Is the Use of Essential Oils by Pregnant Appropriate?
In this article you will find selected information from scientific publications, based on studies, on the effects of essential oils when used by pregnant women. It is necessary to keep in mind that the tests and analyses done so far are limited and not 100% supported by medicine.
Unfortunately, the number of doctors who turn to alternative treatments is not large. So caution, thorough individual research and mandatory consultation with a medical professional is necessary before using these natural products.
The first and most important thing is to carefully select a reputable essential oil manufacturer that provides high quality pure and natural products. If you need assistance, you can turn to our family. If the essential oils you are interested in are missing from our product range, we can recommend quality products from our colleagues.
Aromatherapy is the name of a unique branch of herbal medicine that uses the healing and therapeutic properties of the oils contained in various plants. It is an ideal way to deal with emotions, as according to researchers, aromatic molecules bind to the olfactory receptors in the nasal cavity. Electrical signals then stimulate the limbic system (the part of the brain that deals with emotions and memories) and thus can reduce anxiety and the perception of pain.
Essential oils therefore work on the physical and spiritual basis of symptoms to support the body, mind and soul. Exploring complementary and alternative medicine therapies such as aromatherapy is important as its application can bring significant benefits to the mother.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and extremely powerful. When taken topically and orally, they have the ability to penetrate cell membranes and diffuse throughout the body in a matter of minutes. During pregnancy, the expectant mother passes nutrients to the baby. Therefore, when the mother uses essential oils, some of the components may reach the unborn child.
This is not necessarily harmful to the baby, but for complete safety it is recommended to refrain from use during pregnancy. The safety guidelines are intended to encourage responsible use and to remind everyone that essential oils are powerful substances and should not be overused.
The pregnancy guidelines of the "International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists" (2013) state the following:
“Therapists must recognize that the human body is intelligent and that essential oils (which are found in everyday foods and beverages) are not foreign to human metabolism. The body knows how to break them down and use them to balance human physiology.”;
“Essential oils, by their very nature as organic substances, cross the placental barrier and have the potential to affect the fetus. However, the amount of essential oil that actually reaches the mother’s skin is very small (due to the volatility of essential oils). Therefore the amount that reaches the placenta is minute if appropriate dilutions are used.”
You should be aware that during the first trimester, topical and internal intake of essential oils of any kind is not recommended. There is no evidence of a ban on aromatherapy. With the help of appropriate essential oils and expert guidance, you may find that aromatherapy will help you feel much better.
In an in-group comparison, inhalation with essential oils containing Linalyl acetate and Linalool was found to be effective on moods and parasympathetic nervous activity.
Nausea and vomiting are very common in early pregnancy. This leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, anxiety, which should be minimized throughout the pregnancy. Vitamin B6 is often used to treat these symptoms, but in some women it is not enough. Medications are not recommended, so complementary therapies from traditional medicine are increasingly used. A satisfactory number of essential oils are safe to use in moderation during pregnancy and can help overcome some of the most unpleasant but common symptoms of pregnancy (Ellen Comiskey, MD).
A study was done on manipulating nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy with a mixture of lavender and peppermint essential oils. The conclusion was that they can minimize nausea, increase energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue.
According to Galper, in addition, the following essential oils are good for these symptoms: chamomile, ginger and cardamom.
It is advisable to avoid rose oil until the end of the third trimester.
Stress hormones are transmitted through the placenta and can cause neurological effects on the fetus. It is therefore very important to reduce stress to a minimum. Aromatherapy is effective, even when scent is provided for a short time, in improving temporary mood on the “tension-anxiety” and “anger-irritability” scales. Aromatherapy is a non-invasive and effective method to help women overcome their anxiety during childbirth. The scent of orange can be useful in maternity wards to help women who experience stress during labour.
Eight different essential oils were used in a study based on consultation with an aromatherapist:
rose (Rosa centifolia), Roman chamomile, eucalyptus, lemon, mandarin (C. reticulata), frankincense, lavender, and peppermint.
Of these, rose oil was rated highest by mothers for coping with childbirth (71%), followed by lavender (50%) and frankincense (44%). The researchers suggest that if aromatherapy during labor reduces the use of pain medications, it may lead to lower maternal care costs.
To lift mood – orange, lemon, patchouli, geranium, sandalwood.
For soothing muscle aches – lavender, ylang-ylang, ginger, chamomile, frankincense.
To improve sleep – lavender, tangerine, frankincense, ylang-ylang, Roman chamomile, neroli, rose, patchouli.
For swollen fingers and ankles, massages with the following oils are suitable: cypress, lavender, lemon, geranium, mandarin.
Stretch marks very often appear during pregnancy, as the body expands. Helping skin elasticity and regeneration is key to preventing them. The following essential oils have great skin regenerating abilities – rose, neroli, lavender, frankincense, mandarin, Roman chamomile, yarrow, juniper berry.
Allergies and Side Effects
Pregnancy can also lead to new allergies and sensitivities, so it is important to do a skin test before applying the oil, even if it was used without problems before pregnancy. In the bath, the pregnant woman should use no more than 4 drops of essential oil soaked in bath salts.
Photosensitivity is one of the side effects of citrus essential oils. Although citrus oils are among the safest to use during pregnancy, it is best to avoid strong sun exposure for a few hours after dermal application.
Some of the essential oils that should be avoided during pregnancy are:
Anise, basil, birch, camphor, salvia (S. officinalis/sclarea), hyssop, parsley leaves and seeds, rosemary, tarragon, thuja, thyme.
It is also important to note that certain oils should be avoided in general and not just by pregnant women:
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), marsh mint (Mentha pulegium), sassafras (S. albidum), cassia (Cinnamomum cassia), black mustard (Brassica nigra), white hyssop (Inula helenium).
Please note – The information on the “BULINNOVATION health from nature” blog and the material contained therein is not intended to and does not constitute medical or other health advice/diagnosis and should not be used as such! You should always consult a qualified MD or health professional regarding your specific circumstances!
The information provided is synthesized from the following sources:
Aromatherapy in Obstetrics: A Critical Review of the Literature – ANNA C. BERTONE, MPH, and REBECCA L. DEKKER, PhD, RN Evidence Based Birth, Lexington, Kentucky
Physical and Psychologic Effects of Aromatherapy Inhalation on Pregnant Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial – Toshiko Igarashi, PhD
The effect of aromatherapy by essential oil of orange on anxiety during labor: A randomized clinical trial – Fahimeh Rashidi-Fakari,1 Mahbubeh Tabatabaeichehr,1 and Hamed Mortazavi2
The Effect of Aromatherapy Inhalation on Nausea and Vomiting in Early Pregnancy: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial – Rania Mahmoud Abdel Ghani1*, Adlia Tawfik Ahmed Ibrahim2