Essential Oils for Labor Support (Guest Post)
From Farrah: Katie from Genesis Essentials was kind enough to share her experience and tips on using essential oils in labor. I hope you find this information useful!
About five months ago my husband and I were blessed by the birth of our fifth little one. This pregnancy and birth were just as amazing and special as the other four, but was a bit of a different experience than what I had with the others.
This was my first natural, no epidural childbirth.
I knew going into it that this natural birth would be very different than the other four I had had, so during my pregnancy I made sure to prepare and put together strategies and tools that would be helpful for a natural childbirth.
The first thing I did was watch the documentary The Business of Being Born. If you haven’t seen this yet, you need to! My husband and I watched it twice together and gained a wealth of information on the current state of prenatal care and delivery procedures in our country, and how they are negatively impacting women every day. This documentary just solidified in our minds the decision to go with a natural (and if possible, at home) birth.
The second step I took was to read some great books discussing what to expect during natural laboring without pain medication. Some great ones I found were:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – Ina May Gaskin
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way – Susan McCutcheon
Supernatural Childbirth – Jackie Mize
All of these books not only prepared you for what to expect during the stages of labor, but natural ways to deal with what happens including pain, anxiety, and fear. The authors also provided great suggestions for ways to keep labor moving and progressing.
After all of my watching and reading, I started gathering tools and supplies to have on hand while laboring, as well as checking with the hospital to make sure I would have access to certain items. Here are a few of the important ones:
- Bible verses to focus on during labor (or positive affirmations or words to meditate on)
- whole food snacks to provide nourishment if needed – if you are weak, hungry, or thirsty, you won’t have the energy to do what you need to do!
- exercise ball – sitting on this really helped me to relieve some pain during labor
- birthing tub – many laboring women find water very helpful with pain management during labor and delivery. If you are having a homebirth, this is something that you can purchase or even rent from your midwife
And last, but certainly not least, I started putting together my essential oil arsenal.
Over the last few years, I have been using and learning all about essential oils and how they benefit and help my life and well as my family. I knew that oils could be very helpful during the labor process, so I wanted to make sure to have some on hand for my birth. Oils can be used in many ways during labor including pain management, tiredness, and nervousness.
Here are a few essential oils that are great for various uses during labor and that I made sure to have on hand prior to the birth for blending or in the room to have in needed:
spearmint rose geranium
clary sage sweet orange
These essential oils can be used to mix up blends for labor discomfort, relaxation, keeping labor moving forward, anxiety, and nausea. Some can even be used on their own to bring some relief.
Once you mix up the blends (or if you are using a single oil), there are a few ways you can use them during labor.
- diffusing – this is a great method because it fills the room (and your nose) with the scent of the oils without having to put them on your body. The plus of this is that if mama doesn’t love the scent anymore, or doesn’t want it anymore, you can simply turn off the diffuser.
- massage – for this method, dilution of the essential oil blend is a must. 1% is an appropriate dilution for this situation. You can add the blend to grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, or even coconut oil and then massage on your body. For me, a low back massage was beyond helpful to relieve some of the labor pains. To make this easy and less messy, put the essential oil blend into a 10ml roller bottle and use that to apply the massage oil where needed.
- room mist/pillow/bed spray – This is a great way to bring the scent of the blend into the room short term, rather than the continuing scent you get from a diffuser. Mists and sprays are also very helpful in making a compress for mom to use, by spraying the diluted oil blend to a damp washcloth.
- personal inhaler – these handy inhalers are perfect during labor because you get the benefit of the scent of the essential oil when you need it, but unlike a diffuser, it doesn’t fill the entire room with the aroma of the oil. You simple hold the inhaler to your nose and breathe in the oil scent. Most personal inhalers come with four parts – the exterior, cover, bottom cap, and insert.
Here are some of the blend recipes that I put together for my labor took kit:
Labor Massage Blend:
This is one I used once labor started keep things moving along and progressing forward
clary sage – 1 drop
jasmine – 1 drop
geranium – 1 drop
sweet orange – 2 drops
Add essential oils to 10ml (or 2 tsp.) of carrier oil (grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil) to make a massage blend. Apply to low back or abdomen. You can also add the essential oils straight to a diffuser.
Relax and Focus Diffuser Blend:
This is a master diffuser blend using essential oils that helps to bring focus and provide relaxation to help labor continue smoothly.
grapefruit – 10 drops
sweet orange – 7 drops
spearmint – 5 drops
lemon – 5 drops
Combine all essential oils in a small glass bottle (2 dram). Add 5 drops of the master blend to a diffuser.
This blend is exceptionally helpful after you have been in active labor for awhile and are feeling tired and worn out
bergamot – 3
lemon – 3
peppermint – 9
In a 1 ounce spray bottle, add essential oils, 1 part water (.5oz.), and 1 part witch hazel (.5oz.). Shake well before spraying. Use around the room or wherever you are sitting/standing/laying. You can also spray onto a wet washcloth to make an energizing compress.
Sometimes during labor, especially as you near transition, you may start to feel nauseous. This essential oil blend in a personal inhaler is a great way to combat that feeling. A personal inhaler is a plastic casing with a wick where you apply essential oils. Use the inhaler to smell the oils as needed.
peppermint – 13 drops
lemon or ginger (depending on your preference) – 8 drops
Add essential oils to a non-reactive bowl. Place inhaler insert into the bowl to absorb the oils. Place the insert back into the inhaler tube and then back into the cover. Use the inhaler as needed.
At some point during labor, especially if it is your first time, or like me, your first au naturale delivery, nervousness, worry, or fear may creep in at some point. This is where a positive focus or verse comes in handy….as well as this calming essential oil blend.
frankincense - 5
roman chamomile - 8
sweet orange - 15
lavender – 12
This recipe is for a master blend. Mix all essential oils in a glass bottle (2 dram). For a roller bottle, add 9 drops of the master blend to a 10 ml glass roller bottle and fill the rest of the way with a carrier oil (grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil). Apply to the back of the neck and behind the ears. To diffuse add 5 drops of the master blend into the diffuser. This oil can also be used for a personal inhaler and as a mist.
Some important things to remember when using essential oils to help support the labor process:
- essential oils are simply a tool to support what your body was made to do
- laboring moms can be very sensitive to scents. Make sure to smell the oil blend before it is used in a diffuser throughout the room or put onto the body. If you have the help of someone during labor, make sure they get your permission before using an oil on you or in the room.
- when using essential oils topically during labor, make sure to use a 1% dilution. DO NOT use essential oils undiluted on the skin
- if laboring in a pool or tub, DO NOT add essential oils to the water
Disclaimer: This information or any other health topics covered here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or replace personal judgement or medical treatment. Always discuss the use of complementary methods with your health professional or naturopathic doctor.
Katie Sandy is a wife and mom to five amazing kids. She is a certified aromatherapist who loves essential oils, as well as herbs, and finding ways to combine them both as part of a more natural lifestyle for her family. Her passion is to help other families by sharing aromatherapy and herbal information, usage tips, and recipes. You can find all this and more over at Genesis Essentials.