How to Use Aromatherapy Oils in Labor

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Aromatherapy can be particularly useful during labor as the essential oils used are thought to contain chemicals which are pain-relieving, relaxing and which may encourage the uterus to work more efficiently.

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The aromas can be pleasantly distracting – but be aware that they can also seem heavy and cloying if used continuously, giving you (and your partner and midwife!) a headache or making you feel sick.

Certain oils need to be used with care and only after discussion with your midwife who can explain how far your labor has progressed and whether it is appropriate to use them – this applies specifically to oils that may increase contractions such as clary sage and jasmine.

Some midwives use aromatherapy, but if you wish to use your own oils, do tell your midwife what you are doing so that she can plan the rest of your care accordingly, to avoid complications, as some of the oil chemicals can interfere with prescribed drugs you may need.

If you wish to be accompanied in labor by a private aromatherapist, discuss this with your midwives in advance, particularly if you are having your baby in hospital or a birth centre.

  • Use two drops of essential oil in 5 ml of carrier oil, e.g. grapeseed, for massage.
  • Use four drops of essential oil in 5 ml carrier oil for baths.
  • Add two drops of essential oil in a vaporizer and use for only 10-15 minutes in each hour.
  • Do not add oils to the birthing pool if your waters have broken.
  • Ask someone to massage your feet, shoulders and abdomen with diluted oils.
  • Use oils in a foot bath if you prefer not to be touched.
  • Make a compress with a towel soaked in water with four drops of essential oil, to put over the small of your back, pubic area or shoulders.
  • Lavender and rose oils ease pain and relax you.
  • Ylang ylang, lavender and marjoram oils lower blood pressure.
  • Jasmine and clary sage oils enhance contractions, but use with care and only after discussion with your midwife.
  • Grapefruit, bergamot, tangerine and sweet orange oils are uplifting.
  • Spearmint or peppermint oils ease nausea.
  • A single drop of frankincense oil, massaged very lightly and slowly into the centre of your palm, is calming especially as you approach second stage (transition).

These are some benefits of using Aromatherapy Oils in Labor, but its always advisable to take up any medication or supplement or ointment only after consulting your Doctor who is going to supervise your delivery.

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