Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Birth

Aromatherapy is a very powerful modality and it has many wonderful benefits.
Today I would like to share just a few oils that can be beneficial during childbirth. Some of this information is adapted from the website of  which carries the highest quality aromatherapy products.
Please visit their site for all kinds of helpful information on essential oils and a great source for purchasing oils and aromatherapy products.

Here are some oils that can be used during childbirth. Not all oils are safe during pregnancy, but are fine to use once term labor has begun. 

A research study published in Nursing Times - March 2, 1994, Vol. 90, No. 9, "Using Aromatherapy in Childbirth"
Summary: A study of 500 women in the delivery suite. Essential oils used: Lavender, Clary sage, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Frankincense, Jasmine, Rose, Lemon and Mandarine.
Methods of Application: (1) *Spray of 100 cc water with 2 drops e.o on face sheet, pillow, or bean bag or (2) 4-6 drops oil in bath or 2-3 drops of oil in footbath or (3) Inhalation or (4) Massage with 2 drops in 50 cc of almond oil.
Results: Overall satisfaction with the "aroma" - rid the hospital smell which decreased anxiety.
 Lavender - reduce maternal anxiety, pain relief, lighten mood, calm contractions if woman needed rest (Early in Labor)
Peppermint - Nausea & Vomiting
Clary sage - Increase Contractions

74% of women used no other form of pain relief

ROSE- Rose may help the Uterus to work efficiently. It is also said to have a relaxant effect for the pelvic floor, helping to open up the pelvis, much like an opening rose bud. This would best be used in the birth pool. The emotional effects of rose are very supportive during labor. It can be very overpowering if over used. So SUBTLE is the key word here! 1-drop in the bathwater would be plenty. Using guided visualization of the cervix opening as a rose bud can be very effective when used with the aroma of rose.

CLARY SAGE- Uterine tonic-again the adaptogenic qualities of Essential oils used in the correct dilution (SUBTLE) assists the uterus in effective contractions without artificially strengthening the contractions (as with pitocin drips given IV). It can be euphoric and very effective for relieving anxiety, it is calming to the nervous system. Some will not like the aroma of Clary sage alone, but mixing it with Rose, Lavender., will *almost* always produce a very pleasing aroma. Mixing to your tatse is important here, not a standard recipe! If you  do not like the aroma, the physical and emotional benefits will likely be negated. Fill a tea light diffuser bowl with water, 3 drops lavender, 3 drops clary sage and enjoy the aroma in the room. It may also have a lovely, calming effect on your caregivers !

LAVENDER-(augustifolia) is calming, soothing, and imparts a gentleness to the atmosphere when used in small amounts. It is also a very nice aromatic greeting for a newborn.You can mix a few drops with 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup grain alcohol for a nice linen spray, or put a few drops in a bowl of water to soak a cool washcloth in to wipe your brow or put around the back of your neck.

GERANIUM-uplifting and helpful in balancing emotional states. Said to be a circulatory stimulant.
Geranium can be added to the birth pool or diffused with your clary sage.

NEROLI-facilitates calm relaxed breathing (esp. with small amounts of Frankincense). The Cadillac for nervous anxiety. Can be a good choice during transition. One drop only on the pillow.

There are just a few of the many wonderful ways to use aromatherapy in labor and birth. Tomorrow, I will be reviewing one of my very favorite books on aromatherapy for the childbearing year !


  1. Just wanted to thank you for using, and referencing, our material. I'd like to mention this blog page...not sure whether on our blog, or on Facebook, or a mention on our 'aromatic birthing' page. At any rate, thank you for your kind words!

  2. YOu are welcome, Marge. I love your products and feel very confident recommending them to my clients and colleagues. Cristl Arndt will be teaching aromatherapy to doulas, mothers and birth professionals, in February, through our professional association, Carolina Mothercare Network, and she turned me on to Nature's Gift. I hope you will acquire more loyal clients as a result !