Aromatherapy in pregnancy - are essential oils safe?

The use of essential oils in maternity care

Pregnancy is a special moment in a woman’s life that can be supported by massage and aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy provides stress and anxiety reducing benefits from preconception, through the antenatal period and into the postnatal period offering immense support and benefit to the mother in terms of promoting a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child.

Reducing stress, relieving aches and discomforts, easing up anxiety, fears and negative emotions and reducing the impact of ‘baby blues’ or preventing depression in post-natal care are some of the benefits.

Aromatherapy provides us with natural remedies for morning sickness and other pregnancy discomforts such as swollen legs and feet, constipation, hemorrhoids, breast problems, c-section scar and it is remarkable in preparing your body for birth with perineum massage oils and in healing the area after delivery.

This article goes on to discuss:
How can essential oils assist you in pregnancy?
Preconception and antenatal care
Are essential oils safe?
How to use essential oils safely in pregnancy
Pregnancy and postnatal symptoms and essential oil suggestions
How can essential oils assist you in pregnancy?

Aromatherapy excels in the domain of stress management and this is a main role of aromatherapy in maternity care. Reducing the mother’s anxiety levels will also have a positive impact on the baby. For reduction of anxiety and mood enhancement, inhalation of low doses of essential oils is the most effective method. The saying “less is more” applies here especially considering that the sense of smell during pregnancy becomes more acute. Sometimes it is enough to sniff the oil from a bottle or a nasal sniffer blend (which your aromatherapist can make for you) or only use 0.5/1% in a body oil (3/6 drops of essential oils in 30ml of vegetable oil).


Stress and anxiety reduction are fundamental in preconception as they are established factors for some women who have difficulty conceiving. The inclusion of stress management techniques such as aromatherapy (along with other lifestyle and nutrition measures) are increasing in preconception care, advice and support to optimize the chances of conception (Williams 2005). I find it beautiful that the ideal essential oils to use in preconception are those derived from plants that produce their volatiles primarily for the purpose of sexual reproduction! These essential oils are especially the floral ones such as Rose, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Neroli and lavender. Important to note that these essential oils are also some of the best choices for anxiety and stress management.

A pregnant woman goes through significant physiological and hormonal changes coupled with anticipation, fear and concern for the baby’s health. These factors often lead to peaks of anxiety at different stages in pregnancy and can be made worse by sleep disturbance and fatigue. The support that aromatherapy gives goes beyond providing pleasant smells; by helping reduce maternal stress it contributes to promoting positive health of both mother and child (Bastard & Tiran 2006).

Are essential oils safe?

There is a fair amount of confusion surrounding the debate about essential safety during pregnancy. Up to date, there have been no reported cases of serious problems arising from the use of essential oils in pregnancy (such as premature labour, spontaneous abortion, fetal abnormality, etc.) (Harris, R., Yates, S., 2010, p.219). Nowadays there is plenty of evidence that essential oils penetrate the body so a degree of caution is neces