The essential oils of neroli (citrus aurantium) and lavender (lavandula angustifolia) can be used to help with fear and anxiety during your labour.1 If you have a long labour and fatigue has set in, the essential oils of peppermint (mentha piperita) and sage (salvia officinalis) can be used for energy or alertness.2 Also during a long labour, misting your face with the hydrosols of lavender, neroli or rose (rosa damascena), will refresh you. Use any hydrosol that you enjoy.
During labour, have your labour partner massage your lower back with the essential oils of chamomile (Roman – anthemis nobilis and/or German – matricaria chamomilla), clary sage (salvia sclarea) and lavender in a carrier oil. A compress with the essential oil and hydrosol of clary sage will greatly reduce labour pain when applied to the lower abdomen and back. If you are having a water birth, the EO and hydrosol can be added directly to the tub. One study has shown that the essential oils of clary sage and chamomile are effective in reducing pain during labour.3
Essential Oil Therapy during pregnancy:
- – can help reduce stretch marks
- – can help deal with stress and promote relaxation
- – can ease cramping and pains experienced during pregnancy
- – can help you keep in tune with your body and your baby
- – can provide relief from ailments such as headaches, nausea, varicose veins and edema
- – can aid in ‘recovery’ after childbirth
Applying hydrosols directly to the perineum, or adding essential oils to a sitz bath can aid discomfort and healing of the perineum. As some women find it uncomfortable to use the sitz bath method, a spray is a more convenient method of application. Applying witch hazel (hamamelis virginiana), lavender and chamomile hydrosols, with a cotton pad, can relieve hemorrhoids and aid in healing. For added relief, the cotton pad can be left in place. Some women have also found that it helps to place a pad in the freezer, with the spray applied, and using these for relief. A common chemical used to treat wounds, such as episiotomies, is Povidone-iodine. Clinical trials have shown lavender to be more effective.4
For women who have had a cesarean section, the essential oil of helichrysum (helichrysum italicum) has shown amazing results for skin regeneration and healing.5 There are a number of nutrient rich and essential oils, to help heal and decrease scar tissue, such as calendula (calendula officinalis) infused olive or sunflower oil.6 These oils can also helps with the healing of wounds, old and new scars and stretch marks.
If the baby blues have set in, postpartum depression can be helped with many citrus oils, which are anti-depressants and help with anxiety. Some of these oils include orange (citrus senensis), bermagot (citrus bergamia), neroli and grapefruit (citrus paradisii). Using the pure hydrosol of these plants help as well and can be used as a room or body spray. Aromatherapy massage has improved the physical and mental states of mothers and bonding with your baby.7
Engorged breasts can be helped with a compress of geranium, as well as a cabbage leaf being inserted into your bra. For cracked and sore nipples, calendula has amazing healing properties. For dry skin during breastfeeding, there are a number of essential and carrier oils that can be used.
Below is a summary of some of the essential oils and hydrosols, which can be used during pregnancy, and some of their benefits:
Calendula – skin irritations, minor infections, wound healing
Chamomile – muscular pain, labour, morning sickness, perineum healing
Clary Sage – muscular pain, headaches, labour
Cypress – edema, prevent stretch marks
Ginger – morning sickness
Juniper Berry – edema
Lavender – muscular pain, headaches, labour, stress, perineum healing
Mandarin – prevent stretch marks, stress, and depression
Neroli – anxiety, prevent stretch marks, depression
Peppermint – headaches, morning sickness, nausea, alertness
Witch Hazel – apply the hydrosol to hemorrhoids and varicose veins
Yarrow – apply the hydrosol for postpartum healing
There has been some debate as to whether essential oils are safe for use during pregnancy and on babies. There are some essential oils, which are not recommended for use during the first trimester such as: rose, jasmine and chamomile, to name a few. Generally though, the use of flower and citrus oils can be considered safe for use throughout the entire pregnancy. You should consult with a certified aromatherapist to be sure. It’s best to check the label for any warnings and/or directions, as they are usually printed on commercially available essential oils. Note that there are many grades of essential oils and only therapeutic grade should be used. During pregnancy, you should use a dilution of 1-3% essential oil, or 3-9 drops in 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of carrier oil. That being said, as with all alternative forms of therapy and non-prescribed drugs, especially during pregnancy and on newborns, you should consult with your health care professional before use.
Please visit http://www.aromatichealthshop.ca/Mother/cat255520_181677.aspx for details about products for pre and postpartum health.
1. Anxiolytic and sedative effects of extracts and essential oil from Citrus aurantium L. Carvalho-Freitas MI, Costa M. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Dec;25(12):1629-33. PMID: 12499653
2. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. Int J Neurosci. 2008 Jan;118(1):59-77. PMID: 18041606
3. The use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice an observational study. Burns E, Blamey C, Ersser SJ, Lloyd AJ, Barnetson L. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2000 Feb;6(1):33-4. PMID: 1103365
4. Healing advantages of lavender essential oil during episiotomy recovery: A clinical trial. Vakilian K, Atarha M, Bekhradi R, Chaman R. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 Feb;17(1):50-3. PMID: 21168115
5. Interactions of antibiotics and extracts of Helichrysum pedunculatum against bacteria implicated in wound infections. Aiyegoro OA, Afolayan AJ, Okoh AI. Folia Microbiol (Praha). 2010 Mar;55(2):176-80. PMID: 20490761
6. Efficacy of Hypericum and Calendula oils in the epithelial reconstruction of surgical wounds in childbirth with caesarean section. Lavagna SM, Secci D, Chimenti P, Bonsignore L, Ottaviani A, Bizzarri B. Farmaco. 2001 May-Jul;56(5-7):451-3. PMID: 11482776
7. The psychological effects of aromatherapy-massage in healthy postpartum mothers. Imura M, Misao H, Ushijima H. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2006 Mar-Apr;51(2):e21-7. PMID: 16504900