Use of essential oils while pregnancy is a controversial issue. More research hasn’t been done on this topic which is why it is controversial.

Let’s discuss some more on this topic!

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are the concentrated hydrophobic liquid which contains aromatic compounds from the plant.

It is known as ‘essential’ because it is the ‘essence of the plant’ from which it is derived. It is also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils of the plant.

The oil is used in soaps, perfumes and other beauty and cleaning products.

How Do Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils are extensively used for aromatherapy. These oils contain chemical compounds that are absorbed into the body.

These molecules are extremely small in size. Once inside the body, they exactly act as drugs or medicines.

They can be mixed with a base oil or carrier oil for massage or put into a vaporiser for you to breathe in.

Essential Oils And Pregnancy:

This is a controversial subject. Many midwives and mothers-to-be use them to ease pregnancy niggles.

Essential oil molecules are very small in size, and so they are believed to cross the placenta and reach your baby. This may cause danger to your baby as essential oils are highly concentrated liquids.

So, there are some precautions you should take while using them.

Factors Affecting Safety Of Essential Oils:

There are a number of factors that influence the safety of essential oils being used during pregnancy.

1.Quality of oil:

Always choose the authentic, pure and genuine essential oils for reducing the adverse effects.

2.Chemical composition of oil:

Essential oils contain aldehydes and phenols, which may cause skin irritations. Therefore, it is recommended that they should be used in diluted form.

3.Method of application:

The essential oils can be applied on the skin, inhaled or taken internally. Each of these methods have their safety methods that need to be considered.

Amongst all the methods, inhalation has the lowest risk.

4. Dosage:

The oils are best suited when used in diluted form. If the wrong amount of dilution is used, then there may be adverse effects on the body.

Excessive use of essential oils may lead to unnecessary reactions on the body.

5. Integrity of skin:

Damaged and irritated skin is more permeable to essential oils and may be more vulnerable to dermal reactions.

It is very dangerous to apply undiluted essential oils on the damaged skin. It may worsen the skin condition.

Oils That Are Safe To Use During Pregnancy:

There are some oils that are best suited for easing pregnancy symptoms, while some are dangerous.

Following is the list of essential oils that can be used during pregnancy:

1.Citrus oil:

Citrus oils include orange, grapefruit, lemon, and Mandarin are safe to use. Their refreshing smell helps to calm stress. Its aroma invites positivity and energy.

Some of these oils are photosensitive as well, so they should be used carefully. These oils are obtained by pressing rinds of citrus fruits or steam distillation.

2. Rosewood oil:

Rosewood oil improves stability, both physically and mentally. It helps to improve emotional condition, when you are experiencing mood swings or changes, when you feel down due to some reason.

The Oil is also good for the nerves, whether the problem is mental or it is a body’s nerve discomfort.

It is a good anti-depressant and helps in reducing all kinds of body ache which occurs during pregnancy.

It is a mild analgesic which relieves the headaches and migraines you might be having during your pregnancy term.

Rosewood oil is a stimulant and keeps your internal environment steady.

Massage alternately with this oil after having bath and before having food.

3. German Camomile:

German Camomile is also referred as Blue Chamomile oil. It is extracted from Compositae Flower. It is obtained by either steam distillation or solvent extraction of its golden yellow flowers.

This oil is known to reduce headaches, cramps in muscles and aching joints.

4. Common lavender oil:

The smell of this oil is a classic combination of clean, fresh, calm and floral. It is very highly versatile oil.

It should be used only after the first trimester.

Used to cure stress, insomnia and stretch marks. It is an active ingredient in body scrub creams.

Like other of the essential oils, it is also extracted from evergreen plants. It is extracted by the process of steam distillation. You can get this oil by pressing the petals of

You can get this oil by pressing the petals of the lavender flower through the process of steam distillation. It smells really very sweet and due to this reason it is used for making perfumes.

It is used for various purposes like for treating the problem of insomnia. This gives you a nice sleep. It is also helpful for treating the anxiety issues. And it is very helpful in providing you relief from dizziness, or depression.

Lavender essential oil makes you feel balanced, relaxed and serene. It is also helpful in the reduction of various pains in pregnancy and reduces the retention of fluid. It is safe to be used after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

How to use?

You can apply some drops on your hands and sprinkle some drops on your pillow. But, the oil must be diluted and used in very small amount.

You can also put some drops of lavender essential oil in your room diffuser as well.

But, remember to turn your diffuser off after 15 to 20 minutes as it is not safe to intake essential oil for a longer time.

5. Black Pepper Oil:

It is obtained by steam distillation of black pepper fruit. This oil has a strong aroma that stimulates and energizes our body. This essential oil should be used when you are suffering from digestive problems.

6. Peppermint Oil:

Peppermint oil creates a cool and tingling sensation on the skin. This makes this oil favorite for the messages. This oil has a strong smell that refreshes your mind.

Please check with a doctor before using this oil as it has a strong smell.

Main components in this oil are methanol, menthone and menthyl esters. These components make it perfect to use for nausea, dizziness, and vertigo.

It is also helpful in maintaining the balance in the digestive system during pregnancy.

How to use?

You need to take few drops of peppermint essential oil on the tissue paper or the cotton.

  • Now, inhale the vapors of it.
  • Do it for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • You can place a drop of it on your tongue.
  • Or you can also take two drops of it mixed with some carrier oil like coconut oil.

Note: Peppermint essential oil should be used in the moderate amount and in dilute form.

7. Eucalyptus Oil:

Eucalyptus oil is colorless and has a distinctive smell. It is obtained from fresh leaves of Eucalyptus oil.

This essential oil is commonly used in cases of chest congestion, cold and cough related problems as well as for mental relaxation.

8. Bergamot oil:

It is obtained from the nearly ripe fruit of a tree which is a result of cross breeding of orange and lemon tree. Its color is light yellow-green in color.

This oil reduces stress and relaxes our body and mind. It is also used as a pest repellent.

9. Cypress oil:

Cypress oil is extracted from Cypress tree which is found in coniferous areas. It heals wounds, treats cramps and is a natural deodorant.

It also promotes blood clotting. The oil gives relief from respiratory problems.

Cypress essential oil is obtained from the cypress tree. This essential oil has a rejuvenating and clean aroma. This oil is anti-bacterial and antiseptic.

The main ingredients of this oil are alpha-pinene, limonene and careen. It has various benefits like healing infections; it is also helpful in treating various types of cramps.

Cypress essential oil is mainly helpful for increasing the blood flow in your body and so in the brain.

This oil is safe to be used after 5 months of pregnancy. This oil is used to decrease the swelling of ankles that usually swell during the time of pregnancy.

How to use?

You can use it by adding some drops of it in your diffuser so that you breathe it continuously.

Turn the diffuser off after 15 to 20 minutes.

10. Tea Tree Oil:

Tea Tree Oil is extracted from the twigs and leaves of the Tea Tree. It has a variety of properties which includes anti-microbial, antiviral, balsamic, stimulant and antiseptic.

It is very useful in treating cold and cough related problems.The oil should be used only after the first trimester.

11. Geranium Oil:

This oil is obtained by steam distillation of leaves of the Geranium plant. It also possesses a variety of properties like astringent, anti-bacterial, antimicrobial, hemostatic, etc. It is used to get relief from stress and tension.

12. Spearmint Oil:

It is a milder oil than peppermint oil. Though it has almost similar properties, the menthol content in spearmint oil is less as compared to peppermint oil.

It is used for relaxation of the body as well as used for relieving abdominal pain. It is extensively used in aromatherapy.

13. Sweet Orange Oil:

Sweet Orange Oil is one of the citrus oil. This fruit comes from a small plant which is similar to shrubs. It is used a lot in aromatherapy due to its pleasant smell.

It’s fruity smell helps to relieve stress, anger, anxiety and depression which is very common during pregnancy.

This essential oil is helpful in keeping you calm; it makes you joyous and uplifted. That’s why, it is recommended during pregnancy.

How to use:

Add some drops of essential oil in your diffuser.

But, remember to turn off your diffuser after 15 to 20 minutes.

You can also consume orange essential oil orally but must not consume more than a drop.

14. Sandalwood Oil:

This oil is obtained from steam distillation of wood of the sandalwood tree. It is usually known for its ability to keep skin healthy and reduce blemishes and scars.

During pregnancy, it is used to lessen tension and balance your emotions.

15. Ylang Ylang oil:

Ylang Ylang oil is extracted from leaves of Ylang Ylang tree which are mostly found in Asian and South Pacific islands. It has a very sweet and delicate smell.

It is used to lift your mood with a calming effect. This is the reason why it is extensively used in perfumes and aromatherapy.

These oils are very safe to use while pregnancy to reduce pains, headaches, nausea, etc. Remember not to overuse them.

16. Coriander Oil:

Coriander oil is great due to its calming properties. It also relieves congestion and aids in the easy passing of fluids.

It is carminative, anti-spasmodic and acts as a blood purifier. Also, acts as a stimulant and analgesic.

Do not use this oil every day as it might create some kind of confusion in your head.

Use 3 times a week and massage before or after taking a bath.

17. Neroli Essential Oil

This type of oil is extracted from blossom of orange and it has the fruity smell. Neroli essential oil is famous for helping you feel relaxed when you are not feeling comfortable in pregnancy.

It stimulates the regeneration of your skin cells so you look good and feel good during pregnancy.

18. Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense essential oil has an aroma that makes you feel spiritual connectivity. It is also helpful for maintaining your skin’s radiance.

So, it is very helpful for maintaining your natural beauty. It is used for immune support as well. This is the oil which has a lot of natural effects. It aids in curing a lot of the diseases. This helps in reducing vertigo, attacks of anxiety or stress.

How to use?

You can place a single drop of it under your tongue.

Put a drop of the oil behind your ears.

Breathe the steam of this oil by putting some drops of it in water and boiling it.

Please Note: Frankincense should also be consumed in the small amount and in diluted form.

19. Tangerine Essential Oil

Tangerine oil is given by the peels of the citrus fruits. It is obtained by the cold compression of the peels of various citrus fruits. The main components of this essential oil are alpha pinene, gamma terpinolene, linalool, myrcene, nerol, etc.

The oil has a lot of health benefits and the reason for this is because of having the properties of being antiseptic, sedative, depurative, anti-spasmodic. Various health benefits of tangerine essential oil are improving the circulation of blood, improves digestion process, treats diarrhea and constipation etc.

As long as your pregnancy is going well, it is safe to use this essential oil.

How to use?

  • Take some of the peels of the citrus fruits and boil it in water.
  • When steam starts coming out of it then take the steam.
  • This steam is very effective.
  • Take this steam for 2 to 3 minutes.

Precautions While Using Essential Oils During Pregnancy:

1. Quantity:

Use only one drop of essential oil at a time.

2. Dilution:

Use diluted oils for bathing purpose. It reduces its side effects.

3. Usage time:

Do not use one type of oil for a longer period.

4. Use after trimester:

It is always safe to use essential oils after the first trimester.

5. Ingestion should be avoided:

Many essential oils prove to be dangerous to babies if ingested. While nursing and pregnancy, ingestion of oil should be avoided.

6. Limit the use of vaporizer:

Mothers-to-be are very sensitive to smell, and so if essential oils are to be inhaled, the vaporizer use should be limited to 10-15 minutes strictly.

7. Avoid absolutes:

Absolutes are solvent extracts that are used to retain the fragrance. These contain the hexane and butane compounds that may be dangerous to the baby.

8. No addition to birthing pool:

Adding essential oils to the birthing pool may cause irritations and burns to the new born babies. This is because the oils float on the water and do not get mixed in it.

Oils To Be Avoided During Pregnancy:

There are some oils that are should be strictly avoided during the whole duration of pregnancy. Following is the list of oils to be avoided:

1. Nutmeg Oil:

It has hallucinogenic effects on the mothers. Also, it may react with pain-relieving drugs during labor. Also, it may result in prolonged sleep and visual impairment.

2. Rosemary Oil:

This oil can cause vomiting and spasms due to its volatile nature. It is known to increase blood pressure and increase contractions. Also, rosemary oil can cause allergic reactions.

3. Basil oil:

It is known to support abnormal cell development, which is why it should be avoided.

4. Jasmine And Clary Sage:

Jasmine oil is Emenagogue, which is why it should be strictly avoided during pregnancy. It tends to trigger contractions. As it has sedative properties, heavy dosage can lead to adverse effects.

5. Rose Oil:

Rose oil is also an Emenagogue. This oil may cause bleeding in the uterus/womb, which is very dangerous to your baby!

This oil can lead to miscarriage as well if taken excessively, which is why it should be strictly kept away.

6. Juniper Berry Oil:

Longer doses of this oil lead to adverse effects on kidneys and liver as well. Also, it may cause stomach related problems depending on the sensitivity.

7. Lavender Oil:

There is a confusion on the use of lavender oil during pregnancy. It is known to regulate the menstrual cycle. Therefore, it is considered dangerous during pregnancy.

Some other oils that need to be avoided during pregnancy due to their strong smell are clove oil, bitter almond oil, coriander oil, camphor oil, cinnamon oil. Their smell can be nauseating.

8. Wintergreen Oil:

This oil has a high content of Methyl Salicylate, which makes it highly poisonous. If ingested, it can cause serious damage to internal organs.

9. Wormwood Oil:

Wormwood oil is also known as Green ginger oil. It is a neurotoxin and can prove to be dangerous if taken for a longer time. It can cause permanent damage to nervous system.

Avoid The Use Of Essential Oils During Pregnancy:

  • If you had vaginal bleeding during this pregnancy, say no to essential oils.
  • If you have had a history of miscarriage, essential oils are a major threat to you.
  • Suffering from diabetes, you need to consider the idea of using essential oils.
  • If you have epilepsy, do not use essential oils.
  • If you have heart and kidney related problems, please do consult a doctor before using essential oils.

Essential Oils For Common Pregnancy Symptoms:

Following are the essential oils used for some very common symptoms of pregnancy:

1.Morning Sickness, Nausea, Heartburn:

Ginger oil, peppermint or spearmint oil are used for treating nausea. Refreshing scents of sweet orange, lemon and grapefruit oil also give relief from nausea and vomiting.

2.Chest Congestion/Cold:

Other than Eucalyptus, Fir Needle and cypress are used for stuffy noses and chest congestion.

3. Back Pain/ Sciatic Nerve Pain:

For back and leg muscle pain, sweet marjoram, black pepper, and chamomile oil are effective. For leg cramps and muscle swelling, Cypress oil is the best choice.

4. Stretch Marks And Dry Skin:

For stretch marks and scars, use a mixture of sweet orange oil, rosehip seed oil, and chamomile oil.

5. Stress:

Lavender oil, chamomile oil, citrus oils are best choices for treating anxiety, stress, and fear during pregnancy. It’s refreshing smell makes us feel better.

6.Fatigue:

Mix grapefruit, lime, spearmint and sweet orange in a personal inhaler. Inhale this when you feel weak and see the magic it does to you!

Grounding blend

Grounding blend is the blend of various essential oils used to maintain the balance in your feelings which normally is the problem during pregnancy. For maintaining healthy mood and balanced emotions, grounding blend is used.

The oils used in this blend are:

  • Frankincense essential oil
  • Spruce essential oil
  • Ho Wood essential oil
  • Blue Tansy essential oil

How to use?

You can apply some drops of it on your chest.

Place few drops of the oil on your wrist and can inhale it.

You can also put some drops of this oil in your diffuser as well.

Massage blend

Massage blend is used for the betterment and rejuvenation of the muscles of your back and legs. The oils in this blend are:

  • Basil essential oil
  • Marjoram essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Grape fruit essential oil
  • Cypress essential oil

How to use?

You can massage with this oil for relief.

The Calming blend

Calming blend is used to provide calmness when you are under stress and anxiety. For better sleep, this blend works wonderful.

The oils in this blend are:

  • Lavender essential oil
  • Marjoram essential oil
  • Ylang ylang essential oil
  • Sandalwood essential oil
  • Vanilla bean essential oil

How to use?

While sleeping, you can put some drops of it on your pillow.

You can also rub some drops of it on your feet.

Inhale it by putting it in your diffuser.

Stretch blend

For removing stretch marks or for protecting skin from stretching, stretch blend is used.

The oils in this blend are:

  • Frankincense essential oil
  • Germanium essential oil
  • Helichrysum essential oil
  • How to use?

Mix all the oils in equal amount.

Add coconut oil in equal amount.

Apply the oil on legs and abdomen for healthy skin.

We know that for a mother, the most precious thing in this world is her baby. So, every effort should be taken to protect the baby.

That’s why we recommend consulting a doctor or midwife before using essential oils during your pregnancy!

Be safe and Enjoy your motherhood!

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Dr.M.Gopi Krishna is a renowned professor in the dept. of Rasa Shastra and Bhaishajya kalpana at Sri Jagadguru Gavisiddheshwara Ayurvedic Medical College & Post Graduate Research Center.He has personally made around 250 Ayurvedic preparations and self dispense in his own clinic for his patients.