Essential oils: which ones to use during pregnancy?

What is an essential oil (EO)?

Essential oils have been on the rise over the last century: many people rely on aromatherapy and the natural powers of plants to improve a situation. strengthen their health, even fight against the small wounds of everyday life. The arrival of a child marks a little more time: the desire for it more natural products occurs in many pregnant women. But what is an essential oil? an oil? An alcohol from a plant? Nothing of the same.

“An essential oil is simple a volatile odor component of plants, which is obtained by distillation or pressing (in the case of citrus fruits). Each essential oil is unique: it has its own smell and its specific properties,” says Françoise Couic-Marinier, doctor of pharmacy specializing in aromatherapy and author with Rachel Frély, journalist, of LEssential oils for pregnant women (Solar). This highly concentrated essence obtained in this way contains many plant-specific active ingredients.

Why do we say that essential oils are forbidden during pregnancy?

The sentence is not correct: There is no law prohibiting essential oils for pregnant women in France, however a principle of prevention. “No scientific studies have been carried out on pregnant women to demonstrate a dangerous effect of essential oils (like many therapeutics)”, specifies the specialist, “it is therefore a measure of caution. We have exercised cautionWe do not give essential oil (except lemon, see below). before the 3rd month of pregnancy, because we know that the placenta is very permeable at this point. As a precaution, we avoid endangering the fetus.

So there is no ban, however recommendationssuch as that of the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Protection and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) since 2019 (sources 1 and 2). “not recommended” for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as a precautionary principle. However, there are many essential oils accessible to pregnant women, to the breastfeeding mother or even to the baby if you are interested in the subject. And others are to be avoided at all costs because their molecules are dangerous. “You can also opt for distilled water, also called aromatic hydrolates, which are softer than essential oils,” the pro recalls.

Mint, rosemary, spike lavender… Which essential oils should you avoid using during pregnancy?

However, given the range of essential oils on the market, there are some things that pregnant women should avoid knowing about detrimental force on pregnancy. These are also well-known products and often present in homes (like spike lavender), so be careful:

  • all oils before the 4th month of pregnancy (except Lemon EO);
  • contain essential oils you menthol : field mint, peppermint.
  • contain essential oils Fighter : aspic lavender, camphor, lavandin, rosemary, etc.
  • contain essential oils from1,8-cineol or eucalyptol : Eucalyptus Globuleux, Radié, Ravintsara, Niaouli, etc.
  • contain essential oils ketones (Names ending in “one”).

“These molecules have been known for a long time be abortifacientthey are therefore totally contraindicated for pregnant women,” stresses Françoise Couic-Marinier.

The case of peppermint: an abortive essential oil?

Peppermint essential oil is often mentioned in recent studies to relieve nausea by inhalation, during pregnancy. For the doctor of pharmacy, this is anything but sensible advice: “The presence of menthol, menthone and other ketones in its composition can cause miscarriages in pregnant women and epileptic seizures in the embryo.” Better to do without it.

What Essential Oils Can Pregnant Women Use?

However, good news is that if you are a fan of natural remedies, there are essential oils that can actually help you during your pregnancy. “These are the ones whose molecules we were able to examine and which turn out to be such safe for pregnant women“And there are some you can count on.

  • volatile oil lemonthe only essential oil approved in the first trimester.
  • Essential Oils citrus fruits : sweet orange, tangerine, bergamot.
  • The little grains : Bigarade, tangerine, clementine, neroli.
  • chamomile Quality Romans.
  • The rose geranium.
  • Lavender officinale.
  • Vanilla.
  • Hey wood.
  • Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • Damascus rose.
  • Ylang Ylang.

Aromatic hydrolates as an alternative

Would you like to trust plants, but have reservations about essential oils during pregnancy? turn around to distilled water to spoil you. “The aromatic hydrosol is considered a gentle, body-compatible product with no drug interactions,” says Françoise Couic Marinier. It is characterized by a high water content (almost 98%) and can be used pure or diluted.

The use of essential oils, even if they are harmless, complies with rules that are all the more important when used by pregnant women.


With the exception of essential lemon oil, no essential oils should be ingested not verbally during pregnancy.

By olfactory route (through diffusion, through inhalation)

The diffusion, also called nebulization, of an HE at its place of residence is only possible for certain essential oils thanks to a simple diffuser : citrus zest, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, geranium.

By massage, diluted in vegetable oil

EOs are never applied directly to the skin, but the dermal route is possible if the EO in it is diluted a neutral vegetable oil (Rose oil, hazelnut oil…), for example during a massage, to avoid a too rapid passage in the blood. concentration should not Do not exceed 30 to 60 drops per 100 ml of vegetable oil.


The essential oils approved for pregnant women also work for rectal vision via suppositories, but ask in this case a pharmacy preparation by an aromatherapist.

Precautions for pregnant women

In order to get the most out of essential oils, let’s remember some preventive rules and contraindications for pregnant women to avoid abuse:

  • No essential oil in the first trimester (except Lemon HE)
  • No sun exposure within 3 to 6 hours after applying lemon or citrus essential oils, which are photosensitizing.
  • No use of essential oils with drug treatment to avoid interactions.
  • Never massage on the stomach– even unless it targets the baby’s hiccups.

What Are The 5 Best Essential Oils To Help Pregnant Women?

Everyone can put together an “ideal set” to counteract the little aches and pains of pregnancy. For the doctor of pharmacy, it would contain 5 essential oils.

Green Tangerine EO for better sleep

Thanks to Green Mandarin Essential Oil, just one drop is enough to help you sleep better. One drop per day on the pillow, on the side not touching the skin, for several weeks. Green tangerine EO can too Calm the baby in the womb for hiccups by massaging 1 drop in 4 drops of hazelnut oil (attention, tangerine HE is the only one that can be applied to the abdomen)

Lemon EO, against nausea

Morning sickness or not, a drop of lemon essential oil placed directly on a dumpling can provide relief. Renew up to twice during the day.

Rose geranium essential oil for stretch marks

To soften the skin and prevent stretch marks and sagging skin, add 30 drops HE of pink geraniumin 100 ml body milk organic and hypoallergenic Apply as a body massage after showering.

Lemon eucalyptus essential oil for back pain

For back or pelvic pain: Mix 3 drops in 10 ml of Calophylle-Inophylle vegetable oil, massage in 3 times a day if necessary, for a maximum of 1 week. If the pain persists, it is better to see a doctor.

Roman Chamomile EO for heartburn and childbirth

A drop for massaging on the solar plexus at the end of the meal helps against heartburn. A habit that can be repeated twice a day. Contact if symptoms do not persist. But chamomile EO can also help you stay calm fear of childbirth.

Which essential oils to use during childbirth?

To prepare for childbirth and in particular avoid an anxiety episode which the woman can ambush just before the birth of her child, it is possible to use a relaxing mixture:

15 drops of Green Tangerine EO (relaxing, calming) combined with 15 drops of Lavender or True Lavender (anxiety-relieving) on ​​an inhaler to breathe up to 6 times a day to reduce anxiety related to childbirth.

What are the best hydrolates (HA) for pregnant women?

Distilled water and hydrosols are a gentler alternative, but just as interesting for pregnant women: a tablespoon in a liter of water drunk during the day is enough for a beneficial effect.

Chamomile hydrolate against nervousness

It allowssoothe the skin, nervousness of the future mother, as a spray and in use: It is indicated for a nervous pregnant woman who is afraid of the pregnancy and the birth of the baby. It is also useful in pregnant women who are suffering skin problems, Chamomile HA soothes redness and relieves allergic reactions.

Italian helichrysum hydrolate for the skin

This hydrolate is Anti-rosacea and stretch marks. It is applied directly to the skin as a spray.

Hamamelis hydrolate for heavy legs

As a spray, it calms the feeling of heavy legs that often occurs at the end of pregnancy.

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