One of the greatest fears of a future mother is the pain of labor. This fear can make the process more painful and difficult and cause problems for the baby too. Thus, it is important to learn to manage these emotions as soon as possible. A few breathing techniques with essential oils for labor can be of great help.
In this article, you’ll be reading about:
- How contractions happen and how Aromatherapy for labor and delivery can help make it all easier.
- Some of the best essential oils for labor, with pros and cons for safe use.
- Essential oil blends for labor and how to use them for the best results. They can easily be used in your own Aroma kit for labor and delivery.
- What to do to prepare for labor.
- A few words about what follows next: the postpartum period.
- Facts about labor and the side effects of stress and anxiety in pregnancy and delivery.
- Breathing techniques for easier labor. Plus a few safety words and tips to consider for a safe experience.
Best Essential Oils for Labor and Delivery, Aroma Blends Kit for Labor and Preparation
Labor is that time when your baby is fully developed and ready to come out. All your body works at full capacity to push the baby out, especially your uterus muscles.
When they are fully developed, the lungs of your baby will start the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes contractions and milk production. In the hospital, doctors may induce labor if the mother or the baby is in danger. Induced labor is not to be desired, but it can save lives.
Unfortunately, today more and more women want to induce labor artificially. It is however, very painful and risky for both the baby and the mother.
Personal or social reasons may push the mother into deciding to have an induced labor. The fear of pain is what usually drives women to make that choice. Ironically, artificially induced labor can be more painful than natural labor.
Luckily, some essential oils can help induce labor naturally. They can do so by stimulating contractions and oxytocin production.
They can also act on the mother’s nerves and soothe her pain and anxiety. These two factors are extremely important and must be kept in check during pregnancy.
How Do Contractions Happen?
The uterus is covered in smooth muscle tissue and it can take any shape. It is what allows it to host the baby. Here is how contractions take place:
The uterus has 2 layers of muscle cells:
1) The longitudinal layer (oriented vertically, along the axis of the organ);
2) And the circular layer (muscle fibers are oriented in the middle, around the long axis of the uterus).
Contractions happen when the longitudinal layer causes the uterus to dilate. It also causes it to shorten while the circular layer causes it to lengthen (stretch). These two movements alternate. They contract, and then they relax and so on, until the uterus is free of baby and placenta.
How Can Essential Oils for Labor Help?
Essential oils are complex and concentrated plant essences. They’re extracted by steam distillation from twigs, leaves and barks. Roots, resins and even seeds can also be steam distilled.
Each plant has specific glands (or chambers) in which they store these oils. Only about 1% of the plant contains them. You can imagine the huge amount of plant material needed for the extraction of a few mL of essence.
Essential oils are usually not recommended to pregnant women because they are so concentrated. During pregnancy, you only have a few options and they must always be used after you’ve talked to your doctor first.
When it comes to labor, things change a bit. You can use specific oils either to induce labor or even to delay it. Others have a more sedative action, which makes them great at diminishing pain.
Using essential oils for labor and delivery can prepare your body for labor. Besides the physical benefits, Aromatherapy oils can act on your nervous system. They can open up your mind and allow your body to relax and feel more confident.
Studies say so. I’ve found many proofs on their efficacy after being tested on tens and hundreds of women in labor.
Let’s see what they’re capable of. Be sure to read their cons too, so you know what to expect or avoid further unnecessary complications.
1) Rose Essential Oil/Absolute
Botanical name: Rosa damascena.
- The oil of Rose is a very good antidepressant. It contains flavonoids and kaempferol, among other substances. These two were shown to have positive effects on the central nervous system. The flavonoids and kaempferol have anxiolytic and antidepressant effects.
- For that and not only, it is one of the best essential oils for labor and delivery. It is a powerful stimulant (tonic) that helps with feelings of fatigue and exhaustion.
- Rose essential oil also has antibacterial and antiseptic effects. It can protect from infections and soothe inflammations as well.
- Rose oil is not recommended to women who are pregnant in the first 3 months.
- It is also not recommended in topical blends for breastfeeding and pregnant women in general. The best way of enjoying this oil’s benefits is by diffusion.
- Don’t use more than 5% of this oil in a blend.
- It is also expensive. Luckily, you don’t need to use much to feel its effects.
- The Rose absolute is thicker than the essential oil.
Why I like it:
Rose oil is an extremely potent substance. One that smells very feminine- floral, sweet and fruity – characteristic to roses. It is great in skin care as anti-aging or anti-stretch marks ingredient. Plus, it has anti-anxiety and calming effects that help during labor.
2) Lavender Essential Oil
Botanical name: Lavandula angustifolia/officinalis.
- Lavender is among the most popular essential oils for labor and delivery. One randomized study showed a significant pain reduction in a group of women in labor.
- The oil is spasmolytic, which makes it a god addition to your labor blends.
- It is also calming and sedative, and antiseptic (protects against infections).
- If it is inhaled for 20 – 30 minutes, Lavender essential oil can lower blood pressure and the heartbeat. This is one of its relaxation mechanisms.
- Women with cardiovascular problems must not use Lavender essential oil for pregnancy and
- People with asthma should also talk to their doctor before using the oil.
- High dosages of Lavender can cause nervousness, agitation and insomnia.
Why I like it:
Lavender is a universal essential oil. It is also the most studied, which gives us knowledge about its effects. It is great for labor, but it can also help with skin rashes, burns and insect bites among others. It is also very useful as a natural antidepressant.
3) Palmarosa Essential Oil
Botanical name: Cymbopogon martinii.
- Palmarosa is a good essential oil for labor and delivery. It has uterotonic effects, which means it can stimulate contractions.
- It is also neurotonic, meaning it can improve and strengthen the tone and force of the nervous system. This is the best natural way of dealing with the stress and anxiety that comes with labor and delivery.
- The oil also has major antibacterial power. It can protect from infections during childbirth.
- Pregnant women must not use Palmarosa oil, unless it is doctor approved.
- People who suffer from asthma must also get their doctor’s approval.
Why I like it:
Palmarosa oil can help with labor, especially in various combinations (Rose, Clove, etc.). But it can also make a great natural deodorant. It smells nice, heavy and rose-like.
All essential oils must first be tested for allergic reactions! Mix 2 drops of EO with some carrier oil and massage your wrists and upper forearm with it. Watch the skin for about a day for any kind of negative reaction.
Other essential oils for labor and delivery you could use:
- Sweet Orange
- Roman Chamomile
Essential oils that halt labor or promote milk production:
- Clary Sage
- Sweet Fennel
Aromatic Blends Kit for Labor
You’ll find here a few recipes that deal with anxiety and pain, and labor induction. I recommend a new glass bottle for each of them, as they’ll be very useful during labor.
Roll-on bottles and spray bottles are the best for such blends. They’re easy and fast to use and don’t cause a mess.
Anti-Anxiety Labor Blend Recipe
- Rose essential oil (Otto): 2 – 3 drops
- Macadamia oil: 2 teaspoons
Give the blend a good shake before use. That’ll activate the rose molecules and work faster. Don’t forget to label the blend with the date, name and ingredients.
How to use: Pour a moderate amount on your wrists and inhale deeply at least 3 times, whenever necessary. Or you can massage a moderate amount on your chest and inhale deeply.
Use breathing techniques too. The oils plus the breathing will help you feel better.
Pain Relief for Labor Recipe
- Palmarosa essential oil: 10 drops
- Clove essential oil: 15 drops
- Castor oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Mix all the ingredients and shake well before each use. Label the blend properly (name, ingredients and date). Keep it stored in a dark, cool place.
How to use: Start applying a moderate amount on the lower back, a few days before the full term. A low risk full term is between 39 weeks – 40 weeks, 6 days. See the article about inducing labor to find out the new term guidelines.
Labor Inducing Aromatherapy Blend
- Clove essential oil: 10 drops
- Sweet Orange essential oil: 10 drops
- Palmarosa essential oil: 10 drops
- Evening Primrose oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Shake the blend well before use!
How to use: apply on the lower back and along the spine. It should be done every 2 hours the day of the term or one in advance. Never earlier! All these Aromatherapy essential oils are the best for labor and delivery.
Timely Labor Preparation
Aromatherapy can be of a lot of help in preparing for labor. Use carrier oils to massage the perineal area daily to increase elasticity. Macadamia oil is very good at this task.
It can soften the smooth muscle tissue of the uterus and prepare it for expansion. This can be done starting with the 8th month (daily).
Vegetable oils are safe to use! They can be applied as they are on the genital area as well as on the bump. Their daily use can help immensely in preventing stretch marks marks.
Besides Macadamia, you can also use Coconut, Olive, Hazelnut and Apricot kernel. Evening Primrose oil is proven effective but it must not be used before term.
It can cause contractions and stimulate oxytocin production, thus speed up labor. Castor oil is said to do the same, but there is no scientific proof for that yet.
Learn to breathe correctly and use relaxing essential oils while practicing. That way, when the due date comes, you’ll know exactly what to do and how to do it without panicking. The benefits of a stress-free pregnancy are huge, for you and your baby.
The benefits of using Aromatherapy for labor and delivery:
- It can decrease the use of pain relieving drugs and medical interventions.
- Reduce the total cost of hospitalization and care.
- Safe and risk free (as long as the oils are used properly).
- The best essential oils for pregnancy and labor can also decrease nausea and vomiting.
- Aromatherapy can also relieve headaches and hypertension (high blood pressure and heart rate).
- It can also help decrease the body temperature or fever.
It is the period after childbirth, also known as the “4th stage of labor”. It lasts about 6 months and can be like a roller coaster.
This is the time when your body gets back to its initial state (before the pregnancy). You’ll get cramps, possible breast pain and postpartum depression. You can read more about it and some natural solutions here.
Side Effects of Stress and Anxiety in Pregnancy, Breathing Techniques and Tips
I was telling you that stress and anxiety can be harmful to the mother and baby. That is totally true! These strong emotions can cause changes in the hormonal balance, already feeble because of the pregnancy.
Stress may cause:
- Placental insufficiency – Pregnancy complication that affects the baby. It’s when the placenta can’t deliver enough oxygen and nutrients. This can prevent the proper development of the baby.
- Angina – is the term for pain in the chest. It happens when your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen-loaded blood. This is a serious matter and should be investigated immediately.
- Interference with the progression of the labor or contractions.
- High heart rate and blood pressure.
- Fetal hypoxia – when the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen.
Like I said when talking about Rose essential oil, Aromatherapy is very useful for labor and delivery. Some oils have the ability to affect the nervous system. Thus, they release tension and calm the muscles and the nerves.
Breathing Techniques for Easy Labor
Why is breathing so important during labor? It is important because that way you’ll maximize the oxygen amount that gets to the heart, organs and baby.
This can help in handling contractions. Panic-breathing for instance, does the exact opposite and it’ll soon exhaust you.
The solution? Rhythmic breathing.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- Breathe in slowly and pause for a few seconds.
- Breathe out just as slowly and pause for a few seconds again, before restarting the process.
- Neither should be longer than the other. Worst case, only the out-breath can be longer.
Strong contractions may cause shallow breathing, which is ok. Keep paying attention to your breathing though. It is very easy now to go into panic-breathing. You can watch this video to see how it’s done.
Safety Words and General Labor Tips
Natural remedies can be very useful, but they can also be harmful. Make sure you follow these safety guidelines and tips to enjoy the oil benefits, without complications.
- Always dilute your essential oils for labor. Use carrier oils for all topical applications and salt/milk/honey for baths.
- Avoid using the oils on a long term. They can cause sensitization.
- Use high-quality, 100% pure essential oils.
- Talk to your doctor about using Aromatherapy during pregnancy, labor and postpartum.
- While being pregnant, avoid applying essential oil blends on the bump. The back, chest, soles of the feet, etc., are good places for that.
- Make sure the oil fragrances you chose are to your liking. Pregnant women tend to have different needs and preferences.
- Never take essential oils for labor and delivery orally! Not without your doctor saying so.
Labor is an extremely difficult and most of the times, painful situation. You can’t escape it but you can make it easier and less painful. Fortunately, you have plenty of time to prepare yourself in advance.
Learn how to breathe correctly and use essential oils for labor, when the time comes. The blends I gave you will hopefully help you relax and feel more confident during childbirth.