Essential Oils: Options for the Expecting Mother
As your body experiences the beautiful and interesting journey of forming and nurturing a child in the womb, you may notice your body has something to say about it! Many pregnant women find themselves facing symptoms that manifest physically or emotionally. A short list includes nausea or vomiting, bloating, elevated blood pressure, anxiety or depression.
A more natural approach to alleviating symptoms is through the use of essential oils. Not only do they provide a refreshing ambiance, but the right scent can reduce your tummy acrobatics or overall discomfort.
There’s more to aromatherapy than just sniffing the right odors. Courtney Heynen, CNM, a certified nurse midwife with Avera Medical Group, recommends that any interested individuals should research all the benefits essential oils can offer and the science behind them. This includes different brands, qualities and potencies.
“When you take the plunge, you’ll find that there are quite a few products out there ranging in price and quality. A good rule to remember is, what you pay for is what you get,” said Heynen. Some products may be pure oil while others contain additional chemicals; remember, these products will be released into the air.
Look for essential oils labeled “genuine” or “therapeutic quality.” Also, avoid mineral oil as a carrier (base), as it prevents essential oil absorption.
Curious about the mysteries of essential oils? Try the following for a natural approach to symptom management during pregnancy:
- Peppermint – tames nausea and vomiting
- Lavender – soothes aching back and legs
- Mandarin – relieves fluid retention and fatigue
- Neroli – reduces anxious nerves
- Petitgrain – fights prenatal depression
- Ylang Ylang – lowers blood pressure
Essential oils can prove beneficial when the big day finally arrives. Neroli, lavender or rose encourages relaxation and reduces (some) tension and anxiety. Clove, clary sage, cinnamon, rosemary and jasmine may stimulate uterine contractions as well, and therefore, Heynen strongly recommends that women avoid these particular scents during pregnancy.
“Forty percent of pain is due to fear. If women are more tense, it can affect the labor process,” said Heynen. “Aromatherapy encourages a calming environment for the patient. Everyone in the delivery room is calmer, even the staff.”
How to Enjoy Essential Oils
Choose scents that you find enjoyable — especially when your sense of smell might be particularly sensitive. Put a tiny drop of oil on a tissue or cotton ball and hold under your nose. Or, invest in a diffuser which will disperse the fragrance into the air. Heynen has even seen women rub a little oil on wooden pieces of jewelry.
A little bit goes a long way!
As you explore essential oils during pregnancy and labor, you will find that some scents may be useful for headaches and simple aches and pains. Learn more about the symptom management properties of essential oils by talking with your nurse midwife, OB/GYN, an integrative medicine provider, or your family doctor.