We love them because they smell amazing and some even have therapeutic benefits. But are essential oils safe during pregnancy?
There are tons of issues you’ll experience while pregnant that can be remedied with essential oils. But, with a developing child inside you, it's fair to wonder what effects they could have on them.
We will cover everything you need to know and answer the question, “are essential oils safe during pregnancy?”
Using Essential Oils During Your Pregnancy
We have rather limited research as to how essential oils affect pregnancy, but we know one thing for sure - it all depends on the type of essential oils,how you use the oils, and the amount of oils being used.
Certain oils should still be avoided altogether until after birth, but others can be used even while pregnant.
This is great news, especially if you struggle with pregnancy and sleep! Certain essential oils are great for helping combat this all too common issue, including:
- Ylang ylang. May help promote relaxation
- Chamomile. Could help support sleep
- Lavender. Helps calm the central nervous system
Which Other Types Essential Oils are Safe During Pregnancy?
On top of those three, there are tons of other essential oils you may be able to benefit from using throughout your second and third trimesters, including:
- Bergamot. May help ease feelings of tension
- Roman chamomile. Could help relieve feelings of discomfort
- Eucalyptus. Helps maintain healthy sinuses
- Geranium. Supports healthy skin
- Ginger. Settles nausea
- Grapefruit. Balances mood
- Lemon. Fights exhaustion
- Lemongrass. Soothes the gut
- Lime. Supports healthy digestion
- Mandarin. Heals stretch marks
- Neroli. Eases discomfort
- Patchouli. Relieves stress
- Petitgrain. Calms the nerves
- Rose Otto. Helps support a happy mood
- Rosewood. Could help reduce the appearance of scars
- Sandalwood. Boosts immunity
- Sweet orange. Helps ease feelings of discomfort
- Tea tree. Soothes irritation
What Else Can Essential Oils Help With Throughout Your Pregnancy?
On top of improving sleep, essential oils can help with a few other common ailments expecting mothers experience.
To combat stretch marks, try mixing 2-3 drops of concentrated lavender oil with jojoba or coconut oil. Do this a few times daily.
You can also enjoy feelings of relaxation during morning sickness by diffusing or inhaling sweet orange or mandarin oil. If you experience a sudden bout of nausea, give it a try.
Got swollen feet and ankles? Don’t sweat it! Just massage 3 drops of lavender or geranium oil mixed with a carrier into the affected area a few times as needed.
Hemorrhoids causing you stress? Take a deep breath and simply blend 2 drops of tea tree, geranium, cypress, and lavender together with a carrier oil before adding 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel. Apply your concoction directly onto the affected area with a cotton ball to help soothe swelling and irritation.
Which Essential Oils Are NOT Safe During Pregnancy?
As we previously mentioned, certain essential oils should be avoided like the plague throughout your pregnancy. These are safe to use after your pregnancy, but even in the second and third trimester, these can cause contractions, developmental issues, and even miscarriage.
- Arnica (homeopathic is fine)
- Birch (sweet)
- Bitter almond
- Boldo leaf
- Camphor (brown or yellow)
- Clary sage
- Clove (bud, leaf or stem)
- Jaborandi leaf
- Juniper berry
- Parsley (large doses)
- Pine (dwarf)
- Savory (summer)
- Thyme red (large doses)
Yes, that is a huge list, but you need to check the ingredients in any essential oil supplement you apply to your skin or diffuse and make sure none of these are included.
With this in mind, if you happen to come across an essential oil that you’re unfamiliar with, hold off on using it until getting the go-ahead from your OB-GYN. Some ingredients may cause uterine contractions and are best avoided until you reach full term.
How To Safely Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy
There are a few different ways you can get the benefits of essential oils during your pregnancy, such as inhalation or topical use.
Essential oil diffusers are probably the most common, because not only do they provide therapeutic delivery of the oil, they make the whole room smell great!
Another great option is to apply the essential oil topically. You can apply the oils to your feet, reflex points, your back, or wherever is giving you grief. When applying to your skin, you’ll need to use a diluent - also referred to as a carrier oil. Common carrier oils are coconut, jojoba, olive, or almond oil. Applying at full strength could cause issues with your skin, such as irritation or rash, or worse.
As a general rule of thumb, a one percent dilution is recommended for use during pregnancy. This means 1 drop of essential oil for every ~100 drops of carrier oil or lotion.
(Note: At 8 Sheep Organics, we dilute our lotions to 0.7% of our lotions by weight, so moms can safely enjoy a noticeable, but mildly scented lotion.)
Use Caution During the First Trimester
While you should always exercise caution with essential oil use regardless of where you’re at in your pregnancy, this is especially important during the flurry of development that occurs in the first trimester. During pregnancy, the first trimester is the most critical time and any risk of exposing your developing baby to a toxic substance should be avoided at all costs.
Do Not Ingest
We’ve said it twice, and we’ll say it one more time. Do not ingest essential oils while pregnant. You can use essential oils internally normally, but during pregnancy, this can cause complications. There isn’t a ton of research into why, or how this happens, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
The Source of Your Essential Oils Matters!
A huge mistake people make when shopping for essential oils, regardless of if they are pregnant or not, is buying from a cheap, unregulated source. Stick to reputable brands, and verify the oils are completely unadulterated. The best essential oils are derived 100 percent from plants without any fillers or byproducts.
Seek Advice From an Aromatherapist
When in doubt, seek advice from a healthcare professional. A trained aromatherapist who has vast experience working with pregnant women can ensure safety when looking to use essential oils during pregnancy. They can also recommend the best natural remedies and oils when looking to ease specific pregnancy symptoms. For example, if you’re dealing with nausea, a certified aromatherapist may suggest aromatherapy using ginger.
If you decide to see an aromatherapist, check that they have the training to work with pregnant women. It’s also a good idea to ask your therapist how much experience they have in treating moms-to-be.
Can Essential Oils Be Used for PostPartum Recovery?
Absolutely! Whether you’re looking for emotional or physical support, essential oils are a great option. Just be sure to use them with extreme care — especially around your newborn.
Some of the best essential oils that are generally safe to use during postpartum include:
- Bergamot. Helps soothe tension and support feelings of mental wellness
- Helichrysum. Promotes skin regeneration to heal stretch marks and scars
- Lavender. Could soothe irritated skin
- Melaleuca. Diminishes c-section scar and stretch marks
- Clary sage. Eases afterpains and balances hormones
- Lemon. Combats the “baby blues”
- Frankincense. Promotes clarity
- Rosemary. Boosts energy and motivation
- Copaiba. Supports post-birth pain management
- Basil. Increases milk supply
- Thieves. Strengthens the immune system
- Fennel. Supports healthy lactation
When it comes to breastfeeding and postpartum care, it’s always a good idea to consult your primary healthcare provider, midwife, or lactation consultant before using any new medication, supplement, or essential oil.
Note: if you’re using any hot oils like clove, arnica, cinnamon, or peppermint on your skin, be sure to apply them to areas that won’t be touching your tiny new family member. It’s also important to keep in mind that some essential oils can be harmful to newborns — like birch, douglas fir, and wintergreen — so always do your due diligence and talk with your doctor before use.