Should Pregnant Women Use Essential Oils?

Find out if the essential oils you love are safe for you and your unborn baby, and whether pregnant women should use essential oils during this delicate period.

Despite their broad acceptance, essential oils are not necessarily risk-free for use during pregnancy. The use of essential oils as natural and holistic remedies for various conditions has a long and illustrious history. However, while there is some proof that specific oils can help alleviate specific uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms, the question of whether or not essential oils are always safe to consume throughout pregnancy persists. The truth is that more research needs to be done to determine how the chemicals influence the development of fetuses.

Before using aromatherapy or essential oils throughout any trimester of pregnancy, there are a few things you should know. (And don’t forget, if you aren’t sure about anything, you should always consult your doctor or midwife!)

In the First Trimester, You Should Use Essential Oils

According to Jill Edwards, N.D., a doctor of naturopathic medicine based in Oregon who specializes in prenatal care, you shouldn’t use essential oils in the early stages of your pregnancy because they have the potential to cause uterine contractions or have a negative impact on your baby in their early developmental stages. Essential oils should be avoided during this time because of these risks.

Even though additional study on the subject has to be done, one should always err on caution rather than regret. Because essential oils are aromatherapy’s primary components, pregnant people should also steer clear of aromatherapy products and treatments throughout the first trimester of their pregnancies.

In The Second And Third Trimesters, Essential Oils Are Recommended

In the second and third trimesters, certain essential oils are safe. Lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang are calming, relaxing, and sleep-inducing essential oils that can be used later in pregnancy without posing a risk to the mother or baby. But there is a far longer list of essential oils that you may theoretically use while pregnant. You have that option.

As per the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA), the following essential oils can be used during pregnancy without the risk of causing harm to the unborn child:

  • Benzoin
  • Black pepper
  • Bergamot
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lemon
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile (German and Roman)
  • Cypress
  • Mandarin
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Rose otto
  • Sandalwood
  • Sweet orange
  • Sweet marjoram
  • Tea tree
  • Neroli
  • Petitgrain
  • Ylang-ylang

Naturally, you should consult your physician before using any essential oil, including those on the IFPA’s list; nonetheless, it is recommended that you hold off on taking essential oils until the second trimester. In addition, you should always ensure that you are safely using essential oils.

Avoiding Certain Essential Oils While You’re Pregnant

Essential oils such as clove, rosemary, cinnamon, and clary sage, among others, should be avoided at all costs during pregnancy since they can promote uterine contractions. You should hold off on using some essential oils until after the birth of your baby, including the following:

  • Aniseed
  • Basil
  • Arnica
  • Boldo leaf
  • Calamus
  • Camphor (brown or yellow)
  • Bitter almond
  • Cinnamon
  • Clary sage
  • Clove (bud, leaf, or stem)
  • Coriander
  • Broom
  • Buchu
  • Costus
  • Deertongue
  • Dwarf pine
  • Cassia
  • Cedarwood/thuja
  • Chervil
  • Horseradish
  • Hyssop
  • Jaborandi leaf
  • Juniper berry
  • Elecampane
  • Fennel
  • Melilotus
  • Mugwort
  • Nutmeg
  • Mustard
  • Pennyroyal
  • Red thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Origanum
  • Parsley
  • Rue
  • Sassafras
  • Savin
  • Sweet birch
  • Summer savory
  • Tansy
  • Wintergreen
  • Tonka
  • Wormwood

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