12 Essential Oils for Pregnancy That are Safe and Effective to Use

One of the most common complaints among pregnant women is morning sickness, a condition that refers to vomiting and nausea that take place during the first trimester [1].

Although the condition usually occurs in the morning, it can also happen at any time during the day [2].

Nobody knows for sure what exactly it is that causes morning sickness but some experts link it to hormonal imbalance or low blood sugar levels, which are typical during the early stages of pregnancy [3].

The hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) has been found to increase rapidly during the first few months of pregnancy, and that women who have higher rates of nausea and vomiting have higher levels of this hormone [4].

Certain factors have also been observed to worsen the situation, and these include emotional stress, over fatigue, traveling and certain types of food [3].

Apart from this, pregnant women face other issues such as headache, cramps, swollen feet and ankles, and back pain [5].

Here’s the good news, you can get immediate relief from all these with the use of essential oils which are not only effective but also safe to use during pregnancy.

1. Lavender

When feeling stressed or burnt out, lavender oil can make you feel better. This oil helps pregnant women in various ways.

One, it relieves nausea and vomiting during the first few months, as proven in an experiment published in the Journal of Natural Sciences Research [6].

Conducted in a maternity clinic in a university hospital in Saudi Arabia, this study involved one hundred pregnant women who were 8 to 16 months pregnant, and have morning sickness [6].

The women who used essential oils such as lavender not only reported fewer episodes of nausea and vomiting but also felt more energetic and less tired [6].

Two, it helps induce good quality sleep with its hypnotic properties [7].

In a 2005 clinical trial, it was found that participants with insomnia who used lavender oil experienced significant improvement in their condition [7].

Lastly, lavender oil can effectively reduce stress, anxiety and depression among pregnant women, which is very important as these negative emotions can hamper proper fetal growth and development [8, 9, 10].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 drop of lavender oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • In a bowl, dilute lavender oil in almond oil.
  • Transfer oil mixture to a glass jar.
  • Apply a small amount on forehead for headaches, stress or anxiety.
  • Inhale the scent when feeling nauseous.
  • Pour a few drops in a cotton ball, and place it near your pillow before going to bed to help you sleep more soundly.

2. Peppermint

The oil extracted from the peppermint plant has been found to have many therapeutic purposes.

It works as an analgesic, antiseptic, carminative, decongestant, anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory, among others [11].

With this said, it’s a good idea to have peppermint oil handy, ready to use anytime you need it. This is especially true if you’re having a baby.

During pregnancy, this essential oil is a reliable solution for morning sickness, along with lavender oil [6, 12].

Iranian researchers conducted a study participated in by 60 pregnant women who have morning sickness issues [12].

A few drops of peppermint oil were placed near the beds of half of the participants while the other half were given a placebo [12].

There was a “decreasing trend in vomiting and nausea” among the peppermint group within seven days, particularly during the fourth night [12].

Peppermint oil is also safe to use for other conditions commonly experienced by pregnant women.

It reduces skin itchiness by reducing the temperature of the skin, reports a 2012 study [13].

Those who are suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also find relief from this oil [14].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 drop of peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put peppermint oil in a tissue.
  • Inhale the tissue to relieve nausea and vomiting as well as heartburn.
  • Or combine it with jojoba oil and apply on itchy parts of the skin.

3. Chamomile

Chamomile works as a natural tranquilizer and sedative, which is why it is great for those who are feeling anxious, depressed or stressed out [15].

In a study conducted by American researchers, it was reported that this oil has significant anti-depressant actions [16].

Another clinical trial stated that among the 61 patients with mild to moderate cases of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), those who used chamomile felt much better afterwards [17].

However, since no study has yet confirmed the safety of chamomile for pregnant women, it is best to consult a doctor before using this for therapeutic purposes [18].

Some suggest that long term use of chamomile during pregnancy is possibly harmful so you must not use it longer than one or two weeks [15].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of chamomile oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Use a diffuser to fill room with aroma of chamomile.
  • Breathe in the scent.
  • Do this for 15 minutes once a day for one week.

4. Ginger

Some pregnant women cannot stand the pungent aroma of garlic and onion but if you can tolerate ginger, then you can use it to relieve pregnancy-related issues like nausea.

Results of various studies confirm that ginger is a safe and effective remedy for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy [19, 20, 21, 22].

According to an Australian study, it works in the same way as vitamin B6 in relieving vomiting and dry retching [21].

Dry retching refers to the “reverse movement of the stomach and esophagus without vomiting” that is commonly triggered by choking, inhalation of bad smell or stress.

Follow-up investigation by another group of researchers from Australia report that there are no abnormalities in the birth weight, gestational age, and development of infants whose mothers used ginger oil extract [22].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 bowl of hot water
  • 2 drops of ginger oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour ginger oil in hot water.
  • Breathe in the steam.
  • Repeat once a day for three to four days.
  • For headache or back pain, apply two drops of ginger oil on painful area once a day.

5. Eucalyptus

Another common issue that pregnant women complain about is swollen feet. Not only is this problem unsightly, it also brings discomfort.

But here’s the good news: you can remedy this with the use of eucalyptus oil.

Eucalyptus oil is a potent analgesic, which means that it can provide pain relief, and make it easier for you to walk and move around [23, 24].

Not only that, it is also an anti-inflammatory agent that will tone down swelling by inhibiting the body’s inflammatory response [23, 24].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 to 2 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix the two oils in a bowl.
  • Keep the oil mixture in a glass jar with a lid.
  • Pour a few drops on your palm.
  • Massage feet with oil mixture for five to 10 minutes.
  • Raise your feet up after.
  • Do this remedy once or twice a day.

6. Lemon

Lemon is another safe and effective remedy that can help resolve pregnancy-related issues.

In 2014, a team of researchers from Iran examined the effects of lemon inhalation in 100 pregnant women. The participants were requested to inhale lemon oil as soon as they felt nauseous [25].

Findings reveal that this oil worked much better than the placebo in controlling vomiting and retching within four days of treatment [25].

It is also considered safe to use during pregnancy [25].

This gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re not going to harm your baby when you use this remedy.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of lemon oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour oil in a cotton ball.
  • Put this under the pillow before sleeping at night.
  • Repeat remedy two or three times a week.

7. Frankincense

Traditional healers from Iran encourage pregnant women to use frankincense oil in order to have intelligent children [26].

This was the premise behind several studies probing the effects of this oil on learning and memory of babies [26, 27].

In a 2001 study, pregnant rats that were injected with frankincense gave birth to offspring that scored much higher in maze puzzles than those who were given a placebo [27].

Amazing, isn’t it?

Another experiment conducted in 2009, this time on human subjects, reveal that over 60 percent of the participants whose mothers were made to take frankincense during pregnancy earned high school diploma or higher degrees [28].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 drop of frankincense oil
  • 1 bowl of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Add frankincense oil to water.
  • Inhale the steam.
  • Repeat procedure once a day.

8. Tea Tree

Used widely in Australia, tea tree oil is known for its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties [28].

Most of its biologic activities are due to its main compound called terpinen-4-ol [28, 29].

For pregnant women, tea tree oil can help by alleviating inflammation of the feet and ankles.

That’s because this oil is confirmed to have potent anti-inflammatory effects, as reported in several French studies [30, 31].

Topical application of tea tree oil can help ease the pain of swollen feet, as well as the difficulty in walking and moving around.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix the two oils.
  • Use this to massage feet and ankles twice daily for up to three weeks.

9. Bergamot

Pregnant women should avoid getting stressed, as this has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight among infants [32].

One way to reduce stress is with aromatherapy [32].

Bergamot, which contains linalyl acetate and linalool, has relaxation effects on pregnant women, and can be used for long-term daily care [32].

It’s an efficient way of calming the mind and soothing the nerves.

It’s important to note that the use of this oil does not have any adverse effect on both the mother and the unborn baby [32].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 drop of bergamot
  • 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine bergamot and grapeseed oils.
  • Rub oil mixture on palms.
  • Cup your hands and smell the oil.
  • Do this once a day for no longer than one week.

10. Cypress

Stretch marks refer to the scarring of the skin caused by dermal tearing [33].

It’s very common among pregnant women, as the skin in the belly stretches to accommodate the growing fetus inside [33].

While others don’t mind having stretch marks on their skin, some prefer to keep their skin smooth and flawless.

If you’re the latter, then it’s a good idea to use cypress oil.

Cypress oil has been found to be effective in reducing stretch marks among pregnant women [34].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of cypress oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the oils.
  • Spread a thin layer on the skin once a day.

11. Geranium

When you’re pregnant, anything can set you off.

Even just a little noise, a smell that you don’t like, or the thought of pain during delivery can make you feel irritable, anxious and stressed out.

Keeping it positive, and making use of anti-anxiety essential oils like geranium can help.

In a 1995 study performed by American researchers, it was found that geranium can efficiently lower anxiety levels in human subjects [35].

Rosemary oil was also tested in this study, but since it can cause premature contractions, the use of this oil is not recommended for pregnant women.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of geranium oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put the two oils in a bowl.
  • Mix well.
  • Pour mixture in a glass jar with lid.
  • When you feel anxious, open the jar and inhale the scent.
  • Do this only once or twice a day.

12. Sweet Orange

Another way to relieve anxiety is with sweet orange oil.

Many citrus oils are considered safe to use during pregnancy, and one of these is sweet orange.

Its anxiolytic effects were evaluated in a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine [36].

Results reveal that it caused sedation and tranquilization among the 40 volunteers with anxiety problems [36].

Similar findings were derived in another study, but this one was done on animal subjects [37].

Inhalation of sweet orange oil is indeed a safe and effective way to boost comfort and reduce stress among pregnancy women.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of sweet orange oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour oil in a diffuser.
  • Use the diffuser to emit aroma in the room.
  • Do this remedy three times a week.

Many essential oils are deemed safe for use during pregnancy.

However, certain oils can cause contractions, abnormal fetal development and other problems. Avoid using clove, rosemary, basil, cinnamon, citronella, rose, juniper, sage, clary sage, jasmine, thyme, and cumin.

To be on the safe side, consult your doctor first before using any of the remedies mentioned above.

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