Lavender essential oil is extracted by steam instillation from the flowers and tops of the herb lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). It is considered to be one of the safest of all the essential oils used in aromatherapy. Lavender can be a great help to a pregnant mother, but it is a powerful oil and care should be taken when using it during pregnancy. It should never be used as a substitute for medical care, or without consultation with your doctor.
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Although lavender is classed as one of the safest oils, it is not recommended for use during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Says the website Expectancy: "Avoid using any oils in the first 3 months unless advised by an expert. Don't assume that, just because they're natural, they're automatically safe." Lavender is classed as an emmenagogue, meaning it may encourage menstrual flow, slightly increasing the risk of miscarriage. But in the later stages of pregnancy, lavender can be used to great effect.
Stretch Mark Remedy
Stretch marks can appear in the later stages of pregnancy on the upper thighs and the abdominal area. To help prevent them, and to reduce their appearance, combine four drops of lavender with three drops each of neroli and mandarin oil in a carrier of 50 ml jojoba oil and massage gently into the skin daily.
Lavender for Stress and Insomnia
Lavender is one of the best oils to use to combat the daily stresses and strains of late pregnancy. According to Esoteric Oils: "Lavender oil has a soothing and calming effect on the nerves, relieving tension, depression, panic, hysteria and nervous exhaustion in general and is effective for headaches, migraines and insomnia." To aid sleep, place a tissue with two drops of lavender oil on it next to your pillow, or add a couple of drops to a burner and place in the bedroom for 15 minutes before going to bed.
Labor Pain Reliever
Lavender can be a great help during labor, as both a calming oil and as a pain reliever. To combat backache, combine four drops of lavender with three each of Roman chamomile and mandarin oils in a carrier of 50 ml jojoba oil. Rub gently into the back to help relieve contractions. Warning: Lavender should not be used in labor at the same time as Pethidine, or epidural, or with Oxytocin/Pitocin infusions, as it may interfere with their function.
After the Birth
According to the International Federation of Aromatherapists, "a common practice in some maternity units is to offer a lavender bath (6-8 drops in a carrier added to a warm bath) to the woman after the birth of the baby." This is because of the antiseptic, analgesic and calming relaxing properties of the oil, which help to relax the mother after the birth, relieve pain and prevent infection. The bath will also ease other conditions such as hemorrhoids, sore or cracked nipples and poor breast milk supply.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Ruth Toal: Expectancy: Using Aromatherapy in Pregnancy and Labour
- International Federation of Aromatherapists: The Role of Aromatherapy in Maternity Care
- Esoteric Oils: Lavender Essential Oil Information
- "The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils"; Julia Lawless