Pregnant women are often tempted to go towards “gentle and natural” medicines such as aromatherapy. But beware!
Pregnancy is one of the main counter-indication
in the use of essential oils.
Essential oils are powerful, deep acting and concentrated.
It is this imbalance between the strength of essential oils and the vulnerability of the foetus that defines them as totally banned products. All what enters the organism of a pregnant woman will go in one way or another in the foetus.
This is the reason why it is generally advised to people who have not mastered the use of EO, that their use is forbidden during pregnancy. Hydrolats, for example, are kinder and easier to use.
If the truth is known, however, you can sometimes use some essential oils. But you will have to discuss with both pharmacist and obstetrician who will knowingly decide what EO you can use, adjust their dosage in accordance with the stage of pregnancy or its progress, be vigilant in regard to other treatments and their interactions.
It is therefore discouraged to use auto-medication out of all control.
Here are nevertheless some suggestions for those who want to manage alone (with, of course, essential oils of excellent quality and without prolonged use).
Essential oils can take care of little daily hurts and assist in carrying on through this period in a calm and serene way. Here is how to choose and use some of them.
Usage and risks linked to the use of EO during pregnancy.
- Do not swallow essential oils (pregnant or breastfeeding women)
- No essential oils during the first three months
- Do not apply to abdominal zone and dorso-lumbar vertebra
- Do not use pure OR diluted essential oil or in eyes, nose, ears or ano-genital zones
The 3 months deadline
The totality of essential oils is not recommended for the first three months of pregnancy. The size of the embryo makes the dosage very delicate as these are the first stages of development and as such, the most dangerous time for miscarriage.
After these three months, some EO can be used. The embryo becomes the foetus.
Banish the oral route
The use of EO by oral route should be avoided as it is, potentially, the most toxic one. The dermal route should be chosen in preference as well as diffusion: the benefits of EO by diffusion are obtained by inhaling them.
All what is inhaled by a pregnant woman enters her blood circulation and reaches thus the embryo or foetus she carries.
In principle, the therapeutic diffusion of EO (diffusion by nebulisation) in a preventive or curative purpose saturates the room with aromatic products. If you are pregnant, forget it.
On the other hand, if considering diffusion by means of a USB diffuser, a cold air diffuser, an atomizer, there is no problem: a natural perfume of EO in a living room is pleasant, agreeable and healthy. Your baby is safe, as long as this diffusion of EO is not in a very small room in which you are confined for hours on end. You should limit the diffusion to 10 or 15 minutes per hour (the smell could be overwhelming).
Pouring a few drops of EO on a handkerchief and breathing in the aroma from time to time (inhalation).
Do not massage the abdominal belt
The belly should not be massaged. Other areas, further removed from the baby can be massaged if needed: legs, feet, neck, etc.
Dosage must be adapted to the situation. Dermal route is the preferred one, with a maximum ratio of 3%. For a dermal application, the oils must be diluted in a vegetable oil.
Ex for 10 ml: 0.3 ml of EO in 9.7 ml of VO.
Certain EO owe their properties to some active molecules: phenols, aldehydes, terpenes…and certain active molecules are absolutely forbidden during pregnancy.
- EO containing ketones are to be banished during pregnancy and breastfeeding: they are abortive and neuro-toxic and present a real danger for the development of the baby
Ex: organic Sage, stoechade Lavender, organic Hyssop, Nutmeg, curly Parsley and Criste Marine: to be banned for the whole duration of pregnancy.
- EO containing molecules such as eugenol or geraniol: they have uterine tonic properties and favour contractions
To keep in stock once due time has been reached to favour contractions: Ginger, Cloves, Palmarosa and to a lesser degree Ylang Ylang
- EO that perturb hormonal balance
Ex: Aniseed or Fennel (aniseed odour): these can be useful after childbirth: they help milk production to start.
- EO that act on the German Camomile (not be confused with Roman Camomile) and annual Tansy. These will stimulate as does lemon Verbena, Peppermint and Lemon Mint.
Use only formulas written by aromatherapy doctors, already testes, rather than throw yourself into the unknown.
FORBIDDEN essential oils (the main and more popular ones) counterindicated during the entire pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.
- Cedarwood (all species)
- Clove (Eugenia Caryophyllus)
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum or Cinnamomum verum)
- Cypress (all species)
- Mint Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus dives)
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ssp. dulce)
- Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum ssp. serotinum)
- Lavander stoechade (Lavandula stoechas)
- Mint (all species)
- All sages (except clary sage)
- Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii)
- Rosemary verbenone and camphor (Rosmarinus officinalis CT verbénone CT camphor)
- Oregano (Origanum compactum)
- Hysope officinalis (hysopus officinalis)
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Oils that can be used from the 4th month, without specific medical advice: (by applying this principle of maximal precaution, no risk is encountered).
- Roman Chamomile,
- Eucalyptus citriodora / Eucalyptus radiata,
- Ho wood
- Green Mandarin,
- Green Myrtle
- Laurel/bay leaf,
- True Lavander / Fine Lavande / Aspic Lavander,
- Lavandin super,
- Petitgrain bigarade,
- Sweet orange
- Tea tree,
Think of consulting your general practitioner for any therapeutic use.
Only he can give you a true diagnosis and suggest a treatment (dosage, frequency of use, etc…) keeping in mind your particular circumstances and the eventual counter-indications that could apply.
The most useful EO for pregnant women
The list of authorised EO during pregnancy is restricted but it exists and allows for some interesting care possibilities. It requires STRICT respect of dosage and methods of use, and to follow the advice of your doctor or pharmacist adapted to the pregnancy period.
TOP 3 of EO that can be used by pregnant women under certain conditions. Respect the dosage and methods of use for pregnant women
Roman Camomile EO:
To relax if stressed or feeling slightly anxious during pregnancy.
Also good for itches, red patches and pimples.
True Lavender EO:
In the case of insomnia or sleeping problems. It will help you fall asleep and relax you during the night.
Also good for pimples, diffuse pain, aches and stress.
It helps in relieving nausea and neurological pain.
Also good for pimples, impurities, thinness and firmness of the skin.
The other ones:
- Ho wood: Fine wrinkles, apathetic skin, lack of elasticity
- Petitgrain bigarade : pimples, enlarged pores, stress
- Sweet orange: stress, greedy desires, bulimia
- Grapefruit: Pleasure, thinness
- Mandarin: sleep disorder, stress
- Niaouli and cajeput: impurities, lip pimples, immunity
- Patchouli: heavy legs or pains
VO during pregnancy
VO are woman’s best friends during pregnancy. They bring essential fatty acids and important vitamins to the skin during this period in which the skin is often “bullied”.
Daily massage is recommended for the entire duration of the pregnancy.
Musk rose: to massage from the start on the belly, the buttocks and breasts to assist the skin during its mutations and tensions
- Argan: to alternate with musk rose for hydration and toning of the skin
- Calendula: in the case of redness or itchiness, use as massage oil
- Jojoba: for facial use daily. Suitable for all types of skin.
The recipes that follow were produced by a pharmacist (D. Festy or D. Baudoux) following the rules of French aromatherapy. They present no risk if used as prescribed, but can in no way be substituted to proper medical and pharmaceutical supervision. When in doubt, with unusual or worrying symptoms, self-medication is not recommended and the advice and examination by a medical practitioner is required. Allergic reactions are always a possibility as is any use of EO but are not linked with pregnancy.
You can’t replace an EO cannot by another in a synergy, even if they are similar.
BEWARE: never use peppermint during pregnancy or breastfeeding (the EO the most often recommended for nausea in adults and children over 12 years old).
In a bottle, mix:
- Roman Camomile – 15 drops
- Lemon – 10 drops
- Apricot kernel VO – 1 teaspoon
All EO taking orally are prohibited (except if medically advised) during pregnancy.
Lemon EO however, could be suggested to fight nausea.
Prevent stretch marks
You can also use them on the perineum to soften this delicate area.
Mix in a bottle and apply after the 1st trimester:
- True lavender – 6 drops
- Grapefruit – 3 drops
- Petitgrain bigarade = 6 drops
- Musk rose – 2 tablespoons
- Argan – 1 tablespoon
Mix argan and musk rose VO at 50%. Apply pure in the 1st trimester, then add from the 4th month 4 drops of geranium and 4 drops of Ho wood in 2 tablespoons of the VO mix.
In a 100 ml bottle, mix:
35 ml sweet almond VO
35 ml musk rose VO
30 ml Calophyllum VO
To make it go away.
Mix in a bottle:
- Bergamot (no sun exposure) – 5 drops
- Musk rose VO – 1 teaspoon
- Apricot kernel VO – 1 teaspoon
To calm stressed conditions
Use one of the above EO
Massage: 30 drops EO in 50 ml VO and massage the neck area
Diffusion: 10 minutes 3 times a day or on a handkerchief to breathe in.
Mix in a bottle:
- Fine Lavender or Petit Grain bigarade – 15 drops
- Ravintsara – 15 drops
- Apricot kernel VO – 1 tablespoon
To prepare childbirth
Coping with your anxiety
In a bottle, mix:
- Roman Chamomile – 5 drops
- Noble Laurel – 3 drops
- Petit Grain bigarade – 5 drops
- Sweet almond VO – 1 tablespoon
- Frankincense: 0,1 ml (3 drops)
- Neroli: 0,5 ml (15 drops)
- Laurel/ Bay leaf: 0,3 ml (9 drops)
- Cloves bud: 0,1 ml (3 drops)
- Roman Chamomile: 0,2 ml (6 drops)
- Hazelnut or sweet Almond VO: 1 tablespoon
2 drops on the solar plexus and inside of wrists and breath in deeply.
Prepare the perinea
Macadamia VO softens the muscles of the perinea and makes them more elastic. To prepare for childbirth, you can massage this area several times a day from the 8th month of pregnancy onwards.
It is important to relax during labour so as to avoid muscle tension and increase birth pains.
Strengthen the contractions
- Cloves – 2 ml (70 drops)
- Palmarosa – 2 ml (70 drops)
- Ho wood – 1 ml (35 drops)
- Hazelnut VO – 10 ml
As a precaution, avoid the application of essential oils around the breasts area as much as possible during breastfeeding. The fact that the baby suckles will stimulate lactation naturally.
Encourage lactation: Fennel, Aniseed
The EO of Fennel and Aniseed have galactagogue properties (that stimulate milk production and prevent baby colic). You should never use them during pregnancy but can be used during breastfeeding, with medical advice, as they stimulate lactation.
2 drops of Fennel EO on a small sugar cube or other support 2 to 3 times a day for a few days
Cease lactation: Peppermint
2 drops of Peppermint EO on a small sugar cube or other support 2 to 3 times a day for a few days (from the moment you take Peppermint you must not breastfeed again).
When breastfeeding, irritations and cracks may appear.
To soften and nourish the skin and accelerate healing (don’t forget to wipe your nipple with a little breast milk before feeding).
Vegetable oils: sweet Almond, Avocado, Musk Rose
Vegetable butter: Karite
Treating cracks in nipples during breastfeeding with musk rose oil
Our advice for a painless feeding: mix in a bottle:
Fine Lavender (true) – 30 drops of EO
Musk Rose VO – 2 tablespoon
The month after childbirth is an intense period during which all emotions are strongly intensified. Some EO can help you in regaining emotional balance.
Rose EO or Rose hydrolat are two indispensable active products in the treatment of postnatal depression and they will help in harmonising your mind and get on top of your anxiety.
Rose EO – 0.1 ml (3 drops)
Apricot kernel VO: 1 tablespoon
2 drops on the inside of the wrists and inhale several times a day
5 drops on the solar plexus 3 times a day until the nervous condition improves.
Care of scars (in the case of Caesarean section)
True Lavender – 35 drops
Italian Helichrysum – 35 drops
Musk Rose VO – 50 ml
Wheat germ VO – 50 ml
An application morning and night on the scar until improvement and whilst bringing the edges for the scar towards each other.
After removing the dressing: do not rub it and dry the scar thoroughly after a shower. Try to avoid movements of rotation, abdominals, carrying heavy loads…
The information provided could not be considered as medical information nor engage my responsibility or that of the Pacific Scents as to your usage of essential oils for yourself or anyone else.
I strongly invite you to compare the information with that of authoritative experts and the opinion of health professionals.