Written By: UMA Editorial Team |

Published on: November 3, 2023

We get asked this question a lot – Are essential oils safe to use during pregnancy (or while nursing)? Pregnancy puts – as it rightly should – many of our diet and lifestyle choices under a strict lens of safety – and understanding what you put ON you is just as important as what you put IN you. With that in mind, we have pulled together this guide on the use of essential oils during pregnancy, that we hope would answer those burning questions for many of you, who are interested in natural remedies for pregnancy. Keep in mind, though, that like all guidelines – these are general, so it is always recommended to double-check with your medical practitioner to ensure your care plan is tailored to your personal anatomical needs!

The top line: Many essential oils are safe in moderate, external use for expectant and nursing mothers.

Clinical aromatherapy expert Jane Buckle states in her book Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, that “There are no records of abnormal fetuses or aborted fetuses due to the ‘normal’ use of essential oils, either by inhalation or topical application” (377). In fact, certain aromatherapy essential oils have proven to be immensely helpful in easing discomfort for expectant and nursing mothers. However, it is important to note that there are some essential oils to avoid during pregnancy, as they can be harmful to both the mother and the developing fetus. According to the National Health Service (NHS), use of aromatherapy during pregnancy (through essential oils) has been proven to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation and empowerment, and aid in the process of childbirth. In fact, many expectant mothers choose to use these time-tested natural Ayurvedic formulas carried down through the generations instead of synthetic chemicals with little research regarding their long term effects.

The key considerations when incorporating essential oils uses into your wellness regiment (pregnant or otherwise!) are the following:

  • Quality of Essential Oil and its Source: Essential oils should not be adulterated in any way for use, as it may increase the likelihood of an adverse response. It is imperative that you research the background of your supplier, even asking questions about the farming and extraction processes to ascertain that you’re buying the highest quality essential oils.
  • Safe Dilution of the Essential Oil: To avoid sensitization of skin or allergic reactions, most essential oils must always be diluted before use in carrier oils (our favorites are jojobagrapeseed and pomegranate!)
  • Application: During pregnancy, it may be safer to avoid the internal consumption of essential oils, if you have never consumed them before. Try sticking to inhalation, and using them externally on the skin.

In researching the essentials oils to avoid while pregnant, we often rely on materials by Robert Tisserand, in addition to the wealth of expertise provided by our staff of generational practitioners of aromatherapy. Robert Tisserand points out a few essential oils to potentially avoid in the first trimester of pregnancy. These include wormwood, rue, oak moss, lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage and hyssop. It is important, Tisserand notes, to put these concerns in context, as the health risk for essential oils is minimal except in the case of prolonged or extremely high doses. Cooking with fresh herbs containing these oils is perfectly acceptable, without the danger of the possible risks. In addition, essential oils that are cardiac stimulants should be used minimally, during and right after pregnancy. These include cinnamon, hyssop, nutmeg and thyme.  As a general rule of thumb, always discuss essential oil use with your obstetrician if you are concerned that you may have an exacerbating condition.

Safe essential oils for pregnancy can be a great aid when used with appropriate safeguards in place.! They can be used in a massage for relaxation, or as a compress for relieving soreness. A few drops can also be added to your bath for a deeply relaxing effect. Essential oils can also help to soothe the tiredness, aches and pains, nausea, insomnia and backache that one often feels with pregnancy!

This content is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease, or affect the structure or function of the body.  The information herein does not constitute medical advice.  Anyone suffering from a medical condition should consult with a physician.  User reviews do not constitute a guarantee that you will achieve the same results — what works for one may not work for another.