Our Favourite Essential Oils for Labour!
Essential oils can be a powerful tool to help bring comfort during labour. Some birth givers love to have soothing scents while others can find it to be overwhelming. For some, the senses can be heightened while labouring. It is always a good idea to gently test to see if essential oils are tolerable, and enjoyable, by allowing the birth giver to sniff the opened oil prior to using.
The method used to enjoy essential oils will depend on the birth givers preference as well as where they are labouring. Diffusing calming essential oils can help to create a soothing atmosphere while labouring at home. While labouring in the hospital, where the use of scented products is generally prohibited, a convenient way to use essential oils is to place a drop on a cotton swab for the birth giver to sniff to bring a sense of calm.
Massage is another great way to use essential oils during birth! If the birth giver enjoys touch as a comfort measure, try adding a few drops of one or two essential oils to a carrier oil, such as jojoba or fractionated coconut oil. If using more than one oil keep the blend simple and intentional. This blend can be used to provide soothing touch and massage to the person in labour.
Often the essential oils we gravitate towards for use in labour will be ones that bring relaxation or are emotionally uplifting. Following are some oil suggestions.
Peppermint is best known to help ease nausea and headaches, both of which can arise during labour. On an emotional level, peppermint can aid mental exhaustion and racing thoughts.
A helpful tip: a few drops of peppermint into the toilet can help to stimulate the flow of urine. This can help with that first after birth pee.
*It is important to note that peppermint essential oil is best not used in the postpartum time as it can interfere with milk production.
Lavender can be a good oil for use in birth (depending upon the birth givers preferences on aroma). It is most known for bringing a sense of relaxation ,but it can go much deeper to calm emotional extremes, which can be helpful as one rides the waves of birth. It is also balancing for higher and lower chakras, supporting the birth giver to enter a trance state or "labourland". Lavender is also believed to ease labour pains and aids in childbirth.
Lime essential oil is great to have on hand as it (and other citrus essential oils) blends nicely with lavender, creating a softer aromatic profile. For its beneficial properties, lime uplifts and refreshes the tired mind, aids nervousness and anxiety, and can help to ease exhaustion.
Lemon is another cheerful mood brightener that also promotes spiritual and psychic awareness as well as aiding concentration.
Neroli is beautiful essential oil that benefits the emotional landscape of labour. It can work to calm the sympathetic nervous system; instilling a sense of calm and peace. Neroli is thought to help connect us to our higher selves which can be supportive for the transformative experience of birth.
As doulas we will sometimes will use clary sage essential oil (one drop in a carrier oil) combined with acupressure (Spleen 6) in hopes to encourage a strengthening in contractions, and a pick up in momentum for labour. This one is best to speak to your care provider (Midwife or doctor) about.
This is really just a small snapshot of the essential oils one could use during labour. If you choose to invite aromatherapy into your birth, keep things intentional and simple.
If you have any questions or would like to know more, please reach out and connect with us. If you have used essential oils within your birth we would love to hear about it!
This blog post was written by Ottawa Doula, Michele Appleby Clarida. Michele is a certified Aromatherapist, certified Reflexologist, Reiki Practitioner, and Certified Birth Doula. Michele is honoured to be serving Ottawa and the surrounding areas to have supportive birth and postpartum experiences.