A Healthy Pregnancy Part 2: Using Essential Oils Safely

Essential oils can be used to alleviate many discomforts in pregnancy. There are a few guidelines that should be followed, however.

Essential Oil Safety


It is best to refrain from using some essential oils all together during the first trimester. These oils fall into one of three categories. They encourage menstrual bleeding. They stimulate contractions during labour—or they are toxic to the baby.1

Don’t use essential oils at all if you have a history of miscarriage, vaginal bleeding, heart problems, diabetes, blood clotting, epilepsy or thyroid, liver or kidney disease.

Vary the oils you use, and always dilute them with a base oil, such as grapeseed, sweet almond or coconut oil. The amount of essential oil in the dilution should not exceed 2%. Finally, only use high-quality oils with no synthetic ingredients.

Essential Oils to Avoid During the First Trimester of Pregnancy

  • Aniseed
  • Armoise (Mugwort)
  • Arnica
  • Basil
  • Birch
  • Camphor
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary sage
  • Cypress
  • Fennel
  • Hyssop
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper
  • Marjoram
  • Myrrh
  • Origanum
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savoury
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen

Essential Oils That Are Safe to Use During Pregnancy

Taking into account the above cautions and the individual situation, the following oils are safe to use during pregnancy:

  • Black pepper
  • Cajeput
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • German chamomile*
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender*
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Neroli
  • Roman chamomile*
  • Spearmint
  • Sweet orange
  • Tangerine

*Chamomile and lavender are emmenagogues (they increase menstrual flow) but may be used in small amounts if diluted to about 1%. Do not use these oils, however, if there is excessive bleeding or if you are worried that you might miscarry.

Essential Oils for Backache During Pregnancy


The increased body weight and the changing shape of the body cause backaches​ to many pregnant women. To alleviate back pain immediately, make sure you don’t stay in one position for too long. Try not to do any forward bending or extreme upward stretches. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and do not ever wear high-heeled shoes!

You may also wish to do gentle pregnancy yoga. For a relaxing rest, lie on your back with your lower limbs on a chair at a 90º angle.

Light back massage can be administered from the beginning of the pregnancy. From the 6th month onward, when the back pain is more likely to become a major problem, stronger massage can be had. Massage will bring relief to the pain as well as tone your muscles.

For the best massage experience, sit on a straight-backed chair, facing the back of the chair. Lean your body against a cushion. The masseuse will be behind you while she works on your back, shoulders, neck and head.

Essential Oil Solution

For a relaxing, pain relieving massage, use lavender, lemon or cajeput essential oils mixed in with a carrier oil. All of these oils are antiseptic. Lemon is good for producing heat on the skin. Cajeput and lavender have pain relieving qualities.

Essential Oils for Constipation During Pregnancy


Constipation during pregnancy is caused by decreased muscle motility and increased amounts of sex steroid in the body. Pressure from the uterus on intestines creates a mechanical barrier for the free movement of fecal matter.

If constipation is allowed to continue for long periods of time, it may cause haemorrhoids or result in a digestive tract inflammation.

As a general rule, you should always keep yourself hydrated and make sure that you consume enough fibre.

Drink at least 1.5 litres (50.7 oz) of water each day. You may also wish to consume psyllium husk with your breakfast. Another wonderful tip is to add a tablespoon of flax seeds in a glass of water, wait until it forms a gel and then drink the solution followed by another glass of water.2

Essential Oil Solution

Use black pepper, German chamomile, neroli or tangerine essential oil in a carrier oil base to massage the abdomen. Always move your hands in clockwise direction. Listen to your body and only use as much pressure as is comfortable.

Essential Oils for Fatigue and Insomnia During Pregnancy


You are allowed to be tired when you’re pregnant. After all, your body is accomplishing a massive task of bringing new life into the world! It has to provide energy and nutrition not only for itself but also for the foetus.

Pregnancy causes weight-gain and physical discomfort. On top of all this, your hormonal levels may fluctuate from day to day. You may feel anxious about the forthcoming delivery, especially if this is your first pregnancy.

The solution to weariness is to eat a healthy diet, enjoying the outside air and the sunshine as much as possible and allowing yourself to rest without guilt.

Essential Oil Solution

To relax your mind and body, prepare a warm aromatic bath by adding 2-3 drops of lavender, neroli or Roman chamomile essential oil, mixed in a base oil, into the water. You can also use the same oils in massage or vaporise them into the room air in a diffuser.

All of these oils are nervines, which means that they can be used to calm the nerves and relax the mind.

Essential Oils for Oedema During Pregnancy


Oedema is caused by increased oestrogen levels and manifests as swelling of feet and hands.

Swelling is normal but should be kept under control by adhering to a balanced, healthy diet and avoiding processed foods with additives. You can make yourself comfortable by wearing loose clothes and bigger-than-normal shoes.

Essential Oil Solution

Prepare a hand or foot bath by adding lime, sweet orange, grapefruit or geranium essential oil into warm water. All these oils stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps with treating swollen tissue and removing excess fluid.3

Essential Oils for Morning Sickness During Pregnancy


About 50% of pregnant women suffer from morning sickness during the first 3-4 months of the pregnancy.

Not all reasons for morning sickness are known. One possible cause is an increase in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone which the body produces in larger amounts during the first trimester.

For a relief from morning sickness, take a vitamin B complex and an extra vitamin B6 tablet. In addition, take a magnesium tablet and eat foods containing these nutrients, such as walnuts, brown rice, brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, bananas, salmon, tuna, chicken and wheat germ.3

Eat smaller meals, more frequently. Avoid fats, sugars, caffeine, cigarette smoke and orange juice that’s not made of fresh oranges. Red raspberry tea or peppermint tea may also help.

Essential Oil Solution

Add 4-5 drops of ginger, lavender or spearmint essential oil in a diffuser and breathe in the vapours. You may also add a few drops of an essential oil on your pillowcase to breathe in during the night or inhale the oil from a tissue.


1. Patricia Davis. Aromatherapy: An A-Z. 2005.

2. Patrick Halford and Susannah Lawson. Optimum Nutrition Before, During and After Pregnancy: The Definitive Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. 2009.

3. Salvatore Battaglia. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd Edition. 2015.

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