What essential oils are safe for pregnancy and which ones should be avoided? It's a commonly asked question that we felt deserved it's own post. We’ve compiled information from trusted sources in the aromatherapy community, erred on the side of caution, and even given you some recipes to use that we’ve personally used or have been used in clinical trials.
Though there aren’t very many clinical trials to pull from, more research is being done all the time. And because it would be unethical to test an expecting mother and her fetus, we rely heavily on the history of safe use.
How do I safely use essential oils during pregnancy?
Dilution, dilution, dilution!
The recommended dilution rate for pregnant women is 1% which is 1 drop of essential oil per 5ml of carrier oil or 6 drops for every ounce of carrier oil. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but trust us… more oil does not mean more benefits or faster results. Your body is doing a lot right now and a lot is changing so don’t weigh your liver down with an excessive amount of essential oils to process.
It’s also not uncommon for pregnant women to have more sensitive skin, so using a higher dilution rate helps prevent a reaction. If the 1% dilution isn’t enough and bothers your skin you can try increasing the dilution to .5% which is 1 drop per 10ml of carrier oil or 3 drops for every ounce of carrier oil. Using essential oils at their proper dilution is considered safe. Using a lower dilution could be a possible risk to the fetus.
In general we don’t recommend casual ingestion, but definitely NOT in pregnancy. Essential oil ingestion is not necessary for most cases and the desired outcome can be achieved with topical application or inhalation. Please check out this FAQ: Essential Oil Ingestion post for a more in depth explanation of our stance.
A Word About The First Trimester
The first trimester is a critical time in the development of the fetus so it’s recommended by many aromatherapists and doctors alike to avoid most essential oils in the first trimester. If you are experiencing nausea though, essential oils have proven to be beneficial in helping ease the intensity. There are a few recipes at the end of this post that are considered safe for the first trimester.
What Oils Do I Use During Pregnancy?
Now that you have the "how", we can get to the oils! Here are our list of oils we do and do not recommend to use while pregnant.We'll start with the ones you should definitely AVOID, and move to the ones generally recognized as safe for use during pregnancy (when used correctly!)
Remember, always talk with your doctor or midwife about using essential oils while pregnant, and do your own research before trying anything new!
Oils To Avoid During Pregnancy
We’ve erred on the side of caution when it comes to the oils we recommend you avoid. If you are taking medication, check to make sure the essential oils you are using won’t interact with your medication.
Oils on this list are pulled from Robert Tisserand’s recommendations for pregnancy, an expert in aromatherapy and essential oil research. This is not an exhaustive list, but we feel it’s the one of the most comprehensive. If you don’t see an oil in this list that you have questions about, feel free to contact us!
Anise, Anise Star, Araucaria, Artemisia vestita, Atractylis, Birch (sweet), Black seed, Buchu (ct diosphenol, ct pulegone), Calamint (lesser), Camphor, Carrot seed, Cassia, Chaste tree, Cinnamon bark, Costus, Cypress (blue), Dill seed (indian), Fennel (bitter, sweet), Feverfew, Genipi, Hibawood, Ho leaf (ct camphor), Hyssop (ct pinocamphone), Lanyana, Lavender (spanish), Mugwort, Myrrh, Myrtle (aniseed), Oak Moss, Oregano, Parsley leaf, Parsleyseed, Pennyroyal, Rue, Sage (dalmatian, spanish), Savin, Tansy, Thuja, Western red cedar, Wintergreen, Wormwood, Yarrow (green), Zedoary, and all blends including these oils.
Oils To Use Sparingly & Cautiously
Basil (lemon), Boswellia papyrifera, Champaca (orange) absolute, Clary Sage, Lemon balm (Australian), Lemon leaf, Lemongrass, May chang, Melissa, Myrtle (honey, lemon), Nasturtium absolute, Peppermint*, Rose, Rosemary,Tea tree (lemon-scented), Thyme (lemon), Verbena (lemon)
*peppermint should be avoided during lactation, as it can diminish/dry up milk supply. (more on postpartum and nursing to come!)
Safe Oils for Pregnancy
The following list of oils are considered safe for pregnancy when used at a 1% dilution. Again, this is not a complete list, please look into an oil you wish to use if it’s not listed here.
Black Pepper, Chamomile (Roman and German), Citrus (all), Cedarwood, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Helichrysum, Juniper, Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Neroli, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Pine, Sandalwood, Tea Tree, Thyme ct. linalool, Ylang Ylang
Recipes for Pregnancy
Safe for 1st Trimester
2 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil
2 drops Grapefruit essential oil
2 drops Cypress essential oil
Use a 1oz (30ml) glass dropper bottle and add all your essential oils and then top off with fractionated coconut oil. Shake and use as necessary. Recipe has been made at the recommended 1% dilution for pregnant women.
Safe for 1st Trimester