Can essential oils be used during pregnancy?
We used to advise not at all in the first three months, and then maybe only quite prudently, pointing to a long history of anecdotal reportage of safe use. However various regulatory bodies concerned with the toxicological effects of essential oils on both sides of the pond have pointed out that detailed evidence of the effects of essential oils on human reproductive toxicology is missing. We also know that foetal and infant detoxification mechanisms are under-developed and we understand them poorly. It would be the choice of (Safety Chair) therefore to err on the side of extreme caution and not use essential oils during pregnancy, although this policy might be considered rather extreme by some.
Are there any essential oils or aromatherapy products that should not be used during pregnancy?
Turning the question around, these well diluted oils arguably might have less potential for possible adverse effects: chamomile oils, geranium, jasmine, lavender, neroli, patchouli, sandalwood, ylang ylang.
Can essential oils be used during the birthing process?
Traditionally we have said that oils like lavender can help relax mom by scenting the air, when used as a back rub etc. However it has also been said that relaxants work counter to the process of giving birth. We are unaware of any studies done on the effect of oils such as lavender on the CNS (central nervous system) of a new born baby - personally it wouldn't be our choice (Safety chair) to administer psycho physiologically depressant substances to a new born baby. But again, this attitude might be considered extreme by some.
What about topical application of aromatherapy blend to the skin of the perineum before giving birth?
Can essential oils be used for breast tenderness during pregnancy?
Yes very dilute massage with chamomiles/lavender perhaps.
Can essential oils be used during breast feeding or if mastitis occurs?
Not during the process, could interfere with baby sense of smell, finding mom, etc. For mastitis, compresses with anti-inflammatory oils may be useful after breastfeeding (only if your doctor agrees), but essential oil treatment is no substitute for medication. It is important that the oils are not used on the breasts when baby will come into contact.
I have heard that there are some essential oils that can help to increase the production of breast milk. Is this true? And if so, how would I apply the essential oils?
Folk law stories have it that this is the case (especially with farm and domesticated animals), but we know of no controlled clinical studies which substantiate the claim in humans.
What essential oils and or bases would be beneficial for stretch marks?
Cocoa butter has always been recommended, no oil will remove scars yet there are scar formulas all over internet. Massage during pregnancy will help reduce maybe….
Are there any essential oils that are useful for constipation during pregnancy? How would the oils be applied?
Don’t use essential oils for constipation, but a fixed oil massaged onto the abdomen may help
What essential oils are helpful for morning sickness from nausea?
Traditionally peppermint and chamomile (Roman) have been taken as a tea in traditional teabag form, not via essential oils in water.
Can essential oils be used in a full body bath and or foot bath for edema and swelling?
Full baths are not recommended near end of pregnancy: foot baths might be used to advantage.
I have heard that essential oils can be incorporated with a sitz bath to aid in healing of hemorrhoids as well as soothing the perineum after giving birth. If so, which essential oils would be useful?
Suggest cypress, sandalwood, and lavender.
Is aromatherapy useful for postpartum effects, like fatigue, depression and not sleeping well?
Of course, now is the time to use them! Use lavender for sleeping, and uplifting scents for fatigue and depression
Can I use essential oils on my baby for colic?
Some authorities say that essential oil flavored waters (e.g. gripe water) are not now recommended on safety grounds. We would recommend you to find alternative cures. Very dilute lavender could be used to massage cranky babies, and this may help relieve some tension in mom and baby
I've read your site on essential oils but is this for straight out of the bottle oils or is it safe to use skincare products with the oils in them. Such as face cleansers, toners, moisturizers, homemade real/castile soap. Are these safe for during pregnancy/nursing since there not straight/full strength?
In fact essential oils should not be used full strength on the skin. period. But I see what you mean - you could regard the essential oil content of these cosmetic products as coming 'prediluted'.
If you've read the Safety of Essential Oils Safety Data, and the concerns about the Methyl Eugenol Content of Essential Oils articles authored by myself, you will have some awareness of the issues involved. Although we are exposed on a daily basis to small amounts of essential oils & synthetic fragrance chemicals from many sources (e.g. soaps & cosmetics, perfumes, household & cleaning materials, space odorants, dental products, spiced food. medicated confectionary (cough sweets), muscle rubs, bath & sauna products etc. etc.), the direct application of fragranced products to the skin - even when diluted as they generally are - can represent a higher potential dose event per unit of body weight, than, say, breathing normally for a while in a slightly fragranced environment such as a hotel lobby room. Under our obligation of due diligence, we are therefore extra cautious when giving safety advice to clients of aromatherapists of child-bearing age, just because the potential dose of essential oils from this type of exposure could be over and above that normally encountered (although I should also say at this point that there are even toxicological investigations being conducted presently on indoor air quality, looking at the effect of background levels of aroma chemicals from incense, air freshener perfumes etc etc. on human health. So even background levels of fragrance in the home are presently being considered for Health & Safety risks). The advice about essential oils in our profession generally takes the form that, if at all possible, avoid or minimise exposure to essential oils in pregnancy, especially, some would say, in the first trimester. I would think that this advice holds good for fragranced cosmetic products also - and if it is seem by some as being over-cautious: then so be it - personally, I would rather err on the side of caution in this particular matter.
There are national guidelines for ingredients which can be safely used in cosmetics, and these are under constant review by bodies concerned with toxicological matters. Although the big names in cosmetics will almost certainly be aware of, and abide by, these regulations, it is a matter of conjecture as to whether smaller cottage industries are always 'up to speed' with these issues. Further, new regulations currently being introduced on both sides of the pond require that data on many more heavily-used essential oils is assembled for (amongst other things) any carcinogenic. mutagenic and reproductive toxicological properties, as well as their potential eco-toxicity. It probable that this data is incomplete in many respects, or is missing, for many major essential oils, and it is almost certainly missing for the more minor essential oils (say those produced at production volumes of under 1 ton/annum). The bottom line is that although up to now we (in aromatherapy) have assumed that certain essential oils are probably safe to use in pregnancy in the (best-practice) way that we recommend aromatherapists use them, it remains to be seen whether this view will change when we eventually have this new data.
In the meantime there is no reason why you should nor direct your question about particular fragranced consumer items to the appropriate cosmetics manufacturer - but make sure you are not 'fobbed off 'with a 'public-relations' type answer, and that you get a proper appraisal from the technical/regulatory department. In my experience, several of the larger cosmetics companies have well-qualified, knowledgeable staff who should be able to put any risk factor in context for you.