Is it safe to use aromatherapy during pregnancy?

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I’m Pregnant! Can I Use Essential Oils?

Pregnancy is a joyful time. Soon-to-be mothers spend happy hours dreaming of the times they will soon share with their new son or daughter.

Even though pregnancy is a magical time for the new mother, anticipating your new arrival can be stressful.

During pregnancy, it may feel like your entire body is taken over by a jumping, bouncing baby. Your mood swings often from elated to irritable, and you don’t feel like yourself.

Your back aches and it’s difficult to sleep. You may find that your mind feels cloudy, or you may experience “pregnancy fog.” Your skin may break out. You may even be nauseous.

Even though the discomforts of pregnancy can be bothersome, mothers have found relief using aromatherapy with essential oils.

Oils can support a healthy mother and child by stimulating certain parts of the body and calming others.

Many mothers find aromatherapy especially beneficial during pregnancy when anxiety runs high.

Complaints like nausea, foggy mind, depression, and hormonal disruption can all be alleviated with the use of essential oils.

Although the use of essential oils carries a benefit to pregnant mothers, there can be drawbacks to using certain oils. Some oils are known to have harmful effects on the developing baby.

Others are used to bring about labor contractions, which can be a benefit during labor but is dangerous while the baby is still developing.

Others could cause adverse effects in the mother’s system, including her blood pressure and circulation.

What is Aromatherapy?

According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, aromatherapy or essential oil therapy is the practice of using plant oils to support the health of mind, body, and spirit.

Pregnant moms will find this article helpful in deciding which oils are safe for pregnancy and which should be handled with caution.

Everyone’s body reacts differently to essential oils, so pregnant moms should try a number of different combinations before settling on the best one for themselves.

As always, work with your naturopathic physician or healthcare provider before using any essential oils in pregnancy.

Can I Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy?

Most pregnant mothers who use aromatherapy oils praise them for calming the mind and soothing nausea.

According to the British National Health Service, aromatherapy in pregnancy can be effective as a means of coping with anxiety.

Aromatherapy oils can be used in a variety of ways during pregnancy. The simplest way is simply dabbing a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and putting it in a bowl near you. Also popular are water-based and heat-based diffusers.

Oils can be used in the bath in small quantities. They can be diluted with a neutral or “carrier” oil. Essential oils can also be made into a spray by diluting them with water.

All of these methods are suitable for use in pregnancy. Ingestion of oils is not recommended at any point during pregnancy.

How Safe is Aromatherapy?

According to Jane Buckle, RN, in her book Clinical Aromatherapy, there are no records of miscarriage or abnormal babies while using aromatherapy oils.

While aromatherapy is generally considered safe for pregnant mothers, the use of essential oils should be carefully monitored.

Most oils have a neutral or beneficial effect on the pregnancy, but the possibility exists that some oils may cause contractions or be bleeding in large quantities.

Fit Pregnancy Magazine states that essential oil aromatherapy should not be used at all in the first trimester when the development of the unborn child is the most rapid.

Hethir Rodriguez, the holistic healthcare practitioner, also cautions that pregnant mothers should not use oils constantly, but should reserve them to help soothe specific discomforts and ailments.

Using the oils too often increases the amount passing from the mother’s body through the placenta to affect the unborn child.

The following is a partial list of oils that are generally considered safe for the second and third trimesters, along with a list of oils that should be avoided completely during pregnancy. Consult your naturopath or medical doctor for advice.

Which Oils Are Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

According to Using Essential Oils Safely, essential oils should be diluted with a “carrier” oil like sweet almond or coconut before use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Use no more than a 2% dilution of these oils when applying them to the skin.

Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Orange

Pregnant moms may find the scent of any citrus oil uplifting.

Black Pepper

This oil can be used for muscle relaxation. Black pepper also has a stimulating scent.


This oil may help with nausea and promote energy.


Chamomile is calming at any time of day and may help you to sleep.


Can be used with catnip oil, eucalyptus, and geranium to make an effective herbal insect repellent for use during pregnancy.


Coriander can be used for nausea and also calms strong emotions.


This oil promotes the healing of cuts and scrapes, provides immune support, and also supports healthy skin.

Fir Needle

Fir needle oil helps to relieve pain, prevents infections, and is a natural deodorant.


Ginger is a classic treatment for nausea and is promoted both by aromatherapists and by doctors of Western medicine. Use sparingly, as some sensitive moms may find that the oil is too strong.


This oil is one of the most popular essential oils used in pregnancy. It is calming and promotes healthy sleep.


Neroli oil may help with depression and mood problems. Its scent is calming. It is also good for digestive issues.


Peppermint soothes nausea and increases energy. Do not use during breastfeeding, as it may adversely affect milk supply.


Rose oil may help with acne and rosacea, relieve anxiety, and make pregnancy hormones more balanced.


This oil promotes mental clarity and memory. It is also calming and has antiseptic properties.

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil supports healthy skin, especially when dealing with pregnancy acne. It is also good for minor injuries like cuts and scrapes. Do not use during labor, since this oil can intensify contractions.

Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang is a calming oil, but the scent may be too strong for some expectant mothers, so use sparingly.

Which Oils Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?

The following is a partial list of oils which may have a deleterious effect on pregnancy and your developing baby.

While essential oils have never been scientifically shown to harm a baby, they may cross the placenta and so caution is recommended. They could induce contractions or bleed in large amounts.


Angelica is used to bringing on menstruation, so it is unsafe for pregnancy.


Anise causes uterine stimulation.


This oil affects blood circulation and should be avoided. Eating basil leaves in your diet is safe.


Cassia can be toxic to the developing baby.

Cinnamon Bark

This oil can also be toxic to the developing baby.

Clary Sage

This oil can bring on contractions. It is useful during labor, however, when supervised by a doula or midwife.


This oil may also stimulate contractions.


Jasmine affects the uterus, and so should not be used during pregnancy. However, it may be used with milk supply during pregnancy.

Juniper Berry

This oil is a diuretic, and may adversely affect the kidneys.


This oil may stimulate contractions.


This oil may cause birth defects in the developing baby.


This oil may interact with pain medications used during labor. It may also cause hallucinations in large amounts.


Pennyroyal should be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. It stimulates labor and can also harm the developing fetus.


Rosemary could increase blood pressure and stimulate contractions.


Tansy could be toxic to the developing baby.


Thyme could stimulate contractions in the pregnant mother.


Vetiver stimulates contractions and should not be used during pregnancy.


Yarrow can bring on labor and interfere with epilepsy medications.


Wintergreen is another oil that may be toxic to the baby.

Should I Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy?

The use of essential oil aromatherapy in pregnancy can be beneficial to mother and child.

However, there are cautions and risks that mothers should watch out for. Be aware of herbal compounds containing any of the oils listed above. It is better never to take essential oils internally during pregnancy.

Watch this video by a natural fertility specialist, Hethir Rodriguez, to further inform yourself about the benefits and risks of essential oils infertility and pregnancy.

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