A positive pregnancy test immediately makes a woman consider her body differently. “Doing the best for baby” becomes a natural and subconscious mantra as a mom-to-be considers her lifestyle, her diet and the supplements she chooses to put in her body. This is a time when a woman is open to embracing natural alternatives and minimizing her exposure to anything that could potentially harm her unborn child. Essential oils - often referred to as nature’s pure droplets - are a popular alternative when it comes to relieving common pregnancy issues. (Our upcoming blog will highlight our top pregnancy-safe aromatherapy oils). But knowing which essential oils to avoid during your pregnancy is the first step as you embark on a natural and nurturing journey toward motherhood.
Relaxing essential oil baths, stress-relieving aromatherapy massage oils and essential oils for relieving nausea and insomnia are a wonderful solution to everyday pregnancy ailments.
“Essential oils are natural remedies with very few side effects,” says Lakeisha W. Richardson, MD, an ob-gyn at Delta Regional Hospital in Greenville, Mississippi. “More and more patients are trying to use alternative ways to handle illnesses due to the large side-effect profile of most medications.”
But not all oils are considered equally safe for pregnant women, and so should be used responsibly to avoid any potential adverse effects for mom and baby.
We have highlighted the most common oils to avoid during pregnancy.
Reason #1 - Risk of irritating the skin
Certain organic essential oils are considered to be dermal irritants and are best avoided during pregnancy: Cinnamon bark oil, Clove bud oil, Citronella. Lemongrass and Lemon verbena, Peppermint, Oregano and Thyme.
Reason #2 - Risk of uterine contractions
Even though the research is vague and inconclusive, this is the most common reason cited for avoiding certain essential oils during pregnancy as certain oils contain estragole, a chemical compound that could increase the risk of a miscarriage or preterm labour as a result of bringing on uterine contractions.
Essential oils in this category include Basil, Clary sage, Fennel, Jasmine, Laurel and Myrrh.
Reason #3 - Risk of increased blood flow
Organic essential oils such as Cinnamon bark, Rosemary and Thyme are considered to be emmenagogues which means they can stimulate and increase blood flow. In very rare cases this could result in a miscarriage or in excess bleeding during the delivery. Rosemary essential oil may also increase blood pressure.
Reason #4 - Risk of harming the fetus
Organic Cinnamon bark essential oil contains safrole, a compound that may lead to kidney or liver issues in the developing fetus and Wintergreen essential oil contains methyl silicate which could affect the normal growth of the fetus. Lemongrass contains citral and myrcene, two compounds that have been associated with birth defects.
“A common myth in aromatherapy is that massage oils containing essential oils such as Clary sage, Rose or even Rosemary can cause a miscarriage and hence should be avoided throughout pregnancy." Authors such as Ron Guba, Kurt Schnaubelt, and Chrissie Wildwood have all pointed out that “there have been no recorded cases of miscarriage or birth defect resulting from aromatherapy massage using therapeutic applications of any essential oil.”
For more information of research on the use of essential oils in pregnant women, read this article.
Even though it is evident that there is a lack of clear information and research regarding the toxicity of certain essential oils during pregnancy, it is best to be cautious and rather avoid these oils during your pregnancy.
At Sanctus Essence, we always advise that before you use any essential oil during pregnancy, it is best to first consult with your doctor or certified midwife.
And even though we recently introduced you to your 3 new positivity BFF’s - Jasmine, Rosemary and Clary Sage - they are 3 essential oils that are best avoided for a mom-to-be.