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Aromatic therapy during pregnancy
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy that uses essential oils. These oils come from plants, such as herbs and flowers, and they’re highly concentrated. The oils smell pleasant, but they also contain therapeutic chemicals. Scientists don’t know for sure how aromatherapy works. Essential oils may send chemical messages to the part of your brain that affects your mood and how you’re feeling. This happens either when you breathe in the scent of the oil or when your skin absorbs the oil during a massage or bath. How can I use aromatherapy during pregnancy? There are three main ways to use essential oils: On your skin through massage with essential oils If you’re using oils for massage, you’ll need to dilute them first. Mix one or two drops of the essential oil with a teaspoon of base oil. For your base oil, you can use a vegetable oil, such as grapeseed, or nut oil, such as coconut or sweet almond. You may want to use a vegetable-based oil if you have an allergy to nuts, and don't use wheatgerm oil if you have a wheat allergy. It's also worth doing a skin patch test of your chosen base and essential oil combination just to be sure you don't have a reaction. Rub the oils mixture onto a small patch of your skin 24 hours before your massage. If you partner is giving you a massage, first check with your midwife which strokes are safe for your partner to use. If you're using a massage therapist, ask your therapiest if she's experienced at treating pregnant women. By breathing in essential oils Mix four drops of essential oil with a teaspoon of base oil, and add the mixture to an oil burner or a vapouriser. By adding essential oils to your bath Having a warm bath is an especially good way to use aromatherapy oils. The warm water helps your skin to absorb the oils, and the steam will help you to breathe in the vapour. You only need about three drops of essential oil for one bath, mixed into a teaspoon of base oil. Or, instead of a base oil, you can use full-fat milk. Creamy milk is a good carrier for essential oils as the fat in the milk helps to spread the oil throughout the water. How can aromatherapy help me? There are a number of ways in which aromatherapy could help while you’re pregnant. It may: ease the symptoms of morning sickness soothe pregnancy niggles help you to feel calm and relaxed during your pregnancy You should tell your midwife if you’re using essential oils at home, or if you’re receiving aromatherapy treatment from a therapist. This is especially important if you have any medical problems, such as epilepsy. Aromatherapy for morning sickness If you're feeling or being sick during your first trimester, aromatherapy may help. You could try it to ease your nausea. Lemon oil seems to work for some women. You could also try mint oil, though there is less evidence that this works. Aromatherapy for common pregnancy niggles Although there is relatively little evidence that they work, many women find essential oils helpful for a range of niggles. For example, you could try sweet orange for constipation, or neroli (orange blossom) for heartburn. Lavender may help you to sleep better, and citrus oils such as lemon are said to refresh you and give you more energy. You can use these oils to ease your symptoms in the usual ways - in your bath, via an oil burner or diffuser, or through massage. Aromatherapy to help you relax Massage alone can be very relaxing. It’s a great way of easing tension and reducing stress. Add some lovely-smelling oil, and massage can feel wonderful. One piece of research found that having aromatherapy and massage helped pregnant women to feel less anxious. Can aromatherapy help with labour? It may help. In many midwifery-led, low-risk NHS birth centres, midwives have been trained to use aromatherapy for labour. If you’re interested in trying aromatherapy during labour, ask your midwife whether your birth unit can provide it. If it can't, you could use a vapouriser, or add a few drops of oil to a tissue or to a hot or cold compress (a damp flannel). Your partner or your midwife may be able to give you a hand, foot or back massage too. Your midwife will only use aromatherapy when you’re more than 37 weeks pregnant and in labour. Some midwife-led units will also ask you not to use aromatherapy if you have a medical condition. The research about using aromatherapy when you’re in labour is a bit mixed. Although many women use aromatherapy when they’re in labour, more research is needed to see how well it works to reduce pain. The following oils are safe for you while you’re in labour: Roman chamomile clary sage frankincense ginger lemon grass lavender mandarin These oils can help to reduce fear and anxiety, ease pain or boost contractions. If you’re using a birth pool, you shouldn’t add essential oils to the water, but using an electric oil burner or diffuser is fine. content source