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Willow Grace

Willow Grace
Pregnant women going through a thorough client consultation prior to a massage with Julia Walder at Willow Grace Perinatal and Holistic Therapies Near Taunton, Somerset, England. The consultation allows the most beneficial choice of essential oils to be made and for the massage to be tailored to maximise the benefit to the woman on that day.

What are the benefits of aromatherapy to a pregnancy massage client? 

I love to use aromatherapy in pregnancy massage. As I can bring the combination of massage techniques with essential oils to deliver the maximum amount of benefit to my pregnant clients.

Every essential oil is made of many different chemical components and depending on what those components are, will depend on the effect the oil has on the body.

The chemical components are broken down into the following groups. Terpenes the most common of which are monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, oxides and phenols.  Each chemical group has its own properties, as follows:

  • Monoterpenes – antiseptic, antibacterial, analgesic, expectorant and stimulating;
  • Sesquiterpenes – antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, calming and hypotensive;
  • Alcohols – anti-infectious, strong anti-bacterial, antiviral and stimulating to the immune system;
  • Aldehydes – antiviral, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, calming, sedative and hypotensive;
  • Ketones – cicatrizant, lipolytic, mucolytic and sedative;
  • Esters – balancing, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and cicatrizant;
  • Oxides – expectorant, decongestant, anti-infectious, antibacterial, vermicidal and stimulating;
  • Phenols – strongly anti-infectious, bactericidal, vermicidal and immune-stimulating.

While aromatherapy is a great addition to a massage it must be noted that it is not suitable for every pregnant woman. You  must always be advised to see a suitably qualified, knowledgeable and insured aromatherapist. You can find registers of these on the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA) and Federation of Holistic Therapies (FHT) websites.

Pregnant woman receiving soothing massage by Julia Walder of Willow Grace Perinatal and Holistic Therapies at Rumwell Hall, Nr Taunton, Somerset TA4 1EL. Pregnancy massage includes use of aromatherapy to maximise the benefits received.

Can all these oils be used with pregnant women?   

The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA 2021) states the key point ‘to remember is that the pregnant client is still a human-being and the body is still able to metabolise and excrete the essential oils’.  When women are pregnant they naturally develop a thicker layer of fat underneath the skin. This acts as a safety layer between the baby and the essential oil. As essential oils dissolve in fat, they are far more likely to sit in the fatty layer resulting in a slower release. Most essential oil molecules will pass through the placenta. However if the correct dosages are used the amount of essential oil that is absorbed by the mother’s skin is tiny. Therefore the amount that actually reaches the placenta is miniscule.

There are very few oils that cannot be used in pregnancy.  It is suggested that essential oils such as juniper should not be used as it would reduce the amount of amniotic fluid and lavender due to its emmenagogic properties would cause a period. However, female aromatherapists use these oils daily, increasing their exposure yet they aren’t walking around dehydrated and bleeding.

The IFPA (2021) state ‘therapists should recognise that the human body is intelligent and that the essential oils (found in every day food and drink) are no stranger to the human metabolism. The body knows how to break them down and utilise them to balance the human physiology’.  That said though, it is generally recommended to avoid the use of essential oils that contain large amounts of phenols and aldehydes. This is because they can be strong skin irritants and a women’s skin in pregnancy can be more sensitive.  However, they may be considered if there is an infection present in appropriate dilutions.

What do you need to look for when purchasing and using essential oils?

When using oils, it is important that you purchase the highest quality essential oils, carrier oils and any other aromatherapy products from a reputable supplier. Being registered with the Aromatherapy Trade Council (ATC) is a good marker of a suitable source. The supplier should provide the following information on the label:

  • Botanical name of the plant;
  • Chemo type (where necessary);
  • Part of plant;
  • Extraction method;
  • Batch number;
  • Any specific cautions related to the oil.

Personally, I also like to be aware of whether the conservation of the plant is being respected.

As with any treatment, it is vital that a detailed consultation is carried out beforehand. This must include a full medical and obstetric history, to enable the best choice of oils.

Pregnant women and Julia working through a thorough consultation prior to a massage treatment

I know that massage on its own is hugely beneficial to a pregnant woman and that aromatherapy on its own can also make a huge difference but together they provide a synergy and that is a beautiful thing. Through my work providing aromatherapy massage treatments to pregnant women I have seen this synergy in action. This has enabled me to work with the women and their partners to really support them through a healthy pregnancy.

To experience the benefits of aromatherapy in pregnancy massage, please head here to book yourself in. My treatment room is in Rumwell Hall, Near Taunton, Somerset. I also offer the ability to continue the aromatherapy benefits at home through take home products and gifts, these include bath salts, room sprays and roller balls.