A common interest of many a woman, old or young, is indulging in essential oils. Whether this is used just for scenting purposes, massages, or for therapeutic reasons, essential oils have gained quite a lot of popularity in the current day and age. Essential oils are basically oils extracted from various plants which are organic in nature and tend to be extremely concentrated in terms of the particular herb/ingredient it is made of.
They’re used for a variety of purposes including medicinal reasons as they help in many ways including:
1. Muscle relaxation
2. Pain alleviation
3. Fighting symptoms of the flu
4. Skin healing
5. Digestion improvement
6. Hormone balancing
7. Antibacterial and antifungal functions
8. Getting rid of acne
9. Improved sleep
10. Antidepressant functions
The question that must now be asked is whether or not it is safe to use these same oils during pregnancy. The answer, as is the answer to most things, is that it is safe to use essential oils if used in moderation and keeping certain pointers in mind. There are some oils that are women are recommended to avoid during pregnancy while others are safe to use in small quantities. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid using these in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Essential oils have certain benefits during pregnancy which include helping to decrease pregnancy symptoms such as nausea or morning sickness, aches and pains, and swelling of joints such as the ankles. They work in a similar way to drugs and medicine, that being, they contain certain substances which are absorbed by the body. Why it is advisable to avoid essential oils in the first trimester is because this is the initial stage of development and there are chances that these substances and/or chemicals from the essential oils might interfere with the normal course of development of the fetus.
There are certain essential oils that are considered safe to use while others are better avoided.
1. Lavender - helps to ease anxiety and stress, promotes relaxation, and does not stimulate contractions (use with caution in case of low blood pressure)
2. Ginger - it helps get rid of mild nausea, ease aches and pains, and it has anti-inflammatory properties
3. Lemon - it can help reduce depressive symptoms and cleanse the body (use with caution in case of low blood pressure)
4. Grapefruit - should be used in diluted forms during pregnancy; it helps reduce fatigue and supports metabolism
5. Sweet orange - it helps to improve mood and increase energy
6. Ylang ylang - it helps elevate mood and reduce anxiety. It can help combat stress and pregnancy blues (use with caution in case of low blood pressure)
7. Tea tree - it helps fight acne and infections, and can even stimulate the immune system
8. Sandalwood - it can help improve energy and get rid of bad odor
What’s NOT safe:
1. Rosemary - it is believed to increase blood pressure and may stimulate contractions
2. Clary sage - this has been found to trigger contractions
3. Cinnamon - it has been known to stimulate menstruation which could lead to miscarriage
4. Juniper berry - it may affect the kidneys
5. Basil - there are research findings which point to the fact that this herb may affect cell development
6. Thyme - it could lead to miscarriage
7. Nutmeg - it may react with pain-relieving drugs and lead to hallucinogenic side-effects
8. Other oils that can be avoided include clove, peppermint, oregano, and lemongrass among others.
To be kept in mind is the fact that all the above-mentioned oils have their own risks and benefits. To be on the safer side, make sure you consult your healthcare provider before using any oils, and intimate this healthcare provider about any health issues you may have such as allergies or low blood pressure. Refrain from using essential oils in the first trimester; it’s safer to use them in the second and third trimester. Avoid using any essential oils immediately prior to or during labour, unless approved by your doctor. Also note that these oils should be used once or twice a week at the most, and are NOT to be used daily. All these products contain substances which can affect your child. So take all precautionary measures before using any such product.