Posted by Alan Bloom

Essential oils can provide a great pick-me-up during pregnancy, however you do need to be careful about the oils you choose, and their application. Here are some tips to safely enjoy aromatherapy throughout your pregnancy.

The benefits of essential oils

Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years. For many expectant mothers, it’s a natural and effective way to enhance mood, encourage relaxation, or even increase energy and vitality. It can also help you to better deal with the effects of pregnancy discomforts like nausea, or aching feet.

The thing to keep in mind is that these powerful plant extracts can have a considerable impact on the body. There are hundreds of different oils to choose from, each with their own benefits and potency, and there are some that are better to use during pregnancy than others, so it’s important to select your oil carefully and clear it with your practitioner. Used correctly, the right oil can assist in providing relief for many of those pregnancy aches and pains. And the best part? It’s all natural!

How to use oils during pregnancy

If you’re just thinking of adding a couple of drops of oil to the bath, a foot soak, or a vaporiser, this use of essential oils is considered to be very safe, plus it’s a terrific way to unwind and relax. The US National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) states that inhalation presents a very low risk since the concentration of oil is minimal.

However, when it comes to applying essential oils directly to your skin, the jury’s still out. With no conclusive research, experts remain unclear on the effect of some oils during pregnancy.

The main concern is whether oil constituents might cross over into the placenta, particularly during that all-important first trimester, and what effect that might have on the developing baby. So talk to your doctor or midwife before using any type of essential oil directly on your skin, and if you get the go-ahead, always start with just a drop at a time in a base oil.

Oils that are generally safe to use

According to the NAHA, the following essential oils are considered to be safe for use during pregnancy:

  • Cardamon
  • German and Roman chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Petitgrain
  • Rosewood
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood

Oils to avoid

The NAHA recommends avoiding the following oils throughout pregnancy, labour and while breastfeeding:

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

Experts also recommend avoiding nutmeg, rosemary, jasmine and clary sage, juniper berry, laurel, angelica, thyme, cumin, aniseed, citronella and cinnamon leaf.

A word of caution

Make sure you consult your doctor or midwife before trying essential oils. Aromatherapy can be a wonderful way to relieve some of the discomforts of pregnancy, however it is suggested that those with the following conditions steer clear of essential oils entirely:

  • Vaginal bleeding or any complications during pregnancy
  • History of miscarriage
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Blood clotting problems

Top tips for using essential oils 

If you’d like to give aromatherapy a go during your pregnancy, here are a few tips: 

  • Wait until the second trimester.
  • Use only high quality oils.
  • Dilute your oils. If applying to your skin or using in the bath, just use one drop at a time and mix it with a base oil such as grapeseed or sweet almond oil.
  • Try not to leave a vaporiser on for too long. 10-15 minutes will give you all the benefits, without becoming overpowering.
  • Choose your essential oils with care and avoid using anything you haven’t tried before.
  • Don’t use oils internally, and be sure to keep them away from your eyes.
  • Use oils conservatively. It’s best to keep them as a special treat to use now and then as opposed to a daily indulgence. 

 

Take care of yourself through every stage of your pregnancy with our full range of maternity items. You can also shop by trimester and find the perfect maternity bra and support products

For tips and information on a range of pregnancy issues, have a browse through our library of blog articles.

Sources:
bellybelly.com.au - Essential Oils In Pregnancy – Which Essential Oils Are Safe To Use?
Babycentre - Is it safe to use essential oils while I'm pregnant?
National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy - Exploring Aromatherapy - Safety Information