Pregnancy is one of the most exciting – and sometimes worrisome – times in a woman’s life. With the anticipation of a new life ahead (in all senses of the phrase), combined with concern over anything that could go wrong, mothers-to-be can be overcome by so many different feelings and emotions. Most of the time, those feelings are of intense joy and overwhelming love for the new life growing inside them. However, for many pregnant women, there is one feeling that is not enjoyable at all – morning sickness!
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that occurs during pregnancy. And, despite its name, morning sickness can strike at any time of the day or night.” Morning sickness is one of the most universal and complained about symptoms of pregnancy. In fact, more than 50% of expectant mothers will experience nausea and vomiting. Thankfully, it usually only lasts through the first trimester, with symptoms starting around the first six weeks. Sometimes, though, morning sickness can begin earlier and last longer.
WHAT CAUSES MORNING SICKNESS
Strangely, the reason for morning sickness isn’t clear. There may be a hormonal link because, as the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone increases in an expectant mom’s body, nausea seems to increase, as well. The HCG hormone is what the body produces when an egg is fertilized and attaches to the uterine lining. Estrogen also rises during pregnancy and could contribute to the queasy feelings. Other theories include stress or fatigue, previous experiences with motion sickness or a pregnancy that involves twins or triplets.
No matter what causes morning sickness, the good thing to know is that it is not harmful to the expectant mom or her unborn baby. In fact, it is thought to be an indication of a healthy pregnancy with a well-developing placenta. With that in mind, the nausea and vomiting are still uncomfortable and tiresome for so many pregnant women. And while there is no cure for morning sickness, natural relief from the symptoms can help. Essential oils offer up a great solution for natural self-care during a queasy pregnancy – see below for a list of some of the most effective essential oils to try.
GUIDELINES FOR USING ESSENTIAL OILS DURING PREGNANCY
When Are Essential Oils Safe to Use
Many experts in the medical field will caution against using essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy – a time when morning sickness may be at its worst. The concern comes from the lack of controlled studies confirming their effectiveness as well as the lack of regulation by the FDA. There is also concern over the danger to the growing fetus.
The reality is, however, that most essential oils are safe and suitable for use during all stages of pregnancy. The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists have produced a Pregnancy Guideline where they state, “The real danger comes when the dosages are incorrect or irresponsible. Essential oils work with the body, not against it. The body always remains in control with low doses of oil.” But no matter when essential oils are used during pregnancy, it is always wise to seek the guidance of a trusted healthcare provider.
Essential Oils and the Fetus
Essential oils are organic substances and, if used topically, will cross the placental barrier and may affect the fetus. But if proper dilutions are used, the amount that would reach the placenta is very small. Also, when a woman becomes pregnant, she develops a thick layer of fat that acts as a safety layer. Essential oils dissolve in fat and make it less likely that they would ever come in contact with the fetus. As the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy cites, “It is extremely unlikely that a nightly bath containing a few drops of essential oils will cause any problems for the unborn child. There are no records of abnormal fetuses or aborted fetuses due to ‘normal’ use of essential oils.”
How to Use Essential Oils While Pregnant
- For immediate relief, inhale directly from the bottle or place one to two drops on a cotton ball.
- Use a diffuser for effective all-day or overnight relief.
- Apply directly to pressure points such as wrists or temples.
- Add up to four drops of the desired essential oil to a bath to provide soothing comfort.
- Blend with a carrier oil like coconut, jojoba or sweet almond and rub on the chest or belly.
- Never ingest essential oils and always remember to consult with a professional before using for morning sickness.
ESSENTIAL OILS FOR MORNING SICKNESS
Pregnancy does wild and wonderful things to a woman’s body. Not only can hormonal changes cause the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness, but it causes a heightened sense of smell, as well. This is why one day that morning cup of coffee smells great, and the next it is making a mommy-to-be want to hurl. Finding the right essential oil that works for morning sickness relief depends on what smells the most enticing and soothing while pregnant. It may take a little trial and error, but below are some of the most popular and effective essential oils for nausea relief:
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil is one of the most effective natural remedies for morning sickness. The National Center for Biotechnology Information published a 2014 clinical study that determined the effectiveness of inhaled lemon essential oil on nausea and vomiting in 100 pregnant women. They were divided into two groups where, every time they were nauseous, one inhaled lemon oil diluted in almond oil and the other inhaled almond oil alone. The severity and frequency of nausea and vomiting decreased in both groups, but it was significantly more in the group that inhaled lemon oil.
Blogger, childbirth expert and doula, Lindsey VanAlstyne swears by the use of essential oils to relieve the symptoms of morning sickness. She discusses the use of different scents, and states, “But lemon, I have to say, was the most helpful. I was never without my bottle of lemon essential oils.”
Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger has long been touted as a supporter of an overall healthy digestive system. It is especially effective when combating nausea. Diffusing ginger inside a vehicle is also a great remedy for car sickness. A recent study looked at the effectiveness of ginger extract in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting (PINV). After four controlled trials, they concluded that, “the best available evidence suggests that ginger is a safe and effective treatment for PINV.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also supports this evidence and states that ginger can provide beneficial effects as a treatment for morning sickness and can be considered a safe natural remedy.
Mandarin Essential Oil
Mandarin has a tonic effect on the digestive system which helps to relieve nausea and vomiting. It has a sweet, sunny scent and does not cause skin irritation when used topically. And for fussy babies, diffused mandarin essential oil can calm them and help them sleep.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil has relaxing properties that may also provide help for nausea. Whether it helps for morning sickness or not, its aromatherapy use can provide a sleep aid for the expectant mother. And for a fussy baby with colic, a lavender oil massage can give calming, sedative-like effects and encourage sleep.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is wonderful for the digestive system, it is very effective at relieving nausea and vomiting, making it very useful during morning sickness in pregnancy. In a clinical trial, the effectiveness of peppermint oil aromatherapy for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy was studied. The results found that, compared to a given placebo, there wasn’t much difference in effect. However, after four weeks, the severity of morning sickness symptoms had dramatically decreased. Its fresh and minty aroma also promotes a clear head and refreshes a fatigued mind. And it is a great aid for motion sickness as it helps relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, relieving gas and bloating, as well as easing queasiness.
I highly recommend you check out my post, The Top 7 Essential Oils that Everyone Should Use, if you want to learn more about essential oils.