Essential Oils and Pregnancy


Essential oils have become widely used by pregnant moms globally. They are useful in the treatment of anxiety during pregnancy, postpartum, and labor, aches, and lack of focus. You can choose from the variety of fragrances available. However, seeking advice from your doctor is critical as he will advise you on what’s best suited for you, as well as utilizing common sense.

While using essential oils topically help relieve pregnancy pains and aches, precaution is advised as there isn’t much research on their effects on developing fetuses. There are things you should know before you inhale your preferred aromatherapy scent or use essential oil.

The growth of fetuses during pregnancy has been divided into trimesters according to the development of the child. When you speak to your medical doctor, they will confirm each of these said trimesters has different recommendations and cautions regarding essential oils.

First Trimester

During the first trimester, many pregnant moms or hopeful mothers are strictly instructed against the use of any form of essential oils. Naturopathic medical doctors, who specialize in prenatal care, have said that the oils could possibly result in uterine contractions. Similarly, it could cause adverse effects on your infant's early development.

While more research is underway on the subject, we believe in a common sense approach, which includes knowing the difference between risk and hazard. This is especially true when using essential oils topically. 

“We live in a world replete with toxic substances, yet ‘hazard’ should not be confused with ‘risk’. The presence of a toxic substance (hazard) is only problematic if exposure is sufficiently great (risk). Roasted coffee contains furan and bezo[a]pyrene, two known carcinogens…yet coffee is not considered carcinogenic. Almost all edible fruits contain acetaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen. But bananas are not considered carcinogenic because the amounts of acetaldehyde are extremely small, and because there are large quantities of antioxidant, antimutagens, and anticarcinogens also present in the fruit. It is a similar story with coffee.”

– Robert Tisserand, Essential Oil Safety, p. 3

As Danelle at Weed 'em & Reap states, it's possible for anything to be toxic at high levels. For example, if you drink too much water you can die! The most important thing is adhering to proper dosage. We believe that telling pregnant mothers to avoid all essential oils during their pregnancy is similar to the FDA saying that because a small group of people don’t know how to properly handle for raw milk means nobody should be allowed to drink raw milk.

Second and Third Trimesters

At this stage, your baby is more developed, which makes some essential oils considered "safer" for use. The most recommended essential oils are those with a calming, relaxing effect, and help sleep. These include ylang ylang, chamomile, and lavender.

  • Peppermint
If you are experiencing headaches during pregnancy, peppermint oil has shown success in managing this condition. It can also be useful for muscle aches, nasal congestion, and nausea. For postpartum moms with difficulties in emptying their bladder, peppermint oil has shown positive healing results.

  • Rose and Lavender

According to studies, essential oils from rose and lavender can help cut anxiety during labor. Essential oils are said to have a relaxation effect on the human body system. Since the sense of smell is intensely associated with memory, you can inhale the scent of rose or lavender during labor to change your perception of pain. You will end up killing two birds with one stone.

Use Common Sense

Before using any essential oils, the user should be aware how concentrated just a few drops are. Essential oils are powerful in small amounts and since essential oils can cross the placental barrier, a portion of the essential oil may that is not metabolized by your liver or enzymes in your bloodstream could reach your placenta and baby. It is vital to remember that with the correct dosage, this is completely fine. Only when toxicity levels are reached does any essential oil become a problem. 

Again, we must emphasize, use common sense! The proper dosage when using any essential oil is a FEW DROPS, and spreading topical applications out to a minimum of 1-1.5 hours between each application.

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