Your Mini Cart

Using Essential Oils Safety During Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & Around Newborns

Using Essential Oils Safety During Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & Around Newborns

With much gratitude to Gillian Parkinson - Clinical Aromascience Practitioner (NZQA, IFPA, ITEC) at Le’Esscience

Essential oil overview

Essential oils are a complimentary health product.

An essential oil is a concentrated volatile liquid extracted from plants – it is the chemical from the plant. Each essential oil has many chemical constituents and it’s that chemical profile that tells us the expected therapeutic nature of the oil. They can be an effective method to assist in relieving symptoms for non-life threatening health conditions to be used when there is a need or a purpose.
Essential oils can be incredibly effective (if used safely) but must be highly respected as they are still a concentrated form of a chemical (despite being natural).

Safety is vital when using essential oils, especially with babies & children, chronic or acute health conditions including but not limited to, heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, during pregnancy, after recent surgery, while taking regular medications.

It has been scientifically proven (by Dr Steve Humphries, Hebe Botanicals, lecturer at Massey University, NZ) that once applied topically, the properties of essential oils will be in your blood stream within two minutes and in your central nervous system within 15. They enter our hair follicles and pores. Essential oils have a cumulative effect, which, for when treating a non-life threatening medical condition, this is extremely useful for when the condition is chronic (long term).

Incorrect use such as undiluted use, internal use, overuse, incorrect species use for age ranges, incorrect dilutions for age ranges, these high risk methods can cause adverse reactions which can lead to a lifetime of sensitisation to essential oils. Taking essential oils internally can cause damage to the inside of the mouth, throat and more.

The best practice standards and code of ethics of the qualified community worldwide, is topical application (correctly diluted) or via various inhalation methods.

The qualified community do not support any type of internal use (via water, other beverages, foods, raw or cooked, capsules), undiluted use, overuse, diffusing in public places, schools, kindergartens, early childhood centres.

Using essential oils during pregnancy

Essential oils must always be diluted in a plant based carrier oil (when applying to the skin) such as extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed, apricot kernel etc.

In my professional opinion as a qualified clinical aromascientist practitioner, my advice would be to only use essential oils during pregnancy, under the guidance of a certified, qualified essential oil practitioner.

It is recommended to avoid all essential oils in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Essential oil quick dilution guide for blending during pregnancy

2% Dilution – Healthy adult, longer term treatments, this includes during pregnancy  
3%+ Dilution - Suitable only for acute, short term and for a small area, this includes during pregnancy only for specific requirements such as joint pain, sprains, strains and under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is vital not to exceed the recommended dilution. Over exposure/over use, incorrect use will lead to adverse reactions such as:

  • headaches & migraines

  • watery eyes

  • respiratory problems

  • irritability

  • gut or IBS type symptoms

  • seizures

  • unexplained skin rashes (that can appear anywhere on the body)

  • redness

  • itching

  • burning/and or pain

  • hives (tiny blisters)

These adverse reactions can happen at any age range, it is vital that you are mindful of what you are using and what is being used around you during pregnancy.

If you enter a public area where someone is using a diffuser, it is best you leave immediately or if you can’t, request they turn it off while you are there. You don’t know what essential oils they are using or the dosage.


What should you do if you do have an adverse reaction?


Essential oils have a cumulative effect (so they build up in the body, this is a fact!) and depending on how long you have been using them, it can take 1-3 weeks to be out of your system. A minor rash can be treated by applying extra virgin olive oil, but anything more from the list above, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

During pregnancy, seek medical advice straight away.

“We must realise that self-treatment, although has its place, also has it’s limitations. Do treat yourself for simple common ailments, but for any long-term, or deep-seated problem, seek professional advice from a certified qualified Aromatherapist/Aromascience Practitioner”


Essential oils considered safe during pregnancy

There is a limit to what essential oils are safe to use on babies and children – here is a list of essential oils suitable during pregnancy (after 3 months gestation):

From 3 months gestation to birth:

  • Roman & German Chamomile

  • Lavender (species lavendula angustifolia)

  • Citrus oils such as Orange, Tangerine, Mandarin, Petitgrain, Bergamot, Lime Lemon

  • Spearmint

  • Ginger

  • Vetiver, Geranium

  • Rose Geranium

  • Black Pepper

  • Ho Wood

  • Cypress

  • Eucalyptus (species globulus and radiata)

  • Frankincense

  • Marjoram Sweet

  • Neroli

  • Rose Otto

  • Sandalwood

  • Patchouli

  • Tea Tree

  • Ylang Ylang

  • Manuka

  • Rosalina

  • Fragonia

  • Mahuhu

Essential oils, used safely (as directed by the best practice methods and code of ethics adhered to by the qualified essential oil community) can be very useful during pregnancy to assist with conditions such as aches & pains, insomnia, indigestion, stretchmark prevention and healing, skin conditions, stress & anxiety and morning sickness – again any treatments for these conditions can commence after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

To assist with headaches, migraines & muscle tightness, massage is highly recommended.

These are the ONLY essential oils considered suitable during pregnancy and must ONLY be used for a need, for a purpose and strongly advise, under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.

NEVER apply essential oils undiluted, under any circumstances.

NEVER add to food or beverages. If breast feeding and you are ingesting essential oils, cease immediately for not just your babies benefit, yours too.


Essential oils can be safely diffused into the air using the ultrasonic diffusers or any other type of diffuser.

It is healthiest to only diffuse essential oils 60 minutes with a 60-minute break, thenrepeat if necessary, for adults
This is not only safer, but it is also more effective as both our bodies and our nervous system habituate to essential oils after this period of time. It is also advisable to allow a source of fresh air into the room/s where diffusion is being carried out.

Diffuse essential oils when there is a need, for a purpose. Overuse can lead to adverse reactions.

It is not safe to diffuse essential oils in public places, such as early childhood centres, schools, waiting rooms etc.... There is a lot to consider when using essential oils, age, health conditions, pregnancy and people simply cannot gather that type of information for everyone they are diffusing around.

  • 1-2 drops for babies between 3 & 12 months          

  • 2-3 drops for babies 12 months to 6 yrs

  • 4 drops for children 6-12 years                                

  • 4-8 drops for 12 years +

NEVER diffuse essential oils around babies & children (for your needs) that are not on the list here.

The essential oils that are excluded is because their chemical constituents are too harsh and not suitable, for example, Basil, Peppermint, Oregano, Lemongrass, Cinnamon, Clove to name a few.

Bottles of essential oils that are not suitable for babies & children should be stored away from rooms that they frequent and always out of reach.


Never add undiluted essential oils to baths, this apply to adults, babies & children.

Add the drops to 20-50mls of liquid soap, mix and then add to the bath. Oil and water do not mix and this poses a high risk of the essential oils touching the skin and causing an adverse reaction.


  • 1-2 drops for babies 3 & 12 months                          

  • 2-3 drops for ages 12 months to 6 yrs

  • 4 drops for children 6-12 years                                

  • 4-8 drops for 12years +


Essential Oils should NOT be Ingested Orally

Do not ingest essential oils unless advised to do so by a practitioner who is qualified/licensed to prescribe essential oils in this way.

Taking essential oils orally engages many areas of risk that other modes do not.

Do not take essential oils either undiluted or in water, as there is a risk of mouth/stomach irritation. This can lead to adverse reactions and a possible lifetime of sensitisation.

For example, Lemon essential oil has therapeutic values, but it is also great when used as a household disinfectant in a soapy solution of water as it helps dissolve grease and grime due to its high limonene constituent. As such, orally taking Lemon essential oil poses a severe risk of irritating or damaging the mouth or stomach lining, long term (4 weeks plus) essential oils can affect the gallbladder, liver & kidneys.

All the positive benefits of essential oils can be gained without needing to ingest them as outlined in the points above.

This includes using in food & beverages. When aromatics are used in the food and beverage industry, they are typically deterpenated or rectified, they are not essential oils as we know it and for good reason. These methods are what makes them safe for human consumption in food and beverages. This is something many do not understand but it is important for anyone being told to put oils in their food or water.

Essential oils for labour and birth

NOTE - Essential oils should not be used in a birth pool or bath during birth as a new-born surfaces the water with their eyes open and therefore the essential oils could irritate their eyes or their new sensitive skin.


Clary Sage

This is by far the most popular essential oil to assist in relieving panic, promoting calm.

  • Simply inhale directly from the bottle during each contraction.

  • Stop when you are in the pushing stage as the adrenalin assists with the final stages of childbirth.

When Clary sage is blended in a correctly diluted topical treatment it may stimulate the release of oxytocin, therefore it is highly recommended for use during labour to help contractions to intensify and become more constructive.

Other essential oils that blend beautifully with Clary Sage are Geranium, Rose, Neroli, Jasmin, Bergamot & Lavender. But not all of these together, see a qualified practitioner to make the appropriate blend for you. The blend will be correctly diluted and ready for use, it is very beneficial to rub on the tummy and lower back once you are in established labour. It will assist in easing cramps as well it may promote contractions to intensify and become more constructive.

Diffusers during labour

Please follow the diffusing guidelines - only diffuse essential oils 60 minutes with a 60-minute break, then repeat if necessary.

  • If your midwife or any support people are pregnant, do not diffuse Clary Sage but be guided by the list that is suitable during pregnancy (above).

  • Stop the diffuser once you are in transition or sooner if your midwife thinks baby is close to being born.

  • Open a window to let some fresh air into the room.  

  • Remove any bottles of essential oils from the birthing room at this point too.

  • DO NOT apply ANY essential oils to the baby when it is born, this includes the umbilical cord.

Post Birth

Correctly blended essential oils may be useful post birth to assist in the the hormones balancing more gently, therefore lessening baby blues. Again, not all of these essential oils together, please ask a professional qualified essential oil practitioner to make this for you.

It may also assist ease cramps women experience for a few days post birth after 2nd and subsequent babies are born.

Essential oils suitable for this are

  • Roman Chamomile

  • Ylang Ylang

  • Clary Sage

  • Lavender

  • Geranium

  • Rose Geranium

  • Fragonia

  • Jasmine


Essential oils may also be useful in assisting the healing of caesarean wounds and stretch marks. Please ask a qualified essential oil practitioner to make these products for you.

Essential oils to AVOID during pregnancy

Do not use these essential oils when pregnant or with babies & children under the age of 2. The essential oils marked with an * must NOT be used around babies & children under the age of 13.

  • Aniseed*

  • Star Anise*

  • Basil*

  • Birch & Sweet Birch* (these are very hazardous and toxic essential oils and should not be used by the general public unless under the guidance of a qualified essential oil practitioner)

  • Camphor*

  • Clove*

  • Cinnamon*

  • Cumin

  • Fennel*

  • Hyssop*

  • Juniper

  • Oregano*

  • Peppermint (ok in low doses for 6 years plus)

  • Rosemary

  • Sage*

  • Tansy*

  • Tarragon*

  • Thyme

  • Wintergreen* (this is a very hazardous and toxic essential oil and should not be used by the general public unless under the guidance of a qualified essential oil practitioner)

Breastfeeding and newborns

If using essential oils and you have a new born (0-3 months) in the house, do not diffuse essential oils while they are in the room and only diffuse what is suitable for the age range contained in this document here.

For babies aged between 0 & 3 months, the only essential oils suitable are Roman Chamomile, Mandarin and Lavender (species lavendula angustifolia).

Please see Using essential oils safety with babies & children” for guidance on how and dosage

If you are applying a correctly diluted topical blend, it is best to apply after baby has been fed and isn’t immediately close to your body, or at least 2 hours before you feed again.

DO NOT ever apply essential oils to your breasts and then feed baby, babies & children’s body systems are immature, their sense of smell much more acute than adults and cannot handle the aroma’s so close to their faces.

Remove any essential oil bottles from the room you are breastfeeding in, remembering babies skin absorb products much faster than adults, their sense of smell is more acute, their central nervous system, lungs, kidneys and liver are immature and simply cannot process essential oils the way older children and adults do, and can become quickly overwhelmed.

Babies can show adverse reactions such as irritability, restlessness, gastric problems, watery eyes, seizures, redness, hives (tiny blisters), itching, burning /and or pain, respiratory problems, unexplained rashes.


Further safety information

NEVER consume food, beverages, ice blocks, confectionary, snacks, raw food etc containing essential oils – adverse reactions are inevitable especially if they are also being treated topically and via diffusers.

Essential oils are NOT a safe food additive. There is zero benefit to using them this way; they do not contain vitamins, minerals or nutrients.

Please remember, essential oils are a medicine, a complementary health product. Essential oils are a highly concentrated chemical, natural yes, but still a chemical – natural means natural, natural does not necessarily mean safe.

ONLY EVER use essential oils when there is a need, a purpose, NOT just because its ‘nice’.

“Every substance is a potion or a poison depending on the dose and how it is used”


Please see our range of Essential Oil blends created for us by Le'Esscience here