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Essential Oils for Pregnancy: Safety, Induce Labor Naturally, Ease Morning Sickness, and Which Oils To Avoid

Mothers-to-be are often thrilled when learning they are having a baby. Some women go through their 9-months with no problems while others experience morning sickness and a host of other problems such as swollen feet, ankles, and low back pain.

If wondering if you can use pure essential oils during this time, the answer is that it depends.

Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Young Children pin
Some oils are safe to use as lotions for a soothing massage and others can be used safely using a diffuser. Some oils however are unsafe to use as they might cause contractions or other complications.

Using Essential Oils When Pregnant or Breastfeeding

While essential oils are definitely better than many other drugs, there are also some safety measures to keep in mind when using them during pregnancy and breastfeeding. First and foremost, none of the essential oils should be ingested.

When it comes to external use, women who run a high risk of miscarriage should refrain from using these oils altogether until they reach the second trimester.

Additionally, all pregnant and breastfeeding women must keep in mind that only 1% dilution of essential oils is safe for their use. Ladies, using just a small amount of unadulterated essential oils is essential to your and your baby’s health.

The best way to implement these oils into your daily care would be in the form of low concentration skin applications, or via 10 to 15-minute long diffusions. This way, your body will take in the oils as slowly as possible and its effects will be solely positive.

a few things to keep in mind are:

  • Always consult a healthcare professional if you plan to use essential oils when pregnant
  • During the first trimester (3-months) do not use any essential oils by any method
  • Always dilute pure essential oils with carrier oils such as sunflower or fractionated coconut oil if using while pregnant
  • While pregnant one’s sense of smell is generally greater now so be cautious
  • Never ingest essential oils and use diluted oils for skin application
  • If using directly on skin, do a spot test first by putting the oil on the inside of your elbow or forearm. Leave for 24 hours and do not get that area wet. If you experience any swelling, itching, redness, or soreness, wash the oil off immediately and do not use further

Essential Oils Safe For Pregnancy

A number of essential oils are known to relieve the difficulties that come with pregnancy and also in the recuperating period while you are breastfeeding.


Grapefruit essential oil is one of the citrus oils that can help in preserving the balance in your organs and it is great in regulating the liver and lymph system functions.


Massaging this essential oil onto the skin in the liver area or diffusing it is another way to preserve your normal liver and lymph system functions.

Sweet Orange

Among other things, this essential oil helps with the rehydration of dry skin and the reduction of stretch marks.


The above-mentioned sweet orange oil works best as a skin hydration and regeneration preparation if it’s mixed with rosehip oil. These two are great if you want to keep your skin looking young while steering clear of mainstream chemical products.


Lavender oil is usually mistaken for an unsuitable essential oil to use during pregnancy. This misconception has stuck due to its known use in regulating the cycle. However, just to be on the safe side you can avoid it until your second trimester has started.

From then on, you may apply it as a massage oil to relieve your backache. In addition to that, it should help you fight insomnia and reduce anxiety.

Some More Oils That Are Safe for Usage During This Period:

  • German Chamomile
  • Tangerine
  • Frankincense
  • Black Pepper
  • Peppermint
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Eucalyptus
  • Bergamot
  • Cypress
  • Tea Tree Oil (However, it is not safe for use in labor)
  • Geranium
  • Spearmint

Essential Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy

There are essential oils that are not ok to use during the pregnancy and breastfeeding period due to potential complications that some of their components may cause. For instance, evergreen essential oils have a significantly high level of methyl salicylate.

This component is one among those that may cause birth defects or even worse may end a pregnancy.

Essential OilLatin Name
AngelicaAngelica archangelica
AniseedPimpinella anisum
Basil CT. (chemotype) estragoleOcimum basilicum
BirchBetula lenta
CamphorCinnamomum camphora
CinnamonCinnamomum verum
CitronellaCymbopogon nardus
CloveSyzygium aromaticum
CuminNigella sativa
HyssopHyssopus officinalis
Juniper BerryJuniperus communis
LaurelLaurus nobilis
MugwortArtemisia vulgaris
NutmegMyristica fragrans
Parsley seed or leafPetroselinum sativum
PennyroyalMentha pulegium
Rose Hip Seed OilRosa rubiginosa/Rosa canina
RosemaryRosmarinus officinalis
SageSalvia officinalis
TansyTanacetum vulgare
TarragonArtemisia dracunculus
ThujaThuja occidentalis
ThymeThymus vulgaris
WintergreenGaultheria procumbens
WormwoodArtemisia absinthium

Some of these essential oils can have adverse effects when pregnant. Cumin and clary sage or sage can cause contractions; basil can cause baby’s cells to development abnormally; sage and rose can cause uterus bleeding; juniper berry can cause kidney problems; nutmeg can have adverse reactions psychologically with any pain medication that might be given when you are in labor.

Others to avoid are fennel, wintergreen, Idaho tansy or hyssop, and any blends containing these essential oils. Stay away from supplements or herbs with these included in them.

Always consult your gynecologist if you plan to use essential oils when pregnant.

The list of unsafe essential oils include:


This oil can have hallucinogenic effects. On top of that, it is highly probable that it would react with drugs used for pain relief during the course of labor.


Basil essential oil is believed to have a harmful influence on development on a cellular level, i.e. its use may lead to abnormalities in cell development.

Juniper Berry

Juniper berry is known to have dangerous effects on the kidneys.

Clary Sage

Clary sage may trigger contractions ahead of time. It is also known to cause bleeding within the uterus.


This is another one among the oils to avoid during pregnancy since like sage, it may cause hemorrhaging in the womb.

Oils That May Cause Unwanted Contractions

In addition to the above-listed Clary Sage, the usage of these essential oils are linked to unwanted contractions:

  • Laurel
  • Angelica
  • Thyme
  • Cumin
  • Aniseed
  • Citronella
  • Cinnamon Leaf

Essential Oils for Morning Sickness and Pregnancy Nausea

You would think mother nature would be extra gentle with us at this time. Having some of these miseries myself for the first 3-months of my own pregnancy I know how maddening they can be. If experiencing any of these problems or conditions, try these remedies.

There are essential oils that do wonders in reducing the nausea that you usually have to deal with during pregnancy. The easiest and quickest way to relieve your difficulties would be to simply smell these oils right from the bottle, but to be more effective and consistent about it you can use a diffuser for aromatherapy:


Beside regulating your liver functions and lymph system, this essential oil is also great at reducing morning sickness and nausea in general as well as fatigue.


Just like lemon, grapefruit essential oil has been mentioned to be a great help in the preservation of normal liver and lymph system functions. On top of that, it is also good at fighting the feeling of nausea and overall tiredness.

Lavender and Peppermint

In addition to lemon and grapefruit, these two essential oils can be added to your nausea-relieving blend for that extra kick and a much better and more effective aromatherapy.

What you can also do is keep a cotton ball or hanky with a few drops of ginger and spearmint essential oils around where you can smell it. These oils will help to reduce the terrible heartburn you feel as your baby grows and pushes up against your stomach.

Traditional Medicinals Ginger Aid Tea Box

Another recommendation is a hot cup of ginger tea with honey.

I used and stuck with Traditional Medicinals organic tea. Through the night, using citrus such as grapefruit, lemon, or sweet orange in a diffuser might help you feel better when getting up in the morning.

Essential Oils for Other Pregnancy Woes

Trouble Sleeping

I recommend using a maternity pillow for the comfort and support it lends when trying to fall asleep. Lavender is a great essential oil to use in aiding sleep because of its relaxing qualities. Other comforting oils to use in a diffuser at bedtime that are restful are chamomile, sandalwood and bergamot. Some women like the fragrance of sweet marjoram as well. As mentioned before, if you’re experiencing any nausea when waking up in the mornings, citrus is the way to go.

Lower Back Pain at the Tailbone

Carrying around the baby’s added weight plus your own certainly puts stress on the tummy and spine, especially the lower end of the spine.The best thing for this pain is to get a massage (could be just a partner rubbing) on the the legs, shoulder and back muscles with lavender, chamomile or sweet marjoram. Black pepper essential oil will work as well. I’d recommend using a blend for this or a pure oil diluted with a carrier oil for its spreadability.

Sciatica Nerve Agony

This pain does not happen very often when pregnant, but can be agonizing. Should you feel a pain in either or both legs running from your back through your buttocks, down the inner thigh to the knee, it may be sciatica. This happens from weight on your lower spine where the disks are compressed sitting on the biggest nerve in your body. Use a carrier oil with lavender, chamomile, cypress, sweet marjoram, or thyme. Gentle exercises will help, then a warm bath. It’s advised to consult your doctor if you experience sciatica nerve pain. For more on essential oils during pregnancy, here’s another good resource.

Cramping and Swelling of Legs, Ankles, and Feet

As my pregnancy was getting toward the end, my ankles and feet would swell. Eclampsia was ruled out by my doctor, but the swelling persisted.If you are experiencing this, elevate your feet higher than your heart. Have your partner rub your swollen areas with a blend of cypress and grapefruit oils mixed with a spreadable carrier oil.To increase blood circulation, mix black pepper and ginger oils with a carrier oil and massage into your legs, ankles, and feet.

Tiredness and Fatigue

When you are exhausted, tired, and weary, use spearmint, lime, sweet orange, or grapefruit in a diffuser as an energy boost.

Dealing With Stress and Anxiety

With all the hormones changing in your body it’s hard to feel centered and on top of everything. Your emotions will swing and sometimes you might feel blue. Lavender, chamomile, sweet orange, neroli, or geranium, essential oils will help to stabilize and sooth these emotional swings.

Stretch Marks

stretch marks on stomachTo prevent and relieve stretch marks, keep your skin moisturized each day. This will help to prevent the macrophage skin fibers from stretching and breaking. Body butters are good, and so are essential oils mixed with a spreadable carrier oil. Use chamomile or sweet orange with about 6 teaspoons of rosehip as the carrier oil. Have your partner gently massage this preparation over your breasts, belly, back, thighs, and buttocks where stretch marks appear most often. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer and can be used as a carrier oil for this as well.

Essential Oils to Induce Labor Naturally

When talking about the oils to steer clear of, we have mentioned some that are known to cause contractions. While they should definitely be avoided during pregnancy, labor is somewhat different.

If you need or want to induce labor before it has naturally begun, these are exactly the essential oils to turn to if you want to use a natural preparation rather than medical drugs.

But please: Always consult your gynecologist if you plan to use essential oils when pregnant.

Clary Sage

This oil is great at inducing labor and it is recommended for pregnant women who have passed their due date.


Jasmine can also cause contractions as well as strengthen them. Additionally, it can even act as a pain reliever as well.


This oil is known to contribute to the easier opening of the pelvis as well as rejuvenating the skin and cleansing the womb.


Among many other things, lavender oil is also a good sedative and a great substance for pain relief.

Ylang Ylang

In addition to lavender, this essential oil can also help you calm down and relax during childbirth. On top of that, it lowers your blood pressure and slows down your breathing.

Melissa Styer

Melissa Styer is the Founder, and long time Editor-in-Chief of With a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Oregon, and a Masters Degree in Biology from California State University, Melissa has been writing and teaching about essential oils and the importance of a maintaining a healthy living environment for over 25 years. === Hi All, I started Wellness Appliances in the Winter of 2014 as a way to and share my knowledge and thoughts on essential oils and the importance of healthful living. As a youngster, I have vivid memories of walking through the large fantastic garden my dad kept for his entire life. It was there I learned about all the plants and the varied, important properties they can offer humanity. A cool morning misty walk down the meandering paths was a child’s delight, and something I still do to this day in my own sprawling gardens. While I have stepped back from the day-to-day managing of Wellness Appliances, I intend to continue contributing articles on subjects that matter to me from time to time. My days are largely filled volunteering at the local co-op, tooling in my vegetable and fragrance gardens (which I attempt to keep as a year-round gardens), writing, and being the leader of the pack to my two dogs Jacko and Lea. Thanks for the years of great readership! - Melissa

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