Essential Oils During Pregnancy: What's Safe and What to Avoid

Make sure your favorite natural remedies are safe for your baby before you use them.   

Essential oils can help relieve your aches and pains—but they aren’t always great for moms-to-be or their babies. Before you sniff your favorite scent or slather on an essential oil, make sure it’s okay for your little one. (You can always ask your doctor if you aren't sure.)

Skip the First Trimester

You shouldn't use essential oils in early pregnancy because they could cause uterine contractions or adversely affect your baby in his early developmental stages, explains Jill Edwards, N.D., an Oregon doctor of naturopathic medicine who specializes in prenatal care. That includes aromatherapy products and treatments, since essential oils—the oils that give plants their distinctive smells—are the key ingredients used in aromatherapy.

Second and Third Trimester Picks

"In the second and third trimesters, some essential oils are safe to use, as your baby is more developed," Edwards adds. These include lavender, chamomile and ylang ylang, which calm, relax, and aid sleep.

You can try all of these once you hit your second trimester: 
Bergamot - Roman chamomile - Eucalyptus - Geranium - Ginger - Grapefruit - Lavender - Lemon - Lemongrass - Lime - Mandarin - Neroli - Patchouli - Petitgrain - Rose Otto - Rosewood - Sandalwood - Sweet orange - Tea tree - Ylang ylang

Avoid These Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Oils that can cause contractions are a definite no-no—and that includes cinnamon, clove, rosemary and clary sage.

Here are the oils you should skip until your baby arrives:
- Arnica (homeopathic is fine) - Basil - Birch (sweet) - Bitter almond - Boldo leaf - Broom - Buchu - Calamus - Camphor (brown or yellow) - Cassia - Cedarwood/thuja - Chervil - Cinnamon - Clary sage - Clove (bud, leaf or stem) - Coriander - Costus - Deertongue - Elecampane - Fennel - Horseradish - Hyssop - Jaborandi leaf - Juniper berry - Melilotus - Mugwort - Mustard - Nutmeg - Origanum - Parsley (large doses) - Pennyroyal - Pine (dwarf) - Rosemary - Rue - Sassafras - Savin - Savory (summer) - Tansy - Thyme red (large doses) - Tonka - Wintergreen - Wormwood

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