Essential oils are widely used by doulas and midwives around the world, but the secret lies in what essential oils to use. Because these oils can be highly potent, some should be avoided in those pregnant or breastfeeding, while others are gentle enough to be safe for mom and baby. Not all oils need to be avoided, and it just boils down to knowing what oils you can benefit safely from, and which should wait until after the pregnancy and nursing periods are over.


Essential Oils To Use

When using essential oils during pregnancy or nursing, it’s important to consider a few rules. First and foremost, less is always more, and if you can further dilute the oil with a safe carrier, it’s always preferable to do so. Second, essential oils should be avoided as much as possible during the first trimester, and ingestion should be avoided altogether. Last, if using oils in a diffuser, keep the diffuser on only at 10 to 15-minute intervals.


Some oils that are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and a few benefits of each, are:

  • Roman/German chamomile – Supports digestive health, fights anxiety, relieves pain, supports skin health


  • Bergamot – Disinfectant, digestive support, wound healing, relieves anxiety


  • Lavender – Anxiety relief, promotes sleep, pain relief, relieves signs of aging, wound healing


  • Tea tree – Acne reduction, wound healing, antiseptic, antiviral, antimicrobial


  • Ginger – Supports digestive health, helps to heal infections, aids in respiratory symptoms, relieves anxiety


  • Mint – Supports digestive health, antiseptic, aids in relieving joint and muscle pain



Essential Oils To Avoid

Some essential oils should be completely avoided during pregnancy, whether inhalation or topical applications are used. Some of these may promote uterine contractions or can potentially cause other pregnancy complications, and others leave medical scientists with questions as to how they may affect a growing baby. The essential oils to avoid include:

  • Fennel


  • Clary sage


  • Tarragon


  • Marjoram


  • Cinnamon


  • Mugwort


  • Aniseed


  • Sage


For breastfeeding mamas, there is one usually “safe” oil that should possibly be avoided. Some experts believe that peppermint essential oil can have an effect on a mother’s milk supply, while others claim it doesn’t pose much of a problem. For nursing mothers have trouble keeping a sufficient supply, it may be an oil one would want to avoid.


Those pregnant or breastfeeding may use essential oils but should be careful in the essential oils they choose.


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