Scent is powerful! The compounds comprised in each plant are also powerful! Using aromatherapy any time in life can help one to relax, center, let go of fear, find peace in anxious moments, feel balanced, and much more. All of these good feelings are in high demand during labor and birth!
Using aromatherapy during labor and birth is simple. Choose an oil that will meet your needs; place a drop on a cotton swab, and inhale. It's that simple! There are of course other ways to use aromatherapy. This method is by far one of the best for labor and birth. Why? Because it can quickly be discarded without any traces of the scent left lingering around if the chosen oil is no longer appealing, which commonly happens during labor.
Is Aromatherapy Safe?
Yes and no. Essential oils are powerful. They can provide a wealth of benefits or the complete opposite such as allergic reactions, over exposure resulting in poisoning, and sensitivities. There are not very many studies relating essential oil use with that of pregnancy, labor and birth. So we, the consumers, are left to search out what the wise and experienced herbalists and aromatherapists have to share.
Aromatherapy can be used very safely and effectively during labor and birth. Know what to do; do the research; consult with an herbalist and aromatherapist who specialize in pregnancy and labor, and consult with you obstetrician or midwife. One of my favorite sites for aromatherapy guidance for pregnancy and labor from over the years has been Stork Net. Their you will find more than one article and information about aromatherapy during pregnancy and labor, including their article on Creative Uses for Aromatherapy During Labor by Nancy Eggleston. They also have another article which lists some recipe blends!
Essential oils are not the only way to experience aromatherapy! Herbal oil infusions will provide an experience that is just as effective, wonderful, and beneficial. Susun Weed is a well known herbalist... author of the book Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year (next months blog is going to be all about herbs!). Susun Weed provides detailed instructions on how to make herbal oil infusions... Quite different from that of essential oils, but much safer! Instructions for making herbal oil infusions at home can be found here. Plan ahead! You'll need to let it sit for 6 weeks before it's ready.
Is Aromatherapy During Labor for You?
It really could be the difference between feeling stress and uncertainty during labor versus feeling calm and safe and ready. At the same token, labor and birth is a highly sensitive time. While some of us may enjoy aromatherapy in our daily life or even here or there, it may be the last thing we want during labor. How will you know? You'll know once labor begins! You'll know throughout your labor. Once you smell it, you'll know if it is right for you in that moment. If it's an option you would like to have, share this with your care providers, and pack them in your birth bag.
Keep in mind, that diffusing aromatherapy in any setting will affect all the people who are there with you. Obstetricians, midwives, nurses, and other members of your birth team may have allergies or sensitivities to some herbs. It's wise and thoughtful to share your plans with all who are with you making sure that your aromatherapy is not going to cause any ill effects to those caring for you.
Does it work?
From what I hear from clients and friends, it is a resounding "Yes!" Aromatherapy really does help us to feel calm, relaxed, safe, centered, balanced, and more! Feeling positive, safe, and secure during labor is exactly how we should feel and will often result in a calm, peaceful, and satisfying birth experience. Aromatherapy can be used for emotional and mental balance and clarity. Aromatherapy can be used to help alleviate pain during labor. Aromatherapy can be re-energizing and uplifting! Check out this amazing article in which aromatherapy is used during a planned cesarean birth!
Which Oil for What and Where to Find Them?
I love this little article written by Serenity Birth. It's short, simple, and informative! Below is also a list of essential oils that I have compiled over the years that may be beneficial during labor and birth.
Lavender - relaxing, pain relieving
Neroli - relaxing, uplifting, perfect for relieving anxiety
Geranium - relaxing, pain relieving, centering
Frankincense - relaxing, pain relieving, balancing, spiritual, sacred (*edited to add... I can't believe this beautiful oil slipped my mind!)
Clary Sage - relaxing, uterine stimulant
Jasmine - relaxing, uplifting, uterine stimulant
Spearmint - may help lessen nausea or vomiting, re-energizing
Citrus oils such as... Lemon, Grapefruit, Sweet Orange/Orange - may help with nausea or vomiting, re-energizing, (orange for focus)
Basil - helps ease/relieve "back labor", encouraging (great for transition)
There are many reputable essential oil companies out there like the well known Young Living and Doterra. Other fantastic companies are Mountain Rose Herbs, Native American Nutritionals, Rocky Mountain Oils, and Nature's Sunshine. Native American Nutritionals and Rocky Mountain Oils are my go to for learning about essential oil properties on the web. Their descriptions are thorough and complete!
So, is aromatherapy during labor for you? If you've used aromatherapy during labor, please share your experience in the comments!
~ Blessings and peace ~