First of all, what are essential oils?
Essential oils (EOs) are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, leaves, bark, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Although they are indeed oils, they are almost crisp to the touch and are immediately absorbed by the skin. Pure, unadulterated EOs are translucent and can range in color from crystal clear to even a deep blue! Although they may seem like new and uncharted territory for most, they have been used for thousands of years for their natural medicinal and therapeutic benefits, which is why they are commonly called “Nature’s Medicine Cabinet”.
Along with the new wave of “Clean Eaters” and “Whole 30” enthusiasts, there has been a growing number of people looking for a more holistic approach to their wellness. Oddly enough, many people who first ask me about EOs, think ‘aromatherapy’ is their sole purpose. While there is truth to that thought, most people are simply amazed to find out the power and potential EOs possess! Because our primary focus is about using EOs for pregnancy, I’ll try to stay on track and provide you with some basic EO knowledge.
How do I use EOs?
In a nutshell, there are three primary ways to use EOs: topically, aromatically, and internally. Topically means applied to the skin. Most EO’s are gentle enough to be applied directly to the skin and/or affected area without a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Carrier oils are used to help spread the essential oil over a large area or for those with sensitive skin. Most people use the soles of the feet for quick absorption into the body. Your feet have the largest pores and are less sensitive than most places on the body, which is why they work so well for this purpose. If you want to try using the oils aromatically, a great example would be diffusing oils with antimicrobial properties, such as clove or wild orange, in your home. Or if you have trouble sleeping because you have 20 lbs of pregnancy bliss attached to your abdomen, you could try diffusing lavender to help you sleep. Now I can’t promise that it will work the same on your internal mini-kick boxer, but it’s definitely worth a shot. Finally, there is the ever so hot topic of taking the oils internally. Internal use of EOs seems to be rather controversial for some, and if you are a big “Google-er” you will definitely see a slew of opinions plastered on blogs and forums. This brings us to our next question…
Are EOs safe?
Studies show that using pure, therapeutic grade EOs can be immensely beneficial. However, when discussing the topic of safety, knowing the ‘What, Where, and How’ is key. When it comes to knowing what is in EOs, and where they come from, it is important to realize that not all manufacturers are forthcoming with where their plant material is grown, if pesticides are used, or if they add synthetics to “stretch” their product. There are several well-known manufacturers that produce therapeutic grade EOs, but I only know of one company that grows their plants organically and does voluntary additional testing for purity. These are the oils I prefer for my family, and since I do choose to take my oils internally, purity is number one priority.
The ‘How’ includes both how to use them, as we discussed earlier, and how much to use. Just one drop of a pure unadulterated EO can possess about 40 million trillion molecules, which is about enough to cover each cell in your body 40,000 times! #Mindblown, right? So with that being said, a little DEFINITELY goes a long way! You don’t need to use much. Period.
In terms of being safe for pregnancy, there is no evidence whatsoever to prove that they are unsafe. The most common claims you will find online are that certain oils can cause hormonal changes, uterine contractions, and can even deplete your milk supply. These claims can be very misleading, and I have found no literature or studies that support these statements, nor have I heard any complaints from pregnant fellow oil advocates. Keep in mind that everyone’s body chemistry is different, so every woman’s circumstances are going to be different as well. Educating yourself while using valid, and reputable sources is key. Although this option might be less convenient, try to avoid hearsay and “big dollar bloggers” as sources of information. There are tons of medical studies, books, websites, etc., with cold, hard, factual information on the science behind the oils, and how you should use them. Finally, and this goes without saying, you should consult your physician with questions and/or concerns that you have, if any. Your physician should always know of any substance you are taking routinely during your pregnancy, even if it is natural/holistic or over-the-counter.
How can EOs be used during pregnancy and postpartum?
I know that we jokingly touched on this a little bit earlier, but all kidding aside, uses for oils during both pregnancy and the postpartum period are seemingly endless. For instance, EO’s like ginger can help block receptors that cause all of that lovely nausea that comes with ever-dreaded morning sickness. There are oils that can help with constipation and heartburn, as well! Can I get an amen, and a hallelujah for that one?? One of the several benefits of frankincense oil is that it promotes cellular health. You can top it off with a little coconut oil for perineal massage during labor or you can apply it to your c-section incision to expedite healing. Fennel oil can ease indigestion for both you, and baby, and a few drops of lavender and melaleuca work beautifully for skin irritations. These things are just the tip of the iceberg, guys. If you want more info, or have specific concerns, I have attached some great links that have alphabetical lists and recommendations from experts.
Can EOs interfere with medications I am already taking?
One of the most appealing things about Eos is that they are 100% natural, so you can take them while on prescription meds and over-the-counter meds. Now, the only time that the answer might morph into a “maybe” is when you are using specific oils to treat a condition while you are also taking medications for that condition. If the oils begin to help you with the issue, then there is a possibility that the medications you are on might need to be dialed down a bit—or vice versa. If you are under a doctor’s care, ALWAYS consult with them first for that very reason. I am finding more and more healthcare providers that are “pro-oils”, and you guys can work together as a team for your benefit. Always keep your physician in the loop.
The bottom line here is this—essential oils, in their purest form, can provide much benefit to your wellness when used appropriately. I have had much success with them in my own experiences and will continue to use them because they are a safe alternative…and they work. A more natural approach to one’s health is a personal choice and one that you are most definitely entitled to. Just do your research, communicate with your healthcare provider, and above all, do what feels comfortable to you. Don’t worry if people start calling you “The Crazy Oil Lady”. They just don’t know what they’re missing!
Helpful links for your research:
Helpful books for additional reading:
- Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies by Stephanie Fritz LM, CPM
- Modern Essentials 6th Ed.