When talking about aromatherapy and pregnancy, the focus is often on which essential oils are safe to use. What we often forget is that although pregnant women should avoid many essential oils, a few oils are very useful especially during the second and third trimesters.
An Aromatherapy Blend to Prevent Stretch Marks
The essential oils of Neroli (Citrus aurantium) and Mandarin/Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) are thought to be the safest oils to use during pregnancy. These oils are also great for preventing stretch marks. Both oils are relaxing and gently uplifting, and they will also relieve stress, soothe anxiety and balance fluctuating emotions. Most women like the scents of these two oils, especially when they are combined so that the citrus scent of Mandarin uplifts the heavily floral Neroli.
Always blend the essential oils into a carrier oil. When using essential oils during pregnancy, use a 1% dilution instead of the more common 3% blend. 1% dilution means 1 drop of essential oil into each 5 ml (a teaspoon) of base oil.
One of the best base oils for a stretch mark blend is wheatgerm. If you find the wheatgerm scent a little too overpowering, try using a part of wheatgerm and a part of a milder oil, such as sweet almond or jojoba. Other good carrier oils for preventing stretch marks are rosehip and hazelnut.
For a simple homemade stretch mark prevention oil add 1 drop of Neroli essential oil (also known as Orange Blossom) and 1 drop of Mandarin (Tangerine) essential oil into 10 ml of wheatgerm, rosehip or hazelnut oil (or a combination of the three). Massage the blend gently on your belly, buttocks and thighs. Use the oil every day from the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy onwards.
Essential Oils to Use During Childbirth
Some aromatherapists use Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) or Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) oils to ease delivery. These oils can help to relieve pain and deepen contractions. Use a blend of the two or choose one depending on which scent you prefer: some women find jasmine too heavy, especially in the delivery room, and lavender can be more refreshing.
To make a blend, add 1-3 drops of essential oil(s) into 5 ml of base oil (such as sweet almond). Massage the blend on the lower back or the belly. Only use this blend to help delivery: Jasmine essential oil should not be used during pregnancy as it can trigger contractions. Lavender oil is relatively safe from the second trimester onwards in 1% dilutions, and it can be used to relieve aches and pains during pregnancy.
Sources: Patricia Davis: Aromatherapy, an A-Z (Random House, UK, 2004)
Photo: Ghabara (Wikimedia Commons)