Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Essential oils and conditions encountered during pregnancy

Essential oils have many traditional uses all over the world in pregnancy.  Inhalations of certain essential oils can provoke a limbic response and change of mood with just a few molecules so do not present a risk of hormonal imbalance and harm.  Essential oils should be used with caution at all times but particularly during pregnancy.  It is best to seek informed professional advice.  The following conditions and oils can be discussed with your nurse/midwife or a professional aromatherapist.  Always follow their advice.  If you are receiving medication of any kind or using homeopathic remedies seek your doctors advice before using essential oils.
Morning sickness/nausea: Pregnant women have a heightened sense of smell and this can contribute to the feeling of sickness, especially during cooking, or being in the company of a smoker. Petitgrain and sweet orange essential oils, when used in a vaporiser or on a tissue, can relieve nausea, or better still, prevent it.  If a handkerchief or cotton wool ball with four drops petitgrain and two of sweet orange (with one drop of sandalwood to hold the aroma), is attached to a pillow at night, the smell will linger until morning, thus lessening the possibility of morning sickness.  As an alternative, put these oils with water into a vaporiser and leave it in the bedroom overnight, or add 4 - 7 drops in total of rosewood and petitgrain to the morning bath water.  A low fat, sensible diet also helps.

Emotional imbalance: There are many conflicting emotions during pregnancy that can be both confusing and upsetting for the mother, such as volatility of mood and slower brain reactions.

State of mind can have an effect on the baby and by caring for the total self while pregnant we can nurture the growing child effectively in the womb, helping to produce calm and healthy children, through the mother, even from this early stage.

Geranium and mandarin are good "balancers" of mood and together make an effective aromatic treatment when inhaled, or added to the bath.  Rose otto and clary are also beneficial here.

Varicose veins and Haemorrhoids: The dedicated use of blended oil or lotion can relieve itching and reduce the possibility of varicose veins.  As a preventative, one application in the morning is sufficient.  The lotion or oil should be applied before the mother gets out of ned, from ankle to thigh, i.e. upwards.  The oils should then be left to take effect for 2 – 4 minutes before getting out of bed.  Suggested oils are cypress, lavender and lemon, all of which are also helpful for shrinking and preventing haemorrhoids. Essential oils in the bath and also applied in a lotion, can be a great help.  Sandalwood in the mixture soothes the irritation, both of haemorrhoids and varicose veins.

Stretch marks: Stretch marks can be prevented with the twice-daily use of an essential oil massage mix.  Applied twice a day from the fourth month onwards, mixed oil usually proves to be most effective.  Suggested oils are lavender, chamomile roman and frankincense.

It is important that a twice-daily routine is strictly adhered to, remembering to cover breasts, thighs and bottom, as well as the stomach.  Most people find it more comfortable to use a lotion mixture in the morning and the oil mixture at night.  It is necessary to use the oil mixture at least once a day, to benefit from the extra lubrication this gives.

Backache: To ease pain and general spinal stress throughout pregnancy, an aromatic bath is soothing and relaxing.  It can also ease the pain of ligament stretching in the groin area and help to prevent constipation, an unpleasant side effect of pregnancy, which is unhealthy for both mother and baby.  The "stretch mark" mix is useful for back pain and this is convenient for the mother - she does not have to think about two treatment mixes.  However, 2 drops of black pepper in 1 teaspoonful of stretch mark mix, make the oil or lotion more effective for backache.  Putting oils in the bath (4 - 7 drops in total in a carrier lotion or honey) is also helpful.

Constipation: The client should drink sufficient water and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, brown bread and fibre rich cereals to maintain a healthy routine.  Orange, chamomile roman and black pepper in reflex cream will help to regulate the bowels if applied twice daily to the large intestine and bowel reflex areas of the feet.

Heartburn: This can be relieved by taking deep breaths from a tissue with 1 or 2 drops each of sandalwood, petitgrain and chamomile roman.  The mother can use the heel of her hand to give pressure in a circular motion on the solar plexus area, breathing deeply as she does so.

Insomnia: As the child develops, the mother may experience difficulty in dropping off to sleep.  Inhalations using two drops each of sandalwood and ylang-ylang are useful aids to relaxation.  These oils can also be put in the bedroom vaporiser or a bath an hour before going to bed.

Preparation for Labour: Towards the end of pregnancy, i.e. during the last 6 weeks, oils can be used to prepare the uterus for labour.  Rose otto is excellent for this.  Adding three drops of rose otto to 3 tablespoons of the stretch mark mix helps the uterus to gain tone and strength.  You can also suggest a lotion containing rose otto and clary for the bath.

The therapist needs to make several preparations well in advance to be packed into the hospital bag:
a)      a white lotion containing cypress and lavender for use in the post natal baths and for applying to sanitary pads to relieve discomfort;
b)      a pure essential oil mix of lavender, neroli and clary for inhalation during labour;
c)   a relaxing blend of essential oils in a carrier oil for massage during labour.

Labour: Inhalation is an effective method of using essential oils while in labour, to help contraction pains.  During contractions the mother can put a few drops each of lavender and clary onto a cotton wool ball to hold in her hand and inhale when necessary (to replace the gas and air machine!)  A qualified aromatherapist could use oils like nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) and niaouli (Melaleuca viridiflora) at this stage because of their uterotonic properties. 

Post natal: After birth, baths of cypress and lavender in white lotion are effective in reducing bruising and excess bleeding.  The same mixture can be applied to the sanitary pads as a compress to relieve postnatal bruising and discomfort, or added to bath water.

Breast-feeding: To help establish breast-feeding ensure that the new mother knows to ask the nurses around her to "fix" the baby to the breast for her as this will prevent the majority of sore nipples.  After two days, the milk should be more plentiful, but to encourage the process, fennel in a lotion can be massaged around the breast area immediately following each feed.  Applying cool compresses of geranium and cypress in a carrier can alleviate mastitis.

Keeping babies calm and relaxed: To keep babies calm, put one drop of a familiar (to the mother) oil  
on a tissue near the baby whilst feeding or in babies bath.  The baby will then associate the smell with love, warmth and comfort.  This makes it easier to leave the baby with a sitter - simply give them a tissue too.  This also works if babies and children are fretful in the night.  Use the same aroma on a tissue beside the cot/bed, or put two drops on their night clothes and it will calm and help them to go back to sleep.


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