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6 min read / 21 February 2024 / yasmin sharp

Best Essential Oils for Pregnancy

Discover the best and safest essential oils to support your journey through pregnancy, offering natural relief for stress, nausea, and more.

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Pregnancy is a testing time as you nurture your baby through 9 months of development in the womb, and you may prefer to use natural remedies to help you along the way.

Some people turn to essential oils for pregnancy, as they can provide a host of health benefits for the mind and body, helping to alleviate everything from aches and pains to nausea and stress.

To help you find an oil that could work for you, we’re created a list of the best and safest essential oils that could support you during your pregnancy.

Is it safe to use essential oils for pregnancy?

It is understandable and sensible to be cautious about using essential oils for pregnancy, as you are naturally concerned about affecting your unborn child.

There are some essential oils that are considered safe to use during pregnancy, whilst there are others that should be avoided due to lack of research and testing.

The bottom line is that if you are pregnant, you should seek professional advice before using any essential oil and if you are given the go ahead, always follow the recommended usage guidelines.

Pregnant woman sat on bed cross legged

What are the best essential oils for pregnancy?

There are several essential oils for pregnancy that can offer potential health benefits, including:

Rose oil can help to lower anxiety

Pregnancy often brings moments of high stress and anxiety, so it's important to find ways to bring a sense of calm and peacefulness as much as possible.

Rose essential oil is often used as a calming agent and its aromatherapeutic properties could also help to improve sleep quality.

Although more research is needed, some clinical trials have produced results that suggest rose essential could have a role to play in calming pregnant women during the early stages of labour.

Researchers found that after taking a rose oil-infused foot bath and inhaling the oil for 10 minutes, anxiety levels were reduced quite significantly.

Lavender oil may offer pain relief

When it comes to essentials for pregnancy, lavender oil is perhaps one of the most popular.

Aside from its relaxation properties, research has also identified its potential as a pain relief agent.

For example, this study published in 2016, suggested that aromatherapeutic use of lavender oil could help to ease labour pain.

Using a portable diffuser in the hospital may help to create a more relaxing atmosphere to make what is a very stressful experience more manageable.

If possible, you could ask your partner to use lavender oil as a massage balm to help you relax during labour.

Lemon oil contains properties to calm an upset stomach

Most pregnant women experience some level of nausea and vomiting during the early stages of pregnancy.

Lemon oil could prove to be a helpful ally to combat this, with research identifying it may contain stomach-calming properties.

The oil was put through its paces in a clinical trial involving 100 pregnant women who had been experiencing varying levels of nausea and vomiting.

The group was divided in two, with one group asked to inhale lemon oil and the other a placebo.

Researchers found that nausea and vomiting intensity was significantly lower on the 2nd and 4th days, which was much lower than the group using the placebo.

Chamomile oil can offer aromatherapeutic benefits

There are two types of chamomile oil, with each type offering different benefits.

The most commonly used is Roman chamomile, which offers therapeutic benefits when dispersed through a diffuser.

Whilst more research is needed, smaller studies have found that it could have a positive effect on improving sleeping patterns.

Topical application of diluted German chamomile after birth is believed to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, whilst helping to repair the skin’s elasticity.

A clinical trial was also conducted involving 128 pregnant women due to give birth for the first time via caesarean section.

Scientists concluded that inhalation of camomile oil not only reduced pain but also the need for analgesics.

Frankincense oil promotes feelings of warmth and security

Perhaps one of the lesser-known essential oils for pregnancy is frankincense, with its naturally smooth and woody notes helping to provide emotional balance and support.

According to a study conducted in 2022, frankincense oil possesses the ability to activate TRPV3 channels in the brain, which can create the literal feeling of warmth on the skin.

In 2017, researchers also carried out primarily testing and learned that frankincense may have potential for skin care, although additional studies are needed to understand more.

Woman looking at her pregnant tummy

Essential oils for pregnancy: what to avoid

The body undergoes a lot of changes and experiences a host of challenges during pregnancy, which also means that there are certain essential oils that should be avoided as they are not deemed safe for use.

In most cases, this is due to a lack of sufficient testing and research that proves their suitability, even when the correct dosage recommendations are followed.

The essential oils you should avoid during pregnancy include:

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

Some essential oils can pose a toxicity risk to pregnant people, so before incorporating any into your routine you should first speak with a doctor or healthcare provider.

Learn more about how to safely use essential oils during pregnancy.

Tips on using essential oils for pregnancy

Before using essential oils for pregnancy, try to bear in mind the following:

Do not use essential oils during the first trimester

It is recommended that you avoid using essential oils for pregnancy during the first trimester, as there is a risk they could impact the development of your baby or cause uterine contractions.

Permitted essential oils are perfectly fine to use in the second and third trimesters, provided they are used safely.

Follow the correct dilution ratios

Dilution guidelines should always be followed when essential oils are being applied topically, even out of pregnancy.

They are highly concentrated and can cause irritation or allergic reactions in some people when applied in pure form.

Use them for aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is generally considered to be safer for pregnant people, so you should focus on this method of delivery rather than topical application.

Use a diffuser or oil burner that will disperse the scent and properties into the air, instead of rubbing them into your skin.

Never consume essential oils

Essential oils should not be consumed as they can be highly toxic and potentially cause serious health complications for both you and your baby.

There are some food grade oils that are safe to consume but you should always read the label carefully before consumption.

All oils sold by Nikura are not suitable for oral ingestion.

Black and white botanical illustration

Using essential oils for pregnancy can offer much needed relief during periods of high anxiety and stress, with aromatherapy providing the best way to enjoy the benefits.

You should avoid using essential oils during the first trimester and always follow the dilution and usage guidelines.

It is advisable to speak with your doctor to see if you can use them, based on your medical history.


References

[1] Massomeh Kheirkhah et al. (2014) Comparing the Effects of Aromatherapy With Rose Oils and Warm Foot Bath on Anxiety in the First Stage of Labor in Nulliparous Women https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270653/

[2] Somayeh Makvandi et al. (2016) A Review of randomized clinical trials on the effect of aromatherapy with lavender on labor pain relief https://medcraveonline.com/NCOAJ/a-review-of-randomized-clinical-trials-on-the-effect-of-aromatherapy-with-lavender-on-labor-pain-relief.html

[3] Parisa Yavari kia et al. (2014) The Effect of Lemon Inhalation Aromatherapy on Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy: A Double-Blinded, Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4005434/

[4] Pongsak Jaroenngarmsamer et al. (2021) Efficiency of Chamomile Essential Oils on Sleeping Quality of First-year University Students https://medicopublication.com/index.php/ijfmt/article/view/14954/13539

[5] Roghayeh Zardosht et al. (2021) Effect of Chamomile Oil on Cesarean Section Pain in Primiparous Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32228427/

[6] Arieh Moussaieff et al. (2008) Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2493463/

[7] Xuesheng Han et al. (2017) Biological activities of frankincense essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801908/

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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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