Essential oils are derived from the fragrant part of different plants, and they’re processed in a natural way, and they have a certain chemical structure that will interact with our bodies in a certain way. They are just as potent as over-the-counter medications or prescription medications, and are equally subject to misuse and abuse, whether it be intentional or not. There is a time and place for them. For example, they’re frequently used to ease pain, fear, and nausea during labor. A study of 8000 women who use essential oils show that about half of them experience relief from them.
So a lot of people want to know if essential oils are safe to use during pregnancy. And just like other medications and herbal supplements, we can’t ethically study the effects that they might have on a pregnant woman, a nursing mother and her baby, or a fetus while the woman is pregnant. So all we can go off of is what we know from past experience when people have chosen to use them, and then we learn about certain side effects that they might have. Until we learn more about them, the current recommendation is that pregnant women use the lowest dose possible on the least number of occasions.
And there are a few things that you should stay away from. For example. peppermint. For nursing mothers, this can actually decrease your milk supply. So if this is something you’re using during labor or shortly after for pain, it might inhibit your body’s ability to make milk. Essential oils should be used as complimentary therapy, and should not be used after a person has self-diagnosed themselves with something and then tried to treat themselves with essential oils. For example, take cholestasis. It’s a condition of pregnancy that causes severe itching. The mother starts to itch terribly. And if she chose not to call her OB provider and let them know about that, and tried to use essential old instead, that could have grave consequences. Cholestasis can actually cause stillbirth, and so if it goes untreated, and a woman is just using oils on her skin to try to get rid of the itching, again, that could lead to stillbirth for her baby. So talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about unusual symptoms your experiencing, and they’ll be able to decide if further investigation or treatment is necessary for that.