Essential Oils And Pregnancy
Aromatherapy can be a beautiful safe support through pregnancy and the early years of your child so we hope this article helps you feel more confident in enjoying the precious gifts of essential oils through this special stage of life.
Firstly we would like to acknowledge that there is a lot of confusing communication about the use of essential oils and pregnancy, on the internet and word of mouth.
As such, we recommend going to the experts and following good practice as set out by the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists - always using less than 1% dilution (generally that means using no more than 4 or 5 drops (0.25ml) per treatment or bath) and avoiding stimulating, detoxifying, sensitising oils.
We also recommend you consult your health professional if in any doubt.
Let it be noted however that “there are no records of abnormal fetuses or aborted fetuses due to the ‘normal’ use of essential oils, either by inhalation or topical application.” Bensouilah J, and Buck P. Aromadermatology. Abingdon, UK: Radcliffe Publishing Ltd.
Further “there are no recorded cases of miscarriage or birth defect resulting from aromatherapy massage using therapeutic applications of any essential oil.” Tisserand, R., and Balacs, T. (1995). Essential Oil Safety. New York: Churchill Livingstone.
Here are the guidelines set out by the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists:
“As is evident, most oils are suitable for use during pregnancy; the real danger comes when the dosages are incorrect or irresponsible. Essential oils work with the body, not against it. The body always remains in control with low doses of oils. “
The issue of the safety of essential oils during pregnancy is still open to debate because the quality of many essential oils provided to clients or therapists is doubtful. It is recommended that you thus seek out and use the highest quality essential oils, carrier oils, and other aromatherapy products in order to promote health and well-being. Therapeutic essential oils can present a very little hazard in comparison to synthetic oils.
The use of essential oils during pregnancy can be very beneficial. As with any other stage of life, essential oils are metabolised in the body when applied or inhaled. The body’s natural intelligence “knows how to break them down and utilise them to balance the human physiology.”
There are however some differences in how the body responds to essential oils when pregnant, including:
- Pregnant women develop a thicker layer of fat underneath the skin which acts as a safety area between the baby and the essential oil: essential oils dissolve in fat and will be more likely to rest in the fatty layers giving a slow-release treatment rather than an immediate one, as they are released more slowly into the tissues.
- Small amounts of essential oils can be beneficial to the baby and there are no recorded instances of harm being caused to the child through essential oils used in aromatherapy massage.
- The sensitivity of the skin may vary at different stages of the pregnancy, even on clients who do not have a history of sensitive skin.
Oils to use with safety according to the IFPA (below 1% dilution) during the whole of pregnancy (not a definitive or complete list)
Chamomile Roman (Chamaemelum nobile)
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
Neroli (Citrus aurantium amara flos)
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var amaraol)
As is evident, most oils are suitable for use during pregnancy; the real danger comes when the dosages are incorrect or irresponsible or adulterated, synthetic or impure oils are used. It would be prudent to avoid the internal or undiluted application of even pure organic essential oils throughout pregnancy.