3 Complementary therapies that can be beneficial (and safe) during pregnancy

Generally speaking, the NHS advise expectant mothers to avoid taking unnecessary medicines or treatments, as anything taken into your body may affect your unborn baby. However, there is evidence to support the use of some complementary therapies during pregnancy and labour alongside other recommendations from healthcare professionals.

Here are three complimentary therapies that can help alleviate symptoms during pregnancy.

Aromatherapy and massage for anxiety and tension 

Aromatherapy can be used to help a variety of symptoms during pregnancy, with some NHS trusts offering aromatherapy during labour to help ease anxiety, reduce tension, and aid with muscle relaxation (particularly in combination with massages). Essential oils can also be used as part of baths, on compresses, or on pillows to aid with relaxation and sleep.

Using plant essential oils for their therapeutic qualities, aromatherapy also provides the opportunity for birth partners to provide therapeutic touch and care for their loved ones, as well as to strengthen the rapport between expectant mothers and their midwife.

Recommended essential oils include:

  • lavender for muscle relaxation and the promotion of healing
  • rose for calming and reducing anxiety
  • frankincense for its powers of relaxation and helping with hyperventilation
  • Roman chamomile for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties
  • jasmine for relaxing, calming, and uplifting
  • peppermint for cooling and refreshing

While massage can be a great bonding and relaxation experience, check with your midwife or GP if you are unsure of what may be safe. Your abdomen shouldn’t be massaged during the first three months of pregnancy. Talk to your GP before starting any new complementary therapies, and always make sure to consult a qualified practitioner.

Acupressure and ginger for morning sickness

Acupressure particularly on your wrists or forearm can help relieve symptoms of morning sickness according to the NHS. Recommended for mild morning sickness, your GP or midwife should be able to advise you further.

Eating food or drinks containing ginger can also help reduce feelings of nausea or vomiting. While there have not been any reported adverse effects caused by taking ginger during pregnancy according to NHS findings, check with your pharmacist or GP before trying ginger supplements, and make sure to only buy them from a reputable source (a pharmacy or supermarket) as ginger products are unlicensed in the UK.

Self-care for general symptoms and wellbeing

Practising healthy, sustainable self-care can be a huge help in managing pregnancy symptoms, particularly nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and stress.

Self-care can encompass many different things. In essence, it is taking care of yourself and consciously making the effort to do things you enjoy and benefit from, in order to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

Eating small, regular amounts of cold food rather than hot meals can help avoid triggering smells that may make you feel nauseous, while helping you keep small amounts down rather than risking fewer large meals that may make you feel sick.

Many expectant mothers find yoga can help throughout the stages of their pregnancy. Specifically adapted poses can help both during and after pregnancy, providing a safe form of exercise that may help ward off aches and pains while building core strength. Some poses can also help reduce swelling, improve posture, and aid relaxation.  

It is worth remembering: complementary therapies are not intended to replace other treatments offered by your doctor. Not all complementary or alternative therapies are safe during pregnancy, and some (particularly herbal remedies) can be harmful to your babies health.

Before starting a new complementary therapy, it can be advisable to check with your GP to make sure you are aware of any potential adverse effects. Complementary medicine should not replace regular antenatal check-ups throughout your pregnancy.

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Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford
Bonnie Evie Gifford is a Senior Writer at Happiful.
Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford
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