What are they?
Essential oils are the compounds from individual plants, which are extracted by a distillation (steaming) process or by pressing the stem, leaves, flowers or roots. Each plant has unique characteristics and aromas which are reflective within each individual essential oil. In effect they are representing the ‘essence’ of what that particular plant can offer.
How do they work?
Essential oils work by inhalation as they are said to stimulate the limbic part of our brain which can influence behaviours and emotions. The limbic system is responsible for our hormone secretions, emotional reactions and how we perceive our mood to be. Essential oils can be several times stronger than dried herbs and should be used with care and diluted, as recommended, with a carrier oil prior to use.
Carrier oils are used to dilute the potency of essential oils to the right strength and to help to mix and spread the oil evenly for application or use. Carrier oils are often needed as undiluted essential oils can cause irritation if applied directly to the skin.
There are many carrier oils available and they vary in consistency and suitability for different oils and applications. Mixing essential oils and carrier oils needs some knowledge and care as their aroma, consistency and potency can be affected.
Why would I use essential oils in pregnancy?
Essential oils can provide effective relief from minor ailments during pregnancy. There are products available which you can use as self-help measures for general and specific problems. Products containing essential oils are not intended to replace medical care, but rather to compliment and work with your chosen antenatal and labour care pathway.
Helping to ease the minor irritations, aches and pains which can often accompany pregnancy, can make all the difference to making those weeks and months run more smoothly.
There are some essential oils which aren’t suitable during pregnancy and labour, so it is wise to be careful when choosing which ones to use.
Which oils can help me during pregnancy?
Bergamot- As well as being stress relieving and helping to soothe anxious minds, this oil is also known for its ability to soothe upset stomachs and to help relieve pain.
Calendula-Hydrates and moisturises, improving skin integrity. Promotes healing for dry itchy skin. Has recognised soothing properties to help reduce sore, irritated and red skin conditions.
Eucalyptus - Helps to reduce inflammation and pain. Stimulates and increases the blood supply to the skin.
Frankincense- As well as having a lovely aroma, this oil is perfect to help relieve stress and anxiety during pregnancy. It is especially helpful during labour and the transition phase for its grounding and calming effects.
Geranium- Was known to be used long ago by the ancient Egyptians as a stress buster. It is also known to relieve anxiety by encouraging the regulation and balance of hormones within the body.
Grapefruit oil- Helps to relieve constipation and restless legs. Used during massage, it can help with ligament, neck and shoulder pain. It is a natural energiser and mood booster, as it is a stimulating oil used to promote vitality. It can improve circulation and is an anti-bacterial agent.
Lavender- Well known to be calming and relaxing, it is helpful in treating insomnia, anxiety, stress, depression and restlessness. Can stop itching and ease the pain of minor burns, stings, swelling and bruising.
Lemon- Has the ability to tackle mental fatigue and stress, as well as helping to calm sickness and upset stomachs.
Neroli- Helps to reduce stress and cortisol levels in the body. It can also reduce inflammation and help with headaches.
Orange- Known for its relaxing and sedative properties, as well as being used historically as a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory.
Peppermint- Well known for helping to reduce feelings of nausea and to help calm tummy upsets. It also helps to increase energy levels which can help you to regain focus and concentration.
Tea tree- This has well known anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities, as well having anti-inflammatory properties.
Choosing the right blend of essential oils to help with minor ailments during your pregnancy can impact positively on both mental and physical wellbeing. Make sure that your chosen essential oil is suitable and safe to use during pregnancy or choose a product which has been blended and tested for use during pregnancy.