Essential oils and pregnancy is a hot topic. The decision to use essential oils during pregnancy can be a difficult one. There are a wide variety of opinions on the matter, often with conflicting and confusing claims.
For example, some women choose to avoid excessive use of these specific oils:
- Clary Sage or Sage
- Idaho Tansy or Hyssop
- Blends and supplements that contain these oils
The use of essential oils during pregnancy, especially during the vital first 3-month period, is a controversial topic and one that is yet to be fully understood. The main concern during pregnancy appears to be the risk of essential oil constituents crossing over into the placenta. Crossing the placenta does not necessarily mean that there is a risk of toxicity to the fetus; this will depend on the toxicity and the plasma concentration of the compound. It is probable that essential oil metabolites cross the placenta due to the intimate (but not direct) contact between maternal and embryonic or fetal blood. The responsible attitude is to discourage the use of essential oils completely during the first few months of pregnancy”. It is extremely unlikely that a nightly bath containing a few drops of essential oils will cause any problems for the unborn child.
A common myth in aromatherapy is that massage oils containing essential oils such as Clary sage, rose or even rosemary can cause a miscarriage and should be avoided throughout pregnancy. To date, there have been no recorded cases of miscarriage or birth defect resulting from aromatherapy massage using therapeutic applications of any essential oil. The use of essential oils together with appropriate forms of massage by a skilled therapist can help ease the discomforts of pregnancy and provide a sense of nurturing that will comfort the mother at times she is likely to be feeling rather fragile.
Due to the lack of clear information regarding the toxicity of essential oils during pregnancy, it would be best to adhere to general safety guidelines. Since essential oils (the oils that give plants their distinctive smells) are the key ingredients in aromatherapy treatments and products, experts recommend not using them in the first trimester. Essential oils could cause uterine contractions or adversely affect your baby in his early developmental stages. The following essential oils should not be used during pregnancy: wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop.
Essential oils that appear to be safe include cardamon, German and Roman chamomile, frankincense, geranium, ginger, neroli, patchouli, petitgrain, rosewood, rose, sandalwood, and other nontoxic essential oils. It would also be prudent to avoid the internal or undiluted application of essential oils throughout pregnancy.
Essential oil basics when you are pregnant or nursing
If used safely and with care, essential oils have proven to be very helpful at aiding women through the physical and mental trials and tribulations of pregnancy. These are some of the basic rules to follow when using essential oils while pregnant or nursing:
- Ingestion should be avoided during pregnancy and while nursing – While topical applications and diffusion are both safe routes to use essential oils while you are pregnant or nursing, many essential oils can be toxic to the baby if ingested. It is important not to ingest ANY essential oils while you are pregnant or nursing.
- Essential oil use should be avoided in the first trimester – Many aromatherapists agree that most essential oils should be avoided during the first three months of pregnancy, especially if you are high risk for a miscarriage (for any reason).
- Less is more with pregnant and nursing mamas – Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (such as almond, coconut, hemp seed, etc.) before use. It’s best while pregnant not to exceed a 1% dilution (6 drops essential oil per 1 oz. of carrier oil), and a 2% dilution (12 drops essential oil per 1 oz. of carrier oil) during labor and while nursing.
- Only run the diffuser for 10-15 minutes – Pregnant mamas noses are much more sensitive to smells and running the diffuser too long can cause headaches and nausea.
- Repeated intense daily use is not suggested – It is best to utilize essential oils for when you really need it like helping with acute issues such as nausea, indigestion, leg cramps/spasms, insomnia, cough/congestion, stress/anxiety, etc.
- Avoid absolutes and other solvent extracted “essential oils” – Not considered true essential oils, absolutes are created using a solvent, often hexane or butane, to retain the fragrance. Though there should be no solvent left in the final product, you can not be sure, and traces of hexane have been found throughout many absolutes.
- DO NOT ADD ESSENTIAL OILS TO THE BIRTHING POOL – Since essential oils are considered oils, they do not mix with water, rather they float on top and will not mix in. Adding essential oils to the birthing pool is dangerous to the newborn and could cause burns, irritation, or other problems from accidental ingestion. Keep the essential oils to inhalation/diffusion during the actual birthing process, if you are in a pool.
Essential oils to Avoid throughout Pregnancy, Labor, and while Breastfeeding
|Essential Oil||Latin Name|
|Basil ct. estragole||Ocimum basilicum|
|Parsley seed or leaf||Petroselinum sativum|
Essential oil usage is a personal choice, and there are no hard-and-fast rules. Just be sure to follow label directions and consult a medical professional with essential oil experience to be as safe as possible. When used correctly, essential oils can help form a beautiful bond between motherhood and Mother Nature.