The use of essential oils during pregnancy

·      The benefits

·      How to use them properly

·      When to avoid them

·      Safe and unsafe essential oils

Essential oils are very popular during pregnancy, whether it’s for use during massage, in the bath or just in a skincare routine. They oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that can be diluted with a “base” or “carrier” oil such as almond or grapeseed or used in a vaporiser, and can produce numerous of benefits including helping you to de-stress and relax both mentally and physically.

These oils are used in aromatherapy and contain chemicals that can be absorbed into your body. Once inside the body, essential oils work similarly to drugs or medicines and because the molecules are very small, there is a possibility that they may cross the placenta and into the baby’s circulation. For this reason, it is extremely important to understand the effects of the numerous types of essential oils as some will not be suitable for use during pregnancy, whilst some will whisk you away to a land of relaxation completely safely.

The benefits

There are numerous positives associated with the use of essential oils and aromatherapy during both pregnancy and labour. Research has demonstrated positive results, showing that it was effective in relieving labour pain and preventing feelings of being helpless, in danger and overwhelmed.

Some niggles common in pregnancy which can be aided through the use of essential oils are thought to be:

·      Swollen ankles (lemon, cypress (after 5 months), geranium and lavender)

·      Morning sickness and nausea (peppermint)

·      Headaches (lavender, peppermint and frankincense)

·      Nasal congestion (eucalyptus, peppermint, spearmint)

·      Varicose veins (lemon, cypress (after 5 months), geranium)

·      Lower back pain (lavender and Roman chamomile)

·      Stretch-mark prevention (helichrysum)

·      Emotional well-being (bergamot, frankincense, black pepper, geranium, ylang ylang, lavender, neroli, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver)

Are they safe?

It is safe to use certain essential oils during pregnancy as long as you are healthy and careful with them. They should be used sparingly and bought from a reputable seller. Experts recommend avoiding the use of essential oils in the first trimester, however many are safe to use further along in your pregnancy as your baby is more developed. If you do wish to use them earlier than this, make sure you check with your midwife or GP first.

As a rule of thumb, you should avoid essential oils if you have:

·      a history of miscarriage

·      had vaginal bleeding in this pregnancy

·      epilepsy

·      heart problems

·      diabetes, blood clotting problems, thyroid, liver or kidney disease

·      high or low blood pressure

·      asthma or a respiratory condition

How do I use them?

Essential oils are potent and can cause irritation to the skin so it’s important to dilute them with a carrier oil before use. Some suitable carrier oils are:

·      Sweet almond oil (as long as you don’t have a nut allergy)

·      Coconut oil (available at Santi!)

·      Grapeseed oil

Dilute the essential oil with at least a teaspoon of carrier oil before adding to a bath or smoothing over skin (a rough dilution suggestion is 5 drops of essential oil with 25ml carrier oil). IFPA’s pregnancy guidelines recommend a dilution of 1% blend with the carrier oil for skin applications and no more than 4 drops should be used in the bath.

If you are unsure about allergic reactions to essential oils, carry out a patch test prior to using them. You can to this by:

1.     Adding 1-2 drops of essential oils to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil

2.     Apply the diluted oil to your inner wrist or elbow and leave for 24 hours

3.     If irritation occurs, this oil is not safe for you to use.


·      Use one drop of essential oil at a time

·      Try not to use one particular oil for a long period of time (e.g. every day for a few weeks)

·      Don’t leave a vaporiser on for longer than 10-15minutes each hour

·      Never use undiluted essential oils during pregnancy

Even once passed 12 weeks, not all essential oils are suitable for use during pregnancy, with many causing risks of adverse health reactions including stimulating contractions, raising blood pressure or interfering with medication. Below is a list essential oils which are generally thought to be safe/ unsafe for use during pregnancy.

If you are at all in doubt about which oils are safe for you to use, consult a professional aromatherapist, your midwife or GP.

So whether you are ready to enjoy one of our tailor made pregnancy massages or just want a nice relaxing bubble bath, make sure you are using appropriate essential oils and dilute them appropriately! For more information or to find out the kind of oils we stock at Santi, see us in store or visit our online shop; we have a variety of organic base oils perfect to mix with your favourite essentials!