Essential oils have become a popular choice for soon-to-be-mums during the labour and birthing process.
They are known to reduce stress, provide a calming atmosphere, and even help the time run a little bit smoother overall.
Aromatherapy can also be utilised during pregnancy itself, though some scents are preferred explicitly during the labour process due to their specific benefits as well as their different safety measures.
It is important to always consult with a medical professional - such as your midwife or doctor - before using essential oils for labour.
Do essential oils help in labour?
Certain essential oils are said to be incredibly useful during labour. They can help relax muscles, facilitate calm, ease nausea, reduce pain and even heal the skin.
Nonetheless, there are some oils that are not safe to be used at any point during your pregnancy, labour or delivery. These include:
Can essential oils induce labour?
While there are no essential oils that can explicitly induce labour, there are some that have been known to speed the process along once it has begun.
It is rumoured that clary sage has the most potent abilities in this regard, therefore it is generally advised not to use clary sage at all before your due date.
Finding essential oils for inducing labour is not recommended before consulting with your midwife of doctor.
How can I use essential oils for labour and birth?
Combining some essential oils with a soothing carrier oil - like jojoba or argan - can be really helpful with easing some of the unpleasant symptoms of labour and birth.
The mixture can be rubbed into pulse points, such as the wrists, behind the ears, and the temples, to help create a greater sense of relaxation and ease.
It can also be used to gently massage sore areas on the body. Be sure to always perform a patch test before applying essential oils onto your or your partner's skin.
Alternatively, if you would rather not utilise topical application, traditional inhalation is a great practise for uplifting spirits and maintaining relaxation.
Pack a diffuser in your hospital bag to help spread the aromas around the room, or add a few drops of oil to a cotton ball or handkerchief for intermittent inhalation as needed.
It's important to note that some scent preferences can change throughout pregnancy and during labour, so be sure to pack a variety of oils that you know you will enjoy on the day.
What are the best essential oils for labour and birth?
However you choose to use them, essential oils can carry numerous benefits for mothers-to-be and respective partners alike.
Some of the safest and most popular essential oils for labour include:
1. Lavender oil
The pleasant floral scent of lavender essential oil is a welcome companion for calming the stresses of labour.
Considered one of the most popular essential oils in aromatherapy, lavender oil is soothing yet gentle nature can help set the perfect backdrop for a smooth delivery.
Lavender can also be useful after birth to help with sleep and restlessness.
2. Peppermint oil
Peppermint essential oil is also a known stimulant, and can help energise the body during periods of fatigue as well as improve breath flow.
3. Geranium oil
Geranium essential oil is naturally gentle on the skin, so can be a great choice for a pre-delivery massage if you're struggling with muscular pain.
A study in 2015 also noted the use of geranium as a successful remedy for reducing stress and anxiety during the first stages of labour.
4. Mandarin oil
Like many other citrus oils of its kind, mandarin essential oil is great for uplifting spirits, reviving energy and reducing stress during labour.
It is also soft enough to be used topically without the risk of phototoxicity, and can work particularly well on inflamed areas of the body.
However, please note that mandarin essential oil is orange in colour and may stain clothing.
5. Clary sage oil
Whilst it's important to take caution on how and when to use clary sage essential oil for labour, there's a good reason it's called the "woman's oil".
A 2000 study assessed the effects of clary sage on over eight thousand women across a period of eight years, and confirmed its success at both relieving stress and reducing pain during labour.
It was also discovered that clary sage could help encourage regular contractions.
The process of labour can bring up a mix of emotions and unfamiliar circumstances, so it's always good to be prepared with whatever practices you choose to utilise on the day.
Remember to always consult with a medical professional before using essential oils in the delivery room, and be sure you're using scents that best compliment your emotions and preferences on the day.