Guest Post by Kimberly of Fertility Flower
**Stephanie's note: I had originally intended to put up a tomato canning tutorial tomorrow, but this post was long, and yet so full of good information, whether you are pregnant or simply want to learn more about the use of essential oils! So it will continue tomorrow, and you can expect the canning post on Monday... see you then!**
As botanical products, essential oils smell divine but I'm not sure how much weight people place on their power to effect real change. Absorbed into the blood stream via the skin (massage, creams, compresses) or through the lungs via steam inhalation, essential oils can promote stress reduction and cure ailments associated with pretty much all of our bodily systems.
What about using essential oils during pregnancy?
That's a contentious issue. There are classes of oils which contain compounds that have been known (via animal studies as a human trial of this nature would be wholly unethical) to induce contractions or cause hemorrhaging. In reality, one would probably need to absorb very large amounts of these compounds before the situation would devolve to that level. However, prepared in dilutions appropriate to the pregnant state (weak) and avoiding exposure prior to the 2nd trimester (just to be conservative), different oils or combinations of oils have the potential to be highly beneficial during pregnancy.
Essential oils are highly concentrated. One would dilute an essential oil for general use anyway. During pregnancy, the recommended amount of essential oil is halved creating even more dilute preparations. This translates to the following:
For massage, about 2-3 drops per 1TBSP (15mL) of carrier oil (such as almond or grape seed oil – although I've been known to use even olive oil);
For an aromatherapy bath, 6-10 drops mixed into a full tub; and
For a compress or for steam inhalation, 2-4 drops in 2-3 cups of steaming hot water (for a compress, submerge a cloth, wring it out and place it on the effected body part; for inhalation, position your head over the bowl and breathe).
So, which oils are we talking about?
I compared 10 different websites and constructed a matrix, noting what each website put forward as a safe essential oil for use by a pregnant woman. There was agreement among the websites with regard to the following oils (% of time that the oil was named as 'safe' for use during pregnancy).
- Lavender (90%)
- Bergamot (80%)
- Neroli (70%)
- Chamomile (60%)
- Geranium (60%)
Lemon, patchouli, sandalwood and ylang ylang were deemed safe during pregnancy by 50% of the websites that I saw, however, I'm not going to go more deeply into the characteristics of those oils here.
Image by audreyjm529
At the top of the list are Lavender and Bergamot.
Lavender is an ingredient that we are all likely to be well familiar. It's in our creams and bath soaps. Some people even cook with it.
Lavender essential oil, made by steam distilling the flowers themselves, is the mother of all essential oils and considered the safest. I've seen it referred to as ˝an angel of healing from the floral realm, and an expression of the earth’s compassion.˝ and indeed it is. Faced with anything from fatigue to depression to sleep disturbance...even a single drop rubbed between your palms and inhaled will restore you (try it!).
Can’t take an aspirin for a headache? Why not try a Lavender inhalation: Mix 4 drops of lavender essential oil with 2 cups of steaming hot water and inhale the vapors for a natural treatment for headache.
Image from Emporium Naturals
Bergamot is perhaps less well known. It's a small citrus tree with long oval leaves and white flowers that was first cultivated in Italy (bergamot is what gives Earl Grey tea its characteristic aroma). The oil is extracted by cold expression from the peel of the fruit.
This oil has great anti-depressant properties that almost constitute a 're-booting' of the nervous system. It has antiseptic properties that make it suitable in moderation for skin and scalp irritations (acne, eczema, etc) as well as bladder infection/cystitis which is more common during pregnancy than any other time (that’s one of the reasons they check urine at every visit).
Want to prevent a bladder infection or treat an existing one? Try Bergamot: Blend 4 drops of Bergamot essential oil with 1 TBSP (15mL) of carrier oil (almond, grapeseed, etc.). Massage the skin over the bladder area (lower abdomen) once daily.
More to come in the second installment of this post...
Disclaimer: Neither Keeper of the Home nor its contributing authors are medical professionals, nor do we claim to be able to give medical advice. This information is merely to educate, inspire and motivate you to look into these issues more on your own, or to speak with your own medical practitioner for more information.
Kimberly is behind Fertility Flower, a website promoting natural fertility and healthy living. She has one daughter, Blanka, age 8 months and hopes to have more children someday.