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Using Essential Oils Safely During Pregnancy

Jan 25, 2021


Free Guide For Overcoming Pregnancy Nausea found here

Therapeutic grade essential oils I use & recommend here


Hands up who loves using essential oils? Mine is right up there too.

From natural perfume, to DIY body care products, cleaning in the home and using as an aromatic anchor for either increasing energy, reducing stress or promoting a certain mood...my oils are by my side to navigate through low-tox my day . 

When it came to my pregnancy, I naturally wanted to continue to use these oils but also wanted to be confident in doing this in a safe way.  

Natural medicine is such a powerful tool to turn to when supporting the body back to balance, to overcome symptoms and conditions and to promote wellbeing. With all the changes that are occurring within a pregnant woman, this is a time where natural medicine, including essential oils can be healing for both Mum and baby.

Evidence shows that the hormonal cortisol cascade experienced by a stressed mother during pregnancy can negatively influence a developing foetus. Adopting changes to your lifestyle that help you to de-stress, are therefore therapeutic during pregnancy. One of the ways you choose to de-stress may be through turning on your essential oil diffuser for a few hours per day. 

Like with all natural medicine, when using essential oils during pregnancy, caution needs to be exercised. It's likely you've been told to stop using all essential oils... just in case. However, we also need to keep things into perspective and the beneficial effect they are having on the Mum-to-be. For example, if you as a pregnant Mumma sleep better diffusing lavender, or gain relief in your headaches by rolling on peppermint, then this surely is a safer option than reaching for medications which do have side effects and place strain on your liver.

Somethings seem a little backwards at times... if we don't question pregnant women filling up their cars with fuel or applying hormone disrupting synthetic fragrance chemicals onto their bodies... why would diffusing essential oils be dangerous?! 

So let's sort through what we do know about using essential oils during pregnancy according to the experts in the field of aromatherapy. 

Here is a note-worthy quote from the text, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals...

There is no available evidence that any natural essential oil has ever provoked mutagenicity or teratogenicity in an embryo or developing fetus. No tests have ever been carried out because the possibility of fragrant materials causing either genetic mutation or malformation is regarded as unlikely. 1

and to add to that...

"... there are no records of abnormal fetuses or aborted fetuses due to the ‘normal’ use of essential oils, either by inhalation or topical application.”  Dr Jane Buckle who authored Clinical Aromatherapy explains.2

and in the words of essential oil researcher Dr Eric Zealinski...

"The reality is that, contrary to popular opinion, dangers linked with the use of certain essential oils for pregnant and nursing mamas is not conclusively supported by the scientific literature....

There is no conclusive scientific evidence that supports the idea that essential oils are harmful to unborn babies. Women have used essential oils for pregnancy with no adverse effects to babies for centuries." 

So when it comes to using essential oils for pregnancy, what do we need to consider?

1. Quality Matters 

Not all essential oils are created equally. It is extremely important to use an essential oil which has undergone strict testing procedures and is a high-quality, pure plant extract. The company should have complete transparency with each batch of their oils’ chemical structure and their testing procedures should be third party tested for traces of solvents, pesticides, synthetics, heavy metals, fillers or any other chemical residues.

I use and recommend oils which meet these purity standards and are sourced from where they are indigenously grown (or where the highest quality plant for the oil can be found). Higher purity and quality means increased therapeutic value. You can learn more about the brand I recommend, across in the show notes.

2. Safety

There is limited research with toxicity and essential oil use during pregnancy, so it is good practise to be conservative and use those which are listed as safe and stay away from those which are clear no-go's for pregnancy.

According to essential oil researcher, Dr Eric Zealinski, the essential oils that are NOT recommended during pregnancy & breastfeeding are:

  • Birch (Betula Lenta)
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum Camphora)
  • Mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris)
  • Oak
  • Moss
  • Parsley seed or leaf (Petroselinum Sativum)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum Vulgare)
  • Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus)
  • Thuja (Thuja Occidentalis)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

The National Association For Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) also state these essential oils are not safe during pregnancy:

  • Camphor (Cinnamomum Camphora)
  • Hyssop
  • Lavendula Stoechas (different to Lavendula Angustifola)
  • Moss
  • Oak
  • Parsley seed (Petroselinum Sativum)
  • Rue
  • Sage
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) 

NAHA recommend the following essential oils as SAFE during pregnancy:

  • Cardamon
  • Chamomile (German and Roman)
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium 
  • Ginger
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Petigrain
  • Rosewood
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood

Essential oil expert, Dr Josh Axe additionally recommends these essential oils as SAFE for use during pregnancy:

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium (after 1st tri)
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lemon 
  • Orange
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang Ylang

Note: when you are using citrus oils topically, avoid sun exposure within 12 hours of applying to your skin, to avoid sun sensitivity. Either apply them at night or apply to areas underneath clothing eg. your upper abdomen

As you can see/hear, there are some additional oils that some recommend or not. Use this as a guide at at the end of the day and go with what you feel most comfortable using. 

 

How To Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Diffuse

  • Diffuse in a well-ventilated room, 6-7 drops per 4 hours. 

DIY Inhaler

  • Make a DIY inhaler with drops of essential oil on an organic cotton wall ball and add into an aromatherapy inhaler or peg cotton to your car air vent.

Soak

  • Add essential oils in Epsom salts or Magnesium Chloride bath salts and add to a foot bath or full bath to soak in.

Topically:

  • Use essential oils topically mixed with a carrier oil. This allows a safer absorption of the oil into your bloodstream which is a slower, sustained release. A carrier oil could include coconut oil, fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, emu oil, avocado oil, argon oil or jojoba oil.
  • The safe dilution during pregnancy is 1 drop of essential oil, per 10ml carrier oil

 When To Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy?

Here I wanted to share some ways which I personally benefited from essential oils throughout my pregnancy journey. 
 
Sore & Tender Breasts: 
  • Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Roman Chamomile, massaged into breasts. 
Pregnancy Nausea
  • You can find the ways I use essential oils for overcoming pregnancy nausea in my free guide here
Constipation:
  • Lemon, Ginger and/or Orange, massaged into abdomen in clockwise direction.

Oedema/ Swelling:

  • Grapefruit, massed into legs and feet. 

Low Moods:

  • Orange, Bergamot, Lemon, Ylang Ylang and/or Frankincense: Diffuse and/or massage, into the neck, wrists, gently into the soles of the feet.

Energy Support:

  • Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, Grapefruit: Massage, diluted into hands and inhale. Or massage, diluted into back of neck, shoulders or back.

Headaches:

  • Lavender & Peppermint: add any combo (6-7 drops in total) into diffuser, or roll on (diluted) to your temples and back of neck.

Muscle/ Leg Cramps:

  • Soak feet in warm foot bath with 1 cup epsom salts, 1 drop Peppermint, Lavender & Roman Chamomile or massage Peppermint, Lavender & Roman Chamomile, into legs after a nightly shower.

Blocked Nose:

  • Inhale Peppermint or Lemon straight from the bottle.

Back Ache:

  • Lavender, Frankincense and/ or Orange: Massage onto back. 

Sleep:

  • Vetiver, Lavender, Frankincense, Roman Chamomile: Diffuse &/or massage, onto affected area daily.

Pregnancy Itch (Pruritus Gravidarum):

This severe itching condition occurs in the late stages of pregnancy and affects around 1% of expecting Mumma’s. If this becomes an issue for you, be comforted that peppermint essential oil can provide some relief.

A 2012 Iranian triple-blind clinical trial of 96 women in 2nd and 3rd trimesters, showed significant relief in those women using a 0.5% Peppermint Oil dilution (1 drop per 10mls sesame oil), twice daily for two weeks. 2

Essential Oils For Birth & Beyond

For general essential oil use and understanding the chemistry that makes them work, take a read of Dr Eric Zealinkski's 'Healing Power Of Essential Oils' book.

I also share ways of using essential oils for birth, post birth healing and for your breastfeeding journey, in my online program Path To Glowing Mumma. You can join the wait list here. Guidance around using essential oils for babies and children can be found in my baby book, Thriving Bubba

Reach For Oils Throughout Your Pregnancy

If you're open to natural medicine and would like to reach for essential oils as part of your pregnancy wellness kit, be comforted to know they have been used for centuries throughout around the world.

For safe use, ensure you are diffusing in a well ventilated room and you are diluting appropriately for topical use. Stay with using the oils that are recommended as safe and double check your essential oil blends for any of the oils that are not recommended- if unsure, leave it out. 

Be inspired by the multiple ways of using oils throughout your pregnancy and seek further guidance within my upcoming pregnancy and fourth trimester online program

 

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