Are Essential Oils Safe In Pregnancy?
There are many questions about whether or not essential oils safe during pregnancy. Pregnant women need to be very careful of what they put in their bodies that might affect the developing fetus inside them. So are essential oils safe in pregnancy?
To answer that question we first need to look at how the essential oils are being used. Essential oils can be used in aromatherapy for inhalation, as with a diffuser device. They can also be mixed with a carrier oil and used in massage. They can also be present in homemade products such as cleaning agents, bath salts, deodorants, and hand soaps.
When I need to seek a reference on the safety of any essential oil I pull out my tablet and open up what is considered the definitive text on essential oils safety. The book “Essential Oil Safety” by Tisserand and Young lists the active components of essential oils as well as the cautions associated with each. One of the cautions listed when it is appropriate is the caution to avoid during pregnancy. Many essential oils have this caution listed. Below is a list of the most popular essential oils that should be avoided during pregnancy:
- Holy Basil
- Bay Laurel
- Atlas Cedar
- Clary Sage
- Rose Otto- during the first trimester
- Thyme- isn’t specifically listed for pregnancy but should avoid with high blood pressure
Note that this list is by no means a complete list of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy. These are just the most popular oils in use that have specific warnings against using during pregnancy.
Some of the oils contain biochemicals which could stimulate menstruation and others can affect hormone levels. Neither of these effects are something you want to subject yourself and your unborn baby to.
So does that mean there are no essential oils that are safe to use during pregnancy? Not at all. Lavender is a very mild essential oil that can be helpful to allow you to relax and get the rest you need. None of the popular citrus oils have cautions against use during pregnancy. However, if you use them on the skin you need to avoid the sun for at least 24 hours, as most of them are phototoxic. This means they make your skin sensitive to light and can cause you to severely burn if exposed to UV rays. I have also seen instances where someone got splashed in the face with a phototoxic oil and then noticed her face burning while sitting close to a fire. She ended up with a burn and blisters from the exposure. This is just a caution to use these oils safely whether you are pregnant or not.
So to answer the question “Are essential oils safe in pregnancy?”, I would advise that you research any essential oils you want to use during pregnancy. I also would ask you to please avoid the essential oils listed above to prevent any problems. Most of all I would advise that you discuss any use of essential oils with your OB/GYN before you use them. Your doctor can advise you if they think the oils will be safe for you and your unborn baby. They can also advise if there might be a chance of drug interactions that might also happen.
If your doctor advises you to avoid them, I would store them in a cool dark place until after your pregnancy. Most oils will store for up to 2 years in a cool, dark place. Some oils, especially the oils made from tree resins, actually get better with age and can last up to five years. These include oils like Frankincense and Myrrh. Just keep them tightly sealed to avoid oxidation.
I hope this answers the question “are essential oils safe in pregnancy”. Please be sure to consult your doctor and keep yourself and your unborn baby safe.