Essential Oils During Pregnancy & Childhood – Suggestions & Precautions

Pregnancy is a time when the therapeutic effects of essential oils can be very useful. It’s important, though, to be more careful when using oils now, and with babies and children as well.

Much essential oil use is in skin care and massage. Skin can become more sensitive during pregnancy, so it’s possible that if you’re pregnant you may react to oils that didn’t bother you before.

There are some other issues to consider when using essential oils during pregnancy. Some oils contain plant hormones and should be avoided during this time. Others may have a strong effect on the central nervous system. And because skin is not the only organ that can react differently during pregnancy, you may find that you no longer like the aromas of some oils that you thought were wonderful before you got pregnant. Or, you may find that an oil that used to be relaxing is now a stimulant; this can happen with larger doses of some oils. You may have to change some of your formulas to suit your new preferences.

Oils that are generally considered safe during pregnancy include the following:
– jasmine
– chamomile
– lavender
– tangerine
– grapefruit
– orange
– geranium
– rose
– ylang ylang

And here is a list of some essential oils that should be avoided during this time:
– basil
– fennel
– rosemary
– oregano
– bay
– cedarwood
– cinnamon
– juniper
– thyme
– clove
– sage
– myrhh
– birch
– anise
– marjoram
– clary sage
– nutmeg
– black pepper
– peppermint

Even when you’re using “safe” oils, it’s probably a good idea to use the smallest dose possible until you see how you react to it. Remember, too, that whatever you take in, the baby will also take in.

If you’re nursing a baby, keep all oils – both essential and carrier oils (the oil to which the essential oils will be added) – away from your nipples and the area around them (any place the baby’s face may rest against). You many need something for skin care here, especially if your nipples become cracked, but make sure the entire area is clean and free of all oils when you are nursing.

Babies and children can benefit in many ways from the use of essential oils, but here again the “underdose” rule applies. In fact, with babies it may be good to avoid everything except lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, and tea tree. As the child grows you can add lighter oils like orange, neroli, palmarosa, calendula, grapefruit, and anise. Also, if you’re planning on applying the oils to the skin, use only sweet (not bitter) almond oil or hazelnut oil as a carrier oil. And when you’re applying the oils – massage is great for this purpose, by the way – stay away from the eyes, the genital area (there are special formulas you can use if the baby has diaper rash), and possibly also the hands or feet – if the baby is old enough to suck or chew on them.

Finally, if you or your child are sick, make sure you consult your physician. Essential oils are not the treatment of choice in all situations, and it may be necessary to take stronger action if the illness is serious.

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