Essential oils: Are they safe to use in pregnancy?
While pregnant, essential oils can help relieve symptoms such as nausea, aches and pains and insomnia. However, it's important to know why to use them safely.
It has not been possible to design safe clinical experiments on how essential oils can affect the human foetus, therefore there is very little data available. Any data that is available is generally from tests on pregnant lab rats. It is fairly certain that some essential oil components, for example, camphor, can cross the placenta and reach the foetus, therefore essential oils containing camphor should never be used while pregnant. All known toxic, possibly carcinogenic and oestrogenic oils should also be avoided. If you want to do more research on oils that you should not use, you can find information here.
Let's discuss the essential oils that you CAN use:
Which essential oils are safe to use in pregnancy?
The following oils are generally considered safe and are commonly used during pregnancy:
When can you use essential oils in pregnancy?
It’s best to avoid using essential oils in the first trimester as the developing child is particularly sensitive during this time. This is not to say that essential oils used during the first trimester are definitely harmful, rather it is a safety precaution due to lack of research and data.
During the second and third trimester you may enjoy using pregnancy-safe essential oils.
How to use essential oils during pregnancy
Whether you are pregnant or not, please remember that essential oils should NEVER be ingested or applied neat to the skin.
Massage: Dilute a maximum of 1% essential oils in a carrier oil such as Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel or Grapeseed and massage into your skin.
Diffuser: Add a couple of drops to an aromatherapy diffuser – this is a really safe way to enjoy essential oils while pregnant.
Dry inhalation: Add a few drops of the selected oil to a clean dry piece of cotton and inhale the vapour. Take care to not let the cotton come into direct contact with your skin.
Hot compress: Fill a small bowl with hot water and add a few drops of your chosen essential oils. Take a folded cotton cloth and dip it in the water. Squeeze out the water and apply the cloth to the affected area. When the cloth has cooled down, repeat the process.
Which essential oils help nausea in pregnancy?
Peppermint and Ginger are great choices.
How to use: dry inhalation.
Which essential oils can I use to ease aches and pains?
Lavender, Roman and German Chamomiles, Black Pepper and Ginger are great choices.
How to use: massage or hot compress.
Which essential oils can help me relax and sleep better?
Choose from Lavender, Frankincense, Neroli, Rose, Clary Sage, Roman and German Chamomiles, Geranium, Petitgrain and Patchouli.
How to use: massage or diffuser.
Which essential oils are good for my skin during pregnancy?
Pregnancy can cause skin changes such as making your skin either drier or oilier. Lavender and Frankincense are great for dry skin and Geranium is great for balancing oily skin. Our award-winning Face Oil contains a blend of these three essential oils and has a very relaxing scent. Neroli is great for stretch marks and can be found in our Body Crème. You could also make your own blend of 1% Neroli and a carrier oil and massage into your skin to help prevent stretch marks.
It's important to keep the skin on your belly soft and supple while it is stretching. We have formulated our award-winning Mama Bare Belly Oil without essential oils as we wanted it to be enjoyed by women throughout all three trimesters. A blend of organic botanical oils and extracts of Rosehip and Amaranth, it hydrates and moisturises the skin, helping to increase skin elasticity and minimising the formation of stretch marks. The botanical extracts soothe and relieve itching caused by skin stretching.
References: Essential oil safety (Robert Tisserand andTony Balacs), Aromatherapy Scotland, ifparoma.org
The author is a qualified clinical aromatherapist.