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Essential Oil Use During Pregnancy FAQs

Are essential oils safe to use while pregnant?

When choosing what oils to use when pregnant, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider for advice. If you and your doctor or midwife decide that essential oils will work in your pregnancy routine, you should still read label language carefully before use. Recent research indicates that not all essential oils are safe for use during pregnancy. Overall, there is not sufficient safety data available on the majority of essential oils and their use during pregnancy, so we recommend you always put safety first, read labels, and consult your healthcare provider. Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated by nature, and you should use caution whenever using an essential oil for the first time.

Are there any essential oils that are definitely not safe to use while pregnant?

The following list of essential oils are deemed to be not safe for use during pregnancy*:

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum) (Estragole-Methyl Chavicol CT)
  • Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum)
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
  • Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)
  • Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
  • Cinnamon Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia)
  • Citronella (Cymbopogon winterianus)
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata)
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) (Pinocamphone CT)
  • Lemon (Citrus limon) (expressed)
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) (East Indian Type)
  • Marjoram (Thymus mastichina)
  • Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) (East Indian)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Pine Needle (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena) 5% Blend
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) (1,8-Cineole CT)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia)
  • Star Anise (Illicium verum)
  • Vetiver [Chrysopogon (Vetiveria) zizanioides (Haitian)]
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

* These essential oils should be avoided throughout pregnancy and lactation as there is scientific evidence suggesting they could potentially cause birth defects, maternal toxicity, fetotoxicity, developmental toxicity, estrogenic effects, embryotoxicity, stimulate uterine tone, and may induce abortion, contractions, or pre-labor.

Although there is insufficient safety data about essential oil use while pregnant, what are some oils that some expectant mothers still choose to use after their first trimester?

Due to the lack of sufficient data regarding the safety of essential oils during pregnancy and lactation, it is recommended to consult with a medical doctor who is also qualified in clinical aromatherapy and determine risk/benefit ratio prior to any use during pregnancy and lactation. That includes the following oils:

  • Atlas Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
  • Balsam Fir Needle (Abies balsamea)
  • Bergamot (Citrus aurantium bergamia) (Cold pressed)
  • Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
  • Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana)
  • Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobilis) (English type)
  • Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
  • Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllus)
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) (a-pinene CT)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
  • Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
  • Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) (10% blend)
  • Jasmine Absolute (Jasminum grandiflorum) (7.5% blend)
  • Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora)
  • Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) (distilled)
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • Natural Vanilla Blend [pure vanilla bean (Vanilla planifolia) extract]
  • Neroli (Citrus aurantium amara) (flower)
  • Orange (Citrus sinensis) (Cold pressed)
  • Patchouli (Patchoulol Chemotype)
  • Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) (Madagascar/Reunion Bourbon Type)
  • Sandalwood (Santalum album) (East Indian/ Indonesian/ Sri Lankan) (14% BLEND)
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) (Cold pressed)
  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris/zygis) (thymol CT)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
  • Ylang Ylang Extra (Cananga odorata)

Please note: Some essential oil blends are not meant for topical use, and you should always review all labels before use.

Recommendations are often based on the analysis of the chemical constituents and on historical precautionary principles. Generally speaking, the following are the accepted principles for the use of essential oils by pregnant and nursing women.

  1. Do not use essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy.
  2. Application of essential oils while pregnant and/or breastfeeding should be through topical use with a carrier oil and/or through inhalation. NEVER ingest essential oils.
    a) Max 6 drops essential oil in diffuser for diffusion and limit direct exposure to 10-15 minutes.
    b) During labor and while nursing, use a max topical solution of 1-2% dilution.
    i. 1% topical dilution: 3 drops essential oil in 15mL (0.5 fl. oz.) of carrier oil or 6 drops essential oil in 30mL (1 fl. oz.).
    ii. 2% topical dilution: 6 drops essential oil in 15mL (0.5 fl. oz.) of carrier oil or 12 drops essential oil in 30mL (1 fl. oz.).
  3. Repeated daily use is not recommended; use for resolving issues, use for a specific purpose such as nausea, indigestion, cramping, relaxation, stress, sleep support, etc.
  4. Do not add essential oils to birthing pool. Limit exposure to inhalation or diffusing during labor.
  5. The sensitivity of the skin may vary at different stages of the pregnancy, even on individuals who do not have a history of sensitive skin. It is important to perform patch testing if there are known allergies or sensitivities. If elected to apply essential oils to the skin, make sure they’re diluted with a carrier oil and test a small area of the skin for sensitivity before general use. A qualified aroma-therapist can give more details regarding preparation of specific oils. Adjust the concentration accordingly to the reactions or avoid these oils.
  6. Do not use on damaged, diseased, or inflamed skin.
  7. Essential oils should not be applied directly to the chest or breasts while nursing.
  8. It is best to avoid using essential oils if having medical or obstetrical complications, asthma, allergy, history of infertility, or eczema unless under the medical supervision of a professional healthcare practitioner.

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