Are Essential Oils Safe During Pregnancy?


We love them because they smell great and may 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, its 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 the First Trimester of Your Pregnancy

We have rather limited research as to how essential oils affect pregnancy, but we know one thing for sure - you should avoid essential oils during the first trimester.

Using essential oils during the first trimester has been shown to cause uterine contractions, and can harm your child’s development during these early stages. In fact, during the first trimester, you should avoid all forms of aromatherapy to be safe.

Can Essential Oils Cause Miscarriage?

Research has shown that ingesting essential oils throughout your pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, and this risk is heightened during the first trimester. So, even after the first trimester, avoid ingesting any essential oils! 

Later in this article, we will go deeper into which oils in particular can cause miscarriage or other complications.

Using Essential Oils During the Second and Third Trimester of Your Pregnancy

As your child develops and reach the second trimester of your pregnancy, you can begin using essential oils again. Certain oils should still be avoided altogether until after birth, but you can start introducing oils as needed. 

This is great news, especially if you struggle with pregnancy and sleep! Certain essential oils are great for helping combat this all to common issue, including:

  • Ylang ylang
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender

Which 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 throughout your second and third trimesters, including:

  • Bergamot 
  • Roman chamomile 
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Geranium 
  • Ginger 
  • Grapefruit 
  • Lemon 
  • Lemongrass 
  • Lime 
  • Mandarin 
  • Neroli 
  • Patchouli 
  • Petitgrain 
  • Rose Otto 
  • Rosewood 
  • Sandalwood 
  • Sweet orange 
  • Tea tree 

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 ease the symptoms of 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.

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 miscarraige.

  • Arnica (homeopathic is fine) 
  • Basil 
  • Birch (sweet) 
  • Bitter almond 
  • Boldo leaf 
  • Broom
  • Buchu 
  • Calamus 
  • Camphor (brown or yellow)
  • Cassia 
  • Cedarwood/thuja 
  • Chervil 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Clary sage 
  • Clove (bud, leaf or stem) 
  • Coriander 
  • Costus 
  • Deertongue 
  • Elecampane 
  • Fennel 
  • Horseradish 
  • Hyssop 
  • Jaborandi leaf 
  • Juniper berry 
  • Melilotus 
  • Mugwort 
  • Mustard 
  • Nutmeg 
  • Origanum 
  • Parsley (large doses)
  • Pennyroyal 
  • Pine (dwarf) 
  • Rosemary 
  • Rue 
  • Sassafras 
  • Savin 
  • Savory (summer) 
  • Tansy 
  • Thyme red (large doses) 
  • Tonka 
  • Wintergreen 
  • Wormwood

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.

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 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.

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 its better to be safe than sorry. 

The Source of Your Essential Oils Matter!

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.