Essential oils are highly concentrated substances extracted from plants. They have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. Because of their antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral and calming properties, essential oils are once again gaining popularity as a natural, safe and cost-effective therapy for a number of health concerns.
People have found a relief for something as small as dry skin issues, to treating sunburns and psoriasis with essential oils. Now, you might wonder why something so natural and nourishing, might not be so safe to use – at least not every time for everyone – in this case, for women during pregnancy.
The answer lies in the procedure and what it takes for certain oils to be made. For instance, you know that peppermint oil is an excellent remedy for nausea, headaches and digestive troubles, and that’s few leaves of it, but did you know that it take 256 pounds of peppermint leaves to make one pound of peppermint essential oil? Furthermore, 150 pounds or more of lavender flowers to make one pound of lavender essential oil and even thousands of pounds of roses to make 1 pound of rose essential oil. Now do you see how their potency multiplies by hundreds of times and why a single drop of the wrong one can harm your health?
Having this in mind, let’s see the ways essential oils affect your body overall and along the text you will find those which are completely safe to use during pregnancy.
Essential oils greatly affect hormones, so in people with hormonal issues or while pregnant, using the wrong ones can create pure havoc. By ingesting them, they affect gut bacteria as well which can be a positive but also a negative side, depending on your current state.
As an example, peppermint essential oil may decrease milk supply while nursing, thus should be avoided orally, topically or even as an aroma therapy. Furthermore, essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus and wintergreen should not be used around young children or babies at all. This is due to the fact that these herbs contain menthol and 1,8-cineole. These compounds can slow breathing (or even stop it completely) in very young children or those with respiratory problems. So besides not using them internally or undiluted, these particular oils warrant caution even for aromatic use.
Evidence shows that these potent oils are crossing the body of the pregnant woman and are entering the placenta, getting to the baby very easily. Since the baby isn’t fully developed yet, it has no filters like a fully developed liver or kidneys to filter out and expel these substances, which is why extreme care should be taken and research done first.
Essential Oils to Avoid when Pregnant
Speaking of research, scientists have studied the effects of essential oils in pregnant women and concluded that these should not be used while pregnant or nursing:
- Black pepper
- Clary Sage (often used during labor by midwives safely)
Essential Oils that Are Safe for Pregnancy
Additionally, essential oils which are safe to use during pregnancy and nursing as well as on the baby’s skin are:
However, I’d still advise caution and definitely not giving any of the oils internally to children. Also, when using topically or as an aroma therapy, they should be diluted even more than they are for adult application. Note that extra care should be taken with any essential oils considered “hot” as they may cause damage to the skin.
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Hey, before you go, share your experience with us (or questions) regarding using essential oils during pregnancy. All tips & tricks are welcome.
To Your Well-being,