The nearly 10 months of pregnancy brings many changes, both physical and emotional. The physical changes are the most obvious and are also the ones that can cause the most concern and discomfort. There are natural remedies that are useful for easing certain pregnancy symptoms. Almond oil is readily available and economical, but it might also cause health risks in some individuals.
What is Almond Oil?
Almond oil comes from the same edible nut that you may be familiar with as a crunchy snack or an ingredient in baked goods. This kind of oil is popular for use in massage and as a component in skincare products because it is more stable than other types of oils, making it less likely to spoil. Almond oil is light in color and texture and has a mild nutty aroma that many people find pleasing. When shopping for this oil, you may find it labeled either "almond" or "sweet almond." Oils labeled "roasted almond oil" are meant for culinary use only.
Where to Buy
Almond oil is often available in the skin care or health and beauty section of many health food stores. Well-stocked grocery stores may also carry it. Look in either the cooking oil aisle or the natural beauty products section. Almond oil may also be mail ordered from online retailers. The price for a 16-oz. bottle of almond oil may range from $8.99 to $15.95.
During pregnancy, hormonal changes can have an effect on skin all over the body. Many women will experience acne breakouts, particularly on the face, upper back or chest. These same women will often complain of dry skin on other parts of the body, such as the arms and legs. In addition, as the uterus grows, skin on the abdomen is subjected to stretching, which can also lead to an uncomfortably dry, tight feeling. Dry, stretched skin can also contribute to stretch mark formation.
During pregnancy it is important to choose beauty products that are effective, but also safe to the growing baby. Almond oil is an ideal emollient for any part of the body during pregnancy. It may be most beneficial to apply the oil to damp skin after a bath or shower.
Help Prevent Episiotomy
Childbirth requires intense stretching of delicate tissues surrounding the vagina and anus. This area, called the perineum, can benefit through perineal massage in the weeks before birth. Massage can increase blood flow, elasticity and relaxation of the muscles and tissues. When the perineum can more easily stretch, tears and surgical incisions called episiotomies become much less likely to happen.
Perineal massage should be done every day for at least five minutes, starting approximately two months before your due date, according to Marie F. Mongan, author of "HypnoBirthing: A Celebration of LIfe." Use slightly warm almond oil on clean fingers. Insert oiled fingers about 2 inches into the vagina and press down, toward the rectum. Firmly massage the oil into the inside edge of the perineum along the lower vaginal wall. Maintain steady pressure and use deep breaths to relax the muscles and tissues in this area.
Almond oil is generally considered safe, but some people should exercise caution before using it. Avoid almond oil if you are allergic to almonds, almond products or any other nuts, or if you experience irritation after applying the oil. Almond oil is sometimes used as a laxative, but this is not recommended for pregnant women. Never use any laxative during pregnancy without consulting with your doctor or midwife first. Laxatives may cause contractions that can lead to premature labor.
Almond oil might also play a role in preterm labor, according to a study published in "Human Reproduction" in 2012. However, more research is needed to see how much it impacts pregnancy and to find out if it really poses a health risk. Make sure your consult your doctor before you use almond oil, and cease treatment immediately if you develop any side effects.
Based in Troy, N.Y., Jaya Johnson has been writing about health and science since 1995. Her articles have appeared in “Prevention” magazine and "New Woman" magazine. She holds a Master of Science in community health education and an advanced certificate in palliative care from Sage Graduate School.