Mothers-to-be usually prepare a labor bag to have during the birthing process. Whether you are having a natural birth or a cesarean (and have to spend a few days in the hospital), you should plan ahead and have it ready. It is always a good idea to include essential oils for labor and birth. Make sure to buy pure essential oils that haven’t been processed with synthetic additives. It is best if they are organic and from a reputable brand.
How to Use Essential Oils in Labor
Essential oils are plant compounds extracted by steam distillation or cold pressing. Throughout your pregnancy you can use different types of essential oils. Usually they are placed in a diffuser or absorbed by the skin. The problem of using a diffuser is that during labor a smell may not be appealing or you may like it at one moment and dislike it at the next. Once a smell is pumped into a room, it becomes difficult to remove. An alternative is placing essential oils for labor in a cotton ball which can easily be thrown away.
Ask your hospital if they allow the use of essential oils for labor, since some do not. If they do, the mother benefits, as well the rest of the people present including the doctor and nurses who are helping with the birth.
Sense of smell is heighten during labor, so it is best to have a variety of options this way you can customize your experience depending on how you react and feel in the moment. Some essential oils for labor may make you feel nauseous, while others will control nausea. Scents can trigger memories that we may not even recall. So you can test essential oils for labor before to make sure they don’t bring any bad memories.
Studies show that 80% of women go into labor with severe anxiety – I believe this is the fault of media and modern medicine, but it is starting to change – which increases pain. Essential oils for labor are quite effective in controlling anxiety and pain by triggering reactions in your brain and body that keep you calm and comfortable.
Vitamin E oil is also quite useful since it has no odor and can be used to massage the mother’s back, feet or hands while she is in labor. Massages can also be done using carrier oils like almond, coconut or jojoba mixed with an essential oil.
Which Essential Oils to Use in Labor?
You can use oils by themselves for their specific properties or purchase / elaborate blends. For example, a mix of peppermint, grapefruit and lavender gets an uplifting effect after delivery.
Citrus based essential oils in labor help lift the mood. Lemon in particular is quite effective with nausea and vomiting. This essential oil can be used throughout pregnancy. Citrus blossom oil, bergamot and red mandarin oil reduces anxiety and pain levels. Grapefruit and wild orange are used to boost energy.
Some brands sell mixes like Citrus Fresh from Young Living that can help with exhaustion during labor. Citrus oils can be sprayed in the room or used in a diffuser.
Some essential oils for labor should ONLY be used during labor and not during pregnancy, as is the case of clary sage which stimulates contractions. There are also herbs you can use to help with uterine contractions. Best if used for slow or dragging labor or starting a late labor. Do not use it with medications including epidurals and hormone drip or if having multiples. Traditionally this essential oil is used during menopause and to alleviate period pain. It can be applied topically on wrists, ankles and bellies (remember to dilute on a carrier oil).
Some essential oils in labor can help with relaxation including lavender. Relaxed women have quicker labors and delivery. There is a study done by the Tisserand Institute that shows that lavender essential oil helps with pain during labor. Participants inhaled this oil for three minutes at three different stages of labor, experiencing a significant drop when compared to the placebo group. Stop its use if labor is not progressing until it continues again. Do not use if you are getting an epidural.
Lavender is used to improve sleep and ease insomnia without causing grogginess. You can use this essential oil in pregnancy to improve your sleep. Apply to belly during the second and third trimester, since it can help with the Brandon Hicks contractions.
The minty scent of peppermint stimulates the brain and re-energizes the mother for the final stretch of labor. Essential oils for labor can have many functions, as is the case of peppermint that helps with nausea (during the transition phase of labor when your cervix becomes fully dilated) and headaches when placed on wrists, back of the neck, temples or smelled in an inhaler. This essential oil is also very handy during the first trimester as it is very soothing.
This flowery smell will lift your mood, helping you ease pain and discomfort during labor. It can be used to massage the lower back. It is known for its hormone supportive properties, helping the pregnant woman start experiencing the first stages of birth naturally. Should not be used before 37 weeks. This is one of those essential oils for labor (like clary sage) that stimulates the uterus so do not use it if you are having more than one baby or having a vaginal birth after cesarean.
This oil can balance and calm emotions, which makes it a great option for women who have nervous tension and hyperventilation. Frankincense helps support healthy emotions to help with the pain of contractions. Can be used in fast or scary labors since it helps ground. Some midwives dilute it with olive oil to be placed in the perineum once the baby starts crowning, making the skin elastic to help the baby come out.
Rose reduces anxiety and enhances positive feelings. This one of the best essential oils for labor for feeling nourished and supported. It can be massaged, diffused or inhaled from a cotton ball.
Other Essential Oils for Labor
Lavender was the most popular of essential oils for labor, according to studies done in Iran and elsewhere. More details can be seen on this website.
• Lower pain scores: Lavender, Citrus, Jasmine, Salvia (Salvia officinale), Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium), Rose (Rosa centifolia), Geranium Rose, and Rose Plant (Rosa damascena)
• Reduced stress/anxiety: Rose Plant (Rosa damascena), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Sweet Orange Peel (Citrus sinesis), Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium), and Lavender
• Decreased length of labor: Salvia (Salvia officinale)
• Decreased diastolic blood pressure: Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
• Decreased nausea and vomiting: Peppermint
- Bitter orange oil
- Clove oil
- Geranium oil
- Ginger oil
- Roman chamomile
- Panaway – lavender, wintergreen and peppermint. Use during contractions.
- Gentle Baby – mix with coconut oil and apply on the belly throughout pregnancy. You can apply to baby (diluted) to help them sleep.
- Valor – black spruce, blue tansy, camphor wood, geranium, and frankincense. Inhale from the bottle
- Stress Away – copaiba, lime, cedarwood, vanilla, ocotea, and lavender. This is one of those essential oils for labor that benefits everybody who is present.