Each of us has a secret source of energy. You can't hold it in your hand or see it in a book. Most mysteriously, it can boost your energy, mood and motivation without you even knowing it.
It's a smell. Not just any smell, but a particular smell that invigorates you. It's different for everyone. For some, it's leaves; for others hay; still others rubber or smoke. People that turn up their noses at leather may perk right up when they smell motor oil.
The fact that odors can boost energy isn't any news to people familiar with the basics of aromatherapy. We've heard for years about the effects smells have on our brains and bodies. Grapefruit, for example, can be used to refresh and revive. In Japan, there's a company that pipes in scented air to pep up employees. In the morning, cedar and cypress wake them up. In the afternoon, citrus stimulates their senses.
But what's still unexplored is a type of "Personal Aromatherapy", in which each person may be physically and emotionally affected in different ways by different smells.
Aromatherapy works in different ways. First, many smells (apple pie, foot odor, perfume) simply produce emotional responses learned through association. Other smells most often used in aromatherapy oils (lavender, vanilla) have real physical effects. They cause the body to produce neurochemicals, such as serotonin, which relaxes and induces sleep.
Pregnant women are urged to use caution when using essential oils. First and foremost, it would help to consult with a fully qualified aromatherapist before beginning anything. Some have said that pregnant women simply should not use aromatherapy at all, and this is still the case if you are at risk for miscarriage of other complications. However, if used properly, it is now considered to be okay after the first trimester. A study by Oxford Brook's University found that aromatherapy actually improves a sense of well being and can be used to reduce anxiety and fear, two things that can make labor harder.
Some helpful hints about aromatherapy when pregnant: a little bit goes a long way; use with care, and don't put the oils undiluted on your skin. The oils are great when mixed with lotion for a massage, or when a few drops are added to a bath. There are, however, several essential oils that experts say you should avoid throughout your pregnancy, including: cinnamon, sage, thyme, fennel, peppermint, rosemary, and wintergreen. Again, talk with somebody that is familiar with these natural methods before using anything.