Some things in life can take us by surprise, some are expected due to proper planning, some unexpected and some, although expected, yet can still take us by surprise. One of the examples of a surprise expectation is pregnancy. You find your other half, started dating for some time until both of you agreed to take a step further, and get married. Entering the matrimony life, both of you would want to build a family together. The first time you receive the news of pregnancy may be the best surprise you will get in your life. After all, your family is about to welcome another member!
The journey through a pregnancy for some might be smooth sailing, for some, it may not be a pleasant one. Hormone changes, cravings, aches and pains, mood swings, morning sickness. There are a lot of things pregnant mummies have to go through for nine months.
In this blog, we will share tips on essential oils that are safe for pregnancy and the use of natural remedies to tackle pregnancy woes. It may not promise to turn it into a smooth sailing pregnancy, but relieving pregnancy woes to a minimum would definitely make the pregnancy journey more enjoyable.
As your pregnancy progresses, your body is undergoing significant changes. For example, did you know that your uterus grows to about 1,000 times its normal size? As a result of these changes, many women experience discomfort. Feel free to talk to your obstetrician, gynaecologist, doctor or midwife about your concerns. Some of the distress commonly experienced by pregnant women are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Back pain
It is advised by obstetrician, gynaecologist and certified aromatherapists that using essential oils during the first trimester is to be avoided, at best. This is because they might cause uterine contractions or adversely affect your baby in their early developmental stages. This includes using essential oils by diffusing or in aromatherapy products.
Going into the second and third trimester, it will be safer to use essential oils for pregnancy since the baby will be more developed and pregnancy should be more stable by then. Even so, it is best to seek advice from your obstetrician, gynaecologist, midwife or a certified aromatherapist before using any essential oil. Always, always dilute essential oils with carrier oils before usage and avoid using neat on the skin. Improper usage will cause skin irritation, rashes or burns. Essential oils are good for our well-being as long as we practice safe usage.
These are the essential oils for pregnancy that you can try using by the time you reach the second or third trimester.
Meanwhile, please avoid these essential oils for pregnancy as they may cause contractions or premature labour.
Now that we have classified which essential oils that are safe for pregnancy, let us explore how to use these essential oils plus other natural remedies to tackle pregnancy woes!
Natural Remedies for Nausea
Nausea is the most common sickness experienced by all pregnant mummies. Some may experience sickness only during the first few months of pregnancy, while some may experience this until the full term. It is a horrible feeling. We can’t imagine, wanting to wake up to a good morning, only to feel bile up your throat and make a run for the bathroom to throw up your dinner. Don’t even mention the sickness that occurred throughout the day.
Although an anti-nausea pill can be helpful, the medicine is also known to have some side effects. Here are some of the natural remedies you can seek after to cure pregnancy sickness.
1. Acupressure and Acupuncture
Acupressure and acupuncture are two techniques commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat nausea and vomiting. In acupuncture, thin needles are inserted into specific points on the body, while acupressure aims to stimulate the same points of the body, but uses pressure instead of needles to do so. Both techniques can help to stimulate nerve fibers, which transmit signals to the brain and spinal cord. These signals are thought to have the ability to decrease nausea.
Most studies that report a benefit stimulated the Neiguan acupuncture point, also known as the P6 or inner frontier gate point.
You can stimulate this nerve on your own simply by placing your thumb 2–3 finger widths down from your inner wrist, between the two prominent tendons. Once you have located it, press down with your thumb for about one minute before repeating the same procedure on your other arm. Repeat if needed.
2. Essentials oils for nausea during pregnancy
Aromatherapy with essential oils may help you to relax and get rid of your nausea. Even so, you may get more nauseous smelling some of the aromas. So, do try a few essential oils before using them, just to ascertain your extra receptive smell senses can accept them. Essential oils that may relieve your nausea include:
- Sweet Orange
Although raw ginger may help with nausea and many pregnancy woes, avoid using ginger essential oil at all cost, as some believe that it may cause bleeding and trigger pre-mature contractions.
3. Include food rich in vitamin B6 into your diet
Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine, that helps to allow the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food. This vitamin also helps form haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
Vitamin B6 can be found in a variety of food, such as:
Some people would suddenly develop a change in their appetite and their receptiveness towards certain food. What used to be their favourite food might cause them feeling nausea at the sight of it. Depending on your taste buds, you can experiment with some of these foods rich in vitamin B6 to try to reduce morning sickness and nausea. Having something as easy and simple as having a toast, sunnyside-up eggs, and a glass of soy milk doesn’t sound too bad for breakfast or supper, eh?
4. Herbal remedies
Fresh ginger or ginger teas are often claimed to ease pregnancy sickness, and experts agree they are worth trying. However, if you have sensitive senses, ginger may worsen your nausea, or even cause heartburn.
Ginger biscuits and ginger beer are not the answer, as these contain a lot of sugar, which can cause blood-sugar highs and lows, making you feel worse. Ginger biscuits do not have enough ginger to be effective.
You can make a tea from grated ginger root. Steep two teaspoons in boiled water, leave it to cool and sip it throughout the day. Don’t take more than three teaspoons of raw ginger a day. Ginger capsules are also an option if you don’t like tea.
You can also make fried ginger floss, and add it to your rice or porridge. Simply grate or pound raw ginger to small, teary pieces, and fry it. You can also add anchovies in for more taste.
Other than ginger, peppermint can also help to reduce nausea. Either by having peppermint tea, or you can nibble on sugar-free peppermint sweets to go by the day to combat dizziness. Always keep a pack of mint or mint chewing gum in your bag or pocket! You will never know when you would suddenly get nauseous.
5. Sourish food
It may not be the healthiest option, but a lot of people keep a bag or container of dried or pickled fruits when they are pregnant. For example, my mom’s favourites are the classic asam boi (sour plum), dried prunes, and dried mangoes. She said it helped her to avoid throwing up at her working place and helped her to concentrate better when doing her work.
So, some of you might need to get those pickles stocked up!
Natural Remedies for Back Pain
As you are elated with the news of your baby growing healthily inside, you also have to bear the increasing pain and aching on your back. Pregnancy back pain typically happens where the pelvis meets your spine, at the sacroiliac joint, putting pressure on your back. There are many possible causes for back pain such as weight gain, posture or hormonal changes, muscle separation, and even stress.
No matter the cause, back pain is still annoying since it may hinder your activities throughout the day. You can figure out ways to reduce back pains like wearing the right maternity bras, avoid standing for too long or carry heavy things, or even have the right sleeping posture.
If the back pain feels too severe, please seek medical help immediately. However, if the pain is ranging from mild to regular, here are some of the things you can do to relieve your back pain during pregnancy!
If you have been actively working out by hitting the gym regularly running on the mill for two hours or lifting weights before getting pregnant, you might need to cut yourself some slack. Now that you are pregnant, the little one growing in you might be fragile especially for the first trimester, even if you are stronger than a boulder.
However, always assess your own comfort and ability first when doing your usual workout. We know of some strong mums who can continue working out on their regular basis before and during pregnancy. They know their own body boundaries to reduce the intensity of their workout according to their pregnancy journey.
For some pregnant mummies who rarely do any exercise before they are pregnant, light exercises are highly recommended for them. Exercises such as walking and stretching may relieve your stiffness and back pain. But don’t force yourself if you feel pain as you could strain your ligaments further. This does not mean to cease from exercise completely. Instead, try lowering down a notch by walking slower, or take more breaks in between so as not push yourself too much.
Swimming is also another good form of exercise for pregnancy. Most would suggest the relaxing method by simply floating and kick your feet gently in the water. Breaststrokes would be the best and backstrokes should be avoided since this may cause strain on your neck and back.
Lighter exercises like yoga or tai chi are also highly recommended. Some yoga institutions have pre-natal classes specifically for pregnant women, or if you join a regular class, be sure to inform the instructor that you are pregnant!
2. Hot and cold compress therapy
Applying hot and cold compresses to your back may help to ease back pain during pregnancy. But you must consult with your obstetrician, gynaecologist or midwife, and if given the green light, you can start by putting cold compress, such as a covered bag of ice, on the painful area for up to 20 minutes, several times a day.
After two or three days, switch to hot compress by putting a heating pad or hot water pouch on the painful area. Be careful to avoid putting a hot compress on your abdomen during pregnancy.
3. Acupuncture or pre-natal massages
Acupuncture is another way to help with back pain during pregnancy. It is believed that it can relieve the pressure and pain on the back if the needles are punctured at the right nerve. Always seek the advice and consultation from a certified acupuncturist for pregnancy back pain.
Pre-natal massages are getting more popular for Malaysian mummies of all races, especially traditional Malay and Java pre-natal massages. The stroke of massages and light pressure are able to relieve the tight knots of pain, not just for the back but for other body areas too. Do seek experienced masseuse who knows the body of pregnant mummies better for pre-natal massages.
4. Improve your posture
Slouching strains your spine, especially during pregnancy. So it is important to fix your body to have the right posture when sitting, sleeping, or standing. For instance, try sleeping on your side with a pillow or bolster in between your knees. This will help to take the stress off your back.
When sitting at the desk at work or dining table, place a roll-up towel behind your back or get a back-support cushion. Place your feet on a stack of books or on a small stepping stool, and sit up straight with your shoulders back.
When you are going out for baby shopping, avoid carrying heavy bags and wearing high heels. It is more comfortable and advisable to wear flats or soft-soled sandals with good sole support when going out. If you want to pick something off the ground, squat down instead of bending over. Yeah, we know, comfort over vanity!
5. Essential oils for pregnancy back pain
To get a more relaxing session at the end of the day, treat yourself to a warm aromatherapy bath. Drop not more than two or three lavender essential oil in your bathtub. This may help to ease muscle pain.
You can also drop two to three essential oil in a bowl of warm water. Soak a towel into the water and place it on your back. The warm compress may also help.
Natural Remedies for Swelling
Swelling during pregnancy occurs because your body is holding on to more fluid than usual. The increased pressure in your leg veins and pressure from your growing baby on the big veins in your groin add to the problem.
Swelling is common. About half of pregnant women experience it, especially around their ankles, shins, and thighs. You may find your fingers, face and lower back become swollen too. The swelling in your legs usually gets worse towards the end of the day, especially if you are on your feet a lot. Gravity makes fluid collect at the lowest point in your body. Hot weather and being tired can also make swelling worse.
Once again, if any of the swellings you are experiencing seem out of ordinary, immediately seek medical health as it could indicate other health problems. For regular pregnancy swellings, here are some of the ways to reduce it!
1. Essential oil for swelling during pregnancy
Essential oils have many benefits to health, and some even help to cure. In this case, essential oils can help to reduce swelling. *Cypress essential oil is good for circulation and varicose veins, while lavender essential oil and chamomile essential oil may ease your discomfort and make you feel more relaxed.
To do aromatherapy massage, ask your partner to massage your feet and legs gently. Add one or two drops of essential oils into one tablespoon of your chosen carrier oil, either grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil or golden jojoba oil. Massage upwards from the feet to the knees, using both hands. However, if your legs are excessively swollen and the skin is very tight, this may be too painful for you. So, do inform your partner if you are feeling sensitive to the pain.
Other than massage, you can also add two to three drops of essential oil into half a pail of warm water, and soak your feet in it.
*Cypress essential oil is recommended pregnant mummies going late into second trimester onwards.
2. Eat food high in potassium
Potassium is an important mineral that helps maintain the salt to water ratio in your body. Food that contains high potassium includes:
If your taste buds and senses allow it, do include these foods as part of your pregnancy diet.
3. Herbal remedies
Drink dandelion or nettle tea 1-2 times daily can help improve blood circulation and balance electrolytes in your body during pregnancy. Dandelion tea also helps with fluid retention, but do not take it if you have gall bladder condition. Despite so, it is best to drink herbal teas in moderation during pregnancy to avoid unwanted side effects. Moderation is always key to everything.
4. Decrease caffeine intake
A lot of us are coffee lovers out there. Although tea contains caffeine as well, coffee still has higher caffeine content than tea. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it increases urination, leading to dehydration and fluid retention. Instead of taking your usual morning coffee, replace it with a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea as both contain many beneficial traces of minerals including potassium.
5. Elevate your feet
You can prop your feet on stacked up cushions slightly above the level of your heart to ensure the flow of blood and fluid returns to your heart. Elevate your feet for 20 minutes, three to four times a day, and you will feel the swelling of your feet reducing gradually.
Once again, light exercises like yoga will help you through your pregnancy. This time, doing exercise for 30 minutes a day will keep your blood and fluid circulating throughout your body so they will not gather at your feet. Always know your own threshold and remember not to force or strain yourself.
7. Pre-natal massages
Pre-natal massage is one of the ways too to reduce swelling and fluid retention. The stroke of massages and light pressure are able to improve blood and fluid circulation for the body. Again, do seek experienced masseuses who know the body of pregnant mummies well to do the massages safely.
There are many ways to use essential oils safely for pregnancy and natural remedies to tackle pregnancy woes. Although it may not relieve these distresses completely, we hope they will be able to help pregnant mummies out there enjoy their pregnancy journey better. Always seek advice from the doctor, specifically your obstetrician, before using any essential oils or any herbal remedies.
Congratulations for mummies-to-be and have an enjoyable pregnancy journey! You are all superwomen! ❤