Is it safe to use essential oils while pregnant?
It's safe to use some essential oils while you're pregnant, as long as you're healthy and you're careful with them. Essential oils are highly concentrated substances extracted from plants. They are powerful, so it's important to use them sparingly.
Essential oils are used in aromatherapy, which is a complementary therapy. The oils contain chemicals which can be absorbed into your body. Essential oils can be diluted with a base or carrier oil for massage, or put in a vapouriser for you to breathe them in. Once inside your body, they work in the same way as drugs or medicines. Because essential oil molecules are very small, there is a possibility that they may cross the placenta and reach your growing baby's circulation.
We do not know exactly what effect essential oils may have on a developing baby. Studies have only tested oils on animals, with varying results. It's most likely that you would need to use huge amounts of essential oils before they could do any harm to your baby.
We do know that many mums-to-be find aromatherapy helpful in easing pregnancy niggles. These include backache, nausea or swollen ankles. If you want to use aromatherapy oils, it's a good idea to take the following precautions:
- Only use one or two drops of essential oil at a time.
- Dilute the essential oil by mixing the drops with at least a teaspoon (5ml) of a base oil before you add it to a bath or massage it into your skin. Grapeseed oil or sweet almond oil work well as base oils 9max 2% concentration).
- You can add drops of the oil to a vapouriser, but don't leave it on for longer than 10 or 15 minutes in each hour. If you leave it on for too long, the smell can be overpowering and make you feel nauseous.
- It's best to start using essential oils once you are past the first trimester. If you use them in the first trimester, always consult an aromatherapist who's trained in treating mums-to-be.
Essential oils to be avoided in pregnancy
|Almond - bitter||Toxic|
|Black pepper||Skin sensitization|
|Cinnamon||Skin sensitization and emmenagogue|
|Hyssop||Could cause toxicity|
|Parsley seed||Apiol rich|
|Sage||High thujone content|
|Savory||Could cause toxicity|
|Thyme both Red and Linalol)||Possible irritant|
*emmenagogue - Certain essential oils have the ability to assist in promoting menstruation (menses) and regulating the monthly discharge, but although these oils are very helpful in treating problems of this nature, some of them should be avoided in pregnancy.
**Do note that all of Back to Basics products can be custom blended to contain less or no essential oils upon request.