Essential Oils for Breastfeeding Moms: Health Benefits & Precautions

Essential Oils for Breastfeeding Moms – Benefits and Cautionary Tips

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Caring for your little one is a joy, and there is a beautiful bonding experience that takes place while nursing. You might find yourself doing a lot suddenly, from breastfeeding, diaper changes, adjusting to your baby’s sleeping pattern, the baby’s health in general, etc., and all of it will be exhausting for you. That’s the time when it becomes very important for you to stay patient with your baby, and more importantly, with yourself.

One of the things that can really help you soothe your stressed nerves when you go through so much, physically and mentally, are essential oils. At the end of the day, when you’ve put the little angel to sleep, there is nothing more relaxing and pleasant than soaking in a nice hot bath with some aromatic essential oils. However, before you go ahead, it may be a good idea to educate yourself about essential oils and find out which of the many will be most beneficial to you and your little one as you will be breastfeeding him.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are compounds that are extracted from plants. These compounds hold the scent and flavour of the plant and are what is considered to be its essence. Each of the plants that the oils are extracted from gives the oils their unique aroma and health benefits. They are extracted through the process of distillation, or other mechanical techniques such as cold pressing. Once the chemical compounds containing the aroma are obtained, they are mixed with carrier oils and are then ready to be used as essential oils.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Breastfeeding Mothers?

Are essential oils safe for nursing mothers? Good quality essential oils provide a natural way for mothers to soothe their aching muscles, reduce stress and indulge in aromatherapy. They do not have any ill effects on the little ones as long as you use the oils that are considered safe for children.

How to Make Sure Essential Oils are Safe for Your Newborn

Avoid ingesting the oils as they are not safe for your baby. Only use the oils topically and after diluting them in carrier oils such as sweet almond, hemp seed or coconut oil. Having said that, each essential oil and carrier oil combination will have a different effect on different mothers. It is, therefore, advisable to take medical consultation before using any essential oil. Also, avoid all oils that were extracted using solvents such as butane or hexane as these chemicals could leave traces of the solvent in the oils. It is best to avoid using essential oils as much as possible, except for when it is really needed.

How to Use Essential Oils to Boost Milk Supply?

Here are some ways you can use essential oils to boost your milk supply:

1. Apply on the Breast

Applying essential oils along with a carrier oil, can help you boost your breast milk supply. Take about one teaspoon of coconut oil, add one drop of basil oil and mix well. Then, apply the oil on your breasts except for the nipples, and gently massage in small circular motions with your fingertips.

2. Apply on Pulse Points

Our bodies have several pulse/ acupuncture points that can be stimulated with the help of essential oils. Apply the same formula mentioned above on your ankles as they are the pulse points that correspond to your breasts. You can also use lavender essential oil on the outside of your ears to help you relax, and produce more milk.

3. Diffuse the Oils

Use about four drops of either lavender, basil or fennel essential oils in your diffuser before you go to bed. Do not overdo it; one hour per day is enough to reap the benefits of this method and the oils. If you do not have a diffuser, you may take a ceramic bowl full of hot water and add a tiny drop of essential oil to it. Keep it by your bedside or in the living room, but away from your baby. You may use this technique to make the most of your power nap.

Essential Oils and their Benefits during Breastfeeding

Here is a list of a few essential oils and their benefits for breastfeeding mothers:

1. Basil

Basil essential oil and breastfeeding go hand in hand as it can aid with your milk supply. Basil essential oil also helps ease muscle spasms, cramps, joint pain, skin irritation and exhaustion. It is also famous for its anti-bacterial and soothing properties.

2. Lavender

Lavender is a well-known essential oil known for its ability to calm and relax the user. It is often used to help induce sound sleep and do away with restlessness. Lavender is, therefore, one of of the most recommended essential oils for aromatherapy.

3. Frankincense

This oil is also known for its ability to reduce stress, anxiety and is often used to treat stress-related disorders.

4. Chamomile

This wonderful essential oil is used as an antidepressant and to help with anxiety. The oil also helps reduce insomnia, relieve pain, and is also beneficial in general healing and detoxing.

5. Tea Tree Oil

This anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antiseptic oil is used to treat mastitis.

6. Cypress

This essential oil can help fight infections and relieve stress and muscle pain. It can also heal wounds and infections when used appropriately.

7. Peppermint

While most mothers want oils to help increase their milk production, there are others who actually suffer from overproduction of milk. Peppermint essential oil during breastfeeding can help reduce milk supply in nursing mothers who have a tendency to overproduce breast milk. Peppermint is to be used with caution, as it has the capacity to stop breast milk production altogether.

Which Essential Oils Should be Avoided while Breastfeeding

There are several essential oils that should be avoided by women due to their potency and properties that can be dangerous to your child. Eucalyptus, myrrh, rosemary, sage, and nutmeg are a few oils to stay clear from.

Precautionary Tips

Here are some tips you may find useful when using essential oils during pregnancy:

  • Do not ingest the oils.

  • Be careful to wipe off any oil from your breasts before you begin to breastfeed your baby.

  • Use only 1% of the essential oil in a carrier oil.

  • Always use pure and 100% organic essential and carrier oils.

  • Give preference to the other methods of boosting milk supply over essential oils if possible.

Always remember that while essential oils are good for you and provide a lot of benefits, your baby is still very delicate and essential oils can sometimes cause problems for him or her. Use the right amount of essential oils and always ensure that you speak with your doctor about what oils you want to use and get his or her approval before you go ahead with it.

Also Read: Is Using Deodorant Safe While Breastfeeding?

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