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