How to Use Aromatherapy Safely in Pregnancy

Posted on: October 13th, 2014 by
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Aromatherapy for Pregnancy: Photo Credit, ISP

Aromatherapy for Pregnancy: Photo Credit, ISP

A few weeks ago, I wrote about using aromatherapy safely with babies and children. In partnership with that topic is the use of aromatherapy in pregnancy. I see lots of unsafe recommendations on the internet, and circulating on social media, about using aromatherapy in pregnancy; this has led to some aromatherapists simply advising against the use of aromatherapy in pregnancy.

However, I believe that one of the most important questions is, “How do you use aromatherapy safely in pregnancy?” It is certainly true that some essential oils should never be used in pregnancy but, if you understand how and when to use essential oils, it is possible to use certain essential oils in pregnancy. Ultimately, you should always take the advice of a qualified health care professional before using essential oils in pregnancy – and take into account the individual circumstances and health problems of the mom-to-be. This blog post is not a substitute for professional advice; it is intended for educational purposes only.

General Guidelines for Using Essential Oils in Pregnancy

The following guidelines are based on my own training and recommendations for use during pregnancy. You may wish to do further reading before making a decision on whether to use a particular essential oil in pregnancy:

  • For safety reasons, I do not recommend the use of essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy – or with unstable pregnancies – due to the risk of miscarriage.

  • It is important to work in conjunction with a doctor or qualified health care professional when using essential oils in pregnancy – and take into consideration the mom-to-be’s health history.

  • Some essential oils should never be used in pregnancy. Check for contra-indications in essential oil monographs and consult a certified aromatherapist for further advice. Contra-indications for essential oils in pregnancy may vary from one source to another.

  • Always dilute essential oils in a lotion, oil, or other suitable base before applying to the skin.

  • Some essential oils are described as abortive or as an emmenagogue; bear this in mind when deciding on an essential oil you are unfamiliar with.

  • Pregnancy often heightens skin sensitization.

  • Use photo-toxic essential oils with the same cautions as when not used in pregnancy.

  • Do not use essential oils internally during pregnancy.

Essential Oils to Use in Pregnancy

It is confusing to know which essential oils can safely be used in pregnancy because opinions vary. However, the following are examples of some essential oils which may be used in pregnancy – after referring to the general guidelines and consulting with a certified aromatherapist and/or health care professional. Please note, individual circumstances may vary and that this list is not definitive:

  • bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – photo-toxic

  • geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

  • grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi)

  • lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

  • lemon (Citrus limon)- photo-toxic

  • mandarin (Citrus reticulata) – possibly photo-toxic

  • Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

  • rose (Rosa damascena/centifolia)

  • sweet orange (Citrus aurantium var. sinensis)

  • ylang ylang (Cananga odorata).

Always dilute the essential oil in a lotion, carrier oil, butter, or any other suitable aromatherapy base before use. Amounts to use vary but, as a general rule, I would not recommend using more than half of the “normal recommended adult amount” – and this amount can vary widely too, which is why you should consult a certified aromatherapist first. My personal recommendation is as little as 3 – 5 drops per one ounce of base – but the base (and circumstances) can dictate otherwise.

Hydrosols are often a great alternative to use in pregnancy because they are gentler than essential oils.

Learn How to Use Essential Oils in Pregnancy

If you are interested in learning more about using essential oils safely in pregnancy there are various aromatherapy text books that contain further information; I advise you to read more than one to gain an understanding on the subject. In addition, for the more serious-minded, a certification in aromatherapy may cover the subject in more detail – such as the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy.

References:

  • Author is a certified aromatherapist with specific training in aromatherapy for pregnancy

  • Buckle, Jane, Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, UK: Churchill Livingstone

  • Price, Shirley, Price, Len, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK: Churchill Livingstone

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