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Essential Oils and Pregnancy: Suggestions and Precautions

If you want to combine essential oils and pregnancy, take extra care to use only oils safe for both you and the baby. If you have a medical condition, complications, or other doubts about using essential oils for pregnancy, consult a healthcare professional. Also, make sure you use only the highest quality products.

Let's start with information from Allison England's book Aromatherapy and Massage for Mother and Baby. She is a nurse and aromatherapist who operated an aromatherapy clinic for mothers and babies in the UK.

Rather than looking at essential oils to avoid, let's look at how you can safely use aromatherapy in pregnancy. For any use, Allison recommends a one percent (1%) dilution:

  • To 3.5 ounces (100 ml or 7 tablespoons) of carrier oil, add 25 drops essential oil.
  • To 1/3 ounce (10 ml or 2 teaspoons) carrier oil, add 2 drops essential oil.

Bergamot: Mix with water in a spray bottle and use as an air freshener.

Cypress: Use after the fifth month for problems associated with sluggish circulation, such as fluid retention, cramps, and varicose veins.

Eucalyptus globulus: Use to help clear mucous and congestion.

Roman chamomile: Use for relaxation with pregnancy massage, skin care, baths, or diffusion.

Lavender: Use for relaxation or to help relieve headaches with massage, skin care, baths, or diffusion. Some sources have suggested that lavender isn't safe to use during pregnancy. However, Robert Tisserand, considered one of the top authorities on essential oils in the world, wrote a detailed blog post exploring myths and misinformation about lavender and pregnancy and looking at available research and scientific information. He concludes that all indications point to lavender as completely safe to use when you're pregnant.

Other essential oils safe for pregnancy, according to Allison, include lemon, mandarin, neroli, petitgrain, sandalwood, tea tree, and ylang-ylang. See her book for aromatherapy blends for specific pregnancy discomforts.

Essential Oils for Morning Sickness

To help relieve morning sickness, she suggests inhaling lemon but notes it doesn't work for everyone. Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art suggests inhaling spearmint.

In The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood also recommends spearmint for morning sickness. You can add 4 to 6 drops to a bowl of boiling water and place the bowl on the floor by your bed at night, lessening the risk you'll feel sick in the morning after using this method for at least three consecutive nights.

An essential oil blend you can also use for the bowl method:

  • 4 drops spearmint
  • 2 drops ginger
  • 2 drops lavender
  • 1 drop cardamon (leave out if you don't like this scent)

Alternatively, put 1 drop of the blend on a tissue and place it under your pillow.

For portable relief, add a few drops of the blend to an aromatherapy inhaler.

Preventing Stretch Marks

To help prevent stretch marks, Allison suggests massaging a few drops of this blend daily onto your hips, stomach,  thighs, and breasts throughout pregnancy and afterward until you return to your usual weight:

  • 4 tablespoons (80 ml) almond oil
  • 1 tablespoon (20 ml) avocado oil
  • 7 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops of either mandarin or tangerine essential oil

Valerie Ann Worwood recommends daily use of a carrier oil blend:

  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons jojoba oil
  • 1 teaspoon evening primrose oil
  • 1 teaspoon rosehip seed oil
  • 5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces) sweet almond oil

Then, about once a week use this blend:

  • 2 drops geranium essential oil
  • 2 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 4 drops mandarin essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons of the carrier oil blend

Pregnancy Massage Blends

Blend #1:

  • 5 drops roman chamomile essential oil
  • 2 drops rose essential oil
  • 2 drops neroli essential oil
  • 1-3/4 ounces (3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) hazelnut oil

Source: Complete Aromatherapy Handbook: Essential Oils for Radiant Health

Blend #2:

  • 1/2 cup carrier oil
  • 4 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 4 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 4 drops black pepper essential oil
  • 4-ounce PET plastic bottle

Adapted from Plant Therapy

Essential Oils for Labor

According to Allison, essential oils safe to use during labor include:

  • Rose: Make a massage oil using rose and lavender for gentle massage during labor.
  • Neroli helps with breathing: Place 1 or 2 drops on a tissue to inhale, make a room spray, or use in a diffuser.
  • Lavender is calming. In addition to using in a massage oil with rose, you can diffuse lavender in the room.
  • Geranium helps balance emotions. Use in a room spray or diffuser.
  • Ylang ylang helps relieve fear and depression. Use in a room spray or diffuser.

She also offers specific recommendations for the different stages of labor. Of course, consult a professional healthcare provider if you have any complications or medical conditions.

Essential Oils Not Safe for Pregnancy

Although this list may not be complete, aromatherapy experts generally recommend you avoid the following essential oils during pregnancy:

  • Wintergreen
  • Thyme
  • Tarragon
  • Savory
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Parsley
  • Myrrh
  • Melissa
  • Marjoram
  • Juniper
  • Jasmine
  • Hyssop
  • Fennel
  • Clove
  • Clary Sage
  • Cinnamon
  • Cedarwood
  • Camphor
  • Basil
  • Anise (Aniseed)
  • Angelica

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