Essential Oils During Pregnancy


General Safety Precautions

Keep all essential oils out of reach of children and pets.

Do not use or recommend the use of photosensitizing essential oils prior to going into a sun tanning booth or the sun. Recommend that the client stay out of the sun or sun tanning booth for at least twenty-four hours after treatment if photosensitizing essential oils were applied to the skin.

Avoid the use of undiluted essential oils on the skin, unless otherwise indicated.

If you suspect you may be sensitive to specific essential oils or if you have known allergies or sensitivities, it may be wise to perform a skin patch test.

Keep essential oils away from the eyes.

Do not use essential oils internally unless directed by a qualified practitioner or using a professionally formulated blend labeled for internal use. Safety Guidelines for dilution and use must be followed. Any essential oils used must be pure and genuine. National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends purchasing from a reputable supplier who analyzes their oils by GC/MS. 

Safety Measures

If essential oil droplets accidentally get into the eye (or eyes) a cotton cloth or similar should be imbued with a fatty oil, such as olive or sesame, and carefully swiped over the closed lid.3 And / Or, Immediately flush the eyes with cool water.

If an essential oil causes dermal irritation, apply a small amount of vegetable oil or cream to the area affected and discontinue use of essential oil or product that has caused dermal irritation.

Authors such as Ron Guba, Kurt Schnaubelt, and Chrissie Wildwood have all pointed out that there have been ‘no recorded cases of miscarriage or birth defect resulting from aromatherapy massage using therapeutic applications of any essential oil.”1

Ron Guba points out that toxicity during pregnancy is almost exclusively due to pregnant women taking large, toxic doses of essential oils, notably pennyroyal (rich in the ketone, pulegone, which is metabolized to the highly toxic furan epoxide, menthofuron) and parsley seed (rich in the dimethyl ether, apiol). 

According to Tisserand and Balacs, the following essential oils should not be used during pregnancy: wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop.2

The following properly diluted essential oils appear to be safe for use during pregnancy:

Benzoin, bergamot, black pepper, chamomile (German & Roman), clary sage, cypress, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, juniper, lavender, lemon, mandarin, marjoram (sweet), neroli, petitgrain, rose, sandalwood, orange (sweet), tea tree, ylang ylang. 

Essential oils to Avoid throughout Pregnancy, Labor, and while Breastfeeding:

Essential OilLatin Name
AniseedPimpinella anisum
Basil ct. estragoleOcimum basilicum
BirchBetula lenta
*CamphorCinnamomum camphora
HyssopHyssopus officinalis
MugwortArtemisia vulgaris
Parsley seed or leafPetroselinum sativum
PennyroyalMentha pulegium
SageSalvia officinalis
TansyTanacetum vulgare
TarragonArtemisia dracunculus
ThujaThuja occidentalis
WintergreenGaultheria procumbens
WormwoodArtemisia absinthium
*Note that this is not the same as Ho Wood/Ho Leaf chemotype Linalool (Cinnamomum camphora ct. Linalool), which has no known contraindications.


1 Tisserand, R., and Balacs, T. (1995). Essential Oil Safety. New York: Churchill Livingstone.

2 Wildwood, C. (2000). Of Cabbages & Kings Aromatherapy Myths, part II. Aromatherapy Today, 14, p. 12–14.

3 Tisserand, R., and Balacs, T. (1995). Essential Oil Safety. New York: Churchill Livingstone.

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