Pregnancy can be a mixture of joy, wonder and challenge, and one of the most challenging aspects is that of safety. Is it safe to eat this; is okay to do that? Is this normal? Should I feel this way?
It can feel like a minefield, and just to confuse matters, we're often bombarded with well meaning, but sometimes inaccurate advice!
As the subject of wellness and self care have become mainstream subjects (especially in 2020), we have all become more familiar with essential oils in everyday use..... visit any Beauty counter or pharmacy and you'll find plenty of ranges featuring essential oils......usually touted as 'natural' or 'organic'.
Now, quite often these ranges have barely been shown a lavender sprig or rose flower during their creation, however ranges like Surya Luna really do use these ingredients at levels that are effective, and that might lead you to ask the question 'are products containing essential oil safe to use if I'm pregnant?'
Its a very valid question, and one that deserves to be answered, so I hope the following information will help shine a light on this subject.
There are a number of oils that should absolutely never be used during pregnancy under any circumstances, be that in a massage blend, a bath or a body oil. They are unsafe for a number of reasons, the first of which is that they are known as an emmenagogue. This means that they induce menstrual flow, potentially causing miscarriage.
The second circumstance is that There are certain oils which are toxic to mum, baby or both. Now these oils are generally regarded as toxic in ANY circumstances and are rarely used nowadays.
The third reason is that there are certain oils which strengthen and encourage uterine contractions....these particular oils are used occasionally by SPECIALISTS during labour, and then only rarely. Even a qualified aromatherapy like me wouldn't attempt to use them. There is of course a degree of overlap between these three categories.
So you might be wondering what these oils are......happily, many of them are quite obscure and even the average massage therapist will rarely encounter them, however some, particularly in list 2, can actually be purchased in any high street chemist! That's something I deeply disagree with....essential oils are wonderful, but powerful and I feel that their sale should be restricted to those with training in the subject.
Now, please be aware, that this is not an exhaustive list, and is meant for guidance only. I haven't divided them into their three categories, and as I say they can overlap.
Here are some that may surprise you:
Are you amazed to see something as 'gentle' as Lavender or Rose on the list?
Well, essential oils are fabulous and have many physical, emotional and spiritual benefits, but like most powerful things, they deserve our respect. They're a bit like nature's Social Media....marvellous and of great benefit when used properly, not so great when it gets out of control!
When it comes to candles, wax melts and room sprays that might contain any oils mentioned above they will generally be safe to use during pregnancy...they are after all, not being applied to the skin.
In terms of body care, soaps and facial products, any reputable skincare manufacturers will generally never use more than a 2% dilution of oils (less for facial skincare), as any more would be irritating to skin, so again, most of these would be safe, but that statement applies to list two. If you see a facial oil containing Mugwort put it back on the shelf whether you're pregnant or not!
Having said all this, it's always best to apply common sense. If you feel uncomfortable with a product, avoid it. As they say, if in doubt, don't! Any concerns should always be discussed with your nurse or doctor, and never be afraid to seek advice about any aspects of your pregnancy.
So, congratulations, enjoy, and I wish all mums-to- be joy and happiness!
By Lynne Caldwell, clinical aromatherapist