There is nothing like the feeling of welcoming your little bundle of joy into the world. Planning for his or her birth is one of the first and foremost things you consider. In spite of the obvious excitement, it can also have women feeling stress, nerves, and anxiety. People are well aware of the pains, difficulties, and risks associated with labor and delivery. Though there are many medications available to ease labor, many women prefer a more natural approach. Essential oils can prove to be a good companion for you during the time you are undergoing the birthing process. Keep reading to discover which are the best essential oils for labor and delivery, and how best to use them!
We’ve all heard of labor…but what actually is it?
We often use the terms “labor” and “delivery” interchangeably, but they are two very separate things. Labor is actually referring to the process your body goes through to get ready for childbirth. It involves both the chemical and physical changes that occur. There are three phases to labor:
- Early Labor: This is when your brain releases chemicals that stimulate your uterus to contract and your cervix to dilate
- Active Labor: The cervix dilates to around 7cm, and you begin to feel painful contractions
- Transitional Labor: The final (and most painful) push that brings your child into the world!
While labor can last days or even weeks, delivery will typically only last minutes to an hour.
Using Essential Oils for Labor and Delivery: How Do They Help?
Essential oils are the essence extracted from a plant, herb, or flower. They are very high in concentration, making them very potent. Different essential oils offer different qualities and benefits depending on their constituents, or the components they are made up of. Some oils are reputed to help ease nausea, stress, and anxiety, all of which are common during labor and delivery. Common fears include the safety of the baby, pain, tearing, and the potential for things to go wrong. The best essential oils for labor will ease these fears and anxieties, as well as helping to reduce negative physical reactions.
The Top 10 Best Essential Oils for Labor
Bergamot essential oil is botanically known as Citrus bergamia and comes from a fruit commonly believed to be a hybrid between a lemon and a bitter orange. It is top on our list of the best essential oils for labor and delivery, as it can potentially help to reduce both pain and anxiety. In addition to reducing stress, research indicates that inhaling bergamot improves feelings of well-being, which is just what you want during the birth of your child!
Using clary sage essential oil for labor offers plenty of potential benefits. The oil comes from an ancient herbaceous perennial, Salvia sclarea. Research indicates that clary sage helps to balance cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and too much of it brings on feelings of anxiety and depression. This is common in labor, which is why clary sage can be beneficial for reducing stress and improving mood.
In both aromatherapy and meditation practices, frankincense is known for its ability to both calm and ground. This makes it one of the best essential oils for labor and delivery, as staying calm can make a big difference. You can choose to inhale the earthy, musky fragrance, or even dilute it and rub it into your lower back or abdomen to help relieve pain and discomfort.
Geranium essential oil gives you mental and physical energy. Studies show that geranium essential oil can help stabilize our mental, physical, and emotional state during labor. Geranium can also improve the mood in the room as a whole, offering a burst of energy to whoever is part of your birthing team.
Lavender essential oil is probably most famous for its soothing abilities. For decades, people have been using lavender oil to gain relief from physical pain, stress, anxiety, and problems sleeping. You can use lavender oil both during and after labor and delivery. Inhale the floral, fragrant aroma for calming purposes during labor, and then allow it to help you drift off into a peaceful sleep afterward for some much-needed rest.
Lemon is one of the best essential oils for labor and delivery due to its fresh and cheerful aroma! It can also help reduce symptoms of nausea which are common during labor (for both mom and her co-parent!). Lemon oil is a major mood lifter, and it can help bring a positive vibe to any delivery space.
Chamomile is an essential oil with a long-running reputation for being great for stress relief. You will often see it in herbal teas and tinctures that are meant to promote rest and relaxation. Try diluting chamomile and rubbing it into hands or lower back, or diffuse it to breathe in its soothing aroma.
Peppermint essential oil is a great oil when looking for energy and focus. These are important things in the birthing room, so we consider it to be one of the best essential oils for labor and delivery. Not only does peppermint oil contain menthol, which offers a pain-numbing cooling sensation when diluted and applied to the skin, it also helps to improve blood circulation. This means more oxygen and nutrients are flowing around the body, with the additional benefit of staving off potential dizzy spells. Similar to lemon oil, peppermint can also help reduce nausea!
Ylang-ylang oil comes from a flower growing on the Cananga tree, which is native to hot, tropical areas such as India, Indonesia, and Madagascar, among others. When it comes to the best essential oils for labor, avoiding ylang-ylang would be a big mistake! This oil is a great tool to combat stress and anxiety while also filling the room with its luscious aroma.
A small study found that women who diffused sweet orange oil during labor had lower levels of anxiety. Orange oil also smells sweet and fragrant, helping to create a space that feels uplifting and positive.
The Best Essential Oils for Labor: How To Use Them
When it comes to using essential oils for labor and delivery, there are a few different methods. Whichever you choose to use is down to personal preference, though we do suggest going over your plans with your birthing specialist first. This will help to ensure nothing interferes with their plans.
When it comes to the topical application of essential oils, the most important thing to understand is that it is necessary to dilute them first. These oils naturally occur in plants, but in essential oil form, they are very concentrated. The National Holistic Association for Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends diluting 15-20 drops of essential oil with at least 1oz of carrier oil for adult use.
Diffusion is the process in which any essential oil is dissipated into the surrounding environment. The inhalation of the aroma gives the benefits of the essential oil to the inhaler. While diffusion can offer many benefits, it is important not to use too much oil as other people can have sensitivities, and it may be too strong for an infant child. Diffusion may be a better option for the beginning stages of labor, rather than the end. You can also simplify things by simply adding a few drops of essential oil to a tissue or napkin, then simply hold that to your nose when you feel the need. This can also be done straight from the bottle with certain, milder oils.
Our Favorite Essential Oils Blends for Labor
For Relief of Stress & Anxiety:
- Lavender Essential Oil x 8 Drops
- Frankincense Essential Oil x 4 Drops
- Carrier Oil for Dilution
Gently massage into wrists, hands, and feet.
To Ease Pain from Sore Muscles:
- Lavender Essential Oil x 5 Drops
- Rose Geranium Essential Oil x 5 Drops
- Peppermint Essential Oil x 5 Drops
- Carrier Oil for Dilution
Apply this blend on your lower back, shoulders, or on the places you want to relieve pain from.
To Combat Nausea:
- Lemon Essential Oil x 5 Drops
- Roman Chamomile Essential Oil x 5 Drops
- Carrier Oil for Dilution
You can either diffuse this blend or simply inhale it to get quick relief from nausea
Additional Tricks for Relieving Labor Pain
- Do your best to distract yourself, by either walking around or taking part in some sort of activity when possible. Engage with others around you to keep your mind off the birthing process
- Take a warm shower. This will help increase blood flow, and perhaps give some much-needed comfort
- Yell, scream, swear, or do whatever you need to do to get through it!
When it comes to birthing, every woman's experience is unique. This list of the best essential oils for labor and delivery is by no means extensive. If you have a favorite essential oil that brings you comfort then that might be the best option for you! The only thing we suggest is checking in with your birthing team to ensure that whichever oils you are using are safe and that the methods won’t interfere with any part of the process. We wish any pregnant readers all the happiness and joy in the world with the new addition to their lives!