Aromatherapy and Pregnancy: Essential Oils When You’re Pregnant

Aromatherapy can be helpful during pregnancy, just make sure you use only safe oils! Image by Decoded Pregnancy

Aromatherapy can be helpful during pregnancy, just make sure you use only safe oils – and wait until after the first trimester! Image by Decoded Pregnancy

Aromatherapy is a natural healing practice that has been around for at least 6,000 years, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ancient records that date back to some of the earliest of times reveal these aromatic, potent, concentrated oils have been used to provide medical and therapeutic benefits to those who suffer from common health ailments as well as more serious health conditions.

Essential oils are volatile substances that we can find in flowers, leaves, seeds, roots and trees. Both natural health practitioners and everyday people use this healing therapy that is commonly known as aromatherapy. You can use essential oils in massage therapy and spa treatments, as well as to relieve discomforts during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the postpartum period.

Pregnancy: How to Use Essential Oils

There are several methods for the use of essential oils – the one you use will depend on the type of oil and the result you need:

  • Topical application – There is some dispute over whether essential oils should ever be used “neat” or directly placed on the skin. Oil users who are sure that their oils are 100% unadulterated and pure will often say that it is a safe practice, but if you are unsure of the oil that you are using, it’s never a good idea to place it directly on your skin without a carrier oil. Pregnant women should use a 1% dilution which is 5-6 drops to 1 ounce of carrier oil.

A carrier oil will prolong the use of the oil and allow it to absorb slowly into your body. Good carrier oils are coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil.  When selecting an carrier oil, be careful to use a cold pressed and unrefined oil. Tropical oils are often the most stable and can remained unrefrigerated. Polyunsaturated oils should stay in your refrigerator, however, due to their chemical make up and their tendency to go rancid.

Some of the best places to use a diluted oil topically are on the feet and/or down the spine. Other beneficial ways to use oils would be to rub oils helpful for digestion on the abdomen when suffering from a digestion discomfort, or into sore muscles if they happen to be suffering.

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  • Internally – Also often disputed, many avid aromatherapy users will take an oil internally in order to promote healing. During pregnancy, it’s best to talk with your caregiver – please use caution!

Diffusing Essential Oils

Diffusing essential oils is a common practice which helps you keep continuous scents throughout your home. We use diffusers so that the oils are evenly distributed throughout the air in the room. This is especially productive when there is flu or sickness in the house. An electric diffuser is best. Heat can change the chemical makup of oils, so diffusers where the oils are heated by a flame below is not a good option.

Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Once you learn about the all the powerful uses each essential oil brings you can begin to understand how oils can be used for most, if not all discomforts during pregnancy and birth. Oils can bring healing and aid to parts of the body which are suffering. There are quite a few oils that you shouldn’t use during pregnancy, so check with your health practitioner or aromatherapist, or ask here at Decoded Pregnancy. For safety’s sake, wait until after the first trimester, and ask your caregiver before starting to use essential oils.

Please keep in mind that each essential oil company will have in stock its very own blends and you can also blend oils to make your own. Research brands of essential oils carefully before you use them, and always ask your health care provider before making any changes to your environment while you’re pregnant.


University of Maryland Medical Center. Aromatherapy. (2011). Accessed June 4, 2013.

Raybern, D. Gentle Babies: Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infants and Young Children. (2013). Growing Healthy Homes.

West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy. Using Essential Oils During Pregnancy. Accessed May 28, 2013.

Stewart, D. Healing Oils of the Bible. (2004). Care Publications.

Igarashi T. Physical and Psychologic Effects of Aromatherapy Inhalation on Pregnant Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. (2013).

Tiran, D. Clinical Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Childbirth. (2000). Churchill Livingstone.

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  1. Joseph&Jesse says:

    Huh. I always heard essential oils were toxic, especially if baby was around. Guess not. A lot of docs would still probably say no though.


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