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Pregnancy and Motherhood - safe uses of Essential Oils in Aromatherapy

by Penny Keay

Spring is here and as we think of the rebirth of nature, of course, naturally, we think of all mothers.

With Mother's day just around the corner, I thought of my first Mother's Day in 1976.

Although our first son had not been born, I was 8 months pregnant in May 1976. I wish I had known about essential oils back then.

I suffered with morning sickness almost the entire pregnancy, developed stretch marks at the end, and had swollen feet!

What wonderful memories!! Really, they are. As I had no other problems during any of my pregnancies.

We are often asked about essential oils safe to use during pregnancy, labor and delivery, post partum, and while nursing (breastfeeding).

First, I want to say is that most essential oils can be safely used during pregnancy.

Just as they have been used in perfumes, cosmetics and other bath and body products for centuries with no ill effects to mother or baby.

Pure essential oils in concentration though should be avoided until after the first trimester of your pregnancy, as should any and all types of medications and chemicals.

Your physician will let you know that prior to becoming pregnant and in the first 3 months of your pregnancy, you should avoid taking any medications (unless prescribed of course) or exposing yourself to strong chemicals.

Many expectant mothers cannot take strong smells or scents.

The sense of smell seems to become extremely keen during pregnancy. Certain smells will trigger varied emotions and several will become absolutely offensive.

By the way, expectant mothers should not be filling their automobiles with fuel. Smelling gasoline or diesel fumes is not recommended. Likewise, strong cleaning solutions should also be avoided.

And just another note of caution, Don't use any of those commercial air deodorizers or air fresheners either, as many of them are made from petroleum products. All of them can be detrimental to your baby.

Of all things in nature, Essential oils are much safer to be exposed to then those petro-chemicals!!

So, although most essential oils are GRAS (Generally recognized as safe). There are a few that you should avoid.

Any essential oil that is used in flavoring foods such as citrus generally can be used any time.

Below is a list of Essential oils you should be able to use during pregnancy. As always, make sure your physician is aware you are using essential oils.

If at any time you have an adverse reaction to an oil, whether pregnant or not, discontinue use.

During the first trimester use essential oils with caution and in limited amounts.

Most Essential oils can be safely used after the first trimester, in moderation.


Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Orange, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Tangerine, Tea Tree, Ylang Ylang

The following oils can also be used but please do not over use.

Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Cypress, Ginger, Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Rosemary, Spearmint

There may be many other oils safe to use during pregnancy but the above oils should cause no problems during a normal pregnancy.

These lists of oils were complied from research from several of the reference books from well known aromatherapy authors and aromatherapists.

If an oil is not on the above list it probably should be avoided until you are no longer pregnant or breast feeding.

COMMON Complaints and suggestions

Morning Sickness

- Please consult with your physician.

Morning Sickness normally occurs in the first three months and so make sure you ask your doctor if he or she feels it is okay for you to use a little of the following two essential oils during your first trimester.

Smelling a little Peppermint may take off the edge of a queasy stomach.

Also, Ginger is a well known herbal remedy for upset stomach (think about Ginger ale) and so the essential oil has helped other pregnant mothers too. Both of these oils can be safely used after the first trimester.

Simple Morning Sickness help

Add 4-6 drops of Spearmint to a terra cotta or other passive style diffuser near your bed.

Spearmint is milder to use than Peppermint and often times will ease a queasy stomach.

Back Aches

Every pregnant woman at one time during her pregnancy will have a back ache. The ever expanding abdomen creates a lot of stress not only on the front, but also the back.

The muscles are growing and stretching too and if the expectant mother is on her feet too much the weight of the baby will cause her balance to shift and the back muscles will try to compensate. They may tire easily and cramps and aching muscles will result.

Now is the time to have some Massage lotion or oil available so the expectant father can help relieve the discomfort.

Also learning how to rub the back while the pregnant mother is on her side is important.

As during labor, if the labor is more in the back, massaging the back will be most welcome by the mother to be.

A blend of

Lavender - 5 drops
Ginger - 2 drops
Roman Chamomile - 2 drops
1 ounce carrier oil mixed in a bottle and massage on the back as needed.

Or another blend of

Lavender - 5 drops
Roman Chamomile - 2 drops
Frankincense 2 drops
Eucalyptus - 1 drop
1 ounce carrier oil

Pregnancy Back Ache Rub

Lavender - 5 drops
Rosemary - 3 drops
Sandalwood - 3 drops
Geranium - 1 drop
Sweet almond oil - 2 ounces

Mix all essential oils in a bottle, then add the Sweet Almond oil. Blend well. Use to massage the lower back as needed.

Swollen Feet and Hands

As your pregnancy progresses many women will begin to retain unwanted fluids. Notably it will show in her hands and feet. You won't need to be on your feet very long and your legs and feet will swell. Many women experience swelling in the hands too.

To help with swelling, elevate the affected limbs as much as possible. Also a light massage oil or lotion with the following essential oils.

Use no more than 10 drops total per 1 ounce of lotion or oil. Choose up to three of the following oils to mix with your lotion or oil; Lemon, Orange, Geranium, Lavender, Patchouli, Petitgrain

When applying these to the swollen limbs always massage lightly and towards the heart.

Swollen Feet Relief

In a basin of cool water add
Lavender- 2 drops
Lemon - 1 drops
Geranium - 1 drop

Then soak a towel in the basin, wring out excessive water and wrap loosely around swollen feet and hands.

Elevate your feet and relax. Be sure you have placed another towel to protect your pillows and furniture from becoming dampened. Rest for 15 to 20 minutes as needed.


To Ease discomfort and promote Relaxation

The big day finally arrives. You are nervous, anxious and the contractions are getting stronger and more uncomfortable. Several essential oils will help you to relax and to relax those around you. Everyone is excited.

We have a couple of birthing centers and women's health centers that have used the following massage blend to help their mother's during labor. They have reported to us that the expectant parents and others in attendance enjoyed this blend. Not only did it help the mother, but all those in the room were also put more at ease.

The added light scent was very welcome and added to the wonderful moment.

Labor massage

To make 1 ounce of massage oil
Sunflower oils - 1 ounce
Lavender- 8 drops
Neroli - 3 drops
Rose 5% - 3 drops
Ylang Ylang - 1 drop

Blend all together and use as a massage oil during labor.

Although this is a very nice blend to use while in labor, anyone can use it anytime.

Pregnancy and Motherhood Emotional Concerns

One minute you are laughing, the next you are crying. Your body is going through a tremendous amount of change. Your hormones are raging, trying to keep you and your baby safe from all outside dangers in the environment.

One minute you are happy, next you are mad. Again, your body is going through so many changes. You are feeling absolutely exhausted, but so excited you can hardly sleep. You are worrying about this, that and every thing under the sun.

The pregnancy consumes you and everyone around you. You don't want to become obsessed but you can't help it.

For nine months you are nurturing one of the biggest miracles of life - Life itself!

No wonder you feel like you are going crazy, so many emotions and so much to think about.

Hopefully, you will be able to make it through those first three months, where you will then be able to use a few more essential oils.

You can choose an oil or two that you really like from the above list and use it as part of your daily routine.

A little Lavender or other uplifting citrus oil may help you feel less anxious, help you to sleep better or to give you a little pick me up when you are feeling down.


To Balance and Uplift your Emotions

After the excitement and anticipation of the big day and arrival of your newborn, again, your emotions can be all mixed.

As your hormones and body adjust to the baby being outside instead of within you, your emotions will once again be changing.

Many women have very little problems other than an occasionally day of the 'blues'. To help on those days, simply use a blend of your favorite essential oils.

Put a drop or two on a tissue or in your personal inhaler. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes for a few moments and think of beautiful happy thoughts.

Take a few more breaths and think of that wonderful little person that has arrived and changed your life forever.

After the Baby - a little Uplifter!

Nutmeg - 7 drops
Rosewood - 6 drops
Frankincense - 2 drops
Lemon- 9 drops
Rose - 6 drops

2 ounces of carrier oil Blend well and massage a few drops into your temples or other pulse points.

Once a mother/parent, always a parent. Even when your children are all grown. They still will come to you for advice and the caring nurturing that you have given to them from before they were born.

Stretch Marks during Pregnancy and other times

Often times our skin is stretched beyond its normal capacities. Most often this is seen in expectant mothers. When this occurs our skins underlying collagen and infrastructure breaks apart and stretch marks appear.

Other people may experience stretch marks too. Children that grow quickly or if one gains a lot of weight in a short period of time can develop stretch marks. There are several other disease processes that can cause stretch marks to develop.

Nothing can truly repair the stretch mark (except surgical removal and this may not be practical or possible), but using oils and emollients may help or prevent them from becoming worse. Some will help to lessen the discomfort that can accompany the development of these marks.

With time, the red lines will lighten and become less noticeable. The best is to prevent stretch marks before they occur. The following Stretch Mark Oil blend can be used one or twice daily.

This blend is safe to use during pregnancy in the last trimester - the months where stretch marks are most likely to occur.

Stretch Mark Oil blend

1 ounce Cocoa butter, melted (heat slowly just until melted)
1/2 ounce Jojoba
1/2 ounce Rose hip seed oil
10 drops Lavenderessential oil
8 drops Neroli essential oil
4 drops Vetiver essential oil

Mix the first four oils together. After they begin to cool and thicken add the essential oils. Mix well and once cool can be used to massage into your skin once or twice daily.

Another Recipe for Stretch Marks

1 ounce Cocoa butter, melted (heat slowly just until melted)
1 ounce Jojoba
Rose Otto - 5 drops
Lavender- 6 drops
Tangerine - 5 drops
Carrotseed - 5 drops

Apply this blend to the areas that may develop stretch marks. You do not need to use a lot of this mixture. a few drops applied daily to your tummy are all that you should need.

In and Around the Nursery

Every mother and father anticipating the arrival of the newborn wants the nursery to be clean and fresh.

Since the nursery typically is not readied until the last couple months of the pregnancy. The essential oils used for cleaning can easily and safely be used in your cleaning water.

You may want to clean the room with Lemon or Orange, oil added to the cleaning bucket. Others prefer to use Pine needle.

If the expectant father is willing to help clean and wipe things down, adding our Four Robbers blend or PureCleansing blend to the cleaning bucket will thoroughly disinfect and clean the room before the baby arrives.

Once the baby has arrived, you should reduce the amount of essential oils used in your cleaning bucket. Strong solutions can be irritating to young lungs and nasal passages.

Even if you do not use essential oils, reduce the amount of cleaning solutions in your buckets, or make sure the room has time to air out before putting the baby back in the room.

All the products listed in the article are available at our Shopping Site - see link below.

© 2005, 2013, 2015, 2017 Penny Keay All rights reserved Worldwide.
Please do not use my information without my permission.

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