by Stephanie Chambers and Dr Christoph Streicher
Essential oils can play an important role in pregnancy, but care has to be taken in their use as some essential oils are not recommended during pregnancy. Essential oils can help reduce stress and anxiety and other discomforts. As stress is the primary cause of premature births, this is a critical issue.
Just as a pregnant woman's tastes for certain foods sometimes changes, so does her sensitivity to various smells. So, if you are pregnant, if you decide to use one of the essential oils that are safe for use during pregnancy, start by smelling a few drops on a tissue or by diffusing it in a large open area to test if you have any aversion to it.
Using essential oils for pregnancy issues
In The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia, he explains how specific essential oils can be used for common pregnancy issues such as backache, constipation, fatigue and insomnia, flatulence, haemorrhoids, heartburn, leg cramps, miscarriage, morning sickness, oedema, skin problems, stretch marks, varicose veins and also for birth preparation, labor and post-natal care and post-natal depression. For example, for morning sickness he recommends Ginger, Lavender or Spearmint used as an inhalation (or on a tissue) or a compress over the stomach. However, we think Peppermint would be a better alternative and we wouldn’t recommend Ginger in this case. For backache, he recommends a massage with diluted Spike Lavender, Cajuput and Lemon.
You may like to see our page about haemorrhoids. The primary recommendation is to use Cypress essential oil which is safe for use during pregnancy during the third trimester (after 5 months). As an alternative, you can also use Geranium with witch hazel water. It also helps to relieve varicose veins and to soothe swollen ankles.
Obviously in a short blog, I can’t go into detail about all of these issues. And I will be doing separate blogs about using essential oils for childbirth and post-natal care. So in this blog, I would just like to focus on the critical issue I mentioned earlier and that is stress. As in today’s modern world, many pregnant women have to continue working and juggling all the other demands of their lives, so it isn’t always easy to remain the glowing, healthy, happy expectant mother.
Normally to reduce stress, we would recommend our Stress-Free Roll-On Relief product. This contains the following essential oils: Rose Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Lavender Extra, Red Mandarine and Pink Grapefruit. As it turns out, all of these essential oils are safe during pregnancy. But it should be noted that citrus essential oils are fine during pregnancy as long as used in moderation.
Our Anxiety Free Roll-On Relief contains Ylang Ylang Extra, Myrrh and Bergamot which are also suitable during pregnancy. Although Myrrh is sometimes not regarded safe for pregnancy, the small quantities used in this product would not cause any issues.
During pregnancy if sleep is difficult, we would recommend our Deep Rest Roll-On Relief. It contains Red Mandarine, Lavender Extra, Sweet Marjoram and Mandarine Petitgrain which are all safe for use during pregnancy. An alternate solution would be to use Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Sweet Orange and/or Neroli in a bath, massage or diffuser before bed. Some people also find massaging diluted Vetiver essential oil on to their feet helps them sleep and it is safe to use during pregnancy.
Generally essential oils that are recommended during pregnancy are also safe to use when breastfeeding. You should always dilute essential oils when applying them to the skin. Unless otherwise specified, dilute them to 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) or 1% if you are going to be doing a whole body massage with them (5 drops per tablespoon). When using them in an aromatic bath, use a similar number of drops but mix them with a cup of milk or epsom salts before adding them to the full bath.
Essential oils and essential oil blends to avoid
It is important to always check the safety precautions of any essential oil before using it. However, there is some dispute about which essential oils are safe to use during pregnancy and which aren’t. There just isn’t much evidence to support either case. So some common sense is needed.
Some essential oils that most aromatherapists advise to avoid during pregnancy include Anise, Basil, Bay Laurel, Birch, Camphor (brown or yellow should be avoided but we only sell white camphor which is fine), Cassia, Cedar Atlas, Cedar Leaf (Thuja), Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Cypress (safe after the first 5 months), Fennel, Frankincense, Hyssop, Juniper Berry, Lemongrass, Morocco Blue Chamomile (Tansy), Mugwort, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Oregano, Parsley Seed, Pennyroyal, Pine (dwarf), Rose Otto (avoid during the first 3 months of pregnancy), Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme (Red Thymol or Borneol), Vitex, Wintergreen, Wormwood.
Although some essential oils companies recommend the use of Frankincense during pregnancy, we don’t because it stimulates blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus and may induce menstruation, which may be dangerous for an unborn fetus.
You should not use the following Amrita Aromatherapy blends during pregnancy:
• Woman’s Balance Roll-On Relief – as it contains Clary Sage
• Respiratory Health Power Blend – as it contains Elecampane
• Circulation and Lymph Glow Power Blend – as it contains Mugwort
• Ecstatic Body for Women – as it contains Clary Sage
• Body Regenerator Power Blend – as it contains Arnica
• Joint Ease Power Blend – as it contains Arnica.
Massage during pregnancy
A relaxing aromatherapy massage can help pregnant women to reduce their stress levels. However, pregnant women should avoid lying on their back during any massage session as the uterus can press upon the inferior vena cava and cause a drop in blood pressure.
On the legs, avoid deep massage such as deep-tissue massage, deep acupressure, shiatsu, cross-fiber friction, and percussive tapping and strong pressure as this could dislodge blood clots. All massage strokes on the legs should push blood towards the heart. Only very light pressure should be applied to the abdomen. A lot of therapist avoid massaging the abdomen at all.
As essential oils can help you to maintain good health and unlike pharmaceuticals they are free of side effects, when used judiciously they are obviously useful during pregnancy when the health of the fetus is reliant on the health of the mother. We would love to hear your experiences of using essential oils during pregnancy.
Disclaimer: The statements made in this blog have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.