Aromatherapy and Pregnancy: Essential Oils Safe for Use and Those to Avoid

Aromatherapy and Pregnancy: Essential Oils Safe for Use and Those to Avoid

essential oils for pregnancy


Pregnancy is a time of profound transformation and excitement, but it can also bring about a host of physical and emotional challenges. Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, can be a gentle and natural way to alleviate some of these challenges. However, it is crucial to understand which essential oils are safe for pregnancy and which should be avoided to ensure the health and wellbeing of both the mother and the developing baby.


Understanding Essential Oils and Their Effects

Essential oils are concentrated extracts derived from plants. They contain volatile compounds that can have therapeutic effects on the body and mind. When used correctly, essential oils can help with common pregnancy complaints such as nausea, anxiety, insomnia, and muscle aches. However, due to their potency, certain essential oils can be harmful during pregnancy and should be used with caution.


lavender oil for pregnancy

Essential Oils Safe for Pregnancy

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Known for its calming properties, lavender oil can help reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and alleviate headaches. A study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing found that lavender aromatherapy significantly reduced anxiety in pregnant women during labour .

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Chamaemelum nobile): Both Roman and German chamomile are safe during pregnancy and can help soothe anxiety and promote relaxation. Chamomile tea is also a common remedy for nausea.

Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata): This sweet, floral oil is excellent for promoting relaxation and reducing stress. It has been found to lower blood pressure and improve mood in pregnant women .

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus): Eucalyptus oil can help relieve respiratory issues, a common problem during pregnancy. It also has antimicrobial properties, making it useful for preventing infections.

Citrus Oils (Lemon, Orange, Bergamot): These oils are uplifting and can help combat nausea and morning sickness. A study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice demonstrated that lemon oil effectively reduced nausea and vomiting in pregnant women .


Essential Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary oil can cause uterine contractions and increase the risk of miscarriage, particularly in the first trimester.

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea): Although sometimes used to stimulate labour, clary sage should be avoided throughout pregnancy due to its potential to induce uterine contractions.

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale): Like clary sage, jasmine oil can stimulate uterine contractions and is best avoided until labour.

Sage (Salvia officinalis): This oil contains thujone, which can cause uterine contractions and should be avoided throughout pregnancy.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens): This oil contains methyl salicylate, which is similar to aspirin and can be harmful to the developing fetus.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): While peppermint oil can relieve nausea, it should be used with caution as it may cause uterine contractions in some women.


Essential Oils for the Second and Third Trimesters

During the second and third trimesters, the risk of miscarriage decreases, and certain essential oils can be safely incorporated to help with pregnancy-related discomforts.

Lavender: Continues to be beneficial for sleep and anxiety.

Chamomile: Can help with digestive issues and muscle aches.

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii): Known for its grounding properties, frankincense can help reduce stress and anxiety. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for swollen joints.

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens): This oil can help balance hormones and improve mood. It also has skin-healing properties, which can be useful for preventing stretch marks.

Sandalwood (Santalum album): Sandalwood oil is calming and can help promote restful sleep.


Essential Oils for Labour and Birth

The use of essential oils during labour can provide significant benefits, including pain relief and emotional support. Here are some oils that can be safely used during labour:

Lavender: Helps create a calming environment and reduces anxiety.

Frankincense Oil – calms your emotions by inhaling the aroma. Rubbing on lower back and abdomen can ease labour discomfort.

Clary Sage: Although it should be avoided during pregnancy, clary sage can be used during labor to help stimulate contractions and relieve pain.

Jasmine: Similar to clary sage, jasmine can help strengthen contractions and ease labour pain when used during childbirth.

Sweet Orange Oil – Used for mood lifting, energy boost and a refreshing scent.

Rose (Rosa damascena): Rose oil can help create a soothing atmosphere and provide emotional support.

Neroli (Citrus aurantium): Neroli oil is excellent for reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of calm during labour.

Peppermint Oil – can ease nausea during labour by inhaling the aroma.


Safety Guidelines for Using Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Dilution: Essential oils should always be diluted with a carrier oil (such as coconut, jojoba, or almond oil) before applying to the skin. A safe dilution ratio during pregnancy is 1-2%.

Patch Test: Perform a patch test before using any new essential oil to ensure there is no allergic reaction.

Aromatherapy Diffusion: Using a diffuser is a safe way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils without applying them directly to the skin. Limit diffusion sessions to 15-20 minutes at a time.

Consultation: Always consult with a healthcare provider or a certified aromatherapist before using essential oils, especially during pregnancy.

Aromatherapy can be a valuable tool for managing the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy when used correctly. Understanding which essential oils are safe and which to avoid is crucial to ensuring the health and safety of both the mother and the baby. Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang offer gentle relief from common pregnancy ailments, while oils like rosemary, clary sage, and jasmine should be avoided due to their potential to cause harm, especially in the first two trimesters. By following safety guidelines and consulting with healthcare professionals, pregnant women can safely incorporate aromatherapy into their wellness routine to enhance their overall pregnancy experience.

With all of this in mind, to be 100% safe, we recommend using our Sleepy Head range during the second and third trimester and Calm can be introduced in the third trimester. We have had many positive birth stories like the one below, from customers using the Calm range during labour

"I used Calm essential oil blend during the birth of my baby; in my diffuser, on a flannel and mixed to make a massage oil. It was honestly incredible and the lavender provided the most amazing natural pain relief. I used it alongside the calm room spray! Highly recommend" Alice - Made By Coopers' customer

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