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Essential Oils During Pregnancy: Staying Safe

Pregnant women should make sure that the essential oils they use are safe for their unborn children.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years as a natural, holistic treatment for ailments. Essential oils can also relieve pregnancy aches and pains, but are they safe to use during pregnancy? Studies of the effects of these substances on developing fetuses are simply lacking.

Before you sniff your favorite aromatherapy scent or apply an essential oil during your pregnancy, here's what you need to know. (If you're unsure, you should ask your doctor.)

Essential Oils in the First Trimester

According to Jill Edwards, N.D., an Oregon naturopathic doctor who specializes in prenatal care, essential oils shouldn't be used during early pregnancy because they might cause uterine contractions or harm your baby.

It is always better to be safe than sorry, so more research needs to be conducted on the topic. In addition to avoiding aromatherapy products and treatments during the first trimester, pregnant women should also avoid essential oils as an ingredient.

Essential Oils in the Second and Third Trimesters

"Some essential oils are safe to use during the second and third trimesters," Edwards says. You can try lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang, all of which calm, relax, and promote sleep. Below are some tips:

  • It is best to use quality essential oils from a reputable brand like Delune, advises the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA).
  • Taking essential oils internally could result in miscarriage, premature birth, or negatively affect your fetus.
  • Apply essential oils to the skin after diluting them with a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil.

Essential oils listed below are generally safe to use during pregnancy. However, you should consult your doctor before using them, and you may want to avoid them until the second trimester. Keep in mind that this list isn't exhaustive.

Benzoin
Bergamot
Black pepper
Chamomile German
Chamomile Roman
Cypress
Eucalyptus
Frankincense
Geranium
Ginger
Grapefruit
Juniper
Lavender
Lemon
Mandarin
Marjoram Sweet
Neroli
Petitgrain
Rose Otto
Sandalwood
Sweet Orange
Tea Tree
Ylang Ylang

Essential Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy

Constriction-causing oils like cinnamon, clove, rosemary, and clary sage should be avoided. If you have any questions about which essential oils to avoid until your baby arrives, please contact your doctor.

Aniseed
Arnica
Basil
Birch (sweet)
Bitter almond
Boldo leaf
Broom
Buchu
Calamus
Camphor (brown or yellow)
Cassia
Cedarwood/thuja
Chervil
Cinnamon
Clary sage
Clove (bud, leaf or stem)
Coriander
Costus
Deertongue
Elecampane
Fennel
Horseradish
Hyssop
Jaborandi leaf
Juniper berry
Melilotus
Mugwort
Mustard
Nutmeg
Origanum
Parsley (large doses)
Pennyroyal
Pine (dwarf)
Rosemary
Rue
Sassafras
Savin
Savory (summer)
Tansy
Thyme Red (large doses)
Tonka
Wintergreen
Wormwood

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