Alternative Health

Pregnant? Essential oils to use (and avoid) during pregnancy

woman sits on bed cradling pregnant belly

Pregnant? Essential oils to use (and avoid) during pregnancy

Essential oils can help us to focus, improve our mood, aid relaxation and even ease pain, so it’s no surprise many of us call on them throughout our lives. And if you’re going through pregnancy – and all the physical, hormonal and emotional changes that come with it – turning to natural aromatherapies to ease typical symptoms can be beneficial. You can also include essential oils in your birthing plan.

With many conventional medications unsafe or unsuitable to take when expecting, pregnancy is a time when some people might first discover complementary alternatives such as aromatherapy, the potential decongestion properties of eucalyptus or sleep-inducing qualities of lavender, for example.

But are your favourite essential oils safe to use during pregnancy? Should you change your aromatherapy routines? Or are essential oils best to avoid completely when pregnant?

Read on as we take you through some of the most popular essential oils, and whether to use them to help you through each trimester or to completely avoid them. But remember, it’s always best to consult your doctor or midwife before embarking on any healthcare or lifestyle changes when pregnant. Many midwives have knowledge and awareness of aromatherapy, including which oils are safe or unsafe.

Are any essential oils safe to use during pregnancy?

Yes, some essential oils are deemed safe during a ‘normal’ healthy singleton pregnancy, but this depends not only on which oil you’re using, but how you use it, and at which stage of pregnancy.

Women are advised to avoid essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy because there’s a risk that these could cause uterine contractions.

The strength of the essential oil you’re using is also something that’s vital to consider, as large quantities of some essential oils can be toxic.

Any oils that are deemed safe to use should only be applied to the skin if they have first been diluted with carrier oils. Better still, don’t use them topically during pregnancy but instead enjoy with the help of an aromatherapy diffuser.

Another convenient way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils safely, without a diffuser, is a mist spray.

Is lavender essential oil safe in pregnancy?

For centuries, the scent of lavender has been a popular natural sleep and relaxation aid. This is something that might appeal if your sleep is being disturbed by the many bodily changes of pregnancy (which might include a kicking baby-in-utero with a different sleep schedule to your own).

Lavender essential oil is widely regarded as safe to use as a natural relaxation aid during either the last two trimesters of pregnancy or in labour, as long as it’s used correctly (see above), such as in a diffuser. Or why not try Nature’s Truth Lavender Essential Oil Mist Spray in your room or on your pillow?

Can I diffuse eucalyptus oil while pregnant?

Aromatherapy with eucalyptus essential oil is popular as a complementary therapy if you’re looking to relieve nasal congestion.

As many over-the-counter cough and cold medications are not approved for use during pregnancy, this might be a time when the clarifying properties of eucalyptus appeal.

Eucalyptus is not believed to be unsafe to use in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy (as above, it’s recommended to avoid all essential oils during the first trimester) as long as it’s used correctly, such as with a diffuser or diluted with a carrier oil.

Can I still use peppermint oil to combat tiredness during pregnancy?

Peppermint essential oil is commonly used to reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue.

Feelings of tiredness can be a normal part of pregnancy, although some people will experience it more in different trimesters. If you want to bring peppermint oil into your routine during your second or third trimester, it would be best to check with your midwife or a medical professional beforehand – they can advise on how and when to use.

If you get the go-ahead, try spritzing your workspace with Nature’s Truth Peppermint Essential Oil Mist Spray to enjoy the zingy aromatherapy boost of peppermint oil during your pregnancy.

Are there any essential oils to avoid completely during pregnancy?

There’s a long list of oils that are regarded as best avoided using during pregnancy due to any possible toxicity risk. Popular ones that can pop up in your aromatherapy kit include:

  • Aniseed
  • Arnica
  • Basil
  • Birch
  • Bitter almond
  • Calamus
  • Camphor
  • Cassia
  • Cedarwood
  • Cinnamon
  • Clary sage
  • Clove
  • Coriander
  • Fennel
  • Hyssop
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper berry
  • Lavandula stoechas
  • Mugwort
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Oak moss
  • Origanum
  • Parsley
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Rue
  • Sage
  • Tansy
  • Tarragon
  • Thuja
  • Thyme red (large doses)
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormwood
  • And more!

If in any doubt about whether an oil is safe, check with your midwife or doctor.

Which essential oils are generally deemed safe for pregnant women?

pregnant woman having a massage

As noted, all essential oils are deemed unsafe for pregnant women during their first trimester. But as a general rule, these are deemed safe during your second and third trimester:

  • Bergamot
  • Black pepper
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Mandarin
  • Neroli
  • Sandalwood
  • Sweet Orange
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang Ylang

Remember, everyone should speak to their midwife during their second and third trimesters to determine which essential oils they should be avoiding.

Will aromatherapy help with pain relief in labour?

In the UK, according to the NHS, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) states that women shouldn’t be advised to use aromatherapy for pain relief during the latent (early) stage of labour as there is limited evidence to support this.

There are, however, some studies that suggest the aromatherapy use of some essential oils such as lavender could provide pain relief during the active phase of labour.

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*Always read the instructions on the bottle. Essential oils should be diluted with carrier oil before applying directly to the skin.


Nature's Truth

Nature's Truth

Writer and expert