Evening Primrose Oil (Cervical Ripening and Perineal Support)
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is often suggested as a "natural" choice for cervical ripening and keeping the perineal area strong but supple. Not many studies have yet been done on EPO but a few have shown it to only be a pre-cursor to prostaglandins. For perineal support, proper nutrition might be a better choice.
For cervical ripening, consider that EPO is an essential fatty acid and deteriorates quickly, therefore, it could turn rancid inside the vagina. If you choose to purchase EPO, keep in mind that it is expensive and usually blended in a small (often 10%) dilution with carrier oils making the EPO capsule or liquid not as potent as you might think. Buyer beware!
Also, when taking EPO orally, it can cause gastro-intestinal irritation such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, dehydration, and severe cramping. This GI distress can cause ineffective contractions that may lead a client to think that they are in pre-labor.
What about safety? If ingested, Evening Primrose Oil may act as an anti-coagulant and thin your blood during use and for some time afterward. This could place you at risk for hemorrhage and other complications. Please discuss use with your doctor or midwife.
Essential Oil Safety and Aromatherapy
No member of our team is a licensed herbalist (yet!) so we cannot advise you on the safety of essential oil (EO) use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Essential oils are organic substances that cross the placental barrier and have the potential to affect your baby. However, the amount of EO that actually accesses the mother’s skin is very tiny and therefore the amount that reaches the placenta is minuscule if proper dilutions are being used.
Generally speaking, many EOs are safe for aromatherapy and topical use. Never ingest an EO. Remember, less is best with EO use, do not be tempted to think that if it’s good, then more is better.
Determine why you want to use an EO and then pick one that is recommended for that ailment or symptom. Example: lavender is relaxing and soothing; it helps reduce inflammation when used on unbroken skin if diluted/mixed with a carrier oil.
The sales people of multi-level-marketing companies are advertising essential oil lines via Pinterest and Facebook; it's become so prevalent that it can be hard to tell what's marketing or the truth. You'll find several blogs when searching online that are disguised as informational sources when in fact, the website is a sales promotion for EO kits, products, and more. Buyer beware.
We recommend the brands of EOs stocked at WholeFoods, or look for NOW products via Amazon. Another reputable company is Rose Mountain Herbs. (The Happiest Doulas are not an affiliate of any recommended brand or EO website.)
Essential Oils to Avoid Throughout Pregnancy, Labor, and While Breastfeeding
Essential Oil Latin Name
Aniseed Pimpinella anisum
Basil ct. estragole Ocimum basilicum
Birch Betula lenta
Camphor Cinnamomum camphora
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis
Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris
Parsley seed or leaf Petroselinum sativum
Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium
Sage Salvia officinalis
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare
Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus
Thuja Thuja occidentalis
Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens
Wormwood Artemisia absinthium