Pregnancy is such a beautiful time in a woman's life. Growing another human being is amazing gift bestowed upon us. We begin to think about every little detail of how things interact with our bodies. We begin to think about something bigger than ourselves and think about the safety of this precious life growing inside of us.
It can be a little overwhelming. Trust me I know, mama. I have done it.... twice.
Whether you are just starting our with essential oils or have used them for years before pregnancy, we have compiled a few safety tips from a NAHA certified aromatherapist to help you use nature's gifts safely and efficiently during the wonderful ride called pregnancy!
Quick Dos and Don'ts for Pregnancy + Breastfeeding
DO NOT ingest.
Don't ingest essential oils or use them internally. Essential oils are highly concentrated substances. One should always strive to use as little as essential oil as possible during pregnancy. Natural does not always equal safe. Something that a healthy adult can use with no issues could be downright dangerous when pregnant, especially in large doses. It is best to avoid ingestion during pregnancy and err on the side of caution.
DO NOT use neat.
Do not use essential oils undiluted during pregnancy. An oil that you reacted well with prior to pregnancy may have quite a different effect now that you have a little human in tow. Our bodies go through many changes during this time. Remember, our bodies must process essential oils just like any other substance we consume or come in contact with. Pregnancy puts a strain on your organs. It is best to avoid using essential oils neat due to the potential added strain on your vital organs like your kidneys. They are stressed enough while you build a tiny human, give them a break mama!
DO NOT use inherently toxic oils.
Essential oils toxic in nature should not be used during pregnancy AT ALL. No diffusing.... no inhalation. Commmon oils to avoid altogether during this time are:
Anise, Birch, Pennyroyal, and Wintergreen. Scroll down for a list of oils to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
DO dilute dilute dilute!
I personally reccomend dilution no matter what... and especially during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the general rule of thumb is to stick to a 1% dilution to avoid irritation. Remember, our bodies are going through many changes. An oil that didn't bother you before at a 3% dilution could cause issues when expecting. It's best to stick to a very safe, low dilution and patch test prior to applying an oil to a larger area.
DO use oils to support yourself during this time.
Don't be scared to use oils during pregnancy, mama! Just use this guide and RESEARCH anything we do not cover to make sure you are making the best decision for you and baby. Pregnancy and nursing can be trying emotionally and physically. Essential oils are a WONDERFUL way to support yourself during this magical time!
A PARTIAL list of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding:
Anise, Pimpinella anisum
Anise (star), Illicium verum — trans-anethole
Birch (sweet), Betula lenta
Black Seed, Nigella sativa
Carrot Seed, Daucus carota
Cassia, Cinnamomum cassia
Cinnamon Bark, Cinnamomum verum
Costus, Saussurea costus
Cypress (blue), Callitris intratropica
Dill Seed (Indian), Anethum sowa
Fennel (bitter), Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel (sweet), Foeniculum vulgare
Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium
Ho Leaf (camphor ct.), Cinnamomum camphora ct. camphor
Hyssop (pinocamphone ct.), Hyssopus officinalis ct. pinocamphone
Lavender (Spanish), Lavandula stoechas (Not to be confused with safe Lavendula angustifolia!)
Mugwort (camphor/thujone ct.), Artemisia vulgaris ct. camphor/thujone
Mugwort (chrysanthenyl acetate ct.), Artemisia vulgaris ct. chrysanthenyl acetate
Mugwort (great), Artemisia arborescens
Myrrh, Commiphora myrrha
Myrtle (aniseed), Backhousia anisata
Oregano, Origanum vulgare
Parsley Leaf, Petroselinum crispum
Parsley Seed, Petroselinum crispum
Pennyroyal, Hedeoma pulegioides, Mentha pulegium
Rue, Ruta graveolens
Sage (Dalmatian), Salvia officinalis
Sage (Spanish), Salvia lavandulifolia
Savin, Juniperus sabina
Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare
Thuja, White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis
Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata
Wintergreen, Gaultheria fragrantissima
Wormwood (all chemotypes), Artemisia absinthium
Wormwood (sea), Artemisia maritime
Wormwood (white), Artemisia herba-alba
Yarrow (green), Achillea nobilis
This list is compiled using many different sources. One of my favorite sources on anything essential oils safety is anything by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young. They are highly respected in the aromatherapy communities and we very much agree with many of their sentiments regarding safety. Many of the oils mentioned here have toxic components that can potentially cause fetal toxicity, birth defects, trigger contractions, or generally interfere with fetal development. Avoiding these oils during pregnancy and while nursing will help to keep you and baby safe and sound.
A PARTIAL list of essential oils to use with EXTREME caution during Pregnancy + Breastfeeding:
Basil (lemon), Ocimum x citriodorum
Lemon Balm (Australian), Eucalyptus staigeriana
Lemon Leaf, Citrus x limon
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus
Melissa, Melissa officinals
Myrtle (honey), Maleleuca teretifolia
Myrtle (lemon), Backhousia citriodora
Tea Tree (lemon-scented), Leptospermum peteronii
Thyme (lemon), Thymus lanuginosus var. citriodorum
Verbena (lemon), Aloysia citriodora
It is worth noting: citrus oils are generally considering safe during pregnancy. Although a few oils mentioned here may SMELL like citrus, they are chemically different. Lemongrass, for example contains citral, an aldehyde that is not considered safe during pregnancy.
To be on the safe side, if you do choose to use the oils listed here, the maximum dermal application (1 time daily) I would reccomend out of precaution would be at a .5% dilution. I personally and officially reccomend avoiding using these oils altogether during pregnancy as there are many safe alternatives!
A few essential oils that are generally considered SAFE for use during pregnancy:
Bergamot, Citrus bergamia
Black Pepper, Piper nigrum
Cedarwood, Cedrus atlantica
Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus
Frankincense, Boswellia carteri
Geranium, Pelargonium graveolens
German Chamomile, Matricaria recutita
Grapefruit, Citrus paradisi
Helichrysum, Helichrysum italicum
Jasmine, Jasminum sambac
Lavender, Lavendula angustifolia
Lemon, Citrus limon
Lime, Citrus aurantifolia
Neroli, Citrus aurantium
Patchouli, Pogostemon cablin
Pine, Pine sylvestrus
Roman Chamomile, Chamaemelum Nobile
Rose, Rise damacena
Rosemary, Rosemarinus officinalis
Sandalwood, Satalum album
Spruce, Picea mariana
Sweet Orange, Citrus sinensis
Tangerine, Citrus reticulata
Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia
Vetiver, Veteveria zizanoides
Ylang Ylang, Canaga odorata
As you can see, there are SO many safe oils you can choose from. There are MANY MORE that are totally safe to use. This is only a partial list. Before you reach into your oil cabinet, please do your research and inform yourself about the safety of a particular oil or blend.
Please only take essential oil advice from certified aromatherapists or holistic medical practitioners who have truly studied the oils and understand the chemistry behind them. There is so much unsafe advice out there. Stay vigilant and arm yourself with knowledge, mama! You've got this.
About The Author: Alicia is a NAHA certified level 2 aromatherapist, skin care guru, organic product formulator, writer, wife, and mother to two boys. She is an organic living advocate on a mission to spread the word about living a natural lifestyle.
You can purchase her organic aromatherapy goods at www.apothepurity.com