The use of essential oils in pregnancy has a range of therapeutic effects, from easing tension, anxiety and aching muscles to generating a positive mood, calming or energising.
Essential oils in pregnancy can be wonderful to support the changing body through each trimester, into labour and postnatally, but must be used safely and sparingly.
Jo Harris, founder of Soularoma shares her tips and guidelines for using essential oils in pregnancy.
What are the benefits of essential oils in pregnancy?
I obviously love and deeply believe in the benefits of essential oils during pregnancy, it is a very special time and usually happens only once or twice in most women’s lives.
A pregnant woman’s wellbeing (physical & emotional) is of utmost importance and thus it is a time to use essential oils for that extra boost if it is needed.
It is important for women to have complementary approaches available during their pregnancy to cope with the physiological and emotional issues that can appear. It is empowering for a woman to treat issues which don’t require medical intervention by herself with natural essential oils.
What are the considerations you apply when choosing essential oils for pregnant women?
Safety is always number one, but then also what the individual client likes and needs (emotionally, physically & spiritually) at that moment.
Unfortunately there is a lot of contradicting information with essential oils in pregnancy. With pregnancy it is best to be on the safer side and act with caution.
Why is it important to seek the advice of a trained aromatherapist?
To be sure what you are using is safe for you and your baby. This is of utmost importance at all times with essential oils but especially so when during pregnancy.
It is also important to use very little during pregnancy. So the dilution should always be half of a normal adult dose- a maximum of 1.5% dilution.
What do you include in your Birth Surges oil and why?
For establishment of labour – clary sage, a great uterotonic, helps relax (like a euphoria), and decreases anxiety, fear and panic. Clary sage also works to decrease irritability and strengthen the central nervous system. It also helps gain clarity.
For active labour – rose oil, it is a great uterotonic, rose is calming, decreases anxiety, fear and panic and works to promote love (opening the heart), concentration, patience and decreasing irritability. It also protects from negativity.
Birthing the placenta – jasmine helps promote confidence, helps to decrease anxiety and fear. Jasmine is also a great oil for gratitude & opening the heart. Jasmine also helps to reach a meditative state and to feel peace.
None of these oils should be used before 38 weeks of pregnancy.
Essential oils in trimester one
During the first 13 weeks of pregnancy a woman will undergo a variety of changes as her body begins to support her growing baby. These changes occur physically, emotionally and physiologically.
Although not all pregnant women will experience all symptoms, there are many common changes and complaints that can be experienced, such as nausea, fatigue, headaches, emotional vulnerability, hormonal swings. There is also a mixture of excitement and anxiety about pregnancy and birth.
With these changes in mind we need to find essential oils that are soothing and relaxing but also uplifting and revitalising. It is really important to use essential oils only if really needed during the first trimester – less is more. Safety is really important in this trimester especially.
- For nausea – cardamom, mandarin, lemon, orange, ginger; and for headaches lavender or lemon.
- For emotional health – lavender, patchouli, orange, vetiver, mandarin, bergamot, grapefruit, palmarosa, petitgrain, lime. These oils have soothing, refreshing, uplifting, tranquil qualities.
- To counteract anxiety – petitgrain, bergamot, lavender, neroli, orange, grapefruit, mandarin., lemongrass (in low dosages), rosalina, vetiver, chamomile.
Essential oils in trimester two
As the pregnant woman enters into the middle of her pregnancy, weeks 14 to 27, she may find pregnancy symptoms begin to ease. She will begin to feel her baby move and often embrace the joy of her pregnant body and her baby growing inside her.
Common conditions that may arise in the second trimester include increased energy, sinus aggravation, less stable joints/muscles causing pain, spider/varicose veins, heartburn and constipation.
The oils that will offer the most benefit during this time will target the digestive system, balance and focus, easing pain.
- For digestion or indigestion – ginger and lavender, sweet orange, coriander, mandarin, cardamom
- Aching muscles – lemon, ginger, rosalina, myrtle, cardamom
- Sinus – Rosalina, myrtle, lemon
- Overall balancing – lavender, geranium (not for use in early pregnancy), mandarin, petitgrain, neroli.
Essential oils in trimester three
The last 13 weeks of pregnancy are known as trimester three. During this time the baby has grown so much it is having a significant impact on the pregnant woman’s physicality.
The common changes and complaints that occur include a decrease in energy, anxiety for impending birth, oedema, leg cramps.
- For inspiration and to invigorate – geranium, lemon, ginger, lemongrass
- To promote sleep – a citrus base such as orange, tangerine or bergamot blended with lavender
- To unwind, destress, relax – a citrus base of orange, bergamot or lime blended with geranium, patchouli, ylang ylang, or petitgrain, lemongrass, lavender, chamomile, rose geranium.
Essential oils during labour and birth
Essential oils can offer support and calmness to the birthing woman, assisting her through each stage of labour, providing nurture, strength and positivity.
- Inner power – mandarin, frankincense, ginger, rose, patchouli
- Meditation – a citrus base or tangerine or bergamot, with lavender, frankincense, vetiver
- Feminine – orange, ylang ylang, lavender, geranium, jasmine
- Promoting contractions – clary sage, sweet marjoram, ginger, rose.
The baby can be greeted at birth by a mild pleasant aroma. The use of essential oils should be stopped close to birth to provide a more aromatically neutral environment as babies are very sensitive to smells. It is best for the baby to smell mum’s own scent to help with bonding.
Essential oils for the postnatal period
Common changes and complaints that occur after pregnancy and birth include exhaustion, physical tiredness and pain, emotional adjustments, hormonal changes, healing, breastfeeding issues.
- Breast engorgement – geranium
- Healing emotions – lavender, patchouli, mandarin
- Emotional tension – neroli, palmarosa, mandarin, chamomile.
Postnatal application of essential oils to the skin:
- To help reduce stretch marks, help the skin keep its suppleness and elasticity by deeply moisturising using rosehip oil, helichrysum, lavender.
- To assist with healing the perineum (tears, fissures, etc.) a lavender compress or lavender in water in a spray bottle can be applied to the perineum after going to the toilet.
- Soothe the skin for calming and relaxing – lavender, rose, roman chamomile.
Oils should be blended with a base oil or cream, diluted.
- No ingestion of essential oils
- Essential oils should always be packaged in dark glass and be 100% pure
- Discontinue use immediately on an allergic reaction and seek professional advice
- Do not ingest oils or apply undiluted on the skin
- Keep essential oils out of reach of children
- Oils contraindicated in pregnancy are: angelica, basil, bay, clary sage, cedarwood, cypress, eucalyptus, fennel, jasmine, juniper berry, myrrh, marjoram, peppermint, rose, rosemary, spearmint, Spanish sage, sandalwood, thyme, yarrow.
If you would like to get in touch with Jo Harris and find out more about her products and journey as an aromatherapist, please contact her at:
Phone: 0457 698 480