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The question of whether or not it is safe to use essential oils while you are pregnant is the cause of much concern, discussion and often disagreement! Just what is safe to use? Can you use some? All? None? Can you use them sometimes but not others?

There are certainly some cautions to bear in mind if you want to use essential oils while you are pregnant. But at the same time, essential oils can also be of benefit and are a natural way to help deal with some of the issues of pregnancy.

It’s good to keep in mind that the problem is only partly about which essential oils you should or should not use and partly about how you use them.

Which Essential Oils?

Firstly there are some essential oils to avoid altogether – many of these are not widely available, so they are not hard to avoid, though there are some you may be more likely to come across. These oils include:

ajowan, aniseed, anise star, araucaria, artemisia vestita, atractylis, birch sweet, buchu, calamint, carrot seed, cassia, some types of cedarwood , cinnamon bark, costus, cypress blue, dill seed, bitter fennel, fennel sweet, feverfew, genipi, hibawood, ho leaf, hyssop, lanyana, lavender Spanish, mugwort, myrrh, myrtle aniseed, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pennyroyal, rue, sage common & Spanish, savin, tansy, thuja, wintergreen, wormseed, wormwood, yarrow, zedoary

In addition, there are some essential oils that may be OK to use in very limited amounts – only use these if you’ve consulted an accredited aromatherapist who can ensure you stay within safe limits. These oils are:

basil(lemon), boswellia papyrifera, champaca (orange)absolute, lemon balm Australian (eucalyptus staigeriana), lemon leaf, lemongrass, may chang, melissa, myrtle (honey), myrtle (lemon), tea tree (lemon scented), thyme (lemon), verbena (lemon)

Many of the more common essential oils will be safe to use in some way for most people, though please always check with an accredited aromatherapist. These include oils such as:

lemon, orange sweet, mandarin, lavender, geranium, spearmint, frankincense and sandalwood

How should I use the oils?

There are several ways to use essential oils that are generally safe during pregnancy:

Inhalation

Use any one of the oil burners, electric vaporisers and diffusers that are widely available, but limit the time you use it for and the amount of essential oil – 4-5 drops is usually sufficient. Or simply add a drop to a tissue or in an aroma inhaler.

Baths

Whether in a full bath or just a foot bath, essential oils should be mixed with a dispersant (carrier oil, cream or full cream milk or a specific essential oil dispersant) before adding them to the bath as essential oils on their own do not dissolve in water. Use a maximum of 4 drops of essential oil in a full bath or 2 drops in a hand or foot bath.

Body application

The skin is another avenue to utilise essential oils and use by massage or application is particularly wonderful for skin conditions associated with pregnancy. Remember to always dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil before applying to the skin – never use them neat. Use a maximum of 3 drops of essential oil for every 10ml (2 teaspoons) of carrier. As always, please refer to an accredited practitioner before using essential oils.

A Few Extra Precautions

  • Do not take essential oils internally (orally, rectally or vaginally).
  • Always ensure that you are using true essential oils rather than synthetic or fragrance oils.
  • Be aware that the sense of smell can change during pregnancy, often becoming more sensitive, so you may need to change the oils you use or use less.
  • Always let your health practitioner/s know about anything you are using or proposing to use.
  • If you have a personal or family history of miscarriage or you have been advised that your pregnancy is in any way fragile, please always seek advice from a professional aromatherapist before using essential oils.

Essential Oil Remedies

If you’ve had the all clear, here are some useful remedies for essential oils during pregnancy:

Nausea- put 2-3 drops of ginger or spearmint oil on a tissue and inhale. Or add several drops to an aroma inhaler. (TIP – keep by the bed to use first thing in the morning.).

Oedema (swelling of legs and/or feet) – put 4-6 drops of one of the following oils in a tablespoon of dispersant and add to a foot bath (sweet orange, geranium, grapefruit) and soak.

Indigestion- dilute 1 drop of spearmint essential oil in 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil and massage into the abdomen in clockwise direction.

(Please remember that this information is meant as general advice only. Please consult your health practitioner or a qualified aromatherapist for advice on your specific situation.)

ReferencesEssential Oil Safety 2nd Edition – Robert Tisserand, Rodney YoungThe Complete guide to Aromatherapy – Salvatore BattagliaA to Z of Aromatherapy – Daniele RymanAromatherapy for Women – Shirley Price

Main image source: Shutterstock

  • this is great info. thanks for sharing it. great tip about being sensitive to some smells as well

    Reply

  • Good article – thanks for sharing.


    • THank you – glad you enjoyed it. :)

    Reply

  • I must admit, I didn’t consider Essential Oils at all during my pregnancy. I was too busy feeling sick 24/7 and all smells made me want to vomit.


    • Oh that’s no good – but so common hence why it important to consider the more delicate sense of smell when you are pregnant.

    Reply

  • A worthwhile read, thank you very much.


    • You are very welcome – glad you enjoyed reading it. :)

    Reply

  • Informative article !


    • Thank you and thanks for reading.

    Reply

  • Post birth I hear that peppermint oil can affect milk supply.


    • Many of the same oils that can have an adverse effect during pregnancy are also contraindicated whilst breastfeeding as some of the essential oil will make its way into the breast milk. That is why we recommend consulting a professional aromatherapist who can assess and make recommendations based on your particular circomstances.

    Reply

  • Thanks for your information on oils,great article!


    • You are welcome and thanks for your feedback. :)

    Reply

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