How To Safely Incorporate Essential Oils During Pregnancy
I used to think essential oils were a hippie-dippie product that a few annoying ‘friends’ of mine would try to shove upon everyone to buy. But then I discovered there was actual science behind some of it, and found some better friends who were actually helpful with answering questions and didn’t force you to buy anything. Since then, I have slowly built up my collection of essential oils, from a ton of different sources, and learnt along the way that a small amount of companies have quality products rather than just nice-smelling and expensive liquid-incense-like products.
Now, as a regular user, I was very disappointed to find out that I could no longer use my Mountain High blend from Saje during my pregnancy because of the sage oil in it. Ugh, no more ‘working in the woods’ for me! But I was happy to hear that I could still use my lavender to help me sleep, my tea-tree in my shampoo, and my trusty peppermint to help curb the first-trimester nausea (but will have to avoid it in the last few months and while breastfeeding to make sure it doesn’t affect milk production). As it turns out, there are also a lot more ways to use essentials oils that are still safe during pregnancy than I thought–but since I am no expert, I leave the floor to Zoia to elaborate on how to safely incorporate essential oils during pregnancy.
The pregnancy and birth of our children is often a major transition in our lives, regardless if it is our first, second, or tenth child. Those experiences often bring physical and emotional changes to our bodies. That is also the time when we try to avoid harsh chemicals to protect the health of our future children. Essential oils can provide a gentle and natural approach to our wellness during those transitional experiences.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural compounds derived from plants. However, before deciding to add essential oils to a wellness routine, one needs to express caution when choosing the company from which to purchase them. It is encouraged that you look for a reputable company, with clean sourcing methods. When choosing essential oils, do not look exclusively at what is says on the label, but explore what is truly inside the bottle. Many oil companies claim to be pure and therapeutic grade, but very few apply the rigorous testing to support those claims. When choosing oils to apply topically or consume internally, make sure they are 100% pure, naturally extracted from plants and independently tested by a third-party company to be therapeutic grade free of all contaminants. dōTERRA is one of the few companies that meets all of these criteria, which is why it is a well-trusted company with millions of followers and consumers around the world.
Are Essential Oils Safe To Use During Pregnancy?
It goes without saying that before starting any new routine, you should consult with your primary health care provider. Be aware that most may not be educated on essential oils, so you might be the one doing most of the research and sharing with them what you have found to make sure it is safe for you and your baby. The most important thing is to choose the purest oils with the highest quality, ensured by being tested properly. Stephanie Fritz, also known as the Essential Midwife, is one of many that has used essential oils through the pregnancy and postpartum journeys of many families she has worked with. She is a Licensed Midwife (LM) and Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), who claims that most high quality, pure essential oils can be used safely during pregnancy. Taking prenatal vitamins / supplements is probably the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby during and after your pregnancy. They, together with the benefits of essential oils, can be a great support to any pregnant woman through fatigue and digestive issues at the beginning of pregnancy, to sleep and pain towards the end and many more discomforts as the body changes to accommodate the growth of your baby.
*DISCLAIMER: Be sure to ALWAYS read the label before ingesting essential oils, because not all are created the same, and they may not be safe for internal use. This can often differ from company to company.
How To Safely Incorporate Essential Oils During Pregnancy
Here are few common discomforts and tips on how to safely incorporate essential oils during pregnancy:
FATIGUE – citrus and mint oils can be a savior during the time your body is working hard at growing your baby. A quick pick me up tip is to put a drop of your favourite citrus oil (some suggestions are wild orange, lemon, grapefruit) or peppermint in your hands and inhale the aroma. There are unique pieces of jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, etc.) that can act as on-the-go diffusers, or you can also massage onto your skin throughout the day for additional support. When massaging citrus oils onto the skin be aware that some people’s skin might be more sensitive to the effects of UV radiation after such applications, and the recommendation is to use a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. Here is an article if you would like to learn more on photosensitivity and essential oils.
DIGESTIVE HEALTH – A reminder of the prenatal vitamins / supplements here is necessary. The key is that the prenatal vitamins you choose to take are made from whole foods, so that the minerals and vitamins are bioavailable to the body and can be easily absorbed. When paired together with digestive enzymes and the digestive blend essential oil, it can be very effective with most of the digestive issues from nausea and heartburn to constipation and hemorrhoids. The digestive blend (from dōTERRA) can be taken internally*, or applied topically for relief when needed. For heartburn, you can also try peppermint, ginger and wild orange. For nausea you can try rubbing a drop of cardamom behind your ears, or on back of your neck or mix one to two drops each of ginger and lemon in water* with honey. For constipation, a mix of one to three drops of the digestive blend, lemon, peppermint and fennel in water*, or taken in a vegetable capsule or massaged on the abdomen. For hemorrhoids, a blend of helichrysum, geranium, cypress, peppermint and lavender in fractionated coconut oil can be applied to the area.
RELAXATION AND SLEEP – There are many oils that can be helpful with sleep and relaxation, but here is list of my favourites: frankincense, lavender, roman chamomile, wild orange, vetiver, bergamot, and the grounding & restful blends. Add a few drops to the bottom of your feet or in your diffuser at bedtime. Essential oils can be an amazing support for stress management and emotional healing during pregnancy and beyond (which would be a full article on its own).
MUSCLE AND PAIN SUPPORT – For even the most sore or cramping muscles, you can mix a few drops of any the following oils: lavender, ginger, marjoram, wintergreen, soothing or tension blends (from dōTERRA) with fractionated coconut oil, and massage onto the sore area. A bone complex supplement may be helpful if the mother is experiencing a magnesium deficiency. If you are doing what you can to prevent leg cramps, but it is still happening, soak your feet in a warm bath with 5 drops geranium, 10 drops lavender and 2 drops cypress and/or apply massage blend to your legs at night.
SKIN HEALTH – All the hormones in our body during pregnancy can be problematic for our skin’s condition. For acne or itchy skin use Roman chamomile, geranium, lavender and sandalwood. The anti-aging blend is wonderful for stretch marks and to help diminish the brownish skin pigmentation on the face.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, please always consult with your primary health care provider (HCP) before integrating essential oils into your life, especially during pregnancy or with an infant. The reportedly potentially-dangerous oils to avoid during pregnancy include but are not limited to Clary Sage, Ylang-Ylang, Cinnamon, Clove, Rosemary, Laurel, Angelica, Thyme, Cumin, Aniseed, Citronella, or Jasmine, all of which can cause contractions. <– so speak to your HCP if you would like to incorporate any into the birth room, as some may still be ill-advised. Others to be avoided (according to various sources), may include Nutmeg, Basil, Sage, Rose, Juniper Berry, Oregano, Mustard, Myrrh, Black pepper, Camphor, etc. Again, the advice is to always consult your doctor or midwife, and READ THE LABELS every time you want to incorporate something new, as recommendations can also differ from brand to brand. — Stephanie
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Zoia Nikolova is a Wellness Advocate with dōTERRA, and a birth and postpartum doula through DoUlove Care. She feels empowered by dancing, grounded by trees, and relaxed by water. As a mother to two beautiful children, she has developed a sense of nurturing and caring that carries over into all of her client work.
Resources: Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth and Babies by Stephanie Fritz, LM, CPM
The 4th edition of The Essential Life book published by Total Wellness Publishing LLC