Being pregnant seems like an entire 10 months of Do’s and Don’ts. Don’t eat this; do take this vitamin; don’t sleep this way; do this exercise. Aside from trying to grow an entirely separate life, becoming a new mom is stressful, courtesy of the ever-growing list of tips, suggestions, guidelines and rules that everyone– and their mother — likes to impart.
These days, pregnant women can add “essential oils” to that list. These products have been gaining popularity for a while, thanks in part to their fragrant odor and organic nature, but also the potential healing benefits – both mentally and physically. It is not hard to find positive press on aromatherapy, and every woman seems to know an essential oils representative or salesperson who can more than expound on the healing benefits of peppermint and tea tree oil. Yet when it comes to pregnancy, moms-to-be are still asking the questions “is it safe?” and “can I use oils for pregnancy?” So sit back, relax and read on as we share some helpful tips on these trend-setting products and discuss safe oils for pregnancy.
What are Essential Oils? Before deciding on use or safety, it is always good to understand what you’re talking about – in other words, what is an essential oil? Basically, these are natural oils, derived or distilled from plants. The oil possesses the “essence” of the flower or plant’s scent from which it comes, hence its name as an “essential oil.”
How to use Essential Oils? Thanks to their incredible fragrances, essential oils are used in massage and aromatherapy – a practice in which the oils are used for their healing properties (also known as “plant medicine). Typically, essential oils are applied topically or inhaled, and in more rare instances, ingested. These products continue to increase in popularity as today’s consumer is much more focused on natural and organic products – and there’s nothing more natural than a plant-based derivative. However, because the oils are so strong, you still need to be knowledgeable when using them.
Are Essential Oils Safe during Pregnancy? During pregnancy, some medications may be off limits, a reason why a mom-to-be may look towards alternative options such as aromatherapy and essential oils. The good news is that there are certain oils for pregnancy that are considered safe. However, it is important to note that these are recommended during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, not in the first 3 months. Why? The first trimester is a critical time when your baby’s vital organs are developing. Essential oils are very strong and can sometimes cause an adverse reaction, such as allergic sensitization or irritancy which can result in a rash or other complications – something you don’t want to risk in your first trimester. However, several essential oils are considered good to use once you have passed the first three months. These include Roman chamomile, eucalyptus, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, rose otto, rosewood, sandalwood, sweet orange and tea tree.
Just as there are certain oils for pregnancy, there are some that you want to avoid completely, simply because they may cause contractions. These oils include cinnamon, clove, rosemary, and clary sage.
In general, it’s always good idea to check with your healthcare provider who can recommend the best oils for your specific condition, be it nausea, muscle pain, insomnia or more.
One last thing to remember – all too often, we assume that if it’s “natural,” it must be good. However, essential oils have a very high concentration of the plant from which they come, which is why allergic reactions and other issues could arise. So, be a smart shopper. Read your labels and check the concentration of the oil you’re purchasing. Often, you want to mix or dilute it with a few drops of mineral oil or a petrolatum ointment. (Are Essential Oils Safe?).
So there you have it – a quick and easy “Essential Oils and Pregnancy 101” so you can decide the right options for you and your baby.
- “Alternative Therapies to Avoid During Pregnancy.” WebMD.com. https://www.webmd.com/baby/alternative-therapies-to-avoid-during-pregnancy
- Coles, Terri. “Benefits of Essential Oils: 10 Natural Ways to Heal Yourself.” The Huffington Post Canada. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/07/02/benefits-of-essential-oils_n_5536808.html
- “Exploring Aromatherapy.” National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. https://naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/safety
- Shatzman, Celia. “What You Need to Know about Essential Oils for Pregnancy.” Thebump.com. https://www.thebump.com/a/essential-oils-for-pregnancy-basics