What are the benefits of Essential Oils during Pregnancy & Birth

What are Essential Oils


Essential oils are extracts from trees, plants, leaves, flowers.  They are very concentrated and have powerful therapeutic properties.


How to use Essential Oils


Oil burner or diffuser – Put a few drops of each oil you want to use into water and then onto the oil burner, or diffuser.  This works by releasing the particles of the oil into the room to be inhaled, and absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the lungs.  We may also associate the wonderful smell (aroma – therapy) with feelings of calm and tranquillity.


Massage oil – Mix a few drops of each oil you would like to use into your favourite base oil (Coconut, almond, sunflower, olive…) You or your partner can use this to massage any part of your body.  Anything you put onto your skin is absorbed directly into your blood stream within 30 seconds so it is advisable to use only organic (chemical free) oils for this purpose.


In a Bath or Birth Pool – Simply drop a few drops of the oils you wish to use directly into the bath water.  Some people recommend mixing with milk first, however we do not find this necessary.  Using in this way throughout pregnancy you are setting up powerful triggers connecting the smell of these oils to a relaxed, calm, safe feelings.    Why not go a step further and light some candles, put on your favourite relaxation music, and sprinkle rose petals into the water.


Relaxation during pregnancy promotes better development for baby, and the calm hormones you release prime baby’s brain to be calmer and more settled after birth – win, win!


You can then use the oils to promote these feelings during labour – meaning labour will be more comfortable and progress faster.


Roller Balls – Making up an oil or blend into a roller ball means you can apply directly to pressure points such as wrists, temples, back of the neck and can be a very useful tool for managing symptoms during pregnancy without the need for drugs – such as nausea, migraines, tiredness, anxiety, low moods.


Where to try & buy


There are many places to source your oils both online and face to face.  Just be sure they are a reputable company as there is no legislation to protect you.  Many companies selling cheaper oils will use synthetic and chemical fragrances, and there is little trace of the essential oil, and so benefits are negated, and possible risks introduced.  My favourite companies are Neal’s Yard, and DoTerra.


You can order Neal’s Yard oils and other products directly from me or visit my Neal’s Yard Shop Here


Emma's Antenatal Pregnancy Classes

During my pregnancy yoga, and couples antenatal classes you will have the opportunity to try out many of these oils and make yourself a room spray, massage oil or roller ball.  You may find this is all you want to use throughout pregnancy, labour and birth.  Or you may find buying in your own oils or blends a new therapuetic part if your self care rituals.  OIls are also safe to use in very low dilutions with babies.


Recommended Oils for Pregnancy


Listed below are some of the benefits and therapeutic effects of the essential oils recommended for use during pregnancy:



Analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, uplifting, and refreshing. Helpful for cystitis during pregnancy.


Antiseptic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. Soothes pain from muscular aches, headaches, toothaches and indigestion.


(OK after 5 months)

Antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent and diuretic. Helpful for varicose veins, hemorrhoids and swollen ankles.


Antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral. Helpful with respiratory congestion.


Antiseptic, astringent, sedative, warming.


(OK after 3 months)

Antiseptic, antidepressant, astringent, refreshing, uplifting. Eases aching legs and is good for poor circulation.


Astringent, digestive aid, lymphatic stimulant. Helps with water retention.


Antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic, antidepressant, healing, relaxing. Helps soothe aches and pains of pregnancy, encourages cell renewal and helps with fluid retention.


Antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, stimulant, tonic. Useful as an inhalant for morning sickness and in massage for varicose veins.


Antiseptic, refreshing, tonic, mild relaxant. Can ease fluid retention in leg and ankle massages.


Antiseptic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, relaxing. Useful in pregnancy to promote healthy skin cell regeneration and for easing nervous tension.


Antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, nerve sedative. Eases confusion, indecision and apathy.


Antiseptic, antidepressant, sedative, refreshing, tonic. Helpful in dealing with pre or postpartum depression.


Antiseptic, sedative.


Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, sedative. Helpful for cystitis during pregnancy.


Antispasmodic, lymphatic stimulant, calming, sedative. Helps to prevent stretch marks.

Tea Tree

Antibiotic, antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, disinfectant. Can be used to treat thrush during pregnancy.

Ylang Ylang

Antiseptic, antidepressant, aphrodisiac, sedative, lowers blood pressure. Restorative


when overworked or tense.


As always, use caution if you have allergies or a family history of allergies. If you think you may be allergic to an oil, do a patch test first.


 Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy






·  Basil

·  Cedarwood

·  Cinnamon

·  Clary sage (OK during labour)

·  Clove

·  Cypress (OK after 5 months)



·  Fennel

·  Hyssop

·  Jasmine (OK during labour)

·  Juniper

·  Lemongrass

·  Myrrh

·  Parsley


·  Pennyroyal

·  Peppermint

·  Rosemary

·  Sweet marjoram

·  Thyme



*Note: Since it would be highly unethical to test on pregnant women, the list of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy is based on knowledge of the general properties of each essential oil.


 For obvious reasons, during pregnancy it is recommended to avoid essential oils which are known to thin the blood or cause cramping or contractions. Used under proper dilution, most of these oils should not cause any problems during a healthy pregnancy, but it is always best to err on the side of caution.


If you have been using any of these but are not experiencing any bleeding or cramping, then there most likely is nothing wrong. However, we strongly encourage you to consult your doctor or midwife and discontinue use of the "to be avoided" essential oils.


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Emma Gleave



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