Pregnancy is not only a really exciting time, but it’s also a chance to let go of any bad habits you may be holding on to. It is an opportunity to really clean up your diet: avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol, eat nutrient dense food and drinking more water, and a time to cut out toxins from things like unnecessary medication.
To some, this may be more of a curse than a blessing because even though most medications are a big no-no, you could also be experiencing lots of new symptoms in your body. That’s why pregnancy offers a chance to explore how natural remedies could support you and you may even find that they stick around long after baby comes.
One easy way to address common pregnancy ailments is through essential oils, which are powerful plant extracts with some amazing health-boosting properties. Integrating essential oils wellness during pregnancy is a great option for symptoms, and while it’s necessary to avoid certain oils, for the most part, essential oils for pregnancy are safe and provide true relief.
So let’s talk about how to best use essential oils for pregnancy well-being. We’ll go over some of the most common symptoms in pregnancy and how to use essential oils to support them, including some of my favorite recipes! We’ll also go over the basics of what essential oils are safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding and which ones to avoid.
The Most Common Pregnancy Ailments
One of the most common symptoms women complain of is fatigue. It happens most often in the first trimester and can be so frustrating because you may not look pregnant, but you most definitely feel pregnant. This is also a time when the baby is most vulnerable so you have to be more careful about what you’re consuming.
The reasons for fatigue are a combination of an increase in blood volume and progesterone and a decrease in blood pressure, as well as any emotions you might be processing as your hormones fluctuate (1).
While the best prescription for fatigue is rest, some essential oils for pregnancy that are effective for fatigue are peppermint and wild orange. These two oils are bright and refreshing, without being too stimulating and are safe to use while pregnant. Simply place a few drops in a diffuser or a drop on your palms and inhale.
Again this is a symptom so common in the first trimester it has its own special name- “morning sickness.” But this kind of nausea isn’t reserved for the morning only, it can happen all day long. Two of the hormones that rise during pregnancy and cause nausea are estrogen and HCG (2). Unfortunately, there’s just no way around it and while usually it begins to subside by the second trimester, it can also plague some women throughout their whole pregnancy.
This is a tough one because you need to eat while pregnant and often eating will help nausea, however, nausea generally makes you not want to eat. So you might feel stuck between a rock and hard place. Luckily there are some amazing essential oils for pregnancy nausea to help.
Since nausea can hit anytime, it might be a good idea to keep peppermint, ginger and lemon essential oils on hand. All of these are excellent choices for nausea and again, aromatherapy is generally the safest way to go. Adding drops to a diffuser or keeping the essential oils by the bed at night is helpful. Many times during my pregnancies I reached over to grab the Ginger Essential Oil to relieve nausea. I inhaled straight from the bottle or I would add a drop to the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and inhale deeply several times.
Here’s a great DIY recipe that you can use throughout pregnancy.
Essential Oil for Morning Sickness Spray
- 2 oz glass spray bottle
- 2 oz (ish) of purified water
- 5 drops of ginger essential oil
- 5 drops of lemon essential oil
Mix together and spray around you in a light mist when nausea hits!
These are caused by hormonal changes, extra blood in the body and stress (3). Another common cause of headaches during the first trimester is caffeine withdrawal. Quitting caffeine is no joke and for the first week or so can cause terrible moodiness and headaches.
You can try to prevent them as much as possible by eating small, regular meals to keep your blood sugar stable, resting enough and getting massages to ease neck tension. But essential oils for pregnancy headaches work too. Here are some safe ones to try: lavender, peppermint, or rosemary.
Adding drops to a diffuser is great, as is creating a headache blend to roll on the temples or back of the neck. Here’s my favorite recipe.
Roll-On Essential Oil Blend for Pregnancy Headaches
- 10 ml roller bottle
- Carrier oil like jojoba or fractionated coconut
- 3 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 3 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 3 drops of lavender essential oil
Add all of these to the roller bottle, mix well and use a little bit on your temples or neck for pregnancy headaches.
While stretch marks don’t hurt, many women worry about the way they look and want to prevent them if possible. During pregnancy, the skin of the breasts, belly, and hips are stretching, a lot. Get ahead of the game by applying some essential oils for pregnancy or making a belly butter to support skin elasticity.
Some of the best essential oils for stretch marks are frankincense, lavender and rose. These are all helpful for regenerating the skin and keeping it supple and are totally safe for pregnancy. Create a ritual of connecting with your baby and your body by making a belly butter that you massage into your skin each night. This body butter helped to prevent stretch marks in all 3 pregnancies. Add Frankincense, Rose and Lavender essential oils at application for enhanced effects.
Having anxiety during pregnancy is common and can be a real challenge. There are lots of life changes to integrate, hormones are all over the place and maybe fears around childbirth or parenting. Anxiety can also lead to sleep troubles causing a vicious cycle of more fatigue and moodiness. And trust me, getting all the sleep you can before baby comes is important!
Some essential oils for pregnancy that are safe and effective for anxiety and sleeplessness are lavender, ylang ylang and orange. Add drops to a diffuser for aromatherapy or place a drop on your palms to gently inhale. One of my favorites ways to use these essential oils is in a bath.
Relaxing Essential Oil Bath
- ½ cup of epsom salts
- 4 – 6 drops of lavender
- 4 -6 drops of ylang ylang
- Non-toxic bubble bath like this one
Run a warm bath but make sure it is not too hot because you don’t want to overheat the baby. Add the essential oils to the bubble bath cap. Pour in some bubble bath to emulsify the essential oils. Then add everything under running water sprinkling the epsom salt throughout the bath. The epsom salts improve magnesium levels in the body, which relax the muscles and improve sleep and the essential oils work to soothe your mind and ease worries.
This can be really scary for mom’s before 36 weeks as going into labor too early can lead to underdeveloped lungs in baby and a visit to the NICU. Some signs of preterm labor are uterine contractions, leaking fluids, pain in the back and flu-like symptoms. It’s usually caused by excess activity or stress, as well as certain health conditions and or pregnancy with multiples (4).
Obviously, the first course of action, if you think you’re in preterm labor, is to contact your health care provider as they could recommend you come in for tests or for medication. But if they send you home with a clean bill of health and a prescription for bed rest you can turn to essential oils for pregnancy and preterm labor.
Because stress is part of the problem any of the anxiety-reducing essential oils could help. But lavender is especially good. Add a couple of drops to a carrier oil and massage around the hips, belly, and legs. Sit back, relax and try to avoid too much activity while the lavender works its magic.
Top Eight Essential Oils for Pregnancy
As a rule, the essential oils I’ve shared are safe for pregnancy and can be used as needed for any symptoms you’re experiencing. But here is a basic guide for how to use essential oils for pregnancy.
- Topical Use. Always dilute with a carrier oil when applying to the body. A general rule is 1-2 drops per teaspoon of oil. Some good carrier oils to try are fractionated coconut, jojoba or avocado oil.
- Aromatherapy. Either place one drop in the palms to inhale, add 4 to 6 drops to a diffuser, or the easiest aromatherapy is inhaling straight from the bottle or the palms of the hands.
Here is a quick go-to summary of the top eight essential oils for pregnancy and what they’re good for!
- Orange Essential Oil: Promotes energy levels; helps with overcoming fatigue; use with peppermint essential oil for enhanced effects; I kept bottles of each one of these at my bedside during pregnancy!
- Lemon Essential Oil: Lemon essential oil is a great non-toxic alternative for a household cleaner. We share some great essential oil cleaning recipes here. It’s important to be mindful of toxins in general, but especially during pregnancy.
- Ginger Essential Oil: Best used for nausea, heartburn, and indigestion. But can also be rubbed on sore muscles or swollen feet.
- Lavender Essential Oil: Anxiety relieving, helpful for sleep, eases body tension and good for the skin.
- Peppermint Essential Oil: Invigorating oil that energizes and boosts concentration; in those final days when you feel like you have “baby brain” this oil can give you the clarity of thought you need. It’s also helpful for digestive issues.
WARNING: This is a great oil to use during pregnancy, but it can dry up your milk supply post pregnancy if you are planning to breastfeed. I don’t use it at all when I’m nursing because of this.
- Frankincense Essential Oil: Promotes smooth and supple skin and boosts mood. Rub into sore feet at the end of the day to boost feelings of relaxation. This oil blends really well with Lavender.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca): Some women experience problem skin during pregnancy. Tea Tree is a natural remedy for breakouts and can help with issues like eczema to relieve itching promote healing. It’s also an effective disinfectant and can be used in non-toxic DIY cleaning recipes.
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil: Gently soothes anxiety and promotes restful sleep.
Essential Oil Safety
I just want to share a quick word on safety when using essential oils for pregnancy.
- Always choose high quality organic essential oils! You don’t want to be diffusing lavender that’s been saturated with pesticides. This is why I’m a huge fan of DoTERRA essential oils for pregnancy, and any other time really. They are some of the best on the market as far as sourcing and quality. Try our ultimate starter kit or our on-the-go travel bag.
- Don’t ingest essential oils during pregnancy.
- Don’t store your essential oils or handmade body products with essential oils in plastics. They will break down the plastics which could leach chemicals into your oils!
- Cats can be sensitive to some essential oils so do your research to see what is toxic for cats if you have them.
- If you feel any sensitivity on your skin, apply more carrier oil to dilute and then discontinue use.
- Avoid sun exposure if you’re using citrus oils on your skin. It can increase photosensitivity.
- Avoid essential oils on mucous membrane areas and definitely keep them out of the eyes and nose.
As long as you stick with the oils I shared above, essential oils for pregnancy are safe and can be really helpful. But that’s not always the case! Here are some essential oils to avoid during pregnancy (5).
- Cassia (cinnamon)
- Clary Sage (unless you’re full term and want to kickstart labor!)
So as with anything, do your research and when using essential oils for pregnancy and breastfeeding stick to the ones you know are safe, like the eight I shared with you today. When in doubt, talk to your health care provider.
Personally, I’m a big fan of essential oils and like to have them on hand for all kinds of ailments, especially those that can come up during pregnancy. Have you tried essential oils while pregnant or breastfeeding? Do you have any success stories to share with us? If so leave a comment because I’d love to hear about it!
- American Pregnancy (2017). “Fatigue During Pregnancy.” Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/your-pregnancy/fatigue-during-pregnancy/
- American Pregnancy (2018). “Nausea During Pregnancy.” Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/nausea-during-pregnancy/
- American Pregnancy (2017). “Pregnancy and Headaches.” Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/headaches-and-pregnancy/
- WebMD (2018). “Premature Labor.” Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/premature-labor#1
- Shatzman, Celia (2017). “What You Need to Know About Essential Oils for Pregnancy.” Retrieved from: https://www.thebump.com/a/essential-oils-for-pregnancy-basics