Essential Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy
Aromatherapy and using essential oils can be beneficial during pregnancy. They help in relieving nausea, soothing muscle aches, treating hemorrhoids and improving sleep. However, essential oils should be used responsibly to avert any potential adverse effects. There are some that are considered potentially dangerous and these are the essential oils to avoid during pregnancy.
First, it is important to understand that essential oils are extremely concentrated and must be diluted before use. During pregnancy, it is safe to use lower percentage dilutions which is approximately 10 drops of essential oil to 2 tablespoons of vegetable /base oil for body oils.
There are some essential oils that should be avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy but can be used in the last two trimesters and especially during labour. The essential oils to be avoided include:
- Basil: it contains high amounts of estragole. Estragole is a compound that can cause uterine contractions so you should definitely avoid it. Basil is also thought to contribute to abnormal cell development.
- Cinnamon: it has the emmenagogue effects meaning that it can stimulate menstruation or even cause miscarriage.
- Clary sage: It is used in the very last stage of pregnancy and labour to strengthen contractions therefore you should stay well clear, in order to avoid initiating contractions too early in pregnancy.
- Clove: this oil can slow the clotting of blood which means that it could cause a lot of bleeding when giving birth especially if you are taking other blood medications
- Fennel: fennel also contains estragole and can also stimulate menstrual flow
- Jasmine: it can trigger contractions
- Juniper: it can affect the kidneys
- Lemongrass: it contains two compounds, citral and myrcene which have been associated with birth defects
- Laurel: it is known to stimulate contractions
- Myrrh: it can trigger contractions
- Peppermint: this oil can bring on menstruation and even skin irritation
- Rosemary: is thought to increase blood pressure, and may boost menstrual flow and can even cause a miscarriage.
- Thyme: thyme has the potential to stimulate menstrual flow.
The list of essential oils to avoid is not based on research studies since it is unethical to conduct trials on pregnant women.
If you have any of these conditions, it is better to steer clear of essential oils altogether:
- A history of miscarriage
- Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
- Heart problems
- Blood clotting problems
- Thyroid, liver or kidney disease
There other plenty of useful essential oils that you can use during pregnancy from the second trimester and if your pregnancy is going well like lavender, geranium, citrus oils, such as tangerine and neroli, chamomile, frankincense, ylang ylang, eucalyptus, bergamot, tea tree oil (not in labour). Using a pillow mist is particularly beneficial and a safer way to use aromatherapy during pregnancy as the aromas are just inhaled rather than applied topically. During my pregnancies (first one is pictured above. No, I didnt just hang out in lavender fields, promise!), I regularly used our Sleepy Head pillow mist to relax my mind and body, especially to help with the anxiety feelings of becoming a new mum, but I had to refrain from some of the production side of the business as needed to stay safe for myself and baby. When batches of our Coffee + Mint scrub were being made, I had to be as far away as possible. The peppermint aroma, which I usually adore made me feel sick to the stomach! Maybe an indication to stay away during pregnancy!
Avoid any of the harmful oils to protect your health and that of your baby and do your research! It always better to be safe than sorry.
Find out more about complementary therapies in pregnancy, Read: Evening Primrose Oils