by Sharon Falsetto
Aromatherapy can assist you with several pregnancy-related conditions. However, if you are using aromatherapy for pregnancy, you first need to understand the exact nature of how essential oils work. Although some people believe that essential oils should not be used in pregnancy, and indeed this is the case for certain essential oils, there are a few essential oils that are gentle enough to use both in pregnancy and once baby is born.
Choosing Essential Oils to Use in Pregnancy
It is very important that you study and learn as much as possible about an essential oil before you consider using it for a pregnancy-related condition. A properly trained aromatherapist should be available to advise you on the safe use of an essential oil for pregnancy and for a particular condition. Dilute all essential oils for pregnancy use in a carrier oil or lotion before you use them and make sure that you use unadulterated and unfractionated essential oils; adulterated and fractionated oils have usually had some of the chemical components removed from them or have been mixed with a lesser quality oil.
Essential Oils Which You Can Use for Pregnancy
Some essential oils are extremely gentle to use, particularly those which have a high alcohol content; many alcohol-based essential oils are safe to use throughout the term of the pregnancy. However, whatever the circumstances, it is always advisable to consult a qualified aromatherapist on the use of an essential oil, if you are inexperienced in using essential oils in aromatherapy. Examples of essential oils which you can use in pregnancy are:
- Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
- Chamomile Roman (Chamaemelum nobile)
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus smithii, Eucalyptus staigeriana)
- Frankincense (Boswelli carteri)
- Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Lemon (Citrus limon)
- Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
- Rose Otto (Rosa damascena/centifolia)
- Sandalwood (Santalum album)
- Sweet Orange (Citrus aurantium sinensis)
- Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata).
Essential Oils Which Are Not Advised for General Use for Pregnancy
Some essential oils are composed of very active chemical components which can be toxic and dangerous in pregnancy; these oils usually contain a high level of ketones or some phenols, chemical components that make the essential oil unsuitable for use in pregnancy. The following essential oils are an example of essential oils either not to be used in pregnancy at all or only by a very experienced aromatherapist:
- Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
- Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
- Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
- Nutmeg (Myristica fragans)
- Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Thyme Red (Thymus vulgaris)
- Sage (Salvia officinalis)
- Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
- Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)
- Penny Royal (Mentha pulegium).
How to Use Aromatherapy for Pregnancy
How you use an essential oil will depend on the type of pregnancy-related problem that you are dealing with. Common pregnancy-related conditions include morning sickness, back pain and labor pain. To deal with morning sickness, make up a blend of ginger, grapefruit and lemon essential oils in a blend base such as an unscented white lotion base or a basic carrier oil base(for example, sunflower oil); massage over your abdominal area to ease nausea. To deal with back pain, try a massage oil blend of rose and lavender essential oils; you will probably need to get someone to help you with massaging the blend into your back!
You can also use some essential oils in labor, although I would advise that you seek the advice of a nurse who has had training in the use of essential oils before you do this. Lavender oil has been shown to be effective to mothers during labor in several clinical studies. For amounts and quantities for use of all aromatherapy blends for pregnancy problems, consult a qualified aromatherapist.
Cautions for Using Essential Oils in Pregnancy
Sometimes you should simply not use essential oils for pregnancy and sometimes individual circumstances may dictate against normal use. These are some of the general contra-indicators for using essential oils in pregnancy:
- essential oils are usually contra-indicated for use in the first three months of pregnancy, when miscarriage is most likely to occur. Although essential oils may not necessarily cause a miscarriage, misuse or use of a particular essential oil with an individual, may aggravate a situation. Some essential oils are described as abortive.
- if you have high blood pressure or epilepsy, consult a qualified professional before using essential oils for pregnancy
- some essential oils may cause skin sensitization or irritation and this may be heightened in pregnancy
- use phototoxic essential oils with the same caution as when not used in pregnancy; phototoxic oils increase your potential sensitivity to sunlight.
Although aromatherapy is a useful tool for dealing with pregnancy-related problems, I would always advise that you take professional advice to avoid any potential dangers; you may react differently to essential oils depending on medical conditions and any prescribed medication that you are taking. However, with the correct advice and use, you can use many essential oils safely in pregnancy and help alleviate many pregnancy-related problems.
- Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons
- Price, Shirley, Price, Len, 2002, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals UK: Churchill Livingstone
- Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy, UK
About Sharon Falsetto:
Sharon Falsetto is a UK certified clinical aromatherapist who trained with Penny Price Aromatherapy; she has taken additional training in aromatherapy for pregnancy and aromatherapy for babies. Sharon moved to the United States in 2006 and founded her own aromatherapy practice in 2007. She makes custom aromatherapy blends for therapists, spas, weddings and individual requests, in addition to creating aromatherapy products for her webstore. Sharon is in the process of writing several online aromatherapy courses for both the hobbyist and those who want to study aromatherapy professionally. She also writes an aromatherapy blog and contributes to many professional publications, blogs and magazines. Sharon is the Arizona regional director for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.