Using Essential Oils Safely for Pregnancy & Birth
This post is a long time coming. I remember being pregnant with my first and using essential oils to alleviate some of the uncomfortable symptoms of carrying a life inside you. You know what I’m talking about, ladies. The sleepless nights. Heartburn. Nausea at every turn. Unfortunately for me, I was taking advice from unsafe sources. I just didn’t understand yet.
Pregnancy #2 wasn’t much different. Unfortunately, I still hadn’t come into contact with safe use information. I didn’t even know to seek it out. Unbearable heartburn plagued me that WHOLE pregnancy. The kind so bad I had to sleep sitting up and still wanted to cry. Neat application. Oils in water. I wish I would have known.
So after starting aromatherapy school and seeing everything I was doing wrong, my mind went very quickly to where I lived everyday. My family. My children. My home. What about all the other moms who just don’t know? What about the ones reading the same, horribly mistaken “mommy blogs” I did just to find some sort of relief “naturally” through their pregnancy?! Here is your post pregnant mamas.
Let’s start with pregnancy. Use of essential oils during first trimester is not advised. Now pregnant with my 3rd, I had horrible morning sickness. I diffused lemon or grapefruit for relief as well as carried an inhaler (aromastick) to help curb off the near constant feeling I was going to vomit. As for topical application, just try to stay clear of it during first trimester. Any topical use after the first trimester shouldn’t be done at a dilution higher than 1% (here is a handy dilution chart!) and only as needed. Stick to diffusing whenever possible. Why hold off on oils during the first trimester? It’s the most delicate time. Some essential oils carry the properties and potential of causing a miscarriage and since little research has been done concerning pregnancy it’s really one of those “rather be safe than sorry” approaches.
Second and third trimesters, diffusing pregnancy safe oils is fine. Oils like Neroli, Mandarin, Roman Chamomile can aid in calming the mind and emotions as well as allowing you some peaceful sleep. I’ve successfully used Roman Chamomile and Lavender diluted to 1% on my throat and esophogus for those uncomfortable reflux moments too. Neroli is a helping hand with creating a spirit of peace and balance of emotions as you ride the highs and lows of pregnancy emotions. Frankincense can open your airways allowing you to practice breathing and deepening your “zone” for birth.
Please, do not ingest essential oils while pregnant. As I said above, there is not enough research yet to know what travels to baby so that alone is a huge risk you should avoid. The second reason to not ingest during pregnancy is because your body is undergoing a tremendous amount of change with lots of extra work, blood to filter and waste to remove. Adding essential oil ingestion during this time can overtax your body and cause issues.
Next, comes labor and birth. Clary Sage is a popular “go-to” for birth. However, since it is an emmenagogue, which tones the female reproductive system and regulates the cycle, I do not recommend using it after early labor. (Definitely avoid this oil completely in the first trimester.) Once active labor has started consider using Jasmine instead. There are lots of other oils and uses I could get into at this point. But instead, I would like to share some DO’s and DON’Ts for labor and birth.
DO – Make sure you have gotten permission from your healthcare facility and care provider to use essential oils during your labor and birth. Not every facility allows the use of essential oils during labor because of liability and cross-contamination.
DO – Make sure those on your birth team are aware you would like to use essential oils and have the proper instruction on how to use the oils and applications so when you ask. They can serve!
DO – Use applications and methods that you can have removed from your personal space quickly and easily. Personal inhalers and jewelry are great tools in this situation as you can use as needed and it can be quickly removed should your desire for that aroma turn “sour” quickly!
DO – Use aromatherapy to help you achieve emotional centering and relief from worries or doubts. Different essential oils can help give you confidence and endurance as well!
DO NOT – Put essential oils into a birth tub, bathtub or water birth situation. First reason is oil and water don’t mix. So really, you’re just coating the top of the bath with a layer of essential oils. The second reason is once babe is born and you bring that precious little one up through the water, it will be coated with the layer of essential oils. Undiluted. Many babies open their eyes after birth so the likelihood of the oils entering their eyes is great and very unsafe.
DO NOT – Put essential oils into a lotion as a carrier for birth. Lotions coat the skin and are very hard/impossible to remove quick enough for mom should she need the aroma removed.
DO NOT – Do any vaginal insertions of essential oils on tampons or in rinses, or topically. This recommendation goes for pregnancy, as well as labor and birth.
DO NOT – Anoint baby, mom, cord or placenta after birth. Anointing baby can pose serious risks as their little organs are still developing after birth and can not handle the processing of essential oils. Another reason to avoid “anointing” either mom or baby after birth is that it can break the scent bond needed for the bonding relationship. Anointing the cord or placenta after birth renders the placenta unusable for encapsulation and the cord, if still attached, can carry the essential oils into the baby.
Aromatherapy is an amazing, powerful gift to give yourself during this very special time. Use it safely and when in doubt, contact an aromatherapist for safe use advice and recommendations!