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Using Essential Oils When Pregnant or Breastfeeding

As part of our essential oil safety series, today we're talking about using essential oils safely when pregnant or breastfeeding. As long as you follow a few basic guidelines, using essential oils when you are pregnant or breastfeeding can be both safe and effective. Not all essential oils are safe to use during pregnancy or when breastfeeding, however, so it is important to educate yourself on proper use.



Basic Guidelines for Safe Use of Essential Oils When Pregnant or Breastfeeding
  • When pregnant, use essential oils only as directed by a midwife and aromatherapist. 
  • Avoid use of essential oils during your first trimester, except for occasional use through inhalation. An example would be inhaling an essential oil to help with morning sickness.
  • Maximum topical use of an essential oil should be limited to 1% (5-6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil)
  • Avoid any neat (undiluted) use of essential oil when pregnant.
  • Avoiding daily / regular use of essential oil when pregnant is recommended.
  • Uses that are considered inappropriate during pregnancy include oral, rectal, or vaginal applications.
  • It is recommended to avoid use of absolutes, solvent-extracted oils, poor-quality oils, and perfumes.
  • Limit your essential oil use to essential oils that have a history of low toxicity. 
  • When breastfeeding, it is recommended to avoid the essential oils that affect blood coagulation, such as Birch, Wintergreen, Garlic, and Onion.

Essential oils that should be avoided by any route throughout pregnancy and lactation

Anise, Anise (star), Araucaria, Artemisia vestita, Atractylis, Birch (sweet), Black seed, Buchu (disophenol CT), Buchu (pulegone CT), Calamint (lesser), Carrot Seed, Cassia, Chaste Tree, Cinnamon Bark, Costus, Cypress (blue), Dill seed (Indian), Fennel (bitter), Fennel (sweet), Feverfew, Genipi, Hibawood, Ho leaf (camphor CT), Hyssop (pinocamphone CT), Lanyana, Lavender (Spanish), Mugwort, Myrrh, Myrtle (aniseed), Oregano, Parsley leaf, Parsleyseed, Pennyroyal, Rue, Sage (Dalmatian), Sage (Spanish), Savin, Tansy, Thuja, Western Red Cedar, Wintergreen, Wormwood, Yarrow (green), Zedoary
***This list is taken from Essential Oil Safety: Second Edition, by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, page 152


Essential oils that should be restricted during pregnancy and lactation

Basil (lemon), Boswellia papyrifera, Champaca (orange) absolute, Lemon balm (Australian), Lemon leaf, Lemongrass, May Chang, Melissa, Myrtle (honey), Myrtle (lemon), Nasturtium absolute, Tea Tree (lemon-scented), Thyme (Lemon), Verbena (Lemon)
***This list is taken from Essential Oil Safety: Second Edition, by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, page 152

Resources:
Essential Oil Safety, Second Edition by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young
Aromatherapy Certification Program, General Reference by Aromahead Institute
Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Childbirth by Margaret Fawcett


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