Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to enhance both mental and physical wellbeing. There are many different oils which can be used and they can be used in different ways, for example, in a massage oil, oil burner, vapour stream and in warm water.
All the different oils effect the mind and body in different ways and every individual will have their favourites. Some oils aren’t suitable for women who are pregnant or in labour but many are safe and can help for a variety of symptoms. They also have the added bonus of making a hospital room smell less “hospital like” and more like a luxurious spa! In some cases, certain oils may not be advisable due to their effects, but usually there will be some oils which can be used. Midwives will be able to help or advise you when you are in labour, or you may choose to see an aromatherapist in pregnancy.
There are some oils which we know can help labour and ease discomfort, but it is vital that you enjoy the oils in use. An oil can have fabulous effects in labour, but if you dislike the smell, it isn’t going to help, it’s going to make you want to leave the room.
Below are some of the oils that can help in labour and they way in which they can help. Rather than buying straight from the internet it is always worthwhile going to a shop where you can smell the oils before choosing.
- Lavender – this oil is probably one of the most well know. In pregnancy it can be used to help you relax and increase well being and may help with fatigue and insomnia. Again, in labour the oil can work in the same way, creating an aura of relaxation and helping with any tension or anxiety. Some people dislike the scent as it reminds them of the elderly! But it can be less intense when blended with other oils.
- Jasmine – this oil shouldn’t be used before the 37th week of pregnancy as it is known to stimulate the womb muscles. In labour this oil can create a clam and relaxed environment and it can enhance contractions. This oil blends well with many other oils.
- Frankincense – this oil can be really helpful if you have a cold/blocked sinuses in pregnancy and it can help with anxiety and tiredness. In labour it has the same effect and is sometimes called the “ultimate calmer” as it is effective at relaxing and helps to relieve fear and anxiety. It can also be used if you are having a caesarean birth and are feeling anxious about going into theatre.
- Bergamot – this oil can be used to help relax you in pregnancy and can have the same effect in labour, as well as being an uplifting scent. The oil can lift spirits and give a more energetic feel to the room. This can also be diluted in water and used as a refreshing facial spray in labour.
- Clary sage – this oil should not be used before the 37th week of pregnancy as it is known to stimulate the womb muscles. In labour this oil can be used to encourage contractions and can be used for a “natural” induction of labour. When in labour you should avoid using this oil if you have strong contractions as you don’t want to increase them further! This scent is a bit like marmite – you either like it or hate it, plus at different times in your menstrual cycle/pregnancy you will switch between liking and no liking it.
- Rose – this oil shouldn’t be used until the third trimester (after 34 weeks) as it can have an effect of the womb muscles. In late pregnancy this oil can be used to increase well being and help relaxation and to help to combat any pregnancy insomnia. It can also be helpful for haemorrhoids! In labour this oil can help to stimulate contractions and create an uplifting and calm environment. It can also work well when blended to other oils (works well with clary sage if you dislike the smell).
- Neroli – this oil can be used in pregnancy to enhance general well being and it can help with a variety of digestive complaints such as nausea/vomiting, IBS and constipation. In labour this sweet scent can be uplifting and can give a boost of energy. This oil also aids pain relief in labour and reduces the level of cortisol (stress hormone) in labour.
- Chamomile – this oil can be used for anxiety and tiredness/fatigue in pregnancy and can also help ease back discomfort. The oil has also been linked with easing migraine headaches. In labour it can help with contraction pains and, regulate contractions and help with anxiety and fear.