In aromatherapy, essential oils are extracted from natural or plant souces to help treat an ailment or maintain a person's well-being. Today, it is a popular treatment offered by beauty salons.
There are two types of sessions. Either the aromatherapist makes up a custom blend of essential oils based on a detailed consultation, or a masseuse (who may or may not be trained in aromatherapy) uses essential oils in the massage oil.
Sometimes in salons it's difficult to distinguish between these two types of treatment, because both are given the same name and have similar prices. So you may want to inquire if you specifically want an oil blend to be created for you.
Whichever type of aromatherapy you choose, you must take some extra precautions to prevent harming yourself or your child.
No matter how much you may yearn to try aromatherapy during your pregnancy, you should not do it during the first 12 weeks. The foetus is at its most vulnerable and, although it is not proven that any complementary therapy can cause a miscarriage, it is not worth the risk. The same goes if you have been bleeding during the pregnancy.
There is also the possibility that you undergo aromatherapy or other complementary treatment but don't know you're pregnant. If you are honest with the therapist, telling him or her that you are trying for a baby, you'll be treated as if you were expecting.
Some salons do offer massages specifically for pregnant women. If you feel uncomfortable lying on your tummy, then the therapist should place you on your side with a pillow for support. When pregnant I personally preferred to sit on a chair leaning forward against the massage couch, but the set-up all depends on the therapist and you.
If you decide to have aromatherapy, or any type of massage, you should first consult your midwife or doctor, because if you have symptoms such as high blood pressure or varicose veins resulting from the pregnancy, it is unadvisable to undergo massage.
Essential oils for the pregnant woman
Trying aromatherapy at home is another easy option; all you need to do is put some essential oils in the bath, burn them or make your own blend. Essential oils are so potent that they can enter your bloodstream as you simply inhale the aroma.
One of the safest oils to try is mandarin (citrus reticulata). You can also opt for a carrier oil that doesn't contain essential oils. Some that are beneficial for pregnant women are:
- Grapeseed – an all-purpose oil good for different skin types
- Almond – oilier, good for itchy skin
- Avocado – rich in vitamins A, B and D, it suits very dry skin and fatty areas, but is better diluted with another oil
- Wheatgerm – rich in vitamin E and good for dry skin, but must be diluted (10%) with a thinner oil such as grapeseed becaust it is so thick
- Peach kernel and apricot kernel – similar to almond oil but more costly
- Evening primrose – rich in GLA (gamma linoleic acids), which helps dry skin and premature ageing, but should be diluted (10%) because of its thickness
- Olive oil – similar to almond but with a stronger odour
If you're interested in reading more about these oils, see Shirley Price's Aromatherapy Workbook: Understanding Essential Oils from Plant to Bottle.
Also, some good aromatherapy providers are Tisserand, Cariad, Mother Earth, Penny Price and Eve Taylor.
Essential oils to avoid
During pregnancy, you should stay away from the following essential oils, which all have emmenagogue properties and are used to induce menstruation:
- Clary sage
- Rose damascena (can be used in third trimester if you're healthy)
Jasmine and clary sage are especially risky and these are the oils that, if you are using a "doula", may be chosen for labour!
You may have read about potions and lotions like Japanese camellia oil, calendula and St. John's wort oil, which prevent stretchmarks. I’m afraid to say I don't believe it!
I have met women who have used nothing on their abdomens, have dry skin but no stretchmarks and those who've religiously plastered themselves in their chosen potion but still get a nasty surprise.
Either way seems to make no difference. True, your skin will feel beautifully soft and silky - and the manufacturers will have made a packet because they always price these items more expensively - but if you're going to get stretchmarks, you're going to get them!
About the Author: Doreen Corbey has had a passion for massage since she was 15 years old. She still has that passion, and offers massage, specialist facials and other beauty treatments in her home-based salon in Surrey. With any energy left over she will devour all the beauty pages of all the magazines she can lay her hands on!
Doreen's homepage: Bellessence
Originally published at: Aromatherapy for pregnancy
Copyright info: The Beauty Biz