Using Essential Oils Soundly During Pregnancy + Breastfeeding

October 26, 2019

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.


Live Pure.







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


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