Guide to essential oils for pregnancy (& the benefits!)

Pregnancy is a beautiful, rewarding experience… but there’s more than a few moments during that blissful nine months where you don’t feel quite so joyful—and then there are the days where you just need to chill the f*ck out. Pre-pregnancy you might have burned some essential oils to help you relax at the end of a long day, or treated yourself to a deliciously oily massage, but hold up! Now that you’ve got a baby on board, and you’re safety-checking everything you put in and on your body, it’s time to get wise on which essential oils to avoid in pregnancy, and of course, which are the BEST essential oils for pregnancy. Because you and your baby deserve the best, mama. Let’s dive in.

Are essential oils safe for pregnancy?

We hate to play Switzerland on this but the answer on whether essential oils are safe for pregnancy is yes… but also no. Yes, some are fine to be used after the first trimester, and might even help alleviate some of your pregnancy symptoms during your second and third trimesters—BUT not all essential oils are pregnancy safe, so it’s important to know which ones to avoid and how to use them safely.

The benefits of using essential oils in pregnancy

Often essential oils are used during pregnancy to help ease aches, treat anxiety and improve focus. When used correctly, essential oils and pregnancy can go hand-in-hand and be great for: 

  • Easing nausea and upset stomach
  • Soothing achy muscles
  • Helping to reduce irritation and swelling associated with haemorrhoids
  • Improve your sleep 
  • Boost the look and feel of your skin
  • Reduce the appearance of stretch marks
  • Settle anxiety during labour.

Pregnancy Safe Essential Oils 

As mentioned above, there’s a sh*tload of benefits to using essential oils in pregnancy specifically—whether you’re looking to manage stress, ease anxiety or just have some growing pains, there’s pretty much an oil for whatever ails you. 

The main thing to remember when looking for pregnancy safe essential oils is to always choose high-quality natural oils—none of that cheap, synthetically scented crap. You deserve better, girl! Do your research and pick up a glass bottle (never plastic as these chemicals can leak into the product) that is reputable and pure with no additives or fillers.

Here’s our list of pregnancy safe essential oils that’ll help you power through trimesters two and three.

Essential oils: Pregnancy hit list

Lavender oil – Studies have shown this relaxing scent to be particularly effective during labour (be sure to pack this in your hospital bag). This also doubles as a safe topical oil to help with the pains of a growing belly.  

Rose oil – Helps ease anxiety, promote calm and induce better sleep. 

Lemon oil – Many often wonder if lemon essential oil is safe for pregnancy and we give it a big thumbs up! It’s effective in reducing the frequency of nausea and vomiting.

Geranium oil – Another pregnancy safe essential oil that’ll come in handy in the labour room to help ease tension during the early stages. 

Sweet orange, ginger or mandarin oil – These sweet concoctions are known to ease nausea associated with morning sickness (remember, only safe after the first trimester)

Peppermint oil – With Advil no longer an option during pregnancy, your new BFF peppermint oil will help ease headaches. It’s also handy in clearing up nasal congestion or for muscle aches, and smells damn fresh while doing it. 

Sandalwood or wild orange – Need a little pick-me-up? These oils are great mood boosters, with research showing their effectiveness in easing anxiety and tension. 

More essential oils safe for pregnancy and packed with benefits include:

  • Benzoin
  • Bergamot
  • Black pepper
  • Chamomile German
  • Chamomile Roman
  • Cypress
  • Cardamon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Grapefruit
  • Juniper
  • Marjoram Sweet
  • Neroli
  • Petitgrain
  • Rose Otto
  • Tangerine
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang Ylang

Note: Before clicking *add to cart* on this entire list, be sure to double-check with your doctor or midwife first, so they can give you tailored advice based on your specific needs.

How To Use Essential Oils In Pregnancy Safely 

Now that you’ve curated your collection of essential oils for bringing pregnancy bliss, it’s important to know how to use them safely.

Be sure to dilute

If you opt to use your essential oil topically, the key is to dilute. A carrier oil like coconut, almond, grapeseed or apricot, will help reduce the concentration and avoid any nasty skin irritation. Angie from Wild Lotus Oils says that the general rule of thumb when applying essential oils to the skin is to mix six drops of essential oils (total) to every 10ml of carrier oil.

Do NOT ingest

We’re not kidding here—all essential oils are bad for pregnancy when taken orally. This can harm you and your baby! 

Use a diffuser and limit dosage

Try opting to use your essential oils for aromatherapy rather than topically. Put a few drops of your essential oil in a diffuser or vaporiser for no more than 15 minutes per hour. Be sure the room has good ventilation to avoid an overwhelming smell which could lead you to feel nauseous and TBH, ruin the whole damn experience. 

Essential Oils To Avoid During Pregnancy

This list is by no means exhaustive, and you should always consult your doctor or midwife if you’re not sure, but here are some of the most important essential oils to avoid during your pregnancy. We repeat, do not use the following…

Cinamon, clove, rosemary, clary sage – These are known to trigger contractions so they’re a big no no. 

Savin, teratogen, juniper, pennyroyal, rue, parsley, Indian dill – Research shows that these oils (when used in high compounds) can be linked to miscarriage. 

Chasteberry/vitex – Can alter hormone balance (as if they weren’t going bonkers enough already).

Hibawood, sweet birch, wintergreen – These oils can cause development issues in embryos. 

Spanish sage, anise/ star anise, fennel, myrtle/ aniseed, wormwood, yarrow, carrot seed Known to  interfere with placenta implantation, so if you’re trying to have a baby then off the list these go. 

Other essential oils that are dangerous for pregnancy: 

  • Basil
  • Birch
  • Camphor
  • Hyssop
  • Mugwort
  • Oak Moss
  • Pennyroyal
  • Sage
  • Tansy
  • Tarragon
  • Thuja
  • Thyme
  • Mustard 
  • Nutmeg 
  • Origanum 
  • Pennyroyal 
  • Pine (dwarf) 
  • Horseradish 
  • Hyssop 
  • Jaborandi leaf 
  • Juniper berry

If you’re worried about adding these herbs to your cooking, or if any of these oils feature in your skincare products, don’t worry—they are usually in small enough amounts to not have a negative impact. Though if you’re unsure or would rather be safe than sorry, get the all-clear from your maternity care team before getting busy in the kitchen cooking an Italian feast while wearing your herb-infused face mask.

Important: Avoid using essential oils in the first trimester

We mentioned this earlier but it’s worth saying twice. Whether they’re on the list above or below, all essential oils should be given a miss during your first trimester. So, if you were planning on using essential oils to help ease your morning sickness, sorry girl, they ain’t it.

Experts agree that while some are pregnancy safe, essential oils should be avoided during the first 13 (or so) weeks of pregnancy. It’s just simply better to be safe than sorry when it comes to exposing your teeny tiny bub to any potentially harmful or toxic substances. 

So in summary: When using any essential oils during pregnancy, it’s cool to be cautious. Play it safe with the oils on our pregnancy hit list, avoid cheap artific-oils (geddit?), and breathe in those blissful aromas in small amounts. Enjoy, mama!

The information in this article does not replace medical advice. Always check in with your doctor or care team before taking any new supplements, or medications, or if you have any concerns about your health.

Read next: The benefits of prenatal massage

Grow By WebMD, Is It Safe To Use Essential Oils While Pregnant 

Healthline, Benefits of essential oils while pregnant

Moreland OBGYN, Essential oils and pregnancy 

ResearchGate, Effect of Aromatherapy with Lavender on Labor Pain Relief

Mayo Clinic, Essential oils and pregnancy

Dosoky NS, Setzer WN. Maternal Reproductive Toxicity of Some Essential Oils and Their Constituents. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22(5):2380. Published 2021 Feb 27. doi:10.3390/ijms22052380

Trambert R, Kowalski MO, Wu B, Mehta N, Friedman P. A Randomized Controlled Trial Provides Evidence to Support Aromatherapy to Minimize Anxiety in Women Undergoing Breast Biopsy. Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2017;14(5):394-402. doi:10.1111/wvn.12229

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