Pregnancy is one of those times in life when you are experiencing a lot of new symptoms and yet you are very limited in what you can do to help. Using essential oils is a great option because they are natural, plant-based and non-toxic but there are a few things you should know about using essential oils during pregnancy before you get started.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are aromatic, volatile liquids distilled from plant roots, seeds, flowers, leaves, trees or entire shrubs. Essential oils allow you to experience many daily benefits and be self-empowered in taking responsibility for your own health during pregnancy and beyond. Of course, essential oils are not a replacement for medical care and should be used as a complement to the care you receive from your doctor or midwife.
10 essential oils that are safe for you to use during pregnancy
I discovered essential oils during my most recent pregnancy and used them for everything including sleep support, skin support, immune support and the biggest, for me, emotional support. Here are 10 essential oils that are safe for you to use during pregnancy:
Frankincense is a go-to oil for skin support during pregnancy. Skin can sometimes break out during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but just using one drop of frankincense in the palm of your hand mixed with moisturizer every morning and night can be extremely supportive. Frankincense is also great for emotional support and can help ease worries around pregnancy and birth.
Lavender is the jack of all trades when it comes to essential oils and can be used for SO many things during pregnancy. It’s super relaxing and calming and great for sleep support. Simply diffuse it with Frankincense at night or roll on your wrists before bed. It’s also great for skin support and a great option in the summer months when the bugs are biting and you don’t want to use other chemicals on your skin. You will also find many great uses for Lavender once baby arrives. Many new Moms use lavender to create a homemade diaper balm and diffuse it along with a blend called Gentle Baby. If you’ve never smelled the Lavender from Young Living you are missing out! It is so much more potent than any other brands.
Digestion issues are pretty common during pregnancy and Digize is a great remedy for this. Create a roller with Digize and use it during your first trimester on your tummy when you’re experiencing morning sickness. Other women also use it during the third trimester to soothe the acidity experienced in their esophagus. Simply roll is on the area bothering you, such as your throat and chest. It’s not one of the most favorable smelling essential oils, but it can get the job done.
4. Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia)
Tea Tree is a great oil for skin support especially specific spots like blemishes and irritations. You can use Tea Tree (after your Frankincense moisturizer routine) on any spots that needed extra support.
Lemon essential oil, like all citrus oils, is very uplifting and great to add to diffuser blends when you need that extra boost. Try using Lemon (and Citrus Fresh) in your water. Young Living’s vitality oils are safe to ingest and just one drop in your water can help increase your daily water intake which is super important during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Cedarwood essential oil is great for sleep support and calming nervous tension (aka when you can’t fall asleep at night because you’re thinking about all of the things!). Roll it on the bottoms of your feet right before bed. You can roll it on without diluting or you can make a roller ball with 25 drops Cedarwood and then fill with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil.
Thieves Oil is a popular blend for immune support and sometimes you really need an extra boost for your immune system during pregnancy. Thieves contains Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary. Several of those oils are recommended to use with care and caution during pregnancy. Also ensure you dilute Thieves and use it in moderation, rather than daily. Thieves is also a great immune support. Try making a 10ml roller with just 10 drops of Thieves essential oil and coconut oil and apply it to the bottoms of your feet and spine when you feel the need for an immune boost.
Peppermint essential oil has so many great uses during pregnancy including helping with smell sensitivities. You can simply open the bottle and sniff it or diffuse it along with a citrus like lemon or orange. Try using it in the summer to cool you down. If you’ve ever been pregnant in the summer, you know how hard it can be to cool down sometimes and a drop of peppermint and lavender behind your ears can be extremely cooling. Peppermint is also great for head tension and a roller with 10 drops peppermint, 10 drops Lavender and 10 drops Frankincense is often called the “Hangover Roller”—obviously in pregnancy it serves a different purpose. Note: Some people choose to avoid peppermint in late pregnancy because it can be used to reduce milk supply but I personally used it up until the end and had an abundant milk supply. Use your best judgment and consult your care provider.
There are two different versions of chamomile that are both wonderful and used for different purposes. Roman chamomile is extremely relaxing aromatically and great for sleep support and German Chamomile is fantastic for using on stretched skin after birth. Many women use German Chamomile on their perineum leading up to and after giving birth. It’s also in my favorite homemade diaper balm recipe.
10. Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang is a very special essential oil and exceptionally fragrant and refreshing. It’s extremely relaxing and a great oil for emotional support during and after pregnancy. It’s also found in the blend called Gentle Baby which is one of my favorite essential oil blends for pregnancy and baby.
7 essential oils that you should avoid during pregnancy
Historically, there are instances of non-therapeutic-grade (meaning synthetic, adulterated and/or of impure quality) essential oils having possibly caused problems during pregnancy. I only use Young Living oils and because of their Seed to Seal commitment. I have a few reference books that I trust as well and especially love Gentle Babies: Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infants and Young Children. That being said, here is a list of a few oils that you should avoid or use with caution during pregnancy. There are certain blends that may contain small amounts of these oils that many women use (myself included) without issue. If you are concerned, always consult with your care provider and dilute, dilute, dilute. I’d also limit the oils that you ingest during pregnancy and definitely avoid ingesting any on this list.
Wintergreen essential oil is high in methyl salicylate (the naturally occurring version of aspirin) and should be avoided during pregnancy and birth because of its blood thinning properties. Wintergreen is found in a few blends from Young Living like Panaway & Deep Relief and since it’s just one oil in a blend, many women choose to use it in moderation during pregnancy. Wintergreen should never be ingested.
Birch essential oil is also high in methyl salicylate and should be avoided in pregnancy and never ingested.
Hyssop essential oil is high in Pinocamphone which has the potential to stimulate contractions and should be avoided.
4. Clary Sage
Clary Sage is a great oil for increasing the intensity of contractions once labor has begun as well as inducing labor once a woman has reached her due date. In fact, my water broke within an hour of me diffusing Clary Sage next to my bed. For that reason, it should be avoided until you reach your due date. Other oils that have the same property that could assist contractions are Angelica, Juniper, Myrrh, and Fennel and they should be avoided during pregnancy.
Camphor essential oil is an oil itself and it is also a constituent in other oils including Tansy, Spanish Lavender, Feverfew, Spanish Sage and Sage Lavender. Camphor oil is only recommended for use topically because it is toxic when ingested. There are no reports of Camphor oil causing harm when used topically in pregnancy but due to its toxicity internally, it is generally recommended to be avoided.
6. Cinnamon Bark
Cinnamon Bark essential oil, along with Clove and Cassia contains Eugenol which has blood thinning properties. While there are no actual accounts of these oils causing problems in pregnancy, if used in large amounts (as in drinking an entire bottle) they could cause harm. As always, use common sense and use oils in moderation.
Rosemary essential oil contains the constituent 1,8 cineol also known as Eucalyptol which is great for respiratory support but again, could cause problems in high doses. Rosemary oil should be used only as needed rather than in a daily diffuser blend of perfume.
Take the following precautions when using essential oils during pregnancy
You’ve probably noticed a theme here and that is to use common sense, do your research and start small (aka dilute) when it comes to using essential oils.
Talk to Your Care Provider
During pregnancy, it’s always a good idea to run any concerns by your care provider. You can also seek the advice of an aromatherapist or a midwife or doula that have extensive experience using essential oils with pregnant women.
If you’re new to essential oils, I recommend starting with diluting everything. You can dilute oils in a carrier oil like jojoba, avocado, grapeseed or coconut oil. A great starting point with dilution is a 1:8 ratio.
Avoid Ingesting Essential Oils
Ingesting essential oils is going to deliver the most intense effects of the oil to your body. So while certain oils are great for ingesting while not pregnant, a good general rule of thumb during pregnancy is to avoid ingesting. Also, many essential oils you find online or at the grocery store are NEVER indicated for taking internally. If you’re using Young Living, they denote their oils with the Vitality label if they are okay for ingesting.
Avoid Using Essential Oils Altogether if:
Your medical history indicates it
If you have a medical history that indicates you should avoid essential oils, please do not go against medical advice. This could include an allergy or history of certain reactions. Epilepsy is another indicator that is often referenced when it comes to avoiding essential oils.
Ready to start using Essential Oils?
I had used several essential oils here and there before but I didn’t realize the difference in quality between many oils you find on the shelves or online versus Young Living oils. Did you know that the regulation around essential oils is pretty nonexistent so companies can claim to have a 100% pure essential oil when actually it’s packed with synthetics or diluted? You can tell a difference right away when you smell Young Living essential oils and their Seed to Seal commitment was what really sold me on exclusively using their oils. Once I started using Young Living essential oils during my most recent pregnancy, I was instantly hooked. I use oils every single day for emotional support, sleep support, immune support and skin support—to name a few!The cool thing about Young Living is when you become a member you are joining a “team” and if you’re joining my team, you get access to so many amazing resources like private Facebook groups (we have one specifically for pregnancy, nursing, and babies!), ebooks, online courses and so much more! If you want to join me, you can learn more about getting started here.