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We end up evaluating every food and skincare product a second time around when pregnant. Some substances like alcohol and some pharmaceutical drugs immediately become no-nos. Other substances, such as essential oils and herbs; lemongrass, for example, fall somewhere in the middle – to be used with caution, to be used sparingly or to be used moderately. If you’ve been using almond oil for years now, you’re likely to wonder about the safety of using almond oil during pregnancy. Let’s find out if you can continue to use it or not!
Can Pregnant Women Use Almond Oil?
Three types of almond oils can are commonly found in the market. We will look at the use and safety of all of these:
1. Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil has been used by pregnant women both for consumption and for external use, as moisturising oil for centuries. It is a ‘carrier’ oil – it is usually used in large quantities (as opposed to ‘essential’ oils). In common parlance and throughout this article, when ‘almond oil’ is mentioned, it refers to sweet almond oil.
2. Bitter Almond Oil
Bitter almonds are fruits (almonds are fruits, not nuts!) of a separate breed of the almond tree from sweet almonds. Bitter almond oil is an essential oil, and it is moderately toxic to ingest.
3. Roasted Almond Oil
Roasted almond oil is made of sweet almonds. It is used for cooking purposes only. The roasting is done to ensure a hint of nutty almond flavour to the oil. This flavour is mild or absent if no roasting was done prior to crushing for oil.
Benefits of Almond Oil During Pregnancy
The nutrition in sweet almond oil makes it beneficial for heart health, controlling diabetes, colon health and for providing antioxidants for your body.
However, during pregnancy, it is the benefits of external application of almond oil that make it so widely popular.
1. Stretch Marks Prevention
Stretch marks appear when the body is expanding faster than the skin can regenerate to accommodate for the fast growth. Almond oil moisturises skin and increases flexibility and suppleness of the skin. Application of this oil, daily, over stomach, thighs, breasts and other parts of the body that are prone to develop stretch marks can prevent their appearance.
2. Dealing With Dry Skin
Circulation of blood to extremities such as hands and feet could reduce during pregnancy, due to the heavy demands on the body. This causes dry skin in hands and feet. Sweet almond oil is easily available and can be used in place of expensive moisturising creams. It is one of the safest moisturising oils for external use during pregnancy.
3. Treatment for Perineal Area
The perineal area is the area between the vagina and the anus. Perineal skin is prone to tearing during childbirth. Massaging your perineal skin with almond oil for five minutes daily, preferably after 34 weeks of pregnancy, can help make the skin supple enough to withstand the pressure of childbirth.
How Is Sweet Almond Oil Different From Natural Almond Oil?
Since almonds are rarely sold with the description of ‘sweet’ almonds or ‘bitter’ almonds, there is a lot of confusion among consumers as to what the differences between the two types are. They are both naturally found. However, natural almond oil a.k.a bitter almond oil is different from the sweet almond oil. First, understand the difference between sweet almonds and bitter almonds to actually learn how sweet almond oil is different from the natural almond oil.
Sweet and bitter almonds come from two different varieties of the almond tree. The sweet almond tree produces white flowers while the bitter almond tree produces pink flowers.
Bitter almonds contain traces of cyanide and other toxic compounds, making them inedible. Sweet almonds, on the other hand, are famed for their health benefits.
Bitter almonds are slightly broader and shorter than sweet almonds. However, the surfaces of both are similar, and it would be difficult to distinguish one in the absence of another type for reference.
Let’s See the Difference Between Sweet Almond Oil and Bitter Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil lubricates and revitalises skin. It is a light oil and is absorbed quickly by the skin, making the use of sweet almond oil for stretch marks during pregnancy famous all over the world.
Bitter almond oil is an ‘essential’ oil. It has a pleasant aroma, but no health benefits. It should only be used in its processed form, where all the harmful compounds have been removed.
Precautions to Take While Using Almond Oil When Pregnant
Follow these precautions if you wish to use almond oil when pregnant:
- If the use of almond oil causes itchiness, stop immediately.
- Be careful when using almond oil in conjunction with other supplements or medications. The oil and the supplements may interact and cause harm to your body. Always consult your doctor about before adding supplements or medicine.
- Almond oil is a mild-acting laxative. Ingesting it in the later stages of pregnancy could induce uterine wall contractions, so avoid it.
- Do not use almond oil if you are allergic to it.
Does Using Almond Oil During Pregnancy Cause Preterm Birth?
The area of study on what foods may or may not be safe for pregnant women is quite lacking in information as it would be unethical to induce pregnant women to adopt lifestyle choices that may endanger their foetus.
A study conducted in Italy, where 700 mothers were interviewed on their use of herbal supplements during pregnancy concluded that the regular application of almond oil on the skin might increase the chances of preterm birth.
A large percentage of the women were noted to have been taking herbal supplements during their pregnancy. While there was a definite correlation between the spreading of almond oil on the stomach and chances of preterm birth, the amount of data was not considered adequate for a definite conclusion.
Always consult your doctor before adding any herbal supplements to your nutrition or skincare during pregnancy. With the lack of data, we cannot be sure about the results of almond oil interacting with other herbal supplements. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of the use of almond oil during pregnancy with only positive results. Hence, much more research data is required before facts can be established.