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5 min read / 20 March 2024 / yasmin sharp

How to safely use essential oils whilst pregnant

Discover the safe way to use essential oils during pregnancy, alleviating common symptoms while ensuring your well-being.


Trying to find out what you can and cannot do during pregnancy can be frustrating and confusing.

There is a lot of conflicting information out there, which can make your pregnancy feel like something of a minefield to navigate.

This is certainly true of essential oils, which many pregnant people hope to rely on to get them through some of the more testing parts of the 9 months.

And whilst natural remedies can be of great help, extra care and attention needs to be taken to ensure they are used correctly to reduce any potential risks.

We look at how to safely use essential oils whilst pregnant so you can enjoy as many health benefits as possible.

Are essential oils good for pregnancy?

A common question we often hear is, “Are essential oils safe when pregnant?”

They are used by many pregnant people to help reduce a variety of common pregnancy symptoms, such as:

  • Morning sickness and nausea: Many pregnant people experience morning sickness or feelings of nausea throughout the day and ginger essential oil contains natural properties that could help.
  • Cramps and swelling: These are common issues faced during pregnancy and some oils, such as eucalyptus oil, can offer pain relief to ease the pressure on overworked muscles, whilst also soothing swollen joints.
  • Stretch marks: Essential oils are used in a host of skin creams and lotions as they can improve the natural condition of the skin. Frankincense essential oil, for example, can promote the regeneration of skin cells, which helps to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
  • Sleep issues: With so much change taking place within the body during pregnancy, it can have a significant impact on sleeping patterns. Using something like lavender oil can help you to relax and find right peace of mind to get the right amount of rest and recuperation.
  • High stress levels: It’s natural to experience varying levels of stress and anxiety during your pregnancy. Inhaling bergamot essential oil can have a positive effect on cortisol levels, which is the main stress hormone.

Are essential oils safe when pregnant?

Provided the usage guidelines are followed correctly, most people are able to use essential oils safely and without issue during their pregnancy.

However, medical experts advise against using essential oils during the first trimester, which is up to week 12.

This is because the foetus is most susceptible to potent substances during this period and there is a danger that the oils could cause harm.

It is generally considered safe to use essential oils during the second and third trimester, as long as they are received in an appropriate manner.

Before using essential oils during your pregnancy, you should speak with your doctor to ensure they will be suitable for your body based on your current state of health.

How to use essential oils during pregnancy

Aromatherapy is the safest option

Even when diluted with a carrier oil, the potency of certain essential oils can still pose a risk to your health, so it’s advisable to avoid topical application during pregnancy.

Instead, you could diffuse the oils, which allows the scent to slowly release into the air, or use an oil burner, which produces the same effect.

Try direct inhalation

Another option could be to inhale the oil directly from the bottle or to add a few drops to a tissue or handkerchief.

This method doesn’t require dilution and can provide instant relief, whilst giving you more flexibility over how and when you use the oils.

Never ingest essential oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated due to the large volume of natural properties they contain.

They should never be ingested as they could potentially cause serious health complications and should ideally only be applied using aromatherapy during pregnancy.

This is also true if you have an upset stomach or nausea, as ingesting essential oils will not ease the discomfort and could make things worse.

Which essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy?

Most essential oils are safe to use during the second and third trimester of pregnancy (although you should always consult with a doctor just to make sure).

However, there are some essential oils that can cause skin irritation or create other risks, such as:

  • Aniseed
  • Basil (estragole CT)
  • Birch
  • Camphor
  • Caraway
  • Cinnamon
  • Clary sage
  • Fennel
  • Hyssop
  • Mugwort
  • Parsley seed or leaf
  • Pennyroyal
  • Sage
  • Tansy
  • Tarragon
  • Thuja
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormwood

Can I use essential oils after childbirth and when breastfeeding?

Once you have given birth to your child, you still need to take a cautious approach to using essential oils for a short period of time.

This is because newborn infants have a very delicate system that is still in the early stages of development and exposure to certain essential oils is best avoided.

Some essential oils that are considered safe to use during the breastfeeding period include:

Essential oils should always be properly diluted when using them around your baby and you must ensure that they do not come into contact with your baby’s mouth.

It is also a good idea to wash the oil off your skin before interacting with your baby.

What are the risks of using essential oils during pregnancy?

If you do choose to use essential oils and are concerned about a potential negative reaction, be on the lookout for symptoms such as:

  • Skin irritation
  • Mouth irritation
  • Stomach irritation
  • Eye irritation

Most pregnant people use essential oils without any issue, but it is important to know what to look out for on the off chance they are not compatible with your body.

Final thoughts

So, are essential oils safe when pregnant? In general, the answer is yes, as they can help with a host of troubling pregnancy symptoms.

You should avoid using them during the first trimester and the best way to experience the health benefits is through aromatherapy.

And when deciding which oils to use and how to incorporate them into your daily routine, speak with your doctor to ensure it is the right choice for you and your baby.

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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