I’ve talked about essential oils on my blog over the last year, but I’ve never talked about how to use them when you’re pregnant. During my pregnancies I’ve lived by essential oils. During my first two pregnancies, I mainly used them for nausea and headaches. This go-round I wanted to educate myself more about what other oils were safe to use in addition to helping with the nausea and headaches. Essential oils have been shown to be safe and helpful during pregnancies. Educating myself–not just on oils, but on all aspects of life is one of my big MUSTS. I always research a topic before the time comes so I am not walking into something blindly.
The topic of essential oil use during pregnancy is a bit of a controversial issue, mainly because there hasn’t been a lot of studies done on the topic (it can be difficult to find a safe methodology of testing with pregnant women and the infants that they are carrying). Essential oils have been used for over 25 years by midwives, doulas, nurses, and mothers-to-be and have shown no harm to the mother or baby. When used properly, essential oils are very safe for use during pregnancy and can help the expectant mother through all sorts of pregnancy symptoms, including nausea/vomiting, swelling of ankles and muscle spasms, insomnia, stress, and more! See below for some suggestions for common ailments during pregnancy.
Here are some of the basic rules to follow during pregnancy when using essential oils:
-ingestion should be avoided at all costs. Applying topically or diffusing is different, but when you ingest an oil while pregnant it can affect your baby. Since there are so many essential oils that cannot be used on infants, it’s best to avoid ingesting all together.
-most oils should be avoided during your first trimester. There are so many risks with miscarriage that it’s best to stay away. The only oil I applied during my first trimester was ginger on the bottoms of my feet to help with the severe nasuea I was having. I only did this after trying other options first – you can read about them here.
-Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (such as almond, coconut, hemp seed, etc.) before use. It’s best while pregnant not to exceed a 1% dilution (6 drops essential oil per 1 oz. of carrier oil), and a 2% dilution (12 drops essential oil per 1 oz. of carrier oil) during labor and while nursing.
-only run your diffuser for 10-15 minutes at the time. When you’re pregnant, your nose is super sensitive to smells. Knowing this, be very careful about diffusing oils for longer than 15 minutes because that can trigger headaches and/or nasuea.
-avoid “cheaper” and not 100% natural oils. Not considered true essential oils, absolutes are created using a solvent, often hexane or butane, to retain the fragrance. Though there should be no solvent left in the final product, you can not be sure, and traces of hexane have been found throughout many absolutes. I only use Young Living essential oils and you can read more about why here.
Now I want to share what specific oils not to use during pregnancy and why you shouldn’t use them. These essential oils have been determined to be unsafe for use during pregnancy and lactation, via ALL ROUTES (i.e. diffusion, topical, ingestion) because their chemical makeup contains specific chemical constituents that should be avoided during pregnancy. Some of these constituents can cross the placenta and become toxic to the fetus, are neurotoxic, teratogenic and cause deformities in the baby, and more.
Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)
Anise, Star (Illicium verum)
Araucaria (Neocallitropsis pancheri)
Artemisia (Artemisia vestita)
Atractylis (Atractylylodes lancea)
Lemon Basil (Ocimum x citriodorum) – Can be used at a low dilution, no more than once a day
Birch (Betula lenta)
Black Seed (Nigella sativa)
Buchu (Agathosma betulina, Agathosma crenulata)
Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)
Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)
Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia)
Chaste Tree (Vitex ugnus castus)
Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum)
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) – This should be avoided during pregnancy because it can bring on contractions, but it has been used quite effectively in the birthing room for just this purpose. It’s safe for use during labor (under the guidance of a doula or midwife) as well as postpartum.
Cypress, blue (Callitris intratopica)
Dill Seed (Anethum graveolens)
Dill Seed, Indian (Anethus sowa)
Eucalyptus, ALL (Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus autraliana, Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithi
Fennel, bitter and sweet (Foeniculum vulgare)
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Genipi (Artemisia genepi)
Hibawood (Thujopsis dolobratta)
Ho Leaf (Cinnamomum camphora)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Lanyuna (Artemisia afra)
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) – Avoid use during pregnancy, OK for use while nursing
May Chang Litsea cubeba – Avoid use during pregnancy, OK for use while nursing
Mugwort (Artemisia arborescens, Artemisia vulgaris)
Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
Myrtle Backhousia anisata)
Myrtle, Honey (Melaleuca teretifolia) – Avoid use during pregnancy, OK for use while nursing
Myrtle, Lemon (Backhousia citriodora) – Avoid use during pregnancy, OK for use while nursing
Nutmeg (Mysristica fragrans)
Oregano (Origanum onites, Origanum smyrnaeum, Origanum vulgare, etc.)
Parsley, Leaf/Seed (Petroslinum sativum)
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Plectranthus (Plectranthus fruticosus)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Sage, Dalmatian (Salvia officinalis)
Sage, Spanish (Salvia lavandulaefolia)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Tea Tree, Lemon (Leptospermum petersonii) – Avoid use during pregnancy, OK for use while nursing
Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, Achillea nobilis)
Zeodary (Curcuma sedoaria)
Now that I’ve listed all of the essential oils you cannot use while pregnant, it’s time to share the ones that you can! I run my diffuser daily, but I change what’s in it depending on what’s going on in my day. I apply oils topically AS NEEDED and no more than I have to. This is not a complete list, as many essential oils really have never been clinically tested for use during pregnancy. Other essential oils not mentioned here may be OK for use if properly diluted and used sparingly.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – Do not use topically before going out in the sun, diffusion and wash-off products are safe
Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Chamomile, German/Roman (Chamaemelum nobile, Matricaria recutita) –
Copaiba (Copaifera langsdorfii, Copaifera officinalis)
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Fir Needle (Abies alba, Abies sachalinensis, Abies sibirica)
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri, Boswellia frereana, Boswellia neglecta, Boswellia rivae, Boswellia sacra, Boswellia serrata)
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) – Do not use topically before going out in the sun, diffusion and wash-off products are safe
Juniperberry (Juniperus communis)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender, Spike (Lavandula latifolia)
Lemon (Citrus x limon) – Do not use topically before going out in the sun, diffusion and wash-off products are safe
Lime (Cirtus x aurantifolia) – Do not use topically before going out in the sun, diffusion and wash-off products are safe
Marjoram, Sweet (Marjorana hortensis)
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
Neroli (Citrus x aurantium)
Orange, Sweet (Citrus sinensis)
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
Pine, Scots (Pinus sylvestris)
Rose, Otto (Rosa damascena) – is safe for use during the third trimester
Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora)
Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)
Spruce, Norway (Picea abies)
Tangerine (Citrus reticulata)
Tea Tree (Maleluca alternifolia)
Thyme ct linalool (Thymus vulgaris)
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) – Use sparingly as this is very pungent, even to the nose of someone who is not pregnant.
After sharing all of this information about essential oils during pregnancy, some of you might still have questions. That’s 100% normal and I applaud you for wanting to learn more! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can help you and guide you into the oily world (especially during your pregnancy)
This month, Young Living is having a sale on their Premium Starter Kits! They are 10% off of normal pricing, this is a great deal! You can read more about the PSK here. If you decide you want to buy a kit this month and use my link to do so, please note that in addition to the 10% off I am covering all taxes and shipping fees so you get a double discount this month!