When you’re pregnant, everything you put on your body and into your body needs to be carefully examined beforehand. Remember, you’re not only taking care of yourself; you’re taking care of your unborn baby too.
Everything you use and ingest can be passed on to them in the womb, so even so-called natural ingredients and herbal remedies need to be scrutinized.
Tea tree oil falls into that category – and oh boy are essential oils all the rage nowadays!
What is Tea Tree Oil & What is it Used for?
Chances are you’ve heard of tea tree oil, but do you really know what it is?
Tea tree oil is distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant which is mainly found in Australia (source).
It has been used as a healing treatment for many skin conditions for hundreds of years in Australia and has recently skyrocketed in popularity in the United States as well.
Tea tree oil is known to include many healing characteristics such as:
Because of these properties, tea tree oil is often used for a variety of conditions. Some of the most common are:
- Cold Sores
- Respiratory Tract Infection
- Yeast Infections
If you have one of these conditions and are thinking of turning to tea tree oil as a remedy, you need to not only understand the benefits first, but also the risks involved – because after all, you are pregnant.
When Can I Use Tea Tree Oil While Pregnant?
One of the most important things to know about using tea tree oil during pregnancy is that you should never use it, as well as any other essential oils, until the second trimester.
Doing so any earlier can lead to uterine contractions which can harm your baby and put your pregnancy at risk.
Also, and speaking about timing, experts recommend that you apply tea tree oil to your skin at night time before you go to sleep.
One of the side effects of tea tree oil is increasing the skin’s photo-sensitivity, which makes it more dangerous for you to expose your skin to ultraviolet light while you have it applied.
Benefits of Using Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy
Tea tree oil can help pregnant women in a number of different areas.
1) Skin Problems
Pregnancy can do a number on some women’s skin, causing acne.
If you’re in your second trimester and are seeing patches of acne on your skin, tea tree oil can be applied topically to the skin.
But, you need to dilute it with a carrier oil first.
Although this will make it less concentrated, it is safer all around and will still be useful.
Tea tree oil is so concentrated that it is capable of crossing the placenta. That’s why everyone is always so concerned about the risks.
Coconut oil is the most common carrier oil used in a 1:1 ratio with the tea tree oil. Once you’ve done this, you’re clear to put it on your skin (source).
When used on the skin, tea tree oil has been known to balance oil production as well as unblock sebaceous gland, and remove damaged skin cells.
All of this can make your skin healthier and give you that glow that everyone’s always referring to when talking about pregnant women.
Another way to treat your skin with tea tree oil is to use it in the bath.
If you add 3-5 drops of the oil into your bath water, this will help tone your skin and give it the micro-nutrients it needs. It will also help you relax.
If you’re experiencing dandruff while you’re pregnant, you can mix some tea tree oil with jojoba oil.
Massage it into your scalp as you would shampoo. Rinse it out and then shampoo your scalp as you normally would. This should help relieve a dry flaky scalp.
You can also add some tea tree oil to your shampoo to help with your dandruff problems.
2) Ease Pain
Swollen feet and ankles come with the territory when you’re pregnant.
Tea tree oil has been known to alleviate some of the pain that comes along with that by acting as an anti-inflammatory remedy.
Some women apply it to their feet and ankles (after mixing it with a carrier oil such as almond oil) to release some of the discomfort (source).
You can also soak in it by putting some tea tree oil in warm water.
3) Fungus Infections
Fungus infections on your nails are obviously not something you want to have.
Tea tree oil can be used (dilute it first of course) on the nail to treat nail fungus (source).
According to the American Pregnancy Association, tea tree oil is safe to treat nail fungus during pregnancy.
Three blind trials found that tea tree oil worked to treat toe nail fungus and athlete’s foot (source).
4) Fighting Infection & Treating Cuts
If you get a cut while you’re pregnant, you can use tea tree oil to help fight off any infection.
After you’ve cleaned the cut properly, apply some tea tree oil (diluted) on the cut.
Cover it with a Band-Aid and you’re good to go.
A study has shown that tea tree oil can help treat MRSA and other staph infections as well (source).
5) Respiratory Problems
When you get a cold or are congested during pregnancy, there are very little medicines out there that are safe to take. That’s why some women turn to tea tree oil.
Mix a few drops with boiling water. Once you remove it from the heat, use a towel to tent it over your head so that you can inhale the mixture. This can help ease congestion (source).
You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil to a diffuser or vaporizer you have at home to help clear the air. Obviously you won’t get the same benefits as you would applying tea tree oil topically, but it’s something to consider if you don’t want to apply it topically to begin with.
Note that you should check with your doctor first before you do this, especially if you have asthma.
Risks of Using Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy
While there are many benefits of using tea tree oil when pregnant, there are also risks involved that you should know about.
First and foremost you should always consult your doctor first before starting any kind of new treatment. As was mentioned above, NEVER use tea tree oil during your first trimester.
Also, NEVER ingest tea tree oil. Although some people use it to gargle with it, that should be avoided during pregnancy because of how tea tree oil is so concentrated. Any tea tree oil you ingest orally can be toxic – and even possibly fatal – to both you and the baby you’re pregnant with.
Ingesting tea tree oil can be poisonous and can lead to dangerous side effects such as:
- Inability to Walk
- Coma (rare, but it can happen)
Even though you can easily get hold of tea tree oil supplements in the form of pills or tablets from your local drug store, this should also be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. Again, tea tree oil supplements are very highly concentrated, which poses serious toxicity risks to both you and the baby you’re pregnant with.
Applying tea tree oil on your skin in excessive amounts and high concentration levels can easily get you dehydrated while pregnant, which puts both you and your unborn baby at risk.
Not to mention improper hormonal balances which can cause all sorts of problems in your body when expecting.
A Few More Safety Notes To Keep In Mind
When you buy tree oil, always buy 100% pure therapeutic grade, organic essential oil.
Be sure to check the expiration date too. If you notice it’s expired or is about to expire soon, try another store.
Even when you use tea tree oil on your skin, you may experience a reaction. That’s why you always want to do a patch test on a small portion of your skin before using it extensively.
Mix the tea tree oil with the carrier oil and put a small drop on the inside of your wrist. This is the best spot because that is where skin is very sensitive.
If you don’t get a reaction there, then chances are you won’t get one when you apply it elsewhere – and vice versa.
Leave the oil on your wrist for 2-6 hours, and then check for any rashes, redness, or itchiness (source).
If you notice any reaction at all, you know that tea tree oil just isn’t for you.
Is Tea Tree Oil Safe For Your Baby?
While there haven’t been many clinical trials to support the use of tea tree oil during pregnancy, experts believe that if you wait until the second trimester and beyond and use it correctly, it’s most likely to be safe for your baby.
While some women may be tempted to use tea tree oil during labor and delivery, that is strongly not advised. Tea tree oil may lessen contractions or stop them all together, counterproductive to what labor and delivery is all about.
If you’re thinking about using tea tree oil, always consult your doctor first. If they allow you to use it, you may be told to stop using it altogether once you reach the 35 week mark.
If you’re at risk for early labor, your doctor may advise you to stop any use altogether before that time.
Remember to always do your homework and check in with your doctor before starting anything new when you’re pregnant. Not doing so can lead to unnecessary issues that you’re much better off without.