Lesson #6

Lesson 6

Essential Oils During Pregnancy and For Children

 

 

Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Using herbs and essential oils during your pregnancy can be extremely helpful, especially considering that many traditional over the counter medicines become off limits. Essential oils can be used very safely and effectively for relaxation, pain relief, digestive upsets, cramps, and other discomforts.  The opinions are somewhat varied on which essential should be used during pregnancy, and there may be more oils that are safe and effective to use during pregnancy than I have listed here.  I base my information and recommendations on the advice from various safety experts, midwives, and vintage aromatherapists, as well as my own personal experience and knowledge of the chemistry of each oil and how they actually affect the body and hormones.  Some of the discrepancy in information available is due to the fact that very few actual studies have focused on large groups of women during pregnancy.  This is partly due to the fact that natural substances generally are not widely used for blind test groups, and also because pregnant women from around the globe aren’t exactly lining up to be included in experiments!  And who can blame them?  So again, while there may be many more oils that are safe for use during pregnancy, I have only listed the ones I know to be safe from experience and other experts’ opinions.  It is important, as always, to make sure you are using high quality oils when you are pregnant, for the health of both you and your baby.

Despite the varied opinions on certain essential oils, there are some oils that universally should be avoided during pregnancy.  The most common reasons for avoiding certain oils during pregnancy are due to hormonal effects, and to the stimulating effects on the uterus, which can cause contractions.  Now it is important to note, that just because an oil can affect the hormones, doesn’t mean that it is estrogenic, it simply means it can have an impact on the hormones, and should be avoided during pregnancy.  Also, certain oils are known to increase blood pressure, affect kidney function, and cause extra skin sensitivity during pregnancy.  Some books or blogs recommend staying away from quite a few oils that if used correctly are not dangerous during pregnancy, but rather than taking the time to explain how and why to use an oil properly during pregnancy, they just advise to avoid it.  If a book or person cannot explain to you WHY an oil is or is not safe during pregnancy, I would not base your decisions on what they have to say.  Sadly, even many very well educated aromatherapists advise blanket avoiding of oils that could be used very successfully and safely, simply because they do not wish to take the time to truly teach the ins and outs of safety, and any possible contradictions.

Some oils that should be always be avoided during pregnancy are: nutmeg, rosemary, basil, jasmine, clary sage, juniper, sage, laurel, angelica, thyme, citronella, and cinnamon.  Because of the slight hormonal effects of lavender, rose, and tea tree, it is sometimes suggested that these oils be avoided during the first trimester, but they may be safely used from the beginning of the second trimester on.  Also, peppermint should be used topically with caution, as it can cause irritation to the skin during pregnancy, and should be avoided shortly before birth, because it can decrease milk supply.  It is also technically possible that peppermint could cause some uterine cramping, although actual cases of this aren’t actually documented, but avoiding it during the first trimester is recommended to stay on the safe side.  Menthol can have a negative effect on infants, and the affects of the oil for unborn babies when topically applied to the skin is not well studied.  For this reason some aromatherapists advocate avoiding peppermint completely during pregnancy.  In my experience, using peppermint aromatically after the first trimester, for short term applications such as for a migraine can be very safe, and effective.  There are no cases showing peppermint oil to have harmed mother or baby during pregnancy, but there are certainly some situations where any peppermint oil during pregnancy would be contraindicated.  But for normal, healthy pregnancies, peppermint can be useful in some situations.  Clary sage is also an oil that has some controversy surrounding it during pregnancy.  At a minimum, avoiding it during the first trimester is a good idea, in fact, avoiding all essential oils during your first trimester is generally recommended.  This doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where some oils could be safely and effectively used, it simply means there are reasons for caution.  In my personal experience 90% of the time whole herbs, or other herbal preparations can be used far more safely and effectively for most situations during pregnancy than essential oils can.  Again, that is not to say there isn’t a place for them, but often when people find out how limited the amount of essential oils are that are safe for pregnancy, they feel their “natural” options for managing unwanted symptoms are gone too.  But this is not the case at all!  Symptoms such as heart burn, nausea, muscle aches, etc., can often be dealt with using herbal preparations that are far less concentrated and far safer for both mama and baby during pregnancy.  So don’t despair just because an essential oil is on the “no” list, you may be able to use the plant itself very effectively.

If your pregnancy has suffered from complications, it may be wise for you to do a bit more research into which oils are safe for your specific needs, and discuss using them with your doctor or midwife.  However, if your pregnancy is normal and healthy, essential oils can be used very effectively for a variety of ailments.

Here are some different categories of common discomforts associated with pregnancy, and some oils that are safe and may be helpful to use.

Relaxation and Anti-Stress

Bergamot

Frankincense

Lavender

Patchouli

Chamomile

Wild Orange

Tangerine

Pain And Tension Relief

Cypress

Frankincense

Lavender (after the first trimester)

Chamomile

Peppermint (sparingly at the beginning of pregnancy because of it’s possible stimulating properties, and sparingly at the end of pregnancy, as peppermint can decrease milk production)

Digestive Health

Ginger

Peppermint (sparingly at the end of pregnancy as it can decrease milk production)

Spearmint

Lemon

Grapefruit

Lime

Skin Health (and stretch marks)

Frankincense

Lavender (after the first trimester)

Rose (after the first trimester)

Sandalwood

Myrrh

Chamomile

Tea Tree (after the first trimester)

A great ways to utilize essential oils during pregnancy is to add a few drops mixed with Epsom salt for use as a bath salt soak.  The magnesium in the Epsom salt helps with relaxation and aids circulation as well.  Using a few drops of oil in a footbath is another great way to absorb the oils, while easing the pain of tired feet.  Placing a few drops of essential oil in some carrier oil and using it as a massage oil for tight or irritated skin is also helpful.  And making a mixture of some of the oils that aid in digestion, and rubbing the diluted mixture over the digestive tract is yet another suggestion.

The oils listed above are oils that have been used and tested on hundreds of women by various midwives without negative results or side effects.  This being said, if in doubt, check with your doctor or other professionals to see if using these oils is right for you, and always be sure you are using the oil correctly diluted, and in a safe manner.

 

Essential Oils For Babies and Children

Herbs and essential oils have played a huge part for me in raising my son and my younger sister, and also in creating the line of baby skincare products that I sell in my store and online.  Essential oils can be extremely helpful for such common occurrences as diaper rash, cradle cap, ear infection, and colic.

The most important rule when using essential oils on babies is ALWAYS DILUTE more than you think you should.  Whether using an essential oil topically, or with a diffuser, never use an oil straight, or neat.  Always, always dilute.  Babies skin and mucous membranes are much more sensitive than ours are as adults, and care should be taken so as not to cause any irritation.  We want these oils to help and soothe, not cause additional irritation!  A 0.5 5 – 1% dilution can work wonders.  Stronger is often not better, especially when using essential oils for young children.  Remember these essential oils are extremely powerful, and one drop can equal many pounds of the plan itself, so don’t fall for the thinking that you need more to help your problem.

A good rule of thumb for dilution is:  For infants, 2 drops of essential oil to 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil.  For children over one year, you may increase to 4 drops of essential oil to 2 tablespoons of carrier oil.  For diffusing, mix 1 tablespoon of water with 1 drop of essential oil and add to your diffuser.  Some essential oils do not require this much dilution, but it is a good rule of thumb unless you are certain that the essential oil you are using requires less dilution and will not cause irritation.  And in my opinion, there is never a reason for an infant or toddler to use an essential oil without dilution.

It is also important to remember that babies senses are very heightened.  What may seem mild and pleasant to you may be very irritating and strong to your baby.  So always avoid placing oils anywhere near the face of a small infant, even if diluted.  Apply any topical oils to an infants back if the situation you are in does not require an oil be applied to a specific location. (for example a bite or sting where you would want to put the oil on the place the child was stung.)

  For infants, very few oils should be used.  Again, just as with pregnancy, often times whole herb preparations such as infused oils are far safer, and more effective for treating rashes etc.  Chamomile, lavender, sandalwood etc, can be safely used in an extremely diluted (0.25% or less) solution for some short term ailments such as a diaper rash.  You may read some people advocating putting lavender oil undiluted, or even 50/50 on an infant every night to help them sleep.  This is NOT advised.  Essential oils should never be used for anything more than a very temporary issue on children under the age of 2.  And even after the age of 2, daily use of the same oil can cause sensitization that can last into adulthood and require them to avoid a particular oil for the rest of their life.  So when looking for solutions for ailments for children under 2, always explore whole herb options first.  Infused oils, teas, glycerites etc., and if you decide to use an essential oil, only do so for a short period of time, and very, very well diluted.

Here are some different categories and some of the essential oils that have been very helpful for me when working with children.  Again, always remember to NEVER apply an oil directly to to an infants skin.  Typically, making a soothing salve, with one or more of these oils is the most effective.Cradle Cap

Chamomile

Lavender

Sandalwood

Rose

Patchouli

Geranium

Respiratory Infections and Colds

Lavender

Peppermint (not for infants)

Spearmint (not for infants)

Basil (not for infants)

Tea Tree

Diaper Rash

Chamomile

Lavender

Patchouli

Rose

Frankincense

Myrrh

Ear Infections and Ear Pain

Lavender

Clove (not for infants)

Tea Tree

Frankincense

Colic and Digestive Issues

Fennel (not for infants)

Peppermint (not for infants)

Spearmint (not for infants)

Lavender

Chamomile

 

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of oils that can be helpful, but these are some of my favorite go-to oils for infants and toddlers.

There is no way in one short lesson that I can cover all of the material, recipes, ideas, or safety information for using essential oils during pregnancy, and for use on babies and children.  My goal today is not to give you ALL the information you need, but rather to introduce you to the concept, and give you some ideas for ways that essential oils might be helpful during pregnancy, and for use with children.  Oils you use will change depending on what stage you are during pregnancy, and how old your children are, etc.  Always do your research before using oils, only you know your health history, your child’s medical history, or any other variables that would effect your choices of essential oil.  If you have questions, find a qualified aromatherapist in your area that you can learn from, and get your questions answered!  And always double check your essential oil choices with your doctor or midwife, especially if you, or your child are on any mediations.  Contrary to what some sources say, essential oils can interact quite strongly with some medications, even negating their effect.  So do your research!

 

Thanks for joining me for today’s lesson!

Ashley Glassman

Essential Oils Education

 

For more information on essential oils please visit my page at:

 

For links to recipes and other goodies check out my posts on pinterest!

 

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