil to a tablespoon (15ml) of carrier oil such as sweet almond, calendula or jojoba.
Or try this calming, pain-relieving blend: (AFTER the second trimester!) three drops petitgrain, three drops lavender, two drops frankincense in one tablespoon carrier oil.
Postpartum issues like fatigue, depression and poor sleep are common to many new mothers. Now is finally the time to really unleash the powers of aromatherapy!
Note: This is not to say that aromatherapy will "cure" depression or other serious postpartum health problems. When in doubt, see your doctor. Click here for full disclaimer.
Use your aromatherapy diffuser regularly to boost your spirits and your energy.
For a happy-making aromatherapy diffuser blend use 4 to 6 drops bergamot, 3 to 5 drops grapefruit, 2 to 4 drops lemon and 1 drop geranium essential oil. Click here for more great diffuser blends.
Now is the perfect time to soak your tired, achy body in a nice warm, relaxing aromatherapy bath.
Epsom Salts are especially good for alleviating pain and inflammation, and combined with pain-relieving essential oils, they pack a powerful restorative punch. Get in the tub! Click here for some soothing aromatherapy bath salt recipes.
To expand your knowledge of essential oils and pregnancy, take a look at some excellent related topics, such as...