Aromatherapy In Pregnancy
Being pregnant is often a wonderful experience but sometimes it can be difficult. Swollen feet, an achy back and anxiety are common during pregnancy. Aromatherapy can be really helpful for treating these difficulties. However, you don't need to be finding pregnancy hard to enjoy the wonderful benefits of aromatherapy for you and your baby.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy makes use of essential oils derived from flowers and herbs which have a good effect on physical and psychological well-being. These oils are highly concentrated so that they have a therapeutic result by sending chemical messages to the part of the brain that affects mood and feelings. Designed to treat the whole body, aromatherapy aims to assist the body's natural abilities to heal, rest and recover. The person receiving aromatherapy either has to breathe in the aroma of the oils or they can be massaged on to the body. Essential oils have a pleasant smell and are rejuvenating. Aromatherapy has been used for hundreds of years and research into its uses continues to grow.
Your Aromatherapy - what to expect
During your initial consultation, your aromatherapist will ask you what you would like to use aromatherapy to help with, your lifestyle, general health and well-being. They may also discuss your medical history to gain a full picture of your health before starting. Once you have discussed the reasons and your desired outcome, the aromatherapist will suggest a treatment plan.
The personalised treatment plan will likely include at-home treatments and aromatherapy massage sessions. Each individual is different and the duration of the course will depend on your circumstances.
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy. It is designed to work in harmony with any other treatments you may be receiving. Your aromatherapist will expertly formulate the perfect aromatherapy blends to address your individual needs and personal preferences.
How does Aromatherapy work?
Aromatherapy typically works in two different ways, through the sense of smell and through skin absorption.
Aromatherapy commonly works through inhalation or smelling essential oils. Our sense of smell is directly linked to the brain, which is why we react in different ways to each scent. When the brain receives a smell, it sets off a reaction in the body. This is where you may feel hunger, feel energised or relaxed. The nerves in our nose can also recognise smells and link them with a memory, which is why certain scents can make you feel happy or sad.
During a massage, essential oils are added to a carrier oil to dilute the mixture and massaged into the skin. An aromatherapy massage usually lasts between one hour and 90 minutes. The oils used will be tailored to suit your specific requirements.
Aromatherapy massages are incredibly relaxing, bringing together the powerful benefits of both aromatherapy and massage. Here are just a few psychological and physical benefits of this method:
Can help to lift mood (physical touch boosts our happy hormones).
Promotes relaxation, reducing stress and improving your sense of well-being.
Reduces nervous tension (our bodies hold a lot of psychological tension when we're stressed, so releasing this can be helpful).
Stimulates the body's immune system, protecting itself from illness.
Eases muscle tension (making you feel more relaxed and soothing aching muscles).
Encourages lymphatic drainage, helping to reduce fluid and toxin build-up.
Boosts circulation (helping blood and oxygen circulate the body to promote healing).
Aromatherapy is now being recognised in the science world and is listed on The NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners. It is increasingly used alongside conventional treatment. Research into its effectiveness is encouraging and continues to grow.
To find out if aromatherapy will work for you, speak to us and ensure you are getting the best out of the therapy.
Benefits of Aromatherapy In Pregnancy
Nausea and Vomiting
For many, the slight to severe bouts of nausea in pregnancy are nothing surprising. Although every pregnancy is different, this symptom of morning sickness usually comes on strongest and fades away within in the first trimester.
Oddly enough, doctors cannot truly pinpoint an exact cause of morning sickness, however many bouts of nausea are induced from the sense of smell. Because of this, many find that aromatherapy can ease their bouts of morning sickness or help remove it entirely.
To look into this theory further, a study including the effects of aromatherapy has been done. In a randomized clinical trial of 100 pregnant women experiencing morning sickness, researchers looked into the effect that aromatherapy had in treating morning sickness, and the results were substantial. The intensity of nausea and vomiting by the second and fourth days in the group receiving aromatherapy were significantly lower than the control group.
Heart burn is a common form of indigestion felt as a burning sensation in the chest, caused by acid regurgitation into the oesophagus. It is caused in pregnancy by hormonal changes and the growing baby pressing against your stomach
The use of essential oils to treat heart burn has been widely tried and successful. Many heartburn sufferers have testified how essential oils, reduce their symptoms to the level where medication is no longer required. Essential oils for heartburn can offer an all-natural solution for your pain and discomfort. Throughout human civilization, essential oils have been depended on to care for numerous ailments, including, heartburn, bloating, and other gastrointestinal problems.
As with many other pregnancy symptoms, pregnancy hormones are the culprit behind constipation. Progesterone causes the muscles in your bowels to relax, allowing food to hang around longer in the digestive tract. The upside is there's added time for nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream and reach your baby. However, constipation can be very painful and often people resort to laxatives to help resolve the problem.
Aromatherapy combined with abdominal massage has been shown to significantly improve constipation and its associated symptoms. Studies have shown that using
aromatherapy reduces the need for laxatives and other medications and improves general digestive comfort.
Do you find it hard to get out of bed every morning? Are there times in your day that your energy just seems to lag? If you find yourself reaching out for your second, or third cup of coffee and it's barely mid-afternoon, try reaching for an essential oil instead.
Essential oils can help invigorate your senses, and make you feel revitalized and energetic.
There are many underlying reasons for feeling tired and fatigued, including high stress, lack of proper sleep, adrenal fatigue, emotional stress, low moods and more.
symptoms of low energy include;
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling irritable
- Body aches and pains
- Increased or loss of appetite
- Drowsiness at odd hours in the day
- Feeling tired without having done much
The aromatic molecular compounds in essential oils can pass right through the blood/brain barrier, directly affecting the areas in our brain that control feelings of stress, anxiety and mental fatigue.
So when you're struggling with low energy, essential oils when applied topically, or inhaled, are proven to uplift the mood, re-energize, and calm mental stress. Here are a few ways essential oils can help boost your energy levels:
- Make you feel fresh and ready to tackle the day
- Elevate your mood and promote positivity
- Help you re-focus and concentrate
- Reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
- Alleviate fatigue and tiredness
- Increase productivity levels
- Give you the jolt you need to get up and get going
If you're dealing with insomnia or other sleep difficulties, essential oils may offer some relief. Research shows that certain essential oils may help promote relaxation and, in turn, encourage sounder sleep. It is also believed that inhaling essential oil molecules (or absorbing them through the skin) may activate brain chemicals involved in controlling sleep.
Aromatherapy has been shown to promote the natural secretion of serotonin and endorphins, resulting in activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Endorphins have sedative effects, while serotonin binds to enzymes during the night to produce melatonin, thereby promoting sleep.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are the most common complication of pregnancy, effecting up to 25% of people. The treatment of anxiety and depression is predominately prescription antidepressant medication or talking therapies. However, in pregnancy people are often reluctant to accept a psychiatric diagnosis and prescriptions for medication, fearing the effect that they may have on the pregnancy. As a consequence, the depression and anxiety are undetected and undertreated. Antenatal anxiety has been linked to maternal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis changes which can adversely affect fetal development.
If you feel that you are affected by anxiety or depression, we would encourage you to seek help from your GP.
Aromatherapy is often sought as a complementary therapy to medical treatment. Several study's have demonstrated that aromatherapy can significantly reduce anxiety and hence have a positive effect for both mother and baby. Aromatherapy can be very effective at reducing the need for medication and improving the symptoms of depression and anxiety, which is very important both for mother and baby, however, it is a complementary therapy and should not replace any medical advice or medications given by your doctor.
At My Independent Midwife, we are not just aromatherapists, we are experienced midwives. As such during your consultation we will listen to you and guide you, using a holistic, whole person approach to helping you with your depression and anxiet
Although gaining in popularity, essential oils are not new. They are a tried and true method that can be exactly what you need. We encourage you to try it for yourself and give your body the chance to experience its benefits and finally find much-needed relief.
Is Aromatherapy Safe in Pregnancy?
There are no risks associated with using the aromatherapy essential oils that we may offer you during your pregnancy. However, it is important that you use the right oils in the right way. Never use essential oils in concentrated form as it can lead to skin allergies and severe skin reactions.
Also, not all oils are safe for use in pregnancy. Some may affect the unborn baby and how the uterus works. Essential oils like rosemary, peppermint, juniper, sage, oregano, clary sage and thyme should be avoided.
Which Oils do we Use During Pregnancy?
lavender has a sweet and soft odour that calms even a racing mind. It is known to ease pain during surgery making it a great option for women who had undergone a c-section.
Boost mood using citrus oil – beat pregnancy and postpartum blues using citrus oils like lemon, lime and mandarin. Citrus oils do not only boost the mood but also boost the immune system.
Ginger can help ease digestive problems. The scent is known for revitalising the body.
This oil is known for relieving respiratory congestion, so it can be helpful if you are suffering from a cold
Aromatherapy for Labour
Aromatherapy can be used during labour to ease pain and discomfort and enhance contractions making them more efficient. Aromatherapy can even be used to start off labour once over 37 weeks pregnant.
Aromatherapy in your home
We will come to your home on a day and at a time convenient to you, please enquire for availability. Any birth partners are welcome to join the sessions. We love to meet your family and children are more than welcome to be present. We are able to provide evening and weekend appointments if preferred.
Research Studies and Further Information