Is It Safe to Use Essential Oils in Pregnancy? Yes and No, and Here’s Why

By Camilla Restrepo, CAHP®-AM, RPN 

I could rip my hair out trying to figure out what is true and what isn’t when it comes to using essential oils when pregnant. The questions are endless, as is the misinformation. The difference is, being pregnant and in need of reliable and safe advice, the stakes are a little higher! I would like to share my experience of being pregnant, confused and wanting symptom relief but having more questions than answers. Allow me to paint you a picture . . .

I was in my first trimester, nauseated, exhausted and very overwhelmed. I know some women have amazing, easy pregnancies, but at this moment I would not have described mine that way. Everything I ate ended up coming right back out, the nausea was taking away from my happy moments, and the exhaustion was unreal. All I wanted was to enjoy the fact that I was going to be a mom for the first time. So, I turned to my essential oils knowing there had to be an answer in there somewhere.

I was determined to use natural remedies that would be safe for my baby and to care for myself the best way possible. If this is you, keep reading! I want to share the answers that I found on my journey in hopes that if you are in the same shoes, I can save you some precious time. Better yet, you will be able to make an empowered and informed decision for you and your baby about using essential oils during pregnancy.

First things first: what not to do! I want to start here, because this will help weed out a lot of confusing information you may hear and read. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT ingest essential oils when you are pregnant. I can lose a few people here, especially those who have been ingesting oils for some time now. But please hear me. Unless you are a qualified practitioner who is fully trained in essential oil medicine and understands how essential oils affect your body at a chemical level, avoid this practice. It is not the safest option nor is itthe most effective way to use essential oils. There are many other ways, and I am going to cover these here.

Here’s a list of oils you want to remember because it’s the list you’re going to avoid like the plague. While some oils can be used at certain stages, these are in the “no-go” zone!

  • Mugwort (Artemisia arborescens)
  • Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
  • Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce)
  • Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
  • -Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Hyssop (Hyssop officinalis)
  • Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  • Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)
  • Caraway (Carum carvi)
  • Birch (Betula lenta)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria fragrantissima)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia scoparia)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum sativom)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

If you’re wondering why these essential oils aren’t safe, I can tell you the list is long but let’s summarize for now. Think of essential oils as plant medicine and, like with all medicine, they affect the body’s chemistry. There is a risk that these oils may cause toxicity to you or the fetus, hormonal changes, uterine contractions, blood thinning, blood pressure fluctuations just to name a few. Now I don’t want to scare you, it is just something you must be aware of. Some of these effects are things we want to use essential oils for sometimes, like decreasing blood pressure while reducing stress, but in pregnancy the balance is more delicate. There could be books written on this topic alone so I will move on for now.   

Which oils can be used? Before I answer this one, I would like to point out that it is best practice to avoid most oils during your first trimester. The best way to use them during this stage is via inhalation only, like using lemon (Citrus limon) for nausea. When we talk about baths, massage, foot soaks or body sprays, it is best you wait until the second trimester. I found this particularly frustrating because it was that first trimester that hit me so hard, but again, safety first! I would also like to acknowledge that new evidence may come out about which oils can be used during this stage, but until then, let’s play it safe.

There are so many oils you could use, but I am going to make a list of the ones I found useful. This list is not exhaustive, but I really liked blending with these ones.  


Citrus limon


Rosa damascena


Citrus aurantifolia


Jasminum sambac


Citrus paradisi


Lavandula angustifolia


Citrus aurantium


Citrus aurantium var. amar


Citrus reticulata

Roman chamomile

Anthemis nobilis


Citrus bergamia


Santalum album

Black Pepper

Piper nigrum


Boswellia serrata


Copaifera officinalis


Elettaria cardamomum


Coriandrum sativum

Tea tree

Melaleuca alternifolia


 Mentha spicata


Cupressus sempervirens


Mentha x piperita


Eucalyptus radiata


Many of these oils are absolute life savers but, like with anything, moderation and proper dilution are key! Pregnancy means lower dilution rates for safety, so let’s talk numbers. If you are going to be applying the oils to your skin, like in a bath, massage oil or body spray, then dilution rate is important. The safest while still effective dose is 1% or less of essential oils in your carrier.

See chart below to better understand dilutions.


On to the recipes!

Now that you know which oils you can use, and how to dilute them, here are a few ways that you can use them.

Massage oil for pain blend

30 mL sweet almond oil (Prunus dulcis)

+ Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis) 2 drops

+ Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) 2 drops

+ Black pepper (Piper nigrum) 2 drops


Nausea relief blend

Personal inhaler or cotton ball

+ Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) 2 drops

+ Lemon (Citrus limon) 4 drops

+ Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) 1 drop


Massage oil for tired legs

30 mlL jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)

+ Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) 3 drops

+ Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 1 drop

+ Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) 2 drops


Better Sleep diffuser blend

+ Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) 2 drops

+ Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) 3 drops

+ Sandalwood (Santalum album) 2 drops


Bliss Bath soak blend

Pink Himalayan salt 3 tbsp

Epsom salts 3 tbsp

Sweet almond (Prunus dulcis) carrier oil 5 mL

Baking soda 1 tbsp

+ Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) 3 drops

+ Jasmine (Jasminum sambac) 2 drops

+ Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) 1 drop

+ Sandalwood (Santalum album) 2 drops

*** Blend essential oils with sweet almond oil first. Baking soda is to decrease the chance of skin irritation.


Headache Helper roller

10 mL roller ball bottle

10 mL fractionated coconut oil (Cocos nucifera)

+ Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) 1 drop

+ Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) 3 drops

+ Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) 2 drops


You might find you have to replace some oils for others or use even smaller amounts. Let your nose guide you, your body knows what it needs, so take time to pause and listen. These are just some of the ways that essential oils helped me. Now, if someone you love is pregnant and you are looking for ways to help, a light massage with essential oils goes a long way!

I truly hope this post has answered some of the questions that might be holding you back from using aromatherapy on this journey. As a final note, I want to stress the importance of diluting, using only pure high-quality oils, and following your healthcare provider's advice when using essential oils. Natural does not always mean safe! Find an aromatherapist or qualified healthcare practitioner as they will always have your safety in mind! 




Price, S., L., P. Aromatherapy for Healthcare Professionals, 5th edition, Elseiver Ltd 2020.

England, A. Aromatherapy Massage for Mother and Baby, Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 2000

Clifford, F.R, Aromatherapy During Your Pregnancy England: The C.W. Company Ltd, 1997.

TIsserand, R., Young, R. Essential Oil Safety 2nd Edition- A guide for healthcare professionals. Churchill Livingstone Elseiver 2014.


About the author: Camila Restrepo, CAHP®-AM, RPN, has found a passion for all things aromatherapy and is especially enthusiastic about supporting women on their self-empowerment journey. Camila comes from a nursing background and has had the honour of working very closely with people from all walks of life, including mothers and newborns, forensic psychiatry patients, palliative patients and the geriatric community. Camila is the founder of Essentsia Apothecary, a company proudly focussed on teaching people safe essential oil use and offering natural products to support their self-care journey. Committed to her lifelong learning, Camila is currently studying reflexology and reiki, and is advancing her nursing career into medical aesthetics.  

Photo by Bárbara Marques, Pexels