Aromatherapy During Pregnancy
Massage therapists performing prenatal massage should use caution with essential oils, as many essential oils are considered contraindicated for pregnancy. As such, therapists should err on the side of caution in using essential oils with their pregnant clients.
Contraindications and Substitutes
When researching various oils, it is not uncommon to see some sources list a particular oil as contraindicated in pregnancy, while other sources consider that same oil safe for prenatal use. If there is any question, you should substitute known safe oils if possible. If there is no suitable substitute, use a very small amount. An alternative is to consider the use of a floral hydrosol. Hydrosols are the water byproduct of the essential oil extraction process. As such, a hydrosol will have a more gentle effect than the essential oil from the same plant.
Points to Keep in Mind When Using Aromatherapy During Pregnancy
Essential oils should be used only if the potential benefits outweigh the possible risks.
The use of aromatherapy should be omitted entirely if the pregnancy is high risk or any contraindications are present.
Your client’s heightened sense of smell and possibility of nausea are to be considered when using essential oils during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Allow your pregnant client to sniff the oil to make sure that she finds it pleasant before diffusing it into the room or using it on her body.
A single oil is preferable to a customized blend, especially if the massage therapist has not taken extensive aromatherapy training and learned how to properly blend oils based on both their note (intensity and duration of scent) and type (effects such as balancing or stimulating). An exception to this might be a formula pre-blended by the oil manufacturer.
In general, all oils used in pregnancy should be diluted by 50%. If you typically use 15 – 20 drops of oil per ounce of massage lotion, reduce that to 7 – 10 drops per ounce for your pregnant clients.
The Institute of Somatic Therapy offers massage therapy continuing education (CE) courses on aromatherapy and prenatal massage, along with many other topics. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education approved provider, #280672-00. Our course are also valid for Florida, Georgia, New York, and most states, as well as for AMTA and ABMP.