Whether you’re an avid user or a first-timer, essential oils are popular for people seeking natural therapeutic remedies. But the question of safety arises when you’re using essential oils during pregnancy, especially when you’re used to putting them on your skin like a massage oil, inhaling them from the diffuser, or ingesting a diluted version of it. Opinion online vary, which can make it very confusing for you.
So before anything else, let’s break down a bit on what an essential oil is, including the potency of the form of essential oil administration.
What Is Essential Oil?
By definition, an essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid which contains volatile aroma compounds from plants. They are generally extracted via distillation, which is often by using steam.
Although they are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other health, beauty and therapeutic products, some essential oils are used for flavoring food and drink, and as fragrance household cleaning products.
Usage of Essential Oils During Pregnancy
Continuous use of essential oil is a personal choice, as there are no hard-and-fast rules about it. However, it is to note that you follow label directions, your aromatherapist, and your doctor when it comes to the frequency and the amount used, especially during your first trimester.
Some essential oils in their standalone state give off a strong smell, which could further complicate your morning sickness condition. Prenatal doctors would recommend not using specific essential oils in standalone, blend, and supplement states as they include certain properties that could cause early labor contractions, which are harmful to the baby:
On the other hand, naturalists agree that essential oils, when properly used, do not present any harm to the mother-to-be and the baby. In the last 25 years, there has been no record of aborted or abnormal cases due to the moderate use of essential oils via inhalation or topical application. In fact, midwives, doulas, nurses, and mothers-to-be swore that essential oils had helped pregnant women in a lot of pregnancy-related symptoms, which include:
- swelling of ankles
- muscle spasms
These are essential oils that have been deemed safe for pregnancy during second and third trimesters by health professionals:
- Roman chamomile
- Rose Otto
- Sweet orange
- Tea tree
- Ylang ylang
Ingestional Use of Essential Oils
Drinking essential oils, blends or its diluted form, otherwise, is another story. Since you are dealing with a concentrated version of the plant, its effect can still be up to 20 times the recommended dosage. As such, it always is a good idea to discuss with your doctor about continuing your usual dosage of essential oils.
Many essential oils in the market today are considered “GRAS” or Generally Recognized as Safe for food and cosmetic use. But even the essential oils that are considered safe for pregnant women may be harmful. There is some speculation that the actions of some essential oils can cause dangerous hormone imbalances during pregnancy.
This is because essential oils have antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties that could have an adverse effect on your gut first, which is teeming with many types of even good bacteria. The effects of essential oils on gut bacteria have not been well studied, but it would be a great risk taking them, considering the fact that your body during the pregnancy has undergone some changes that would incur an unfavorable reaction.
Also, there is empirical evidence that essential oils, when ingested as a diluted solution or as a mix, can cross the placenta and get to the baby. The effects of essential oils can be compounded in utero, which could present problems in the near future for you and your baby. If you’re on the cautious side, just stop ingesting essential oils solutions or mix altogether until after the pregnancy and after your doctor allows you to do so.
Aside from consulting with your doctor, stick with other modes of application, like aromatherapy and using of diluted solutions of approved essential oils as a massage or a solution to pour into your bath. If you want to apply it topically, it is best for you to conduct a skin test to determine whether your hormonal body can take it.