No matter how calm and laid back a woman normally is, once that little blue line pops up on a pregnancy test, many women suddenly begin to worry about and over analyze every little decision they make, and rightfully so! We all know the common dangers to avoid – alcohol, excessive caffeine, tobacco products, etc., but what about essential oil usage? There are definitely some oils which can be very helpful during pregnancy, and others which absolutely must be avoided.
ESSENTIAL OILS WHICH MUST BE AVOIDED DURING PREGNANCY:
According to Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young’s “Essential Oil Safety”, there are approximately 50 essential oils which should never be used during pregnancy. Some of the more common oils which should not be used by any method (inhalation, ingestion, or topical) are:
Sage (Salvia officinalis, Salvia lavandulifolia)
Anise (star) (Illicum verum)
Birch (sweet) (Betula lenta)
Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)
Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia)
Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum)
Cypress (blue) (Callitris intratropica)
Fennel (Sweet) (Foeniculum vulgare)
Ho Leaf (camphor ct.) (Cinnamomum camphora ct. camphor)
Lemon Balm (Eucalyptus staigeriana)
Lemongrass (Litsea cubea)
Melissa (Melissa officinals)
Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Spanish Lavender (Lavendula stoechas)
Wintergreen (Gaultheria fragrantissima)
Very little research has been done on the subject of essential oil constituents crossing the placenta, so until further research has been done, it is best to assume that they will. Essential oils should very rarely be ingested at any time, and when they are, they should only be used via this delivery method for a very specific intent and under the direct supervision of a certified aromatherapist with training in this field; however, during pregnancy essential oils should never be ingested. Other internal methods should also be avoided during pregnancy (rectal and vaginal). Additionally, it is important to note that many large essential oils companies sell ready-made preparations for cleaning and other intentions that DO contains the above contraindicated essential oils, so be sure to always read ingredient lists.
ESSENTIAL OILS WHICH MAY SAFELY BE USED DURING PREGNANCY:
There are times when essential oil usage during pregnancy is appropriate and can be a wonderful, natural, organic and effective option. Headaches, morning sickness, insomnia, back and muscle pain, cold and flu, etc., can all be alleviated with the use of essential oil blends. Massage oil blends for use during pregnancy and during labor are also recommended. It is important to use essential oils at a low dilution ratio during pregnancy. A dilution ratio of 1% (5 to 6 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier) is appropriate for topical application. When diffusing essential oils, again, make sure that the dilution ratio is low (this will depend on type of diffuser being used – being with about 5 drops and increase or decrease as necessary). A good general rule is to diffuse for 15 to 20 minutes in a well ventilated area, turn diffuser off for 1 hour, and repeat this cycle.
Some oils which are considered safe and which I enjoy using when blending for my expectant mamas are:
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
Rose (Rosa x damascena)
Orange (sweet) (Citrus sinensis)
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Lemon (Citrus limon)
Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum)
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina)
Frankincense (Carterii) (Boswellia carterii)
Sandalwood (Santalum album)
These are just a few examples; there are many other essential oils which are also safe during pregnancy. I recommend always checking with a certified aromatherapist before using topically or through an inhalation delivery method. Usual care must be taken with oils which may be phototoxic, like many of the citrus oils. When in doubt as to which oils may or may not be used at this time, it is advisable to reference Tisserand & Young’s “Essential Oil Safety” if you do not have a certified aromatherapist.
Hopefully in the coming years we will see more research being done in an ethical way on this subject. Until then, erring on the side of caution is my recommendation.