essential oils, Health

Three Common Complementary Healthcare Practices in Pregnancy

This topic is near and dear to me as it was during my pregnancy when I really started looking at complementary healthcare in a new light.  It is, of course, extremely important to discuss all of your choices with your ob/gyn before starting any new practice.

  1. Essential Oils

Essential oils can be used safely and effectively in pregnancy.  There are some essential oils which you may want to avoid or use judiciously however. These include:


  • Clary Sage or Sage
  • Idaho Tansy or Hyssop
  • Fennel
  • Wintergreen
  • Blends and supplements that contain these oils

Always be sure to read and follow any labeling on the essential oils you choose.

Some favorites for use during pregnancy is Peppermint for energy and digestive support, frankincense both in skin care and for spiritual uplifting, and lavender for relaxation and sleep. Another great use is citrus oils to ward of nausea from scent aversions.  If you can’t get out to fresh air, just a quick smell of lemon or orange might be enough to help you get through the situation.

For more information, a great reference is Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern.

2. Yoga

I started prenatal yoga almost immediately after I found out I was pregnant.  It helped tremendously with my mood as well as coping with my changing body.  As I got closer to delivery, I focused on the breathe and really tuning in to my body.   This certainly came in handy during contractions.

The benefits were not just physical.  Just being in a class with other women going through the different stages of pregnancy was fantastic.  I met a lot of great women and we often swapped stories of things that were working or not working during our pregnancies. We traded tips, hospital information, and more.  Each birth was a celebration when mom would bring the baby back to visit.

You can certainly continue to do regular yoga classes as well but I would suggest asking your instructor if they have any prenatal training. There are some positions that should be avoided in pregnancy and you’ll want to be sure they can support you through modifications

Online Yoga Class

3. Herbal Remedies

There is plenty of information from many sources about herbal use in pregnancy. I will remind you again to be sure to speak to your physician before beginning anything. There are a few common ones however:

Ginger – This comes in many forms including fresh that can be added to hot water, ginger gum (a favorite of mine), ginger ale, ginger cookies, etc.  It is very common remedy for nausea and is generally safe although there is some indication you can take too much

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – Generally reserve this for later trimesters, it can help with milk production and labor pains.

The following herbs are considered Likely Unsafe or Unsafe during pregnancy (from

  •  Saw Palmetto – when used orally, has hormonal activity
  • Goldenseal – when used orally, may cross the placenta
  • Dong Quai – when used orally, due to uterine stimulant and relaxant effects
  • Ephedra – when used orally
  • Yohimbe – when used orally
  • Pay D’ Arco – when used orally in large doses; contraindicated
  • Passion Flower – when used orally
  • Black Cohosh – when used orally in pregnant women who are not at term
  • Blue Cohosh – when used orally; uterine stimulant and can induce labor
  • Roman Chamomile – when used orally in medicinal amounts
  • Pennyroyal – when used orally or topically

To all of you expecting mommies, I wish you well!  Take charge of your pregnancy, have a birth plan, but be flexible if things don’t go as expected.


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