Updated: Jan 27, 2021
We love essential oils. Not only do they make the house smell amazing, but they also come with a host of benefits that can be useful during pregnancy and labour.
Certain essential oils can provide relief from pregnancy symptoms, like nausea, swelling, pain and fatigue while also helping to reduce anxiety levels, stress and aid digestion.
By far the safest way to use essential oils during pregnancy is through aromatherapy (posh word for sniffing) and a diffuser that gently heats the oil, is the best way to get those scent molecules mingling.
During labour a simple sniff of oil when you arrive at the hospital and a gentle aromatherapy back massage in the early stages can help to bring a sense of calm and relaxation (necessary to get labour going full pelt) or simply distract from the ‘hospital smell’.
Remember though that essential oils are potent and not suitable for putting directly on your salad or your skin – so no swigging oil from the bottle or rubbing it neat all over yourself.
If you want to enjoy an aromatherapy massage, mix a few drops of your chosen oil to a carrier oil such as almond or coconut oil and get rubbing.
Don't forget, that some essential oils should not be used in pregnancy. Oils such as cinnamon, clove, rosemary, clary sage and jasmine can all cause uterine contractions and unless you’re over 37 weeks pregnant, you really don’t want these!
However, they can all be useful during a term labour (37 weeks and over) to increase the effectiveness of the contractions, or to help bring them on if they’ve slowed down for some reason.
To make things easy, safe and divinely smelling for you, we have designed a handy aromatherapy pack for you to take when you go into labour.
It even comes with a cool carabiner so you can clip that bad boy right onto your maternity belt.
In our aromatherapy pack we have included:
Peppermint Oil (mentha piperita) Known for mental stimulation, focus and fresh perspective, peppermint has also been known to reduce nausea and vomiting, mental and physical fatigue, palpitations and fear. It can also reduce breast milk production, so it is best not to use it after giving birth if you are planning to breastfeed.
Lavender Oil (Lavandula angustifolia) This is such a calming oil and known around the world for its relaxing effects. It has a whole load of other properties including helping with the discomfort of contractions, but is mainly known for reducing anxiety and stress. It’s therefore the queen of oils for use during both pregnancy and labour.
Spearmint Oil (Mentha Spicata) This oil has similar properties to the peppermint oil but is a little bit milder. Again, it is useful for reducing stress and anxiety, aids digestion and reduces nausea.
Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea) Known to promote uterine activity, Clary sage is great for use in labour, with moderation. It can help with concentration and focus and reduce anxiety and confusion (great for the postnatal period then!)
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) This oil is a great stress reliever that allows the body to labour without any added anxiety. It has also been said to have pain relieving properties and can help to quieten mental chatter during labour.
Mandarin Oil (Citrus reticulata) Can help with digestion and maintaining a level of calm and relaxation. It has also been known to reduce muscle spasms, constipation and anxiety.
How to use:
Enjoy in the bath: Use up to a maximum of 6 drops of oil in a warm soothing bath. Mix the oil with an emulsifier (e.g. hand soap or unscented shampoo) so that the oils blend throughout the bath rather than sitting on the top of the water.
Use with a flannel: Use a sponge or flannel dipped into warm or cold water with a few drops of oil of your choice, this can refresh the body and spirit when needed.
Diffuser: Use in your labour room or at home for a relaxed and calm atmosphere.
Spritzer: Dilute the oils with rose or lavender water and spray directly on skin or in the air around you to refresh and rejuvenate.
Massage: Use slow rhythmic massage to encourage long slow breathing during labour. Down strokes are used to encourage calm, up strokes energise and lift.
NB. Please avoid any use of Clary sage before 37 weeks as this can bring on contractions!
The benefits of essential oils are that they provide physical, mental and emotional support to labouring women with no synthetic properties, making them a safe option for both mother and baby.
Essential oils have benefits beyond pregnancy and can be used for just about anything on just about anyone, so don’t worry about your oils going to waste.
Buy our PEP Midwives aromatherapy pack here.
Did you use aromatherapy during your labour? We'd love to hear your experiences!