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Essential Oils and Pregnancy Safety

bottles of essential oils that are safe for pregnancy surrounded by flowersEditor's Note: This blog was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

We can all agree that pregnancy is a joyful, rewarding, and life-changing experience. But it also comes with important decisions to make and some not so pleasant side effects to contend with. Given all this, it’s ok to admit that sometimes pregnancy can be stressful and challenging.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were natural remedies available to help combat pregnancy stress, morning sickness, or nausea? Good news, essential oils are here to help! It is important to understand that every obstetrician has their own level of comfort talking with patients about essential oil use during pregnancy. Please be sure to talk to your doctor before you try anything new before, during, or after pregnancy.

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Essential Oil Basics

Essential oils are a class of evaporative aromatic oils derived from plants. Within their plant hosts, the oils are responsible for providing the plant’s characteristic smell, attracting beneficial organisms, repelling harmful parasites, and helping the plant reproduce, regenerate, and heal.

Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians are credited among the first humans to harness the many capabilities of essential oils. These ancient peoples developed the techniques used to extract essential oils from their natural plant habitats via distillation and pressing. They used essential oils because of their healing and medicinal properties, for cosmetic purposes, and to aid in spiritual meditation and relaxation. And after going through 2020, we can all agree that a little relaxation would be nice. 

Today we realize these same regenerative, healing, soothing, and aromatic benefits when essential oils are inhaled, diffused, ingested, or applied topically to the skin. Our selection of essential oils has expanded greatly from that of our ancient ancestors as distillation and pressing processes continue to grow in sophistication.

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Essential Oils and Pregnancy

So, you may be thinking: natural healing, regenerative, and calming benefits all sound great, but are essential oils safe to use during pregnancy? The answer is yes, with a few special considerations.

First, it’s important to choose your essential oils with care. Select a reputable essential oil provider that delivers pure, high-quality, therapeutic-grade essential oils with an emphasis on scientific testing and responsible sourcing. The best essential oils are 100% plant derived without fillers or byproducts.

Next, always exercise caution with essential oil use, specifically during the flurry of development that occurs in your first trimester. Additionally, avoid the essential oils listed in the "don’ts" section below.

Finally, pregnant women should avoid ingesting and topically applying undiluted essential oils throughout pregnancy. Instead, try inhaling essential oils or adding them to a diffuser. If you elect to apply essential oils to your skin, make sure they’re diluted with a carrier oil and test a small area of your skin for sensitivity before general use.

Essential Oils That Are Safe During Pregnancy

Many nontoxic essential oils are approved for use during pregnancy and can help combat some of the more unpleasant, but common, symptoms of pregnancy.

“Many essential oils are perfectly safe to use in moderation during pregnancy, but some are linked to negative side effects including inducing contractions,” states Ellen Comiskey, M.D., board certified obstetrician from Moreland OB-GYN. “Always exercise caution and consult your doctor before using essential oils during pregnancy.”

Woman's hands cupping wild lavender Here’s a list of pregnancy-safe essential oils to get you started.

  • Combat morning sickness and nausea
    • Cardamom
    • Ginger
  • Promote calm, relaxation, and a good night's sleep
    • Frankincense
    • German or Roman Chamomile
    • Lavender
    • Neroli
    • Petitgrain
    • Rose or Rosewood
  • Uplift your mood
    • Geranium
    • Lemon
    • Patchouli
    • Sandalwood
    • Wild Orange

Essential Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy

The list of essential oils provided below should be avoided during pregnancy. Refrain from using:

Prenatal Care Guide
  • Aniseed
  • Basil
  • Birch
  • Camphor
  • Clary Sage
  • Hyssop
  • Mogwort
  • Oak Moss
  • Parley Seed or Leaf
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Rue
  • Sage
  • Tansy
  • Tarragon
  • Thuja
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormwood

Again, it’s critical to discuss the use of essential oils with your obstetrician or gynecologist. Every woman’s pregnancy, symptoms, and potential risk factors are unique. Your doctor should be your first resource for questions about essential oil use and other pregnancy related questions or concerns.

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Talk to your doctor

There any many benefits to essential oil use during pregnancy, but as we discussed, certain oil types and application methods should be handled with care or avoided entirely. If you’re looking to learn more about essential oils and pregnancy or have other questions, the team of doctors at Moreland OB-GYN are here to help!

pregnant woman using safe essential oils sitting at table using a dropper to pour oil on armAt Moreland OB-GYN, we specialize in women’s health care and prioritizing the needs of our patients. We hope you’ll connect with us to help answer your questions and we hope you’ll turn to our experts as a trusted resource for information. Download your pregnancy planning kit, now!

Looking for more resources? We’ve got you covered!

Download Pregnancy Medication Guide

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