aromatherapy and pregnancy massageThe addition of essential oils into a pregnancy-massage session can help alleviate a host of conditions a client may present with, and result in a more powerful massage experience. Shown here are common issues your pregnant client may experience, along with the recommendation of an essential oil blend for each condition.

Massage therapists should never use more than a 1-percent dilution, or five to six drops of essential oil, to 1 ounce of carrier oil. Undiluted essential oils should never be used on pregnant clients.


Swollen Ankles

Diuretic essential oils can help stimulate lymphatic drainage and reduce fluid from a pregnant client’s ankles. In 1 ounce of unscented massage oil, add five to six drops total of any of these essential oils: lemon, cypress, geranium, juniper berry and lavender. Rub into the ankle and foot using a gentle upward motion.


peppermint essential oil

Morning Sickness and Nausea

Peppermint usually alleviates nausea; just inhaling it can be very effective. Give the client a tissue with one drop of peppermint essential oil and have her inhale from the tissue if she feels nauseous during her session. You can also add a drop of peppermint oil to a tablespoon of massage oil and rub it into her feet.



In 1 ounce of unscented lotion or oil, add two drops of lavender, one drop of peppermint and one drop of frankincense. Apply a dab to the client’s temples and massage in gentle circles.


Nasal Congestion

This is another condition that can be easily addressed by simply inhaling the aroma of essential oil. Add one drop of eucalyptus, peppermint or spearmint to a tissue and ask the client to inhale, to help open her sinus passages.


lemon oil

Varicose Veins


Varicose veins during pregnancy result from an increase of progesterone, which causes the muscular walls of the veins to relax. They can make legs ache, swell and itch. Cooling, astringent essential oils offer relief. In 1 ounce of unscented lotion, add a total of five to six drops of any of the following: lemon, cypress or geranium. You might also put a cool compress soaked in essential oils over her legs during massage. Never massage directly over varicose veins.


Low-Back Pain

Back pain can occur at any stage of pregnancy, but is usually at its worst in the last trimester when it is felt in the lower back. Warming, analgesic essential oils help with both pain and stress. In 1 ounce of massage oil, add three drops of lavender and three drops of Roman chamomile. Massage the lower back and abdomen where the weight of the baby is predominantly felt.


Stretch-Mark Prevention

To help prevent stretch marks during your client’s pregnancy, add five drops of helichrysum essential oil in 1 ounce of jojoba wax and massage over the abdomen, hips and thighs.



Emotional Well-Being

A first-time mother-to-be might find herself anxious about her pregnancy. You can help her feel safe and relaxed with gentle strokes and essential oils that calm the central nervous system. Here are 10 essential oils that are relaxing and considered safe to use topically in low dilutions during pregnancy, and are supportive of overall well-being:

  • Bergamot, grapefruit, lemon and orange. Citrus oils are wonderful for lifting spirits and creating a feeling of happiness. Your client should avoid direct sunlight on skin for 12 hours after a massage with these oils, as all of them except sweet orange are phototoxic.
  • Lavender. The calming properties of lavender are well-known. This oil will help a pregnant client feel relaxed and balanced.
  • Neroli. This oil can assist with pain relief and anxiety, and helps promote skin-cell regeneration.
  • Patchouli. Grounding and relaxing, this oil also benefits skin.
  • Sandalwood. A natural sedative and antidepressant that helps with sleep.
  • Vetiver. Like sandalwood and patchouli, this earthy root oil is grounding and sedative, and will help ease feelings of overwhelm and stress.
  • Ylang ylang. May reduce blood pressure and ease feelings of anxiety.


Essential Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy

These essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy because of their toxicity and potentially harmful effects:

• Blue artemisia
• Camphor
• Hyssop
• Mugwort
• Parsley seed or leaf
• Pennyroyal
• Rue
• Sage
• Savin
• Sassafras
• Spanish sage
• Tansy

Further Training in Aromatherapy for Pregnancy Massage

If you want to expand your use of essential oils beyond what is offered in this article, consult a trained aromatherapy professional. If you are considering adding aromatherapy to your massage practice, especially with pregnant clientele, I highly recommend you attend a professional aromatherapy certification program offered by a school approved by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy or the Alliance of International Aromatherapists.


Liz FulcherAbout the Author

Liz Fulcher is a clinical aromatherapist and essential oil educator with 23 years of experience working with essential oils. She owns the Aromatic Wisdom Institute in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where she teaches a 235-hour aromatherapy certification program, as well as other essential oil training programs.