Essential oil use in pregnancy is controversial, but experts like Robert Tisserand, and the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists agree that the use of a few select oils in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can be very helpful and supportive. Lavender, Ginger, and Grapefruit essential oils can be extremely useful for a healthy, happy pregnancy.
For safety, please refrain from using essential oils during your first trimester and always defer to your trusted aromatherapist with questions about specifics.
???? Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia): Known for it’s stress-relieving properties, lavender is considered safe for pregnancy use after the first trimester. There has been some concern that lavender stimulates uterine contractions, however, according to Aromatherapy expert Robert Tisserand, that is not true; animal research actually shows that lavender reduces contractions.
Try lavender diluted in a bath (add 2-3 drops of a pure essential oil to 1 cup of baking soda or Epsom salt and add that to warm bath water) or diffused a few times a week to ease feelings of stress. Alternatively, steep a teaspoon of dried lavender buds in a few cups of water to make a lavender “Tea” that you can add to bath water or put into a spray bottle as a light and lovely mist.
???? Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Ginger is a warming spice known to help with digestive upset. In essential oil form, the warming quality remains and can be wonderful for massaging achy muscles. Ginger is a known anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain reliever). The scent of ginger can ease nausea when diffused. During the first trimester, consider ginger tea made by steeping fresh ginger root in hot water. This can be a safe way to ease nausea and enjoy the benefits of ginger.
???? Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi): Grapefruit essential oil is light and bright. It is wonderful to use diffused whenever you are feeling tired or a little down. Like the other oils, use diluted and in moderation during the second and third trimesters.
Safe use of essential oils during pregnancy:
???? Dilution. According to the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists, a 1% dilution is recommended during pregnancy. For reference, adding 5-6 drops of essential oil into 1 ounce of a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, almond, grapeseed, olive, etc) will create a one percent dilution.
???? Duration. During pregnancy, essential oils should not be used for more than 10-15 minutes once or twice a day in a diffused or once or twice in a bath or as a diluted massage oil weekly.
It is unknown whether essential oils cross from the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream which is the main reason for caution and care.
For safety, follow these guidelines during pregnancy:
- Avoid daily use of essential oils.
- Choose essential oils that are been 3rd party testing and shown to be free of chemicals, additives and impurities.
- Dilute essential oils in a carrier (1%) instead of applying directly to skin (NEAT)
- Opt for subtle diffusion instead of strong steam inhalations, or inhalers
- Avoid internal, oral, rectal or vaginal use of oils
- Stick to the list of oils that are proven safe for use during pregnancy. Not all essential oils are safe for this time. Consult with your aromatherapist.
- During the first trimester, avoid essential oils altogether.
- If you are unsure about using essential oils, consult with an experienced midwife or clinical aromatherapist for support.
- Tisserand, R., and Balacs, T. (1995). Essential Oil Safety. New York: Churchill Livingstone.
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I’m an inclusive, not scary, totally normal yet heavily qualified yoga instructor and founder of YogaBellies® and the Birth ROCKS Method. I’m trained in self hypnosis and meditation and what I love is helping women (ALL women) enjoy yoga without having to whisper all the time and wear fancy activewear that cost a month’s rent.
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