Show Notes

Essential oils and aromatherapy can be a wonderful addition to your pregnancy journey. They can aid in easing morning sickness, relieving muscular aches and pains, and relieving stress and feelings of anxiousness. Aromatherapy during pregnancy can however be a controversial topic as it is topic that not many fully understand.  It has been stated that ‘the use of essential oils in pregnancy is a contentious subject, especially during the vital first 3-month period.’ Whilst there is some controversy there are some simple ways that you can incorporate essential oils during this miraculous time in your life.

There are limited clinical studies addressing the safety of essential oils during pregnancy due to ethical concerns and issues of testing expecting mothers and their unborn children. Therefore, we need to rely upon what we do know about essential oils, general safety rules and toxicity data. Ask twenty aromatherapists, and you’ll most likely get twenty different responses, not because they don’t know what to use, but because there is a huge element of personal and professional risk when it comes to advising about oils during pregnancy. I believe that oil choice, toxicity, quality and therapeutic actions all need to be taken into account; however, one needs to first look at HOW the oils are being used.  This makes a huge difference.

Ingestion poses a higher risk than inhalation or absorption through the skin. Ingestion of essential oils is ill advised at the best of times and even moreso during pregnancy. We advise that if you are ingesting essential oils for whatever reason, please discuss it with your primary healthcare practitioner and qualified aromatherapy practitioner. The reason ingestion of oils during pregnancy poses a higher risk is because the oils may carry across into the placenta, we just do not know in what amounts, and we do not know the effects that they can have on the developing unborn child.

Battaglia shares this insight: ‘The judicious 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’. You might like to use Rose, Geranium, Lavender or Jasmine to help comfort and nurture yourself during this time.

A quick search of the internet about oils safe to use in pregnancy will only provide more confusion, as each list seems to vary. This is, in part, due to early data provided on essential oils and their safety related to the herb or plant and its safety. This data was then extrapolated out and assumed the same responses with essential oils. However, as Tisserand (2011) points out “proving safety in pregnancy is always a challenge”.  Most people point out that it is best to err on the side of caution and not use, but this could mean we miss out on some wonderful support during the pregnancy.

Guidelines for Use

If you have had difficulties falling pregnant, have a history of complicated pregnancies or miscarriages, or trying to fall pregnant using IVF treatment, avoid using essential oils during the first trimester unless you are under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

Dilute essential oils to 1% in a massage blend. Low dilutions are recommended because the expectant mother may experience a heightened sense of smell and find a stronger blend too overwhelming.  Secondly, there is good evidence to suggest that essential oil molecules can cross the placenta and some essential oils in large concentrations may not be healthy for the baby. Conrad (2019) suggests that during pregnancy they dilution should be between 0.5% and 1%, which is 1 to 2 drops per 10mls of carrier oil.

Our sense of smell increases during pregnancy, so take time to really smell your oils before you use them. You may find one day you’ll completely love the smell of an oil, and completely dislike it the next.

Usage Suggestions

1st Trimester

A drop of Ginger or Mandarin or Peppermint on a tissue can help ease nausea.  To help with your emotions, you could diffuse a drop of Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Mandarin (adhering to diffusion guidelines).

2nd Trimester

A drop or two of Sweet Orange, Lemon or Bergamot in your diffuser can help ease any tension, both physically and or emotionally.

A lovely pregnancy relaxation massage with a drop of Lavender, Neroli or German Chamomile would help bring a sense of peace and calm. Check for any allergies prior to using.

You may notice changes in your skin, try using a lovely hydrating Rose oil mist. You could use it as a toner in your skin care regime, or as part of your daily skin care ritual.

3rd Trimester

You might find your body has more aches and pains than before as you carry this baby weight. Use a compress with a drop of Frankincense to help ease the discomfort.

Sleep can be challenging during this time, so try diffusing a drop of Lavender in your bedroom for 30 minutes prior to going to sleep. Or put a drop of Mandarin and Lavender on a tissue on your bedside table. You’ll be able to smell it during the night to help relax you throughout the night. If you wake, pick it up, take a big deep breath then go back to sleep.

What oils are safe to use during pregnancy?

When diluted correctly, the following essential oils appear to be safe for use during pregnancy:

  • Bergamot,
  • Black Pepper,
  • Chamomile (German & Roman),
  • Clary Sage,
  • Cypress,
  • Eucalyptus,
  • Frankincense,
  • Geranium,
  • Ginger,
  • Grapefruit,
  • Juniper,
  • Lavender,
  • Lemon,
  • Mandarin,
  • Marjoram (Sweet),
  • Neroli,
  • Petitgrain,
  • Rose,
  • Sandalwood,
  • Orange (Sweet),
  • Tea Tree,
  • Ylang Ylang.

What oils should we avoid during pregnancy?

  • Aniseed
  • Basil ct. estragole
  • Birch
  • Camphor
  • Fennel
  • Hyssop
  • Mugwort
  • Parsley seed or leaf
  • Pennyroyal
  • Sage
  • Tansy
  • Tarragon
  • Thuja
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormwood

A word of advice

Before adding essential oils into your pregnancy wellbeing plan, please discuss your needs with a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. You can find one through IAAMA

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