Essential oils have so many great properties that make them beneficial for tons of everyday uses. More and more women seem to be stocking at least a few bottles and using them on a daily basis.
But when it comes to using essential oils while breastfeeding, is it safe and which oils do you use?
The good news is that you can still use and enjoy your oils while nursing, but you do need to take certain precautions. The following guidelines will help you to feel confident using essential oils as a new mom and give you some ideas for the best ones to use.
However, you should always talk with your healthcare practitioner or lactation consultant with any concerns. They can give you more specific advice.
Safely Using Essential Oils While Breastfeeding
There are a few general safety guidelines that you should always be following.
Use only 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils to make sure that you aren't putting any synthetic chemicals or fillers on your body or in the air. Always dilute with a carrier oil like coconut or sweet almond before using (we'll get into dilution ratios later).
Here are a few more precautions that are specific to using essential oils while breastfeeding.
Which Methods To Use
One of the best ways to use essential oils while nursing is to apply them topically as needed. Keep in mind that anything absorbed into your body can be transferred to breast milk, although it's typically less than 1% of the dose you receive. (1)
Also, be aware of whether you have essential oil residue on your hands when you touch your baby's skin. Their skin is much more fragile and sensitive than yours.
A good rule of thumb is to use essential oils that are considered safe for children and dilute them to at least a 1% dilution rate. This equals about 1-3 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil.
Another way to use your oils is in a diffuser. Start with only a few drops (less than you normally would) and keep the diffuser in a corner of the room. Always pay attention to whether your baby reacts at all to the oils you are diffusing, and only run it for short periods of time.
Essential oils should not be ingested while you're breastfeeding.
Avoid Certain Essential Oils
There are a few essential oils that are considered too strong and not safe for your little one. In general, avoid "hot" oils that may cause irritation even in small amounts. (2)
Here are some of the common ones to avoid:
- Wintergreen (sometimes okay in a blend)
- Peppermint (Peppermint as an herb can decrease breast milk supply. There is no evidence that the essential oil also decreases milk supply, but you may wish to play it safe.)
Be Careful Applying Any Oils to Your Baby
There are conflicting opinions on whether or not you should apply essential oils directly to your baby's skin.
Some are opposed because infant skin is so sensitive. Others feel comfortable using gentle oils like Lavender and Roman Chamomile diluted to 0.1-0.5%. The choice is yours, but remember that if you are applying essential oils to yourself, your baby is already getting a small amount.
If you don't feel confident correctly diluting the oils yourself, we recommend using a gentle, essential oil infused product like this Baby Balm. It can be used for multiple purposes including diaper rash, eczema, and cradle cap and contains Lavender and Sweet Orange essential oils.
Beneficial Essential Oils While Breastfeeding
Oils to Increase Milk Supply
There are certain herbs (known as galactagogues) that can help to increase your breast milk supply if you're struggling with a low supply.
Essential oils have not been proven to help in the same way, but some women report an increase in milk from using Fennel essential oil. You can try diluting it and and applying it to your chest and breasts (avoiding your nipples).
Be sure all residue is cleaned off before the next feeding.
As an alternative, you can also try these herbal lactation supplements to naturally increase breastmilk supply.
Essential Oils for Stress and Rest
As a new mom, you're probably feeling tired and out of sorts as you work hard to care for your little one.
These essential oils can help with stress and give you a chance to get more restful sleep (when you can):
- Lavender- Lavender has so many uses including promoting relaxation and sleep. It can also help to ease tired muscles when massaged into them.
- Chamomile- Chamomile is another essential oil that's especially beneficial for promoting sleep. It can even reduce stress and anxiety.
- Frankincense- Frankincense is a grounding oil that reduces stress and overwhelm.
- Geranium- Geranium is a very peaceful oil and can soothe stressed emotions. It also promotes sleep.
There are some other essential oils that can give you a lift when you feel especially fatigued:
- Bergamot- Bergamot has a very bright and uplifting scent. (May cause photosensitivity when applied to skin.)
- Lemon- Lemon is a natural mood-lifter and can give you a burst of mental energy. (May cause photosensitivity when applied to skin.)
- Spearmint- Spearmint is a fresh and energizing essential oil and a good alternative to Peppermint.
Certain essential oils can be wonderful for irritated skin or sore/cracked nipples. Dilute them properly with a carrier oil or unscented lotion before applying.
- Lavender- Calms and soothes irritated skin or nipples.
- Roman Chamomile- Also very skin-soothing and gentle.
- Neroli- Extracted from the blossoms of bitter orange trees, this oil has many skin soothing and healing properties.
- Sandalwood- Highly beneficial and nourishing for skin.
- Geranium- Anti-inflammatory and soothing to skin.
Once again, be sure that you clean any residue off of your breasts/nipples before feeding.
For an essential oil free option, try this Super Salve that makes a great nipple ointment.
Other Natural Options for Breastfeeding
Clearly, essential oils can have lots of benefits for you while breastfeeding. As long as you follow the safety guidelines you minimize the risk of any problems.
Besides essential oils, there are also other natural herbal options that can help you:
- Milky Mama Tea- herbal blend that helps to naturally increase and enrich breastmilk supply
- Breastfeeding Capsules- herbal lactation supplements in capsule form for easy use
- Calm Cream- perfect for sensitive and/or irritated skin (for baby and mama)
Enjoy the natural benefits of essential oils and herbs throughout your time breastfeeding!