When applied cautiously, aromatherapy during pregnancy can be a safe, effective method for managing pain, anxiety and mood disturbances. However, some essential oils are unsafe for pregnant mothers. Always tell your massage therapist or aromatherapy practitioner if you are pregnant, particularly if you have a high-risk pregnancy.
Safe Essential Oils
Certain essential oils are considered to be safe for pregnant women as a component of aromatherapy. Consider using the following essential oils to ease pregnancy-related discomforts.
Used to reduce stress, ease anxiety and facilitate relaxation.
May help to prevent hormone-related mood swings and anxiety.
Traditionally used as an aphrodisiac. Relieves pregnancy-related breast pain.
Helps to fight depression and anxiety in expectant mothers. A gentle sedative.
Reduces pain and enhances circulation.
Comforting and invigorating. Enhances mood and restores energy levels.
A potent aphrodisiac and antidepressant. Reduces pain and inflammation.
Used to relieve fear, agitation and anger. Useful for pregnancy-related anxiety.
Powerfully anti-inflammatoy. Helps to relieve pain. Calms nerves and promotes a sense of well-being.
Promotes emotional balance. Soothes anxiety, insomnia and tension.
Unsafe Essential Oils
Some other essential oils may also be safe for use in pregnant women, but aromatherapy experts rarely venture outside the narrow range of acceptable oils. Most aromatherapy oils can cause problems if they are used incorrectly during pregnancy, but some are particularly dangerous. Expectant mothers should carefully avoid the following unsafe essential oils for pregnancy:
Can disrupt the neurological development of a fetus. May trigger seizures in pregnant women.
Traditionally used to induce labor. May alter hormone levels and cause preterm birth.
Triggers contractions of the uterus. Alters blood-flow to the placenta.
May cause miscarriage or preterm labor. Elevates estrogen levels.
Spikes levels of estrogen and prolactin; may induce labor or miscarriage.
A known stimulant. Elevates blood pressure and alters blood-flow to the fetus. Particularly dangerous for women with pre-eclampsia.
Stimulates contractions in the uterus. May harm the baby’s developing liver.
May cause contractions and preterm birth. Traditionally used to induce labor, menstruation and miscarriage.
Influences bloodflow to the uterus and placenta. May cause preterm birth and unpleasant skin reactions.
For more information about the safe use of essential oils during pregnancy, visit the University of Maryland Medical Center or the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. Tell your obstetrician or midwife about any complementary therapies you use.