Our Guide to Essential Oil Healing and Safety for Pregnant Moms
--Guest post by Apple Wellness
With the rapidly growing popularity of essential oils and aromatherapy, many expecting moms are questioning whether or not essential oils are safe to use during their pregnancy. The short answer?
Well, there isn’t one. Some essential oils are safe to use, while others are assuredly not safe. And, there are also additional precautions on how to use those that ARE safe correctly.
Ready for a deep dive into a wealth of knowledge on the topic?
Safety First: Essential Oil Caution
While essential oils can be safe and very helpful, you should also approach even those that are safe during pregnancy with caution. Here are some tips on how to stay safe.
Ingestion of essential oils should absolutely be avoided during pregnancy and while nursing. The ingestion of essential oils is a hot topic at all times, but even most of those who believe ingestion is healthful and safe in general agree that it’s best avoided during pregnancy.
Essential oils are best avoided during your first trimester. This is especially true for those mothers that are at high risk for miscarriage. This time in your baby’s development is critical, and simply too little research has been done on this to take the risk.
Always dilute your essential oils. Less is more when it comes to expecting mamas! Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such a hemp, almond, jojoba, coconut, or grapefruit seed oil before use. We recommend a 1-2% dilution (6-12 drops of essential oil per 1 oz. of carrier oil). Be careful when pouring — some essential oils come out quickly!
Repeated daily use is not advisable. You are extra sensitive to everything during pregnancy (I’m sure we don’t need to tell you that!), and it is possible to develop sensitivities to essential oils. To prevent this from happening, regularly switch up the oils that you use. Try to not exceed a week of daily use, or 3-4 days of intense use, without switching to a new oil.
Do not add essential oils to the birthing pool. Some mothers and coaches do this, but because essential oils do not mix with water, they sit on the surface. This can be dangerous to the newborn, causing possible burns, irritation, or other problems from accidental ingestion. Keep essential oils out of the water and in a diffuser instead.
A Comment on Quality
Finding high-quality, pure essential oils is of the utmost importance even for day-to-day use, but this is especially vital during pregnancy. Your skin absorbs that which comes into contact with it, so when you apply an essential oil (even if diluted), it will be absorbed into your body. This is both the healing power and the danger of an essential oil.
With a chemical-laden essential oil, this can be disastrous. At the moment, there are no regulations over transparent labeling for essential oil, which means that manufacturers can distill the oils with any chemicals they choose and throw in additives to boot — and no labeling of this is necessary.
Because of this, we strongly recommend that you go to a trusted local health and wellness store in your area to find pure, organic oils to use. Alternatively, do some deep research to find trustworthy brands to buy from online. Some examples of good brands include Amrita, Mountain Rose, Rocky Mountain Essential Oils, and Plant Therapy.
Completely avoid absolutes and other solvent extracted ‘essential oils’. Absolutes are created using a solvent, such as hexane or butane, to retain the fragrance. Traces of these chemicals will be found in the in the remaining product, and are definitely not worth the risk.
Essential Oils to Aid in Specific Pregnancy Difficulties:
Some essential oils have particular healing properties for pregnant women. Here are some helpful oils to resolve common pregnancy ailments.
Morning sickness: Ginger, peppermint, spearmint. Use peppermint sparingly - it may be too strong for some mama’s noses and shouldn’t be used during the third trimester or while breastfeeding. Diffuse the oils in a personal inhaler or a diffuser.
Dry Skin and Stretch Marks: Roman Chamomile, German Chamomile, Sweet Orange. Use topically or through diffusion.
Nerve and Back Pain: Black Pepper, Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, German Chamomile, Cypress, Lavender. Best used topically or added with the carrier oil into a warm bath.
Swelling: Lavender, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Cypress. Use topically, and only a couple of drops into the carrier oil. Massage gently into the swollen area.
Stress and Anxiety: Lavender, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Ylang-Ylang, Petitgrain, Neroli. Diffuse or use topically on wrists or other touch points.
Insomnia: Lavender, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile. Sweet Orange, Sweet Marjoram, Lime, Bergamot, Neroli, Lemon, and Ylang-Ylang may also be helpful. Use in a diffuser or put into a spray bottle (dilute first) to spray over your pillowcase.
Fatigue: Lime, Grapefruit, Sweet Orange. Diffuse or use topically.
A List of Safe Essential Oils
Please remember to test your essential oils on a small area of skin, such as your inner arm to ensure that you have no sensitivities or reactions. Pregnancy can mess with you, so something you may not have been sensitive to before becoming pregnant may now bother you. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – Diffusion and topical, but do not use topically before going out in the sun.
Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) - Topical, diffusion.
Chamomile, German/Roman (Chamaemelum nobile, Matricaria recutita) – Topical, diffusion.
Copaiba (Copaifera langsdorfii, Copaifera officinalis) Topical, diffusion.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) Topical, diffusion.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) Topical, diffusion.
Fir Needle (Abies alba, Abies sachalinensis, Abies sibirica) Topical, diffusion.
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri, Boswellia frereana, Boswellia neglecta, Boswellia rivae, Boswellia sacra, Boswellia serrata) Topical, diffusion.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) Topical, diffusion.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Topical, diffusion.
Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) – Diffusion and topical, but do not use topically before going out in the sun.
Juniper berry (Juniperus communis) Topical, diffusion.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Topical, diffusion.
Lavender, Spike (Lavandula latifolia) Topical, diffusion.
Lemon (Citrus x limon) – Diffusion and topical, but do not use topically before going out in the sun.
Lime (Citrus x aurantifolia) – Diffusion and topical, but do not use topically before going out in the sun.
Marjoram, Sweet (Marjorana hortensis) — Topical, diffusion.
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) — Topical, diffusion.
Neroli (Citrus x aurantium) — Topical, diffusion.
Orange, Sweet (Citrus sinensis) — Topical, diffusion.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) — Topical, diffusion.
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) — Topical, diffusion.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) — Use sparingly, and avoid during third trimester or while breastfeeding. Topical (higher dilution rate), diffusion.
Pine, Scots (Pinus sylvestris) — Topical, diffusion.
Rose, Otto (Rosa damascena) — Safe for use during the third trimester only.
Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) — Topical, diffusion.
Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) — Topical, diffusion.
Spruce, Norway (Picea abies) — Topical, diffusion.
Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) — Topical, diffusion.
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) — Topical, diffusion.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) – Strong scent may be unpleasant or overwhelming — use sparingly.
We strongly recommend that new mothers (and mothers new to essential oil use) consult with an experienced aromatherapist, birthing guide, or natural healthcare provider before using essential oils during pregnancy. This is especially true for those mothers who are at risk of miscarriage.
For most of us, essential oils are a wonderful, natural way of easing and smoothing the progress of pregnancy, helping you be a healthier, happier mum to a healthy, happy baby.
Questions? Feel free to contact Andrea Short with your questions! Our Apple Wellness team loves Andrea’s work, and would encourage moms-to-be to consider her coaching services.
Essential Oil Safety 2nd edition (Tisserand & Young, 2014)
Clinical Aromatherapy – Essential Oils in Healthcare 3rd edition (Buckle, PhD, RN, 2015)
The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy 2nd edition (Battaglia, 2003)
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art 2nd edition (Keville & Green, 2009)
NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) Pregnancy Guide
Essential Oil Safety During Pregnancy – LearningAboutEOs.com (Leah Harris)
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