Worry to elation, self-consciousness to wonder at the body’s amazing ability to change and adapt. Pregnancy is a roller coaster of emotional and physical change. You look forward to the joyful birth, but you worry about it as well. You crave and relish food, but you’re feeling queasy at the same time. At times, it seems everyone is excited and focused on what’s developing within while you’re left feeling isolated, forgotten and taken for granted. Learning to care for yourself during pregnancy is just as vital as taking care of your child — and using essential oils is a beautiful way to do so.
The importance of exercising caution
Safe use of essential oils is important any time you use them, but critical during pregnancy. You should never ingest essential oils or use them internally, and you should always properly dilute the oils before use. This is especially important while pregnant, because you and the growing life inside you can be particularly vulnerable and sensitive to potent, undiluted oils. A proper mid-range dilution for healthy adults is 2%, which equals 12 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of a carrier, such as sweet almond oil. If you find that you want to exercise an abundance of caution during your pregnancy, you could even halve the standard dilution to 1%, or 6 drops per ounce (or about 2 to 3 drops per tablespoon). Some essential oils should be avoided completely during pregnancy, notably: basil, camphor, hyssop, sage and wintergreen. Before applying any oil however, it’s a good idea to study the safety guidelines associated with the oil and to consult your doctor to be doubly safe.
Avoiding synthetic scents and strong diffusion
It’s also important to use pure essential oils instead of strongly-scented chemical fragrances in your air space during pregnancy, because you can be especially sensitive to harsh, synthetic scents when you’re expecting. Essential oils offer a non-synthetic, more subtle alternative, but it's still a good idea to use them subtly and judiciously in diffusion. Control the strength of the diffusion by decreasing the amount of essential oil and/or the length of time called for with your particular diffuser model. For example, if it calls for 18 drops diffused for 15 minutes, try 9 drops for 7 minutes instead.
Gifts for the expectant woman
Finally, if you’re not pregnant yourself — or you have a friend who’s also expecting — making a collection of DIY essential-oil-based personal care items tailor-made for the expecting mother is a truly supportive gift for any loved one going through the birth experience. Gifts such as homemade deodorant and perfume, a soothing foot soak, belly butter and relaxing massage oil won’t just be appreciated, they’ll be put to good use.