Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling times of a woman’s life. The joy of bringing another human being into the world creates a tremendous feeling of contentment and anticipation, but it is also a time of great physical and emotional upheaval. Together with exercise, good diet and rest, essential oils can play an important role in helping a woman cope with the stresses of nine months of pregnancy, the pain of labor and post-natal recovery.
The lower back region takes a lot of strain during pregnancy, and will benefit from a firm massage with four drops each of lavender and sandalwood in two tablespoons of base oil. Six drips of lavender in the bath will help to soothe away the aches.
Eat little and often during the day, avoiding junk food and heavy meals late at night. Choose fresh foods which are free from preservatives or chemicals. Try herbal tea infusions such as chamomile, peppermint or orange blossom, which are good for the digestion.
Avoid heavy meals and particularly rich, spicy food. Peppermint tea infusions help, and you can rub the solar plexus with a blend of two drops each of lemon and peppermint essential oils in one tablespoon of base oil.
These need extra care and attention during pregnancy as they expand. Use gentle massage oil with rose and orange, three drops of each in one tablespoon of sweet almond oil; or if breasts are swollen, make a cool compress using rosewater and place over the breasts while having an afternoon rest. Sweet almond oil on its own is excellent for sore, cracked nipples during breast-feeding. Never use pure essential oils on the breasts during this period as they can easily be transferred to the baby while feeding.
Make sure your diet contains plenty of fresh and high fibre foods and drink plenty of still water. Tension can also be a contributory factor, so try a relaxing bath with three drops of lavender and four drops of rose. Massage your abdomen and the small of the back with a blend of four drops of chamomile or orange in one tablespoon of base oil.
n the last few months of pregnancy, with the baby kicking and other discomforts, it is often difficult to get a good night’s sleep. A relaxing bath with neroli and rose is soothing, and you can add ylang-ylang for its calming, sedative effect – a maximum of eight drops in total. Two drops of rose or lavender on the edge of the pillowcase will help induce sleep.
When the stretched skin returns to the body’s normal shape it can leave tiny jagged scars. A daily massage around the hips and expanding tummy, using five drops of lavender in one tablespoon of jojoba, wheatgerm or evening primrose oil, will help keep skin smooth and supple. Start around the fifth month of pregnancy and continue after the birth until you return to your normal weight.
These can be reduced with a cool to warm footbath of benzoin, rose and orange. Add two drops of each directly to the bowl or mix with one tablespoon of base carrier oil such as sesame seed. Rest with feet raised on cushions or pillows.
During pregnancy the blood flow to the legs is often slowed down, causing the veins to dilate. Two drops each of cypress, lemongrass and lavender, mixed with two tablespoons of apricot kernel base oil, can be smoothed gently over the legs for relief. If veins are prominent then one of the best oils for the circulation is geranium, though this should always be very dilute for use in pregnancy. Add four drops to the bath or to one tablespoon of carrier oil to massage the leg with upward movements. Do not work directly on the veins or apply too much pressure to the leg.
To create a relaxing atmosphere in the labor room, use a few drops of lavender in a fragrancer, or try rose, neroli or ylang-ylang to fortify you as the labor progresses. Any of these oils can be used in a massage blend for the lower back to help with contractions. If labor is progressing slowly, try marjoram as a massage oil or compress across the abdomen to stimulate contractions.
After the Birth
Baby blues often occur around the third or fourth day after birth, though some women can suffer a more severe form of post-natal depression for up to a year. A bath of jasmine and ylang-ylang will help you feel better, or use a body oil of chamomile, geranium and orange, which is a good mix for hormonal imbalance. To ease any pains, a bath with lavender is soothing. Tea tree can also be added, since this is a powerful antiseptic and helps heal internal wounds and stitches.