Pregnancy astounds me. The idea that my body can – and has – grown another body inside me blows my mind. And those other bodies that grew inside my body are not a replica of me. They are all entirely autonomous – with their own appearances, abilities, opinions, and, in two cases, gender. How did I do that?! I’ve been through it three times and I still can’t wrap my mind around it. It’s profound. And strange.
But along with the wonder, comes the all-too-physical aches and twinges and “No one told me THAT would happen to my body” moments. It’s a time when we are looking for relief, but we also want to be very careful.
Before we grab with wild abandon the latest and greatest miracle potion, remember: Personal care products demand scrutiny, produced as they are from an all but unregulated industry. The stakes are even higher when pregnant. We have a very tiny little one to think about. Any topical body care product carries some ability to absorb through our skin and affect our internal systems. When we’re pregnant, this means possibly affecting that little marvel-sac.
So know what you’re using. What’s in it? Do you understand those ingredients? Are there potential side effects? Is there something simpler, safer out there? There almost always is.
Read labels and do a little bit of research – try EWG’s Skin Deep database– and look for clear, understandable ingredients. Here are some products from Dr. Bronner’s that fit the bill.
Itchy Bellies & Swollen Feet
Prior to conception, I had naively envisioned a pregnant belly as soft and squishy and symmetrical. But it’s not! It’s hard and lopsided and pointy. I think my kids each had three extra elbows that they lost in the birth canal. As the skin pulls and stretches over the growing baby, the itch is real.
A couple years ago (unfortunately about 6 years after it would have done my pregnant belly any good), my brothers came up with the Unscented Magic Balm. Remember my line above about understanding ingredients? When you have ingredients that you could practically eat, you know it’s safe to apply topically. Avocado oil, jojoba oil, beeswax, coconut oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil – all organic. Toss in some vinegar and you’ve got yourself a salad dressing. Not really, but you see my point.
Rub it on the belly, early and often.
How about those tired and sore feet? Take the balm and rub in a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil. Rub this on your feet at the end of a long day. Lie back and say, “Ahh.”
This same blend works wonders for decongesting when you’re pregnant and have a cold, which is an extreme form of super yuck. Not only should you rub this blend on your chest, but also – and this might sound strange – rub a thick layer of the Unscented Magic Balm mixed with Peppermint Oil on the soles of your feet before bedtime and pull on socks. This trick will do wonders to clear your head. I don’t know why this works. Just part of the magic, I guess.
None of these uses are just for the pregnant. Though my belly itching days are pretty much done.
Mamas will also want to keep the Unscented Magic Balm around postpartum, because it helps heal sore, cracked nipples.
Fatigue, Sweat & Nausea
I don’t think I’ve ever written such attractive headings before. But when you’re pregnant, the above maladies are all too everpresent. Fighting them with certain essential oils is a great way to combat them safely.
Essential oils are powerful. Some essential oils are ill-advised during pregnancy, but don’t let that deter you from taking advantage of the safe usage of other fantastic ones. Check with your medical provider to double check the ones you’re interested in.
Essential oils are all you’ll find in Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps for scent, and many have bonus therapeutic benefits:
Peppermint – You’re hot. All the time. Save some of that AC bill and take a peppermint shower.
Lavender – There’s so much to stress about – am I gaining too much weight? Did I eat enough Niacin? What if my water breaks at the grocery store? Take a lavender shower and breathe deep.
Tea Tree – Some women get that pregnancy glow … while others get the joys of pubescent break-outs. Tea Tree will help balance and clear your skin.
Unscented – I hear you. Nothing smells good. Not food. Not flowers. Not any earthly substance. Except Fruit Loops. Fruit Loops smell fantastic. However, in the absence of Fruit Loop scented soap, consider the Unscented Baby Mild to minimize the churning effect. Or use the Unscented as a base for adding your own unique pregnancy blend – Ginger & Lemon? Bergamot & Orange? Sandalwood & Geranium?
All this being said, don’t skip the fundamentals to good health. No blend of essential oils can replace good hydration, exercise, eating close to nature, and laughter.
But even with the most avid self-care, you might just feel a slight twinge or two when pregnant. Just a bit. Maybe once or twice. Hopefully at those times the above will help.