Essential Oils To Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting period in your life. It’s a unique time, full of magical, meaningful moments while you wait to meet the newest addition to your family. But it can also be stressful. You’re under so much pressure to take care of the baby and yourself, and the guidelines for doing so can seem complicated.

You need to avoid certain foods during pregnancy, get the right nutrients, get enough rest, all the while getting to all of those doctor’s appointments, dealing with the physical stressors of pregnancy… and you have to keep living your life! With so many things to keep track of, adding one more complication to your list of concerns may seem daunting. But we’re here to help.



Whether you’re an all-out essential oil maven or just occasionally turn on your essential oil diffuser to relax, there’s a way to continue using essential oils while pregnant, safely. But in order to do so, it’s important to be aware of the risks and to know which essential oils to steer clear of so that you and your little one (or ones!) stay happy and healthy.

Which Essential Oils Should You Avoid While Pregnant?

There are more than a few essential oils you’ll want to avoid once you know you’re pregnant. These essential oils likely won’t cause you harm if encountered incidentally, but too much exposure could lead to toxicity and put both you and your little one in harm’s way.

Essential oils you ought to avoid while pregnant include:

  • Aniseed
  • Arnica
  • Basil
  • Birch
  • Bitter almond
  • Camphor
  • Cinnamon
  • Clary sage
  • Clove
  • Fennel
  • Horseradish
  • Hyssop
  • Marjoram
  • Mugwort
  • Nutmeg
  • Parsley
  • Pine
  • Rosemary
  • Rue
  • Sassafras
  • Tansy
  • Thyme
  • Tarragon
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormwood

While this list will hopefully be useful to you, it’s by no means comprehensive. Essential oils are generally a natural, healthy supplement, but as with anything you put in your body, it’s best to do your own research to make sure you’re making the right decision for you. If you still feel unsure as to whether or not your favorite essential oil is safe to use while pregnant, you should consult your doctor. You could also discontinue use out of an abundance of caution.

Just How Bad For You Are These Essential Oils?

By and large, the essential oils you’re meant to avoid while pregnant should be avoided because not enough research has been done on whether or not they’re safe. So if it took a little while for you to find out and you’ve been using essential oils, or if you just didn’t know that they might not be as good for you during pregnancy, you don’t need to panic. It’s just better to discontinue use until you’re sure the essential oils you’re incorporating into your life are safe.

Overall, one of the main concerns with the use of essential oils by pregnant women is that they could become toxic if you use more than the recommended amount, and in general, you need to be a bit more careful with your health if you’re pregnant. 

In general, you’re not really meant to consume essential oils — they’re much more safely used for aromatherapy or topical application when properly diluted. This means that the risk of you absorbing too much of an essential oil is a little lower than it would be with a potentially harmful substance you take orally — so even if you’re addicted to your essential oil diffuser, you’re probably still within the recommended dosage.

However, as with anything, if you’re concerned about your intake, you should consult your doctor! Nobody knows your body better than you do, and there’s nothing wrong with checking in with a professional if you’re concerned.

Are There Any Essential Oils That Are Good For You When You’re Pregnant?

Short answer: yes! Longer answer: it depends on how far along you are and the amount and usage of the essential oils. 

Essential Oils In Your First Trimester

In the earliest stages of your pregnancy, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution. Essential oils can be really beneficial to your body in a lot of ways, but when you’re pregnant, some essential oils could instigate uterine contractions. They could also negatively impact your baby in its earliest developmental stages.

As we mentioned earlier, there isn’t an abundance of research on how essential oils affect pregnant women — so while we don’t know a lot about the negative ways in which essential oils might impact your pregnancy, it’s definitely better to be safe. 

Avoiding essential oils doesn’t just mean topical applications. It’s recommended that you avoid aromatherapy in your first trimester, as you still absorb bits of the essential oils in this way, and absorbing too much could pose a danger for you and your baby.

But After Your First Trimester?

By your second and third trimesters, you can probably start re-incorporating some essential oils into your routine. Your baby will be more developed by this point and less likely to experience any negative consequences as a result of essential oil usage.  

We don’t recommend ingesting essential oils in general, but you should especially avoid this while pregnant — even in your second and third trimesters. There simply isn’t enough research to be sure this is safe for you or for your baby, and ingesting essential oils will make it more likely that you exceed the recommended dosage, even of safe oils.

What About After That?

Yes, we know there are only three trimesters. We’re talking about labor! 

Some essential oils could be used to help mitigate the emotional difficulties and pains of labor if implemented safely. Again, we don’t recommend ingesting essential oils. But some light exposure to aromatherapy with pregnancy-safe essential oils could promote physical wellness and help you relax, even during this extremely stressful, pivotal moment. 

What Oils Are Safe To Use During Pregnancy?

Once you hit your second trimester, the following essential oils should be safe to use.

  • Bergamot
  • Roman chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Lime
  • Mandarin
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Petitgrain
  • Rose Otto
  • Sandalwood
  • Sweet orange
  • Tea tree
  • Ylang Ylang

It’s definitely a bummer if the essential oil you swear by isn’t on this list, but there are a lot of great essential oils with excellent health benefits to choose from here. 

If you’re suffering from morning sickness, an essential oil like ginger can really help alleviate this uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy. Essential oils such as lavender, Roman chamomile, and ylang-ylang are thought to promote healthy sleep habits. So if you’ve hit the point in your pregnancy where it’s impossible to get comfortable, sensible uses of these essential oils can be an excellent sleep aid.

In particular, some pregnant women have had luck with frankincense and peppermint oil to deal with nausea and cedarwood and lavender oil for help with sleep.

Pregnancy also asks a lot of your body — and as a result, it’s easy and understandable to feel fatigued. Essential oils like Lemon, Lime, Geranium, and Mandarin all have restorative properties that encourage you to feel more alert and energized without relying on something potentially harmful, like our go-to: a little too much caffeine.

As always, we recommend consulting a health care professional if you’re unsure about what will be safe for your body. It’s also important to make sure you’re using even these essential oils in a safe manner.

How Do You Safely Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy?

When using essential oils in the second or third trimester, you’ll want to use them much in the same way you’d use them any other time. However, you might want to abide by the “less is more” philosophy. Hormonal changes in pregnancy sometimes lead to a heightened sense of smell. So if you wisely gave essential oils a miss during your first trimester, you might want to ease back in to make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself.

You can get the benefits of essential oils through aromatherapy, whether your preference is using an essential oil diffuser or using a spray bottle to lightly mist some fabrics in your home with diluted essential oil. You can also apply essential oils diluted significantly with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) to the skin. Just be mindful not to overdo it!

In Conclusion

As with almost everything and pregnancy, if you use essential oils, you’ll need to be a little more careful when incorporating them into your life. But as long as you take care to ensure the essential oils you’re using don’t have any negative effects and stay mindful of your dosage, once you’re past your first trimester, you can re-introduce essential oils into your daily routine.


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