How and when to use essential oils during pregnancy.
During pregnancy women experience a whole bevy of ailments that can be treated with essential oils. Sure, when you weren't pregnant, you may have just reached for any kind of over-the-counter medication that claimed to fix your condition, but now you have to think twice about the side effects these medications could have on your fetus. You don’t have to suffer cold turkey through morning sickness, allergies, indigestion and headaches, though. There are effective holistic remedies such as essential oils to help you.
I started using essential oils when I became pregnant at the encouragement of my mother and under the advice of my friend, Dr. Tiffany Miller, D.C. I was suffering from morning sickness that led to feelings of depression. Essential oils were a huge help then, again in the delivery room and I still use them now.
Your essential oils stash is equivalent to your medicine cabinet. Any given oil will have a variety of uses, so a small collection of a dozen or so oils can replace most items in that medicine cabinet. Use them in a diffuser to cleanse the air or for minor emergencies, such as a scrape or congestion. Of course, they can also be effective for pregnancy ailments.
Since essential oils are organic compounds, your body recognizes them as familiar and processes them quickly, as opposed to a drug. So the key is “frequent application with an ongoing issue,” Dr. Miller stresses.
Even though essential oils are a natural product, use with care. Keep out of children’s reach, because anything can be harmful in excess or when used incorrectly. Essential oils can be used safely by expectant mothers and their children with some education.
How to Use Essential Oils
1. Aromatically. Using a cool mist diffuser is a great way to calm airways, purify the air, and affect the mood of the whole family at once. Even putting a drop or two into the palm of your hand and breathing in the scent can be effective. For example, you can use a respiratory support oil to open airways or a citrus or floral oil to change your mood. You can wear specially made diffuser jewelry around your neck or on your wrist so you can take it on the go.
2. Topically. Apply under the feet, down the spine, over reflex points, or over the area of complaint. You should never apply full strength oil directly to skin. Instead, dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil. A carrier oil is a vegetable based oil such as coconut, jojoba, olive, or almond oil. When using citrus oils topically, avoid sunlight for 12 to 24 hours after use, since they are photosensitive and can make the skin burn easily.
Keep these dilution recipes in mind:
Adults: 2 drops of essential oil per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil
Children over 6 & pregnant women: 1 drop of essential oil per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil
Infants & Toddlers: 1-2 drops of essential oil with 2 tablespoons of carrier oil
3. Internally. Essential oils can be added to food, drinks or taken in capsules. Essential oils can be especially effective when ingested. If you choose to take internally, make sure your essential oil is of the highest quality, especially when pregnant, and that you get the okay from a physician.
The Most Helpful Essential Oils for Pregnancy & Postpartum
Essential oils can be used solo or as combinations to tackle certain issues. You can make them yourself, but many essential oil companies make proprietary blends so you don’t have to. Some of the best essential oils for pregnancy related aches are:
Digestive issues (including nausea from morning sickness & heartburn): doTerra’s DigestZen (diluted) is for overall digestive support; it has ginger, peppermint, tarragon, fennel, caraway, coriander, and anise to cover all the bases of digestive function.
Headache: Peppermint applied to the temples helps with tension headaches. Lavender can also help and can be massaged into neck and shoulders.
Balance: doTerra provides a blend called Balance which is sometimes called a “Chiropractor in a Bottle,” for its support of the musculoskeletal system and emotional well being.
General Pregnancy Support: Saje makes a Mother’s Wellness blend with grapefruit, rosewood and lavender essential oils to soothe the mind and body. It helps relieve nausea, heartburn, tummy aches and headaches, and boosts the immune system.
Skin Irritation: Lavender can be very soothing for skin irritants.
Labor: Wild orange and peppermint during pushing provide the energy and revitalization needed to get through the exhaustion. Or if you need to dinimish the drama, 21 Drops Calm is a blend that's all about serenity.
Perineum: In a warm bath add 2 drops of lavender essential oil to 1 cup epsom salt to help alleviate discomfort, or create your own postpartum soothing spray with 6 tablespoons witch hazel, 4 tablespoons filtered water, 5 drops lavender oil and 5 drops frankincense oil. It’s best to apply essential oils to epsom salt before putting in water, so they don’t just float on top.
Sore nipples: Roman chamomile.
Increase milk production: Clary sage, fennel or basil.
Purify Air: Especially during cold/flu season Young Living’s Thieves & doTerra’s OnGuard purify the air and build immunity. (btw, I had this going in my diffuser in the delivery room. The midwives and nurses loved it).
Which Essential Oils NOT to use during pregnancy:
These are considered to be abortifacients, meaning that they have the potential to cause abortions.
Angelica Root Fennel
Carrot Seed Myrrh
Clary Sage White Thyme
Clove Red Thyme
For many just learning of essential oils, it could feel like a new trendy, crunchy practice, but it’s hardly new. It’s ancient medicine and has found it’s way into popular culture in a society more keenly aware of nature’s benefits to humans. Through pregnancy we can’t help but feel an intrinsic connection to nature and a heightened sense to protect our next generation. Pregnancy and essential oils remind us that nature provides abundant ways to heal and protect.
Educate yourself, breathe in and let nature take its course.
* Some practitioners advise women to not use essential oils during first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and some practitioners advise to not apply essential oils directly to infants and toddlers but rather use aromatically after 6 months of age. Use at your discretion and under the advice of your care giver.
Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids for Well Rounded.