Depending on your locality and your midwife you may be advised on using essential oils during your labour by your midwife or doctor. The effects of using essential oils, naturally vary from person to person but can help to help cope with fear, stress or anxiety, alleviate nausea and vomiting, influence your perception of pain or boost confidence and mental state. All of these factors can contribute to achieving what the NHS classifies as a ‘normal birth’, meaning without the use of surgical intervention such as cesarean or epidural.
Naturally, there is a strict medical criteria for who is suitable to use aromatherapy and essential oils so it’s important to do your own research as well as consult your doctor prior to using any essential oils. In fact, there are some essential oils which are unsuitable for use during pregnancy and even those that are safe, are only to be used at certain times.
Such a complicated and personal complementary therapy can easily become confusing and so we’ve enlisted the help of pre and post natal massage therapist Jayne Russell to guide you. Jayne has over 20 years of experience in pregnancy massage and is also the founder of award winning, certified organic mum and baby skincare brand Nom Nom Skincare. Here she takes us through her preferred essential oils for labour and their uses.
Best for… preventing nausea
Peppermint (menthe x piperita) is a great essential oil for when you feel nauseous or have already vomited during your labour. It’s also handy for relieving heartburn and indigestion as well as being cooling, refreshing and calming when inhaled. Avoid if you suffer with high blood pressure and only use in a footbath or to inhale, not in a birthing pool or the bath if your waters have broken.
Best for… instilling calm
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) is well known for its calming and relaxing properties but it’s a great all-rounder when it comes to labour because of its analgesic and antiseptic properties, its effectiveness in easing aching muscles when used in massage and as a cooling and calming facial or body spritz.
Chamomile (anthemis nobilis) can be taken as a calming tea to help with nervous tension, stress and insomnia or used in massage during labour to ease aches and pains.
Citrus oils - mandarin (citrus nobilis), orange (citrus sinensis) and lemon (citrus limonum) help to uplift your senses during labour so are good for refreshing and reviving you if your energy is flagging.
Best for...controlling your breathing
Frankincense (boswellia neglecta) is often used during meditation to help slow and deepen breathing. These properties are beneficial during labour to help regulate your breath if you are anxious, hyperventilating or if your labour is fast.
Best for...assisting contractions
Clary sage (salvia sclarea) Whilst clary sage can help to accelerate a slow labour, the use of this essential oil is a fine art because if you over do it at any stage of labour, it can actually slow labour down and make you feel sleepy. You can use it during pregnancy, but not without advice from a qualified aromatherapist.
Jasmine, rose and neroli are beautifully fragrant oils that can help labour get going, soothe pain and promote regular contractions.
If all of these different individual oils and the precautions that go with them seem a little too complicated for the unpredictability of labour, or leave no spare room in your birthing bag, it might be advisable to find an oil blend that can be used during both pregnancy and labour. Jayne says “the hundreds of women I have seen for pregnancy massage over the years have experienced the positive benefits of combining relaxing massage with a suitable essential oil blend during pregnancy. The associations of calm which are formed can then be recreated during labour when this same oil is used”.
Jayne has specially formulated the Nom Nom Organic Pregnancy Relax Oil with organic lavender, chamomile, frankincense and orange essential oils to not only be safely used from the second trimester onwards, but also in labour and once baby has arrived. With an easy to use pump cap that helps you and your partner to dispense the oil in controlled amounts, without spillages, for use in the bath or as a massage oil during pregnancy and labour.
We have chosen to partner with Nom Nom Organic Skincare for their pure, plant based organic formulations which have been formulated based on specialist expertise. With Jayne’s in depth and extensive knowledge of pre and post natal massage and the care and attention that goes into the creation of each product in the range gives us the reassurance that the range is effective and of the highest quality. Not only that but it’s been independently verified and certified organic by The Soil Association.
Discover the Nom Nom Organic Skincare Range
Burns E et al. An Investigation into the Use of Aromatherapy in Intrapartum Midwifery Practice The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Vol 6: 141-7. 2000.
Using Aromatherapy in Labour - https://www.royalberkshire.nhs.uk/Downloads/GPs/GP%20protocols%20and%20guidelines/Maternity%20Guidelines%20and%20Policies/STATIONERY/Aromatherapy/Using%20Aromatherapy%20Labour%20in%20Resource%20pack_MAY18.pdf