Essential Oils and Pregnancy: What Safe, Best Uses & What to Avoid

Essential oils have been used for centuries in various cultures for healing and relaxation. They are highly concentrated natural extracts from plants and have different active ingredients that can have a positive effect on your health and well-being.

In recent years, essential oils have become increasingly popular among pregnant women and many people believe they can be beneficial during this time of life. In this article, we’ll discuss the safety of using essential oils during pregnancy, the best practices, and what you should avoid.

Benefits of essential oils

Essential oils can offer a wide range of benefits during pregnancy, including emotional and physical support. Because essential oils are all-natural products that have been used safely and effectively for centuries, they can be an excellent addition to your prenatal health care regimen.

When used in the proper way, essential oils can help improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety. They also possess antimicrobial, astringent, immune system support, and expectorant properties that can help keep you healthy during pregnancy. In addition, the aromatic use of essential oils through inhalation can bring about a sense of relaxation and well-being which is beneficial for both mom and baby.

But even with their many benefits, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks when using essential oils during pregnancy so you can make the best decisions for you and your baby’s health. Always use caution when using essential oils around pregnant women as they are exceptionally sensitive to the effects of aromatherapy.

Lastly, consult an experienced Aromatherapist who is certified in prenatal Aromatherapy, or consult with your healthcare provider before using any type of aromatherapy during pregnancy to make sure it’s safe for you and your baby.

Safety Considerations

When it comes to using essential oils during pregnancy, safety should always be your top priority. Essential oils are great for pregnant women because of their many health benefits, but it is important to take the proper precautions so that you can reap the benefits without any issues. In this section, we will cover the safety considerations to keep in mind when using essential oils during pregnancy.

Do not use essential oils during the first trimester

It is wise to exercise caution when using essential oils during any stage of pregnancy, but especially during the first trimester. Due to the delicate nature of early pregnancy, it is recommended to avoid using essential oils altogether during the first trimester. The second and third trimesters are generally considered safe for use in moderation and with certain precautions.

Research has not identified any essential oils as completely safe for use in all stages of pregnancy; however, some have been deemed more appropriate than others. Many healthcare providers advise pregnant individuals to avoid any essential oils with a strong aroma (such as oregano and clove), which may be more likely to trigger sensitivities or cause an adverse reaction.

Inhalation of certain compounds can also exacerbate morning sickness, so it is important to choose your essential oil blend carefully.

When selecting an essential oil blend during pregnancy:

-Choose organic ingredients whenever possible.
-Do not exceed 0.5% dilution when using topically; 0.1% when using with children under two or anyone with sensitive skin; and 0.3% when aromatically diffusing or using internally (unless otherwise directed by a healthcare provider).
-Make sure your provider is aware that you are using essential oils prior to labour and delivery, particularly if you wish to labor in a birthing center or hospital environment where they may require detailed safety information regarding the products used in aromatherapy sessions before they will allow them on their premises due to potential risk factors associated with their use near babies at such critical times in their lives.

Avoid certain essential oils

When pregnant, it is best to avoid the use of certain essential oils due to their potential toxicity. Oils known to be unsafe during pregnancy include mugwort, rue, pennyroyal, juniper, cedarwood, and parsley seed. Some research suggests that fennel seed oil could cause reproductive issues in both sexes and should also be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Additionally, oils known for their high levels of constituents which may adversely affect infants and children should also be avoided during pregnancy: wintergreen; camphor; eucalyptus; henna; myrrh; mugwort; saffron; sage (including clary sage); spikenard and thyme.

It is not just essential oils that are contraindicated in pregnancy. There are other herbs and preparations whose safety has not yet been extensively tested. Therefore all herbs taken during this time should be discussed with a qualified medical practitioner before use.

Pregnant women should use caution when using any supplement including any combination of vitamins, minerals, or even herbal teas as these may contain substances that have unknown side effects during this delicate time of development.

Use caution when using essential oils during the second and third trimesters

When pregnant, one of the most important steps to take is ensuring your safety when using essential oils. Many oils contain certain compounds that could be dangerous to an expectant mother. While some oils have been used safely during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, they should always be used with caution.

It is essential to understand how each oil might harm you or your growing baby if it is used improperly during any phase of your pregnancy. Even during the first trimester, some strong essential oils can cause uterine contractions and increase the risks of miscarriage.

As you progress through pregnancy and reach the second trimester, it may be wise to limit your usage of certain essential oils as their volatile compound concentrations are higher by this time.

After 14 weeks of pregnancy, only a handful of milder essential oil choices such as Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, and Sandalwood are considered safe to use with proper dilution or inhalation techniques in moderation.

Do not use these oils near heat sources (such as a hot tub or sauna) or without first consulting with a doctor or expert in aromatherapy who understands your condition and circumstance.

Avoid altogether any potent oils known to stimulate contractions such as Clary Sage or Jasmine until after delivery is disclosed by healthcare provider information. Third-trimester options for use include jasmine absolute in a diluted blend along with other gentle options such as Lemon Balm (Melissa), Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) Neroli, and Benzoin.

Essential oil considerations increase substantially if labor has begun so communicable information about distillation dates will need to provide for best uses practices in those cases.

Best Uses of Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Essential oils can have many beneficial properties when used during pregnancy. Essential oils can provide many calming, healing, and soothing effects on both you and your baby. They can be used topically, diffused, and even ingested in certain cases.

It is important to be mindful and consult your doctor before using them. Let’s take a look at some of the best uses of essential oils during pregnancy.


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is an evergreen shrub that produces beautiful purple flowers with a sweet aroma. The plant has a long history of traditional medicine and aromatherapy uses, and many use it as a natural product to help relax, de-stress and soothe their skin.

It is important to note that when buying lavender oil, make sure you opt for either steam distilled or cold-pressed extraction process to ensure the highest quality oil.

When used in moderation during pregnancy, the lavender essential oil can be beneficial for calming the mind and body due to reduced stress levels. It can also help reduce headaches or tension by simply adding a few drops of the oil into warm bath water or by diffusing it in a room with a vaporizer or an open pot on the stovetop with steaming water added as needed.

Its antiseptic properties can also be useful in treating minor skin irritations while its anti-inflammatory properties can help ease any accompanying discomfort associated with them.

Using lavender essential oil must be done safely however: not all oils are made equally, so it’s best to look for high-quality oil; read labels carefully and understand proper dilution instructions before using on the skin; avoid contact with eyes; never take internally; always spot test before first use; seek advice from your healthcare professional prior to use if pregnant/nursing; avoid direct sunlight in areas of application; store away from children’s reach; discontinue if irritation occurs; do not wash off applied areas unless directed otherwise by your healthcare provider since oils can increase the sensitivity of skin when exposed to sunlight; finally keep at room temperature away from heat source.


Chamomile essential oil can provide mild sedative effects, aiding in restful sleep and the promotion of relaxation to alleviate stress. It works by calming frayed nerves which can be helpful during pregnancy.

The active ingredient in Roman Chamomile is Bisabolol, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that helps in producing a healthy skin and healing any aches or pains associated with pregnancy. This makes this calming essential oil an ideal solution for alleviating physical discomfort as well as emotional unease during pregnancy.

When used topically chamomile essential oil helps to reduce swelling and promote the healing of abrasions, irritations, and cuts on the skin.

It also has antifungal properties which can help fight off common ailments such as athlete’s foot or yeast infections that become more frequent during pregnancy due to hormones and dampness caused by clothing often becoming uncomfortable in the heat associated with pregnancy.

Chamomile should be used in its diluted form, blended with a carrier oil such as jojoba or almond sweet oil when applied topically since it is considered a phototoxic oil (sensitizing when applied in its pure form).

The therapeutic benefits of chamomile can also be inhaled using vaporizers or other aroma-diffusing products available on the market at home, providing a practical instant calming effect when mixed with other relaxing oils like lavender and ylang-ylang oils which are safe to use during pregnancy due to their low risk of adverse reactions.


The geranium essential oil can be safely used during pregnancy after the first trimester. During the third trimester, its use for therapeutic reasons should be avoided as it is believed to stimulate uterine contractions.

Geranium essential oil provides relief from stress and anxiety, balances hormones, relieves pain and cramps, boosts immunity, and calms an upset stomach. This oil can help to reduce depression and alleviate mood swings associated with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).

Geranium is a potent antiseptic that helps to heal cuts, wounds, and ulcers while also boosting circulation in the body. It is known to fight fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and can speed up the healing process of areas affected by bruises or varicose veins.

To make use of geranium essential oil during pregnancy it is recommended to mix it with a carrier oil before using it on your skin or performing aromatherapy. As with any other aromatherapy treatment, it’s best not to overuse this or any other essential oil when pregnant; geranium should not be taken internally nor applied directly onto your skin without dilution in a carrier oil such as almond or avocado.


Rose essential oil is an exquisite and popular favorite among pregnant women due to its calming, nurturing properties. It is extracted from the petals of the rose flower through steam distillation and is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

While there are generally no major concerns associated with the use of rose essential oil during pregnancy, it’s best to seek advice from a physician before use. Rose essential oil can be used aromatically or topically but should be used with caution due to its potency. A few safe uses include:

– Adding a few drops of undiluted or slightly diluted rose oil to a diffuser for aromatherapy.
– Make a massage blend by adding three to four drops of rose oil into a teaspoon (5 ml) of carrier oil such as jojoba, sweet almond, or coconut oil.
– Creating an all-purpose skin serum with four tablespoons (60 ml) of an unscented plant-based moisturizer blended with two drops of rose essential oil treatment formula
– Diluting four drops in shower water for a relaxing spa experience.


Lemon essential oil is an excellent choice for pregnant women when used in diluted form. The benefits of lemon oil include its protective and cleansing properties, as well as its refreshing and stimulating qualities.

It helps to maintain energy levels, boosts concentration, and helps to alleviate stress. Pregnant women can also use lemon oil as a natural air freshener or odor-neutralizer in their homes.

When using lemon essential oil during pregnancy, it’s important to note that it must be properly diluted before use. Lemon essential oil is a photosensitizing agent, meaning it increases the skin’s sensitivity to light and increases the risk of sunburn or skin irritation when applied topically.

For this reason, it should always be diluted with a carrier oil (such as jojoba or almond) before use. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid direct sun exposure for several hours after topical application of lemon essential oil to further reduce the risk of phototoxicity (sunburn/irritation).

Internal consumption of lemon essential oil should also be avoided during pregnancy due to the potential side effects and risks of doing so.

While it’s important for pregnant women to take additional safety precautions when using any type of concentrated oils (essential oils), the gentle properties of lemon can provide the perfect balance between protection from environmental toxins without adding any additional stress or concern during an already delicate time in life.

Ylang Ylang

Ylang-ylang is an essential oil derived from flowers of the Cananga odorata tree. It has a sweet, rich, and slightly fruity aroma making it one of the most popular essential oils. Ylang-ylang has a variety of uses and can be helpful during pregnancy when used safely.

Ylang-ylang has qualities such as being calming, stabilizing, soothing, sedating, and balancing which makes it useful for pregnant women who are suffering from mood swings, anxiety, or depression. Ylang-ylang is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties that help with aches, pains, or discomfort associated with pregnancy.

When using ylang-ylang during pregnancy it’s important to dilute properly before applying topically. Start off with two drops of the essential oil in five milliliters of carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil for massage and topical application use.

Some safe options for topical applications can include blends for low back ache relief or puffy feet relief in combination with other mild essential oils such as lavender or Roman chamomile.

It’s important to remember that if you get any symptoms such as burning, itching swelling, or rashes after application you should wash them off immediately and discontinue use immediately. If this happens, seek medical attention right away to ensure your safety and well-being while pregnant.

Additionally, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before using any new product during pregnancy as some illnesses may require additional caution when using natural products such as essential oils during pregnancy.

What to Avoid

When using essential oils during pregnancy, there are some oils that are not recommended. These oils could have potentially adverse effects on the mother and baby during pregnancy. It’s important to exercise caution and to make sure to properly research before using any essential oils while pregnant. In this section, we’ll discuss what to avoid as well as what you can use safely.

Avoid essential oils with high levels of menthol, camphor, and eucalyptol

Essential oils can be a great source of support during pregnancy. Many women find relief from some of the uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy by using dilutions of essential oils added to massage oils, creams, lotions, bath water, diffusers, inhalation, and more.

However, because these powerful botanical extracts can easily pass through the skin and into the bloodstream, it’s important to first understand which ones are safe or unsafe to use during pregnancy as well as which specific applications should be used.

Essential oils containing high levels of menthol (found in peppermint), camphor (found in eucalyptus), and 1,8-cineole (found in rosemary) should be avoided altogether or minimized to usage limited to very low concentrations over short durations due to potential side effects such as uterine contractions or uterine bleeding if inhaled via aromatherapy vapor route.

Always make sure to check the Safety rating provided by some large organizations such as The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health before purchasing any essential oil mixture that contains any one of the three precautionary essential oils listed above.

In general, with all forms of essential oil use during pregnancy, it is advised that you speak with a qualified practitioner for guidance on which essential oils meet your individual needs and are appropriate for pregnant women.

Avoid essential oils with high levels of phenol

It is important to exercise caution when using essential oils during pregnancy, as some can be harmful. Essential oils that are high in Phenol can cause harm to both the mother and baby and should be avoided during pregnancy. These essential oils include:

-Clove oil
-Cinnamon bark oil
-Thyme oil
-Oregano oil

Highly phenolic essential oils are widely believed to contain neurotoxins, carcinogens, and other hazardous compounds and can cause irritation, burning sensation, blisters, or allergic reactions when applied directly to the skin.

During pregnancy, their use should be avoided unless under the supervision of a physician knowledgeable about essential oils. Additionally, researchers suggest avoiding any application of high phenolic essential oils on or near the face or mucus membranes (eyes and nose).

Avoid essential oils that are known to be irritants or sensitizers

When you are pregnant, it is important to be cautious when using essential oils. Certain essential oils have been found to be toxic and need to be avoided completely in order to reduce any potential risks to the baby.

Additionally, some essential oils can also cause irritation or sensitization of your skin and mucous membranes, so it’s best to use carrier oil or dilute your essential oil prior to application.

The following list of essential oils should always be avoided when pregnant:
-Clary sage
-Juniper berry

It is also important to note that other essential oils should only be used in very low concentrations during pregnancy or none at all due to their possible irritant effects on the skin and mucous membranes. These include but are not limited to Angelica, Parsley Seed, Cumin Seed, and Tarragon.

Additionally, while many people prefer using eucalyptus during congestion issues that can come from a cold or flu during pregnancy, it is best not used at all until after delivery due to its sensitizing effects.

Whenever you decide to use essential oil for aromatherapy topically or via inhalation during pregnancy, always make sure you are using therapeutic-grade oil from a reputable supplier with knowledgeable staff about the use of each individual oil for diffusing or topical application.


When it comes to the use of essential oils during pregnancy, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Whether or not you choose to use essential oils while expecting is a personal decision, and you should always consider any potential risks before using them. It is best to talk with a doctor or a certified aromatherapist for advice on using essential oils safely.

In summary, some important precautions to keep in mind include avoiding the undiluted application of essential oil and being sure not to inhale their vapors undiluted or heavily diluted.

Also, it’s important to select quality, pure essential oils and store them properly. There are many excellent resources available that can help ensure you are selecting quality products and using them correctly for maximum safety and benefit.

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