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Essential Oils During Pregnancy: Is It Safe? Oils To Use And Avoid

Chamomile oil, lemongrass oil, sandalwood oil is all familiar to us, and most of us will have one or the other at home for the scent as well as the soothing and calming effect. From boosting energy levels to improving your mood and immunity, essential oils have several benefits.

However, are these beneficial in the same when you are carrying? Doctors advise pregnant women to stay away from certain things such as raw or undercooked foods, some types of cheese, alcohol, cigarette smoke etc., and today, we will explore whether essential oils fall under this list or not.

Essential Oils During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Made from compounds extracted from plants, essential oils possess the scent of the plant. Essential oils are produced through distillation or cold pressing and then mixed with a carrier oil to create the final product [1].

Theoretically, there are not enough studies on the link between essential oils and pregnancy; however, there is enough data available for us to determine whether it is good when you are expecting.

First trimester: Gynaecologists advise that a pregnant woman shouldn't use essential oils in early pregnancy. This is because they could potentially cause uterine or labour contractions and may adversely affect your baby in its early developmental stages [2][3]. It is also advised that pregnant women should avoid aromatherapy products and treatments in the first trimester.

Second and third trimester: During this stage, a pregnant woman can use certain types of essential oils [4]. Some of the safe options of essential oils that can be used during the second and third trimesters are lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang [5]. According to experts, these can help in relaxing and help promote sleep - which is a common occurrence during pregnancy [6].

Benefits Of Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Some essential oils can provide therapeutic benefits that can help with common pregnancy-related issues such as anxiety, headache etc. [7]. Here are some benefits of essential oils while pregnant:

  • Soothes muscle pain (lavender, eucalyptus)
  • Improves sleep (chamomile, lavender, neroli)
  • Improves skin elasticity (frankincense, neroli, tea tree)
  • Helps reduce haemorrhoid swelling (tea tree, cypress)
  • Helps minimise nausea and stomach upset (chamomile)
  • Help reduce anxiety during labour (lavender)

Essential Oils To Use During Pregnancy

The following essential oils are considered safe in pregnancy during the second and third trimester (and available in India) [8]:

  • Lemon
  • Rose
  • Cardamom
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender
  • Black pepper
  • Sweet Orange
  • Cypress
  • Sandalwood
  • Marjoram Sweet
  • Mandarin
  • Neroli
  • Tea Tree

Note: You should talk to your doctor before using any essential oil.

Essential Oils To Avoid During Pregnancy

Some essential oils can cause contractions, therefore should be avoided by pregnant women at any cost [9]:

  • Calamus
  • Basil
  • Birch
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme red
  • Coriander
  • Bitter almond
  • Juniper berry
  • Cassia
  • Cedarwood
  • Parsley
  • Aniseed
  • Camphor
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Fennel
  • Horseradish
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Pine
  • Rue
  • Oregano
  • Tansy

Things To Keep In Mind While Using Essential Oil During Pregnancy

  • Start with a small amount and gradually increase based on your tolerance.
  • Buy only essentials oils from good brands, research the company and carefully check the ingredients.
  • Use essential oils only externally because ingesting them may cause miscarriage and negatively affect your foetus [10].
  • Before applying to the skin, dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil, like olive oil or coconut oil.
  • Do not exceed the dosage recommendations.
  • Some people may experience an allergic reaction or skin irritation.

On A Final Note...

Before you begin to use essential oils, it is best to talk with a healthcare professional, especially when pregnant.