I’m including an article written by Sonya Richards. A HypnoBirthing Educator. This is an article for using EOs during pregnancy and during labor. Enjoy!
The Use of Aromatherapy in Pregnancy & Birth
A Brief History
The origins of Aromatherapy can be traced back more than 3,500 years BC and is usually attributed to the Chinese and Ancient Egyptians. It appears to be linked to the development of aromatic medicine using plants and for distillations of oils for religious and ceremonial purposes. The person who is credited with fist using the word Aromatherapy is French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé who became interested in the use of essential oils for their medicinal use after an accident in his laboratory. While working, he burned his arm quite badly and by reflex, he plunged his arm into the nearest liquid which just happened to be a large container of lavender essential oil. The burn healed quickly and left no scar. In 1928 he wrote an article where he supports the use of using essential oils in their whole without breaking them down into their primary constituents. In 1937, Gattefossé wrote a book called Aromathérapie: Les Huiles essentielles hormones végétales that was later translated into English and named Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy . It is still in print and widely read.
Aromatherapy in Pregnancy
Using aromatherapy for pregnancy and birth is also an age old process. Aromatherapy can be used to relive tension and promote relaxation, but it can also be used for many physical conditions such as increased blood pressure, nasal congestion, muscular aches and headaches. Roughly translated Aromatherapy means “Treatment with scents”. It is the use of aromatic essential oils as a therapeutic complementary treatment, and is able to heal and uplift the body, mind & spirit. It can bring great benefit throughout pregnancy and beyond for both the Mother to be the birthing companion. Aromatherapy massage can provide relaxation and relief to women in the first stage of labour, according to the results of a long-term study of more than 8000 expectant mums.
Along with more conventional forms of pain relief, women in the first stage of labour were offered essential oils, dropped onto a slip of paper or piece of cloth, followed by a massage and then a foot bath. Half of the women in the study found that aromatherapy helped relieve vomiting and nausea, but it didn’t affect the power or frequency of contractions. Also, the number of women requesting the pain-killing drug pethidine was fewer than usual, which was suggested to be a result of using the oils to relieve stress.
The researchers concluded that aromatherapy massage helps women in labour to relax. Chamomile and Clary Sage were found to be the most effective oils for relieving pain. Aromatherapy employs many different methods to work essential oils into the body. The most well known is massage which is helpful to relieve stress and aching muscles and promotes a feeling of well being. Other methods are: aromatics baths, vaporisers, atomisers, inhalations and compresses. The fastest route for the oils into the blood stream are through the nasal passages hence inhalation just from dropping some oils on a tissue can be very effective.
It must be stated that essential oils must never be put onto the skin in a neat format with the exception of Tea Tree oil and in the case of burns, Lavender. They can be diluted in carrier oils, creams and lotions for massage, into milk to be added to a bath or diluted in water for compresses. Another important point is that the dilutions must be half of that for a normal adult. This is a 1% solution for massage meaning 2 drops of essential oil per 10ml carrier oil or put 3-4 drops into a 10ml of full fat milk for a bath or for use in bowl of water for compresses.We never recommend ingesting essential oils and Eucalyptus oil can be fatal if ingested so please keep all oils out of the reach of children.
The next word of caution is about the essential oils, which are unsafe for use during pregnancy. Many of the unsafe oils are said to be emmenagogues, which means they balance hormones and can promote menstrual bleeding. Therefore oils not to be used are:
Basil, clary sage, cedarwood, cinnamon, cypress, fennel, jasmine, juniper, lemongrass, marjoram, myrrh, oil of wintergreen, origanum, parsley, penny royal, peppermint, rose, rosemary, sassafras and thyme.
However some of these oils are beneficial during labour and will be discussed later.
In addition Chamomile and Lavender although usually very safe oils must be avoided during the first trimester, but after that are very beneficial for many symptoms. I would advise that you consult a qualified Aromatherapist before using any essential oil on yourself, and the benefits of a professional massage are many fold including: reducing aches and pains, promoting relaxation, reducing water retention, nourishing the skin and providing a feeling of well-being.
Carrier oils themselves can be very beneficial to the skin. Cold pressed coconut oil can help prevent or reduce stretch marks, and importantly vegetable oil is recommended during the last 8 weeks for perineal massage in order to prepare the perineal skin for delivery. No essential oils should be mixed in with the vegetable oil.
Blend 40 ml sweet almond oil and 10ml of jojoba oil into a capped plastic container and massage in a few drops daily. If there is a nut allergy use cold pressed olive oil or sunflower oil and jojoba 40ml to 10ml ratio. Also you can use these oils in isolation they don’t have to be blended. Always try to use a high grade cold pressed oil if you can or alternatively an organic oil. You can actually get a good selection of organic oils from some health food shops and even some supermarkets.
Many of the citrus essential oils are safe during pregnancy and have uplifting qualities, however do not use them before exposure to direct sunlight as they can cause skin pigmentation. Ginger is excellent for nausea and sickness. Do not ingest it put a few drops on a handkerchief, into a vapouriser or atomiser. You can cut raw ginger with perhaps some honey and add it to hot water if you wish to make a drink.
Beneficial oils used to aid relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety are: bergamot, lavender, neroli and ylang ylang, although this oil can be quite heady, so limit the amount of drops to one per blend.
Examples of relaxing bath blends are:
2 lavender, 1 ylang ylang
2 bergamot, 1 neroli
2 lavender 1, bergamot, 1 sandalwood
Essential oils in the delivery room can both disinfect and create a relaxing ambience. Experiment beforehand to ensure the aroma is pleasing. A nice relaxing mix to be added to a bowl of hot water is: 2 lavender, 2 geranium, 2 lemon or bergamot.
– For a more antimicrobial mix add 3 lavender & 3 Tea Tree: or 2 lavender, 2 Tea tree, 2 lemon. You can use an atomiser spray and mix the oils with some water and surgical spirits so that you can spray them into the air and onto linen etc. The surgical spirits act as a solvent for the oils as they will not mix in water alone.
– Bergamot a “ray of sunshine.” Incredibly uplifting, light and refreshing.
– Chamomile – The “Matriarch” of oils, very gentle, soothing and calming to the mind and body. Helps calm the irritated, fretful or nervous person.
– Clary sage at this stage Clary sage can be used as it is a very sedative, analgesic oil and can be dropped onto a handkerchief for inhalations, although it is not recommended for use with gas and air.
– Eucalyptus is an uplifting oil with wonderful broncho-dilation properties so if perfect for nasal congestion.
– Frankincense an excellent oil for calming nervous tension and hyperventilation and also helps to balance emotions.
– Geranium is a fabulous balancing oil and is great for the circulation and promotes breathing. Jasmine is warm and fragrant and has anti-spasmodic and analgesic properties. It is also very beneficial in a compress on the lower abdomen to help expel the placenta.
– Lavender is antiseptic as well as a relaxant and is excellent for aching backs and limbs. It restores unbalanced states to a more harmonious state, and has been said to strengthen contractions. It is recommended in a bath during the early stages and is wonderful for healing tears or episiotomy stitches postnataly.
– Neroli one of the most effective anti-depressant oils, it is useful for insomnia, hysteria, anxiety and other stress-related conditions. Helps combat fear and apprehension.
– Rose is very feminine oil and is a uterine tonic helping to regulate labour.
– Ylang Ylang is very calming and helps lower the blood pressure.
Remember Essential oils can be dangerous if not used appropriately and they are never to be ingested. Don’t forget your birthing companion will also benefit from the oils, as they will be very anxious at times during your pregnancy and especially during delivery. Try giving each other a relaxing massage or visit a therapist for a full body treatment. And most of all enjoy your oils safely.
Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage in Pregnancy:
Aromatherapy is a non-invasive modality. You should receive a personalised treatment.
– Helps you to cope with each challenge
– Prepares you for the changes your body will experience.
– Aids your Digestion.
– Counters Stress
– Boosts the Immune System.
– Improves Circulation.
– Improves skin elasticity.
– Prepares your body for childbirth.
– Promotes a deep sense of Relaxation.
Sussex HypnoBirthing – written by Sonia Richards BSc, MSc, MICHT, Clin Dip Hypnotherapy, Complementary Therapist, HypnoBirthing Ante-natal Educator – www .sussexhypnobirthing.com