Ah! I’m FINALLY getting around to writing and posting this blog.
Essential oils, children, pregnancy, labor, natural birth and holistic living is something I’m very passionate about.
As I’m writing this blog my oldest son is not yet 4 years old and my youngest will soon be 2 years old.
They are oily babies as we call them in our community.
I have used essential oils with both pregnancies before conception, during pregnancy, birth and beyond, way beyond.
Essential oils for labor can be JUST the ticket if you’re looking for safe, healthy option for your labor. Not only can essential oils help ease discomfort, but they may also help keep you relaxed and grounded to help your labor progress well.
Given that essential oils contribute to overall health and wellness in general, it seems obvious that they would be extremely valuable during pregnancy too!
For some people it can be very hard to decide whether to use essential oils with children, in pregnancy or labor. I hope my blog helps you make a decision and put some fears at rest!
Safety during pregnancy
The use of essential oils during pregnancy is a controversial topic and one that is yet to be fully understood. The main concern during pregnancy appears to be the risk of essential oil constituents crossing over into the placenta.
According to Tisserand, “Crossing the placenta does NOT necessarily mean that there is a risk of toxicity to the fetus; this will depend on the toxicity and the plasma concentration of the compound.”
Burfield states, “It is probable that essential oil metabolites cross the placenta due to the intimate (but not direct) contact between maternal and embryonic or fetal blood.”
Buckle comments that “The use of essential oils in pregnancy is a contentious subject, especially during the vital first 3-month period. It is extremely UNLIKELY that a nightly bath containing a few drops of essential oils will cause any problems for the unborn child” and later states “There are No records of abnormal fetuses or aborted fetuses due to the ‘normal’ use of essential oils, either by inhalation or topical application.”
According to Wildwood, “A common myth in aromatherapy is that massage oils containing essential oils such as Clary sage, rose or even rosemary can cause a miscarriage and hence should be avoided throughout pregnancy.”
Authors such as Ron Guba, Kurt Schnaubelt and Chrissie Wildwood have all pointed out that there have been NO recorded cases of miscarriage or birth defect resulting from aromatherapy massage using therapeutic applications of any essential oil.
Guba points out that toxicity during pregnancy is, “Almost exclusively due to pregnant women taking large, toxic doses of essential oils, notably pennyroyal (rich in the ketone, pulegone, which is metabolized to the highly toxic furan epoxide, menthofuron) and parsley seed (rich in the dimethyl ether, apiol) in an attempt to abort the fetus.”
“The judicious use of essential oils together with appropriate forms of massage by a skilled therapist can help ease the discomforts of pregnancy and provide a sense of nurturing that will comfort the mother at times she is likely to be feeling rather fragile.”
In her book Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential oils in Practice, Jane Buckle, Ph.D, R.N., states:
“There are NO records of abnormal fetuses or [miscarriages] due to the normal use of essential oils, either by inhalation or topical application. There are no records of a few drops of essential oils taken by mouth causing any problem either.”
Due to the lack of clear information regarding the toxicity of essential oils during pregnancy, it would be best to adhere to general safety guidelines.
Essential Oils and Nursing
Your main concern with nursing and essential oils will be regarding milk supply and quality. Two essential oils are known to have potential negative effects on milk supply: Peppermint and Clary sage. Peppermint is the more noticeable of these, but I have found that using it in normal to small doses that I have had no effect on my milk supply. This seems to be the case with many women. And some women have said that they have seen a milk supply increase with Clary Sage!
You might want to consider how essential oils might flavor your milk. Some oils have very strong flavors that could make the baby refuse to eat. This is generally true when ingesting oils. Again, something to think about.
One last consideration during nursing is possible detox effect. Some report that any sort of detox can result in toxins leaving via the breastmilk and into the baby. Keep in mind that your body is always in a constant state of cycling out toxins. So while I wouldn’t recommend doing any intense detox or cleanses, or starting on half a bottle of lemon oil, I personally don’t worry about continuing on with normal essential oil usage while nursing.
Essential oils to Best Avoid During
Pregnancy, Labor and While Breastfeeding.
Aniseed – Pimpinella anisum
Basil – Ocimum basilicum
Birch – Betula lenta
Blue Cypress -Callitris intratropica
Camphor -Cinnamomum camphora
Fennel – Sweet Foeniculum vulgare
Ho leaf – Cinnamomum camphora
Hyssop – Hyssopus officinalis
Mugwort or Wormwood – Artemisia vulgaris and A. absinthium
Myrtle – Myrtus communis
Parsley seed – Petroselinum sativum
Pennyroyal – Mentha pulegium
Sage – Salvia officinalis
Spanish lavender – Lavandula stoechas ssp. stoechas
Tansy- Tanacetum vulgare
Tarragon – Artemisia dracunculus
Wintergreen – Gaultheria procumbens
1. According to Schnaubelt, “If essential oils droplets accidentally get into the eye (or eyes) a cotton cloth or similar should be imbued with a fatty oil, such as olive or sesame and carefully swiped over the closed lid.”
2. If an essential oil causes dermal irritation, apply a small amount of vegetable oil or cream to the area affected.
3. According to Buckle, if a child appears to have drunk several spoonfuls of essential oil, contact the nearest poison control unit (often listed in the front of a telephone directory). Keep the bottle for identification and encourage the child to drink whole or 2% milk. Do not try to induce vomiting. Which takes me to number 4…
4. Keep essential oils away from children. That’s a no brainer, though, right?
5. It is important to discuss usage with a medical professional experienced with essential oils and to be judicious with their use.
Now, let’s get to the most exciting part!
Here are some top ways you can use essential oils for an easier labor.
Top Essential Oils for Labor
Lavender Essential Oil – Lavender is a very versatile essential oil you can use all throughout your labor to promote relaxation and ease occasional muscle tension. It’s great to use in massage during labor or fantastic in the diffuser for birth!
Frankincense Essential Oil – Frankincense is an amazing essential oil for labor. Use it to calm your emotions by inhaling the aroma. You can rub frankincense on your lower back or tummy to ease labor discomfort.
Copaiba Essential Oil – If you tear “down there” you can apply it directly to the area to help with discomfort and to support healthy skin.
Helichrysum Essential Oil– Helichrysum essential oil is great to use on your perineum during delivery to increase skin elasticity. You can just use a small amount of helichrysum with a carrier oil and rub it on. This is great to use in combination with a ginger compress on your perineum.
Peppermint Essential Oil– You can smell peppermint essential oil to ease nausea during labor.
Black Pepper Essential Oil – This oil is incredibly helpful to use if you have back labor. Just massage 1-3 drops on your lower back. I honestly can’t remember how often I’ve had my husband apply this oil but looking back we think it was about every hour when I passed the 6cm of dilation.
Myrrh Essential Oil – Put a drop of myrrh on the baby’s umbilical cord stump to help it to dry and fall off faster. Inhaling the aroma of myrrh can also encourage the progression of natural labor.
Clary Sage Essential Oil – Clary Sage is a versatile essential oil for labor. It encourages more effective contractions, so you can put a few drops on your inner ankles to keep labor moving along normally. You can also try this as a natural way to encourage labor. That’s not all… Clary Sage is also great for soothing labor discomfort when applied to the Vita Flex on the feet or the back.
Rose Essential Oil – Rose essential oil for labor is relaxing and helps soften ligaments. Your ligaments have to soften up to allow your pelvis to expand for baby to pass through. You can put a few drops in a bath or use it with a massage for the lower back or abdomen. It’s a pricy oil that is worth every drop!
Jasmine Essential Oil – Jasmine evokes feelings of joy, peace and self-confidence. It can soothe discomfort and contribute to normal labor. Use with massage on lower back or abdomen.
Peace and Calming – The name says it all! This was one of my favorite blends to diffuse while in labor.
NingXia Red – Although it is not an essential oil I simply HAD to include it in my list. I would drink some every time I felt the energy draining and needed a boost.
Essential oils have an endless number of uses for overall health. So it makes sense that using essential oils for labor can be just as helpful. Give them a try.
You may be surprised!
Got a baby on your hands and wondering where to start when it comes to essential oils?
Here’s an infographic that you may find useful.
Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern
Pregnancy and Nursing with Young Living Essential Oils by Jolin Housewright
If you’ve delivered naturally before, what is your best advice for others? Share below!
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