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Since essential oils (the oils that give plants their distinctive smells) are the key ingredients in aromatherapy treatments and products, experts recommend not using them in the first trimester. Essential oils 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.

"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. Oils to be avoided include cinnamon, clove, rosemary and clary sage, all of which can cause contractions.

Essential oils safe for pregnancy (second and third trimesters)

- 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

Essential oils to avoid in pregnancy (partial list)

- Aniseed - Angelica - Arnica (homeopathic is fine) - Basil - Birch (sweet) - Bitter almond - Black pepper - Boldo leaf - Broom - Buchu - Calamus - Camphor (brown or yellow) - Cassia - Cedarwood/thuja - Chamomile - Chervil - Cinnamon - Clary sage (often used during labor by midwives safely) - Clove (bud, leaf or stem) - Coriander - Costus - Deertongue - Elecampane - Fennel - Fir - Ginger - Horseradish - Hyssop - Jasmine - Jaborandi leaf - Juniper berry - Marjoram - Melilotus - Mugwort - Mustard - Myrrh - Nutmeg - Oregano - Origanum - Parsley (large doses) - Pennyroyal - Pine (dwarf) - Peppermint - Rosemary - Rue - Sage - Sassafras - Savin - Savory (summer) - Tansy - Thyme - Thyme red (large doses) - Tonka - Wintergreen - Wormwood

Essential Oils are Highly Concentrated

Did you know that it takes:

  • 256 pounds of peppermint leaf to make one pound of peppermint essential oil
  • 150 pounds or more of lavender flowers to make one pound of lavender essential oil
  • Thousands of pounds of roses to make 1 pound of rose essential oil

Essential Oils contain very concentrated properties of the herb or plant they are derived from. A very small amount of EOs often has the qualities of many cups of herbal tea from the same plant. For instance, one drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 26-28 cups of peppermint tea. This isn’t to say essential oils should not be used, but they should be used carefully, with proper education and in safe amounts. If you wouldn’t ingest dozens of cups of an herbal tea, you should probably think twice before consuming the equivalent amount of essential oils.

We would personally recommend checking with a doctor or midwife before taking an essential oils during pregnancy.

Peppermint essential oil may decrease milk supply while nursing, and as such, please avoid it topically while nursing.

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