Aromatherapy for Pregnancy By Vanessa Nixon Klein, Owner, Herbs of Grace, Inc.

Aromatherapy is a natural, healing modality employing essential oils extracted from aromatic plant sources to treat and balance the body, mind and spirit. During pregnancy, there are many instances when aromatherapy can be an extremely beneficial and helpful option, while also being very easy to employ. In order to use essential oils safely during pregnancy a few extra safety guidelines must be followed.

Essential oils are extremely concentrated. They need to be diluted before use. A common dilution for aromatherapy blends during pregnancy is 2 % – which would equal approximately 10 drops essential oil to 1 ounce or 2T carrier oil. For an aromatherapy bath add 6-10 drops essential oil to the tub and mix well before getting in. 3-6 drops essential oil in a bowl of warm water wrung out in a washcloth works well for a compress. Use the same dilution in a bowl of steaming hot water for a steam inhalation.

There are many essential oils that should be avoided during pregnancy*. The following table contains oils that should be avoided during pregnancy* and oils that are recommended for use during pregnancy. See also the following table for specific uses of oils that are recommended during pregnancy.

OILS TO AVOID DURING PREGNANCY*
Use of essential oils should be extremely limited or avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy, but has many wonderful uses in the last two trimesters and especially during labor.
Oils to avoid during pregnancy include:*
Basil
Cedarwood
Cinnamon
Clary sage (ok during labor)
Clove
Cypress (ok after 5 months)
Fennel
Hyssop
Jasmine (ok during labor)
Juniper
Lemongrass
Myrrh
Parsley
Penneyroyal
Peppermint
Rose (ok during labor)
Rosemary
Sweet marjoram
Thyme

OILS RECOMMENDED DURING PREGNANCY
The following oils you can feel comfortable using during pregnancy. As always, use caution if you have allergies or a family history of allergies. If you think you may be allergic to an oil, do a patch test first. See also the next table for specific uses for each of these oils.
Good oils for pregnancy include:
Bergamot
Chamomile
Cypress (ok after 5 mos.)
Eucalyptus
Frankincense
Geranium (avoid in early pregnancy)
Grapefruit
Lavender
Lemon
Mandarin
Neroli
Patchouli
Petitgrain
Rosewood
Sandalwood
Tangerine
Tea Tree
Ylang Ylang

*Please note: Since it would be highly unethical to test on pregnant women, the list of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy is based on knowledge of the general properties of each essential oil. For obvious reasons, during pregnancy it is recommended to avoid essential oils which are known to thin the blood or cause cramping or contractions. Used under proper dilution, most of these oils should not cause any problems during a healthy pregnancy, but it is always best to err on the side of caution.

If you are currently pregnant and have been using any of the “to be avoided” essential oils but are not experiencing any bleeding or cramping, then there most likely is nothing wrong. However, we strongly encourage you to consult your doctor or midwife and discontinue use of the “to be avoided” essential oils. This information is provided “as is” — it cannot replace the personal care your doctor or midwife provides you and Herbs of Grace makes no medical claims for its products.

Aromatherapy Benefits for Pregnancy

Listed below are some of the benefits and therapeutic effects of the essential oils recommended for use during pregnancy. You can click on the essential oil name to search for Herbs of Grace products that are made with the oil (keeping mind that no medicinal claims are made for our products!).
Bergamot – Analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, uplifting, and refreshing. Helpful for cystitis during pregnancy.
Chamomile – Antiseptic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. Soothes pain from muscular aches, headaches, toothaches and Indigestion.
Cypress (ok after 5 mos.) – Antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent and diuretic. Helpful for Varicose veins, hemorrhoids and swollen ankles.
Eucalyptus – Antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral. Helpful with respiratory congestion.
Frankincense – Antiseptic, astringent, sedative, warming
Geranium (ok after 3 mos.) – Antiseptic, antidepressant, astringent, refreshing, uplifting. Eases aching legs and is good for poor circulation.
Grapefruit – Astringent, digestive aid, lymphatic stimulant. Helps with Water retention.
Lavender – Antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic, antidepressant, healing, Relaxing. Helps soothe aches and pains of pregnancy,encourages cell renewal and helps with fluid retention.
Lemon – Antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, stimulant, Tonic. Useful as an inhalant for morning sickness and in Massage for varicose veins.
Mandarin – Antiseptic, refreshing, tonic, mild relaxant. Can ease fluid retention in leg and ankle massages.
Neroli – Antiseptic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory,Relaxing. Useful in pregnancy to promote healthy skin cell Regeneration and for easing nervous tension.
Patchouli – Antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, nerve sedative. Eases confusion, indecision and apathy.
Petitgrain – Antiseptic, antidepressant, sedative, refreshing, tonic. Helpful in dealing with pre or postpartum depression.
Rosewood – Antiseptic, sedative
Sandalwood – Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, sedative. Helpful for cystitis during pregnancy.
Tangerine – Antispasmodic, lymphatic stimulant, calming, sedative. Helps to prevent stretch marks.
Tea Tree – Antibiotic, antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, disinfectant. Can be used to treat thrush during pregnancy.
Ylang Ylang – Antiseptic, antidepressant, aphrodisiac, sedative, lowers blood Pressure. Restorative when overworked or tense.

For further reading, please see Herbs of Grace Natural Beauty Articles, Herbs of Grace Aromatherapy Articles, or Herbs of Grace Recommended Reading.

©2003 – 2004, Herbs of Grace.
This article is copyrighted by Vanessa Nixon Klein, the proprietor of Herbs of Grace, who has a background in medicinal herbalism. If you would like to reprint this article, either online or in print, please contact us for permission.

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