Essential Oils for Pregnancy - Are They Safe and Which Ones to Use

The Plant Therapy website uses cookies for a variety of reasons. By accessing or using the Plant Therapy website you agree to the use of cookies. You can read our cookie policy here.

Your cart is currently empty.

Essential Oils Blog

Are Essential Oils Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

by: Emilee Hughes, Certified Aromatherapist

During Pregnancy

Over the past few months, Plant Therapy has received a surge of questions about using essential oils safely while pregnant and nursing. Today we are going to discuss the topic of pregnancy safety in depth, provide safe usage guidelineSEOs, and explore our updated Pregnancy and Nursing Safe Chart.

During pregnancy, our doctors frequently ask us questions like: “What are you eating?”, “Do you consume alcohol?”, and “Are you a smoker?” This is because our growing baby receives all of its life forming nutrients from us, the mother. Whether or not we are eating right, exercising, or consuming caffeine during pregnancy can have drastic effects on our growing little one. Many of these variables have the potential to cross the placenta.

So what does the placenta do? “The primary function of the placenta in all species is to promote selective transport of nutrients and waste products between mother and fetus. Such transport is facilitated by the close approximation of maternal and fetal vascular systems within the placenta.” [1]

Keep this in mind:

“Essential oils by their very nature, being organic substances, will cross the placental barrier and have the potential to affect the fetus.” [2]

With this in mind, when choosing to use essential oils during the first trimester we recommend very limited use. This is because so much change is taking place within our bodies. In general, we do not recommend active or daily use of essential oils during the first trimester and it may be best to avoid using altogether during this time. However, to assist with nausea you may consider adding a drop of Peppermint or Spearmint to a tissue and gently inhaling to relieve some of these symptoms.

Beyond the first trimester, there are some additional variables to consider.

First let’s discuss the means of use, as we all know there are several different methods to use essential oils. Through topical application, only a small amount of oil will actually reach your bloodstream and the absorption rate is slow. Through diffusion, you will receive a small but continued dose of essential oils via inhalation. Steam inhalation offers a high but very short dose of essential oils. Lastly, when using a personal aromatherapy inhaler we receive a dose that is not as strong as steam inhalation but stronger than diffusion. [3]

While considering the means of use we must also reflect on how often we use essential oils. You may have heard us say with essential oils “less is more.” This is especially true when using essential oils during pregnancy. The more you choose to use essential oils, the more you will absorb, which may cross the placenta. It is best to limit essential oil usage to relieving symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, or occasional head tension. By limiting your use, you may still receive the wonderful benefits of essential oils without overexposing yourself or your growing baby.

The next thing to consider is a safe dilution percentage.

“The recommended dilution is 1% or less, for all skin applications… [For] bath[s]… [one] should add no more than 4 drops of essential oil.” [2]

The last and most important factor to consider is the essential oils that you are using in your blends. We must remember that “Certain essential oils are contraindicated due to the nature of their chemical components, which may be too strong (and unnecessary) for [pregnancy].” [2]

It is very important that you only use essential oils that are safe during pregnancy. This is where our list of Pregnancy and Nursing Safe oils will be very helpful. This list was created by our team of Certified Aromatherapists here at Plant Therapy and has been approved by world-renowned essential oil safety expert, Robert Tisserand.

There are also variables to consider when breastfeeding.

We will discuss in depth in Pregnancy and Nursing Safety – Part 2. In the meantime, if you have any questions about using essential oils safely while nursing please email an Aromatherapist at [email protected].

 

Click Here to Download and Print the Pregnancy and Nursing Safe Chart By Concern

 

 

References:

[1] Bowen, R. “Transport Across the Placenta” 6 August 2000. Retrieved 25 October 2016. http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/reprod/placenta/transport.html

[2] Christie, Deacon, Pickard, Price. “Pregnancy Guidelines: Guidelines for Aromatherapists Working with Pregnant Clients” 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2016. https://naha.org/assets/uploads/PregnancyGuidelines-Oct11.pdf

[3] “Aromahead Institute’s Aromatherapy Certification Program” https://www.aromahead.com/courses/online/aromatherapy-certification-program

[4] Smith, Anne. “Drugs and Breastfeeding” Breastfeeding Basics., Retrieved 10 October 2016. https://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/drugs-and-breastfeeding

[5] Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

133 thoughts on “Are Essential Oils Safe to Use During Pregnancy?”

  1. This is the information I needed. Being in my first trimester I am experiencing really bad insomnia. Could a chamomile hydrosol work too?

  2. Thank you for this helpful information! I decided to avoid using essential oils during my first trimester, but am planning on using some now that I’ve reached my 2nd trimester. It’s good having this information to help me make educated decisions about what I should use.

  3. Hi. I am 8 weeks pregnant and I’ve just used 6 peppermint oil drops in steam inhalation for about 5 minutes. How bad is it?!

  4. I would love it if we could download all of the charts here! We are only able to download the “by concern” charts and not the “singles & synergies” chart!

  5. Extremely helpful and knowledgeable information for an expecting momma! I referenced this a lot during pregnancy and will continue now that little one is here. Thankful for safe and effective ways to take care of self and little one.

  6. I have read that clary sage is helpful during labor? Or for inducing labor? Is that why it is listed as Nursing safe but not pregnancy safe on the chart?

    1. Liz, we do not currently have a comparable replacement for gogogo, but citrus oils are always great for children who need a little boost of energy 🙂 Feel free to reach out to our awesome Customer Service Team at [email protected] if you have any more questions.

  7. This post is very helpful and I reference it frequently. I would, however, be very interested in an updated list since Plant Therapy has released so many new products since this one was made I appreciate that I have certified aromatherapists at my disposal anytime I have a question, though! I love Plant Therapy!

  8. Thank you so much for this wonderful information. I started using EO’s when I was pregnant, but wasn’t given any info about safe usage. I’ve since had two more babies and nursed them for over a year. I love that Plant Therapy educates their customers on how to use oils safely. I’ve shared this post with a lot of friends, too!

  9. Thank you, Plant Therapy!!! I am so incredibly grateful for your blog and for such specific and helpful information like this. I have returned to this post numerous times throughout my current pregnancy (and I have shared it with others), it’s a great resource. I deeply appreciate your “less is more” philosophy with oils and your careful recommendations for pregnancy, nursing, and little ones. I have learned so much from y’all and am so glad to have Plant Therapy oils as a part of our family life.

  10. Unless I’m mistaken, it appears that Rosemary is marked as safe during pregnancy but not for breastfeeding. I have read through many sources that suggest that Rosemary is not safe during pregnancy. Just wanted to make sure which was correct? And also wondering if these charts could be sent to me as a PDF via e-mail for easy printing? Thank you so much.

  11. Seriously so excited to find this post! I’ve been having the worst back pain during this pregnancy, and this really helps out 🙂 Thank you for the quick chart reference too! 😀

  12. The first download link is incorrect, it downloads the “by concern” chart instead of the “safe chart” list. Also, can you please add both downloads to the downloads section of the website?

  13. Is peppermint mentha x piperita different from peppermint supreme? I can only find peppermint western US and peppermint mentha x piperita on PT website, and I own the latter only. So I was wondering about the safety of peppermint mentha x piperita. Thanks!

  14. Love having a quick easy chart to send friends to when they have questions about what’s safe for them in pregnancy! Thanks so much for making this list for us!

  15. Hi, I have been using Tranquil and Frankincense for the past 4 days now. I am 6 months pregnant. Are these okay? I use it with an inhaler around 5 drops with himalayan salt. Kindly advise.

  16. Hi! I was wondering why eucalyptus and peppermint oil isn’t safe while nursing? Does it decrease supply? What are alternatives that offer the same benefits?

    1. Meagen, Eucalyptus and Peppermint are not KidSafe and may cause respiratory distress in small children, which is a reason we do not recommend them during this time. There is a small chance of essential oils being absorbed into the body and passed to baby through the milk as well. Additionally, there are some concerns that Peppermint may decrease milk supply. Try Spearmint as a KidSafe, pregnancy and nursing safe alternative 🙂

  17. Thank you for providing this list! My first pregnancy I used oils all the time during the first trimester. I will definitely be more cautious this time around!

  18. I was wondering when was the last time these charts were updated? I just found out I am pregnant and just bought some new oils…. kidsafe ones… I noticed some of the names of oils on the list is different from what they are called now. This is a great read I just wish the list was updated to more recently added oils so I know if its safe or not. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. 🙂

    1. Ashely, thank you for bringing this to our attention! This blog was written in 2016 by one of our amazing aromatherapists. However, since 2016 Plant Therapy has modified the names of a few of our blends. If you have ANY concerns about the oils you have bought, please don’t hesitate to contact either our customer service team or aromatherapist team. They respond to questions quickly and I’m sure will give you the information you need! Email [email protected] or [email protected] 🙂

  19. Hi, I see Kids Safe Tummy All Better on the OK list, but it contains ginger, which I don’t see on the list…could really use some relief, is it ok to use? Thx!

  20. Im looking to bring a few oils and blends to the hospital during labor and delivery and am curious which ones you would recommend. I don’t want to bring too many but maybe 1 for each stage of labor.

  21. We are in CA, and the many wild fires happening in our state has air quality outside is at hazardous levels. One recommendation I keep hearing/seeing on social media is using diffusers to hydrate and clean the air in our homes, especially since we’re pretty much housebound (going on 9 days now) because air quality is so poor outside. I have a feeling I could be pregnant, but I would be considered very early on since it’s even too early to take a test. In that case, are there any safe oils to diffuse? What’s worse, we all have terrible colds too.

  22. I did not realize that lemongrass is not pregnancy safe and occasionally put 1-2 drops on a wool dryer ball in the dryer throughout my first trimester. Probably only did this a handful of times. I am now 18 weeks pregnant and am worried that I may have done something to my baby. Is this cause for concern?

  23. Could someone tell me whether Clove and Allspice are safe to use while pregnant? I know new oils have come out since this list was made so I’m curious if that’s why they aren’t listed. Thanks in advance!

    1. Something you can try for water retention during pregnancy is this “Ban The Bloat” recipe:2 ounces of carrier add 4 drops Geranium, 6 drops Juniper Berry and massage the abdomen to reduce water retention. Please use this massage blend sparingly, banishing too much water from your system can be detrimental.

  24. What about if you use them in a lotion? Are the pregnancy safe ones okay to use when making a lotion during the first trimester or no? Thanks!

    1. Candice, we generally recommend avoiding the use of essential oils until the 2nd trimester as the body is going through so much change during the first. If using oils during the first trimester, it is only recommended with VERY limited use, not daily use, which is why it may just be best to avoid any essential oil use during that sensitive first trimester

  25. Would it be possible to have these emailed to me as a PDF? I am not able to download and print from the website. Thanks!

    1. Katie, I just emailed that to you! If that link is not working, you can also click on the images so they are enlarged, then right click to save/print 🙂

  26. I see you note in the comments above that bay laurel is unsafe during pregnancy, but is it OK while breastfeeding? Thanks!

  27. I am assuming, based on the ingredient list, that the Muscle Aloe Jelly is not safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding?? If that is correct, I’m curious why there isn’t a caution listed either on the webpage for the jelly or the bottle itself to avoid during that time. Thanks for the help!

    1. Janet, you are correct. The Muscle Aloe Jelly is not pregnancy/nursing safe. I am sending a request forward to have a disclaimer added. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  28. The first chart is not downloading. I tried several times. Would like for my daughter-in-law who seems it is safe to use all oils when pregnant and/or nursing.

  29. So 1% dilution topical application for entire pregnancy with only pregnancy safe oils… am I understanding that correctly? And no diffuser during 1st trimester only?

  30. I have been reading or checking this post (and the nursing one) almost weekly for almost a year now! I’ve been nursing or pregnant for almost 10 straight years now, and discovered plant therapy and safe use of essential oils in the last year. Thank you so much for putting together these lists and posts for us!

  31. Printed off these charts for my DIL who just had a bad sprain. I was unsure what oils would be safe. I found a recipe which used oils on the list to help get her some relief. She only has a few weeks to go and was miserable enough with that and the heat now a sprained ankle and crutches. Thank you for the post.

  32. Thanks so much for this blog. I share it with all expectant mothers to help them try to use essential oils safely.

  33. First, thank you Plant Therapy for this useful information. After reading some of the replies, has an updated list become available? I just want to be as safe as possible but don’t want to exclude some oils that have been deemed safe moor recently. Thanks! Keep up the great work! Love your oils.

    1. Hi Johanna,
      I apologize but we do not currently have an updated list. If you have any questions about a specific oil that is not on this list please feel free to email us at [email protected] and we would be more than happy to help. Have a great day!

    1. Hi Ana, unfortunately Vein Aid is not pregnancy safe. It contains Wintergreen, Laurel Leaf, Ginger Root, and Lemongrass all of which are not recommended for pregnancy. It you need help with enhancing circulation try using Cypress essential oil diluted to 1% for topical application. I hope this helps!

  34. Hi! I am 37 weeks pregnant and used the germ destroyer directly on my feet (1drop per foot) for the past 2 days as my older child have herpangina. I didn’t realize I have to dilute it!! It is listed as pregnancy safe though. Is that alright? Thanks

    1. Given that you only applied to your feet, I’m sure everything will be fine. For next time, though, I would recommend a 1% dilution the back of your neck, or on your chest. 🙂 Congrats on the upcoming arrival, by the way!

      1. Thanks for reverting! yea i also used it neat on my 2y old and 5y old girls’ feet. YL’s kids range is pre diluted so i overlooked that i have to dilute the kids range for Plant Therapy. Thank you.

    2. Stephanie, Germ Destroyer is pregnancy safe, however you should always dilute essential oils before applying them topically. I would recommend a 2-3 dilution while pregnant.

  35. Hi! I see on the list that it’s safe to use Tension Tamer… is this the same as Tension Relief? My sister is pregnant and nothing is getting rid of her headaches so I was hoping to find her a natural product!

  36. I did not see Ginger here. My last pregnancy I was told using topically in small dose with carrier oil to rub around navel for my severe nausea. I did and it helped. Normally I used a combo of lavender & peppermint to inhale in diffuser or bracelet.

    But was ginger use not safe?

    1. Steam distilled Ginger can be safely used. At this time we carry Ginger CO2 which isn’t recommended. I hope this helps!

  37. Hello! Can you please let me know what the contraindication for Clary Sage is during pregnancy? I thought that was one of the ones that was safe for both pregnancy and nursing, I’ve been using it in my diffuser and I’m 25 weeks pregnant!! Thank you so much for such an expansive list!

    1. Congratulations on your pregnancy Marissa! What an exciting time 🙂

      Clary Sage has the potential to stimulate uterine contractions and is therefore contraindicated during pregnancy. It can be safely used while nursing.

    1. Hey Lexis, all of the oils on the pregnancy and nursing safe chart are safe for pregnancy AND nursing with the exception of the oils that have a ^ or * by the name. Clary Sage for example is nursing safe but not pregnancy safe, Eucalyptus globulus is pregnancy safe but not nursing safe, etc.

  38. Is the kid safe Eucalyptus ok to use? Eucalyptus globulus is on the list, but The kid safe is Eucalyptus dives. Are they different? I’m just starting to use oils.

    1. Great question Aja. Eucalyptus Dives can be safely use while pregnant. This list was released before we carried Eucalyptus Dives so it will be added to the next version. Have a great day!

  39. I was using clear complex before I got pregnant. I am now in my 2nd trimester almost 3rd and am STILL breaking out. Is clear complex not recommended? Is there something else I could try?

    1. Congratulations on your pregnancy Kayla! Sometimes it can be difficult to find the right product for your skin type. If you could, please email us information about your skin at [email protected] and we would be happy to help you find the perfect product. We look forward to hearing from you!

  40. I’m wondering why the kid safe synergy Skin Soother is not included on this list? The individual oils look like they are approved for pregnancy. I wanted to use some on my mosquito bites.

    1. Hi Dawn! That was an oversight. We are currently in the process of updating that chart and it should be available soon.

  41. Has Part II been written yet? I am both pregnant (16 weeks) and still nursing my 14 month old. We have a ton of mosquitos around our house and I am hoping to use the Shield Me synergy but not sure if it will be OK. I assume I will need to apply it directly on my skin since it is recommended to use FCO (wouldn’t imagine that would be good on clothes). Any advice would be great 🙂

  42. Amazing and very helpful information! this worth a fortune when you’re last and trying to gather information about safety guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding women! thanks a lot Plant Therapy! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you are enjoying the article Abdulsalam Abo Al Shamat. It was truly a labor of love creating this and I’m so thrilled that you have found it to be helpful.

  43. how about using essential oils with oil diffuser for the 1st trimester, what is the allowed usage mins/per day or week?

    1. We do not recommend using essential oils in a diffuser during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you do choose to use essential oils during this time, we recommend that you limit use for occasional nausea relief. You can use a drop of Peppermint or Spearmint essential oil on a tissue and inhale from time to time.

  44. How come Worry Free is not listed? I searched the multiple oils included and they all seemed fine from the “no pregnancy” list. I must be missing something!

    1. Thanks for your question Bethany! Since Worry Free contains Ylang Ylang, which we do not recommend using while pregnant or nursing, it is not considered safe for use while pregnant.

    1. Hi Kelly!

      Out of the hydrosols that we carry here at a Plant Therapy, I would avoid using Rosemary during pregnancy. The rest are safe to use 🙂

      1. Hi Emilee! Can I ask why you would not suggest Rosemary hydrosol? The chart shows that Rosemary essential oil is safe for pregnancy but not nursing. Would this be different for the hydrosol? 🙂 thank you!!

        1. Great question Leah! Plant Therapy’s Rosemary is a 1,8-cineole chemotype and can be safely used during pregnancy due to its lower camphor content. Certain chemotypes of Rosemary have a higher content of camphor and generally should be avoided during pregnancy. I recommend using caution when it comes to Rosemary hydrosol unless you know the chemotype of the product you’re using. I hope this makes sense!

          1. Wow thanks for the informative and quick reply! That does make sense- thanks for explaining about the camphor content.

    1. Hi Jamie! Peppermint essential oil is safe to use in pregnancy, but is not recommended in breastfeeding. The ^ symbol refers to the fact that it can safely be used while pregnant but should not be used while nursing 🙂 I hope this helps!

  45. Can you clarify…germ fighter is listed as safe on the list above, but on the website the product has a caution not to use if pregnant or nursing. It looked like the kidsafe germ destroyer is safe, however. Can you confirm?

    1. Hi Theresa, our Germ Fighter synergy is not safe to use during pregnancy. I do not see it listed anywhere above. Can you point me in the right direction? Our KidSafe Germ Destroyer on the other hand is safe to use and is listed on this chart 🙂

      1. Hi, when you say “not safe” what effects does it have? I’m 10 weeks pregnant and have been using germ fighter every night before bed (as a diluted lotion on my feet). I had no idea it was not safe until stumbling onto this post.

  46. Thank you, I find the charts helpful because I use oils daily. Although I’m not pregnant nor nursing – (1) my family is sensitive, and (2) we frequent places with mothers and babies – school, library, church and parks. I look forward to part II.

    1. Is there any sort of plan to update this list soon with newer oils and batches that are now pregnancy safe? I love having the aromatherapists to ask if I need help with a specific blend, but when I become pregnant I was hoping to have an up-to-date list to keep on hand by my oils for when I’m a little scatter brained lol

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: