This last pregnancy has taken its toll. The long list of pregnancy ailments I used to smugly shirk off in other pregnant women now present at the top of my google search history. I’ve had them all and the quest for safe, effective natural remedies has led me to explore the indulgent world of pure essential oils. So what are the Best Essential Oils for Pregnancy ?
With a long history of use for both medicinal and religious purposes there is something deliciously decadent about the use of essential oils in pregnancy. I love the ritual of carefully selecting and preparing a blend and lovingly treating this hard working pregnant body to some well needed TLC.
Here is my list of favourite oils. All are generally deemed safe essential oils used in low risk healthy pregnancy although I would encourage you to confirm with your own research. All can be used as part of a massage blend when mixed with a carrier oil (Almond, Jojoba, Grapeseed etc), used in a diffuser, oil burner or handkerchief for inhalation or enjoyed in a warm bath. Never apply an essential oil directly to skin or under a hot running tap and always heed the correct dilution rate.
Essential oils are powerful and potent. They provide a natural solution to a variety of ailments but not all are safe for every stage of pregnancy. Bear in mind that as organic compounds, essential oil products are able to cross the placental barrier and affect your baby. An essential oil deemed safe in labour (for example Clary sage for aiding uterine contractions) would by no means be suitable for the preceding nine months of pregnancy and could even result in preterm labor. As always seek medical advice if you are ever unsure if an oil is suitable for you.
Neroli – Best Essential Oils for Pregnancy Skin
Also known as Orange blossom, Neroli is one of the most coveted of essential oils. It is favoured in luxury skin creams and accordingly is the most expensive of all oils listed here. Dilute 15 drops in 100ml of Bitter Almond oil (an excellent choice for skin) for a luxurious massage oil for stretch marks (existing or preventative). Your skin will be left gloriously nourished and remember the benefits don’t stop there. Gently massaging your bump (in addition to thighs, bum and breasts) teaches your baby the uniqueness of your touch. This may make for an easily pacified baby and facilitate mother /baby bonding.
Pigmentation can present another unwanted side effect of pregnancy. In addition to the Linea negra, you may find areas of your face darkened around the eyes and lips. This is also known as the ‘pregnancy mask’. Personally I’ve had this problem well before pregnancy and my first layer of defence would always be high sun protection by day. By night add a few drops of Neroli to your moisturiser to help even out skin tone and balance the skin.
Lavender – Best Essential Oils for Pregnancy Sleep
Lavender is a great oil to explore if you are just starting out using essential oils. It has a multitude of benefits but its most celebrated ability is to aid restful sleep. Pregnancy sleep for me is all or nothing. I find myself dragging myself to bed exhausted only to wake at 3am uncomfortable, alert and fixated on all the things to do before my due date. Not being able to sleep on your back, front or either side for too long is also a major sleep obstruction.
Whilst buying a pregnancy pillow or even better a natural sheepskin to roll up under your pelvis will help, in addition try adding Lavender oil to your bath or massage oil as part of your bedtime pregnancy routine. The smell of lavender alone is highly effective and is a great option for scenting your home at this exciting time.
Ylang Ylang – Best Essential Oils for Pregnancy Anxiety
Ylang Ylang is a soothing, calming oil which brings balance in times of fear and panic. Also an excellent choice in labor and postpartum, this oil can calm a racing heartbeat and stress related rapid breathing. It is known to lower high blood pressure and is also used as an antidepressant.
Ylang Ylang can be used in a diffuser to calm your home, in baths or added to massage oil for a relaxing de-stressing rub.
Frankincense – Best Essential Oil for Pregnancy Aches
The ultimate pregnancy oil. If a biblical endorsement and links to deity and worship aren’t proof enough, let me try to convert you to the wonder of Frankincense. Intensely aromatic, frankincense is known for its anti inflammatory and analgesic /pain relieving properties. It is extremely effective when applied topically in a massage oil to the lower back and sides of the body and for relief from pelvic girdle pain, round ligament pain and of course the surge of a contraction when labor beckons.
Those clever three kings didn’t just have baby Jesus in mind…Frankincense is excellent for lifting postpartum blues, calming the nervous system and offering emotional support. If it was good enough for the mother of Christ…
Cypress – Best Essential oils for Pregnancy Varicose Veins and Haemorrhoids (use after 20wks)
Throbbing aching legs and unsightly dilated purple veins on the inside of my knees have been the bain of my fourth pregnancy. I had never experienced this previously and was horrified although unsurprised to hear that they are the result of increased weight gain and resulting poor circulation. Luckily I discovered the benefits of Cypress oil and by my final and heaviest months am pleased to report little to no unsightly veinage.
Add 5 drops of Cypress to 2 ounces of unperfumed body lotion, keep in the fridge and massage into legs , avoiding sweeping directly over the varicose veins. (5 drops of Lemon oil and Geranium oil make for a fabulous refreshing and revitalising addition to this concoction if you have to hand).
Cypress is commonly used for problems associated with sluggish circulation – fluid retention, cramps and thread veins but also enables restriction of capillaries -ideal for treating haemorrhoids. Add 5 drops of cypress to 50ml of any lubricating gel for topical application.
A cold compress may also help – soak a flannel in water adding two drops of Cypress oil, leave to cool in the fridge before holding against afflicted area. With astringent properties similar to witch hazel, Cypress also has many uses post birth and a similar compress can be used to combat perineal soreness.
Sandalwood – Best Essential Oils for Pregnancy Heartburn
This exotic oil with woody undertones has been used in Indian medicine for centuries and has many great benefits. It is known for its calming effect on the digestive system and in pregnancy can aid with flatulence, reflux, diarrhea and heartburn.
If like me you have been chomping on Rennies and Gaviscon with short lived relief, why not try adding a couple of drops of Sandalwood to 10 ml of carrier oil and gently massage the chest and stomach for immediate and lasting relief.
Jojoba Oil – Best Essential Oils for preparing the Perineum
By the third trimester your attention will no doubt be shifting to how to prepare for labor. According to research Perineal massage, ie gently stretching and lubricating the sides of the birth canal routinely from 35 weeks, reduces the risk of perineal trauma and episiotomy by about 17%.
The research feels a little scant. However in view of my own personal experiences, having massaged in all three pregnancies and never suffered any kind of tear or trauma, I firmly believe in Perineal massage. To keep your skin down under hydrated and supple, Jojoba oil is by far the best choice. More of a carrier oil ( Jojoba does not need to be diluted) you can apply this oil directly to your perineum and vagina.