There are a plethora of benefits to using essential oils for labor and postpartum from pain relief to mood lifting to increasing breast milk supply.
If you have been using essential oils during your pregnancy then it will feel like a natural progression to make them a part of your labor. Mother nature has a whole toolkit on offer to help you on your way to birthing your baby but it is a personal choice which of these aides you will choose to include in your birth plan.
With my own labor imminent I thought I would share some of my favorite essential oils that I will be packing in my own hospital bag. Make sure you buy, mix and label your oils well ahead of time and let your birth doula or partner know exactly when they will be needed.
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Clary Sage: natural induction/progression of labor
Not to be used until your due date has arrived or labor has started spontaneously. Clary sage is one of the most powerful essential oils and must be used with care. Known to stimulate effective uterine contractions, this is not an oil to be used in any other stage of pregnancy. I have used Clary Sage to induce two of my pregnancies which have surpassed 40wks. The impact of Clay Sage in both instances blew me away with labor starting within 12 hrs followed by quick and intense deliveries.
Known to relieve pain and lift moods, Clary sage is a great oil to use in the postpartum period. It’s aroma is sensual and relaxing and it is rumoured to be an aphrodisiac. This makes it perfect for the essential release of oxytocin to propel your labour forward as well as promoting bonding and milk flow for your newborn.
A word of warning – do not overuse this oil. Uterine contractions that are too strong may overwhelm your baby and send alarm signals off amongst your birthing team. Also take similar care when using whilst laboring at home. Inhalation of high doses of Clary sage can be euphoric and make your birth partner light headed. This is not ideal if they will responsible for driving you to the birth centre or if you suddenly require a hospital birth.
To induce/propel labour/relieve labor pain – add 5 -10 drops to a glass of milk and disperse in a warm bath. Soak as long as you wish. Alternatively mix 5 drops of clary sage oil with 100ml carrier oil (Sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil or olive oil) and massage into lower back and sides of the abdomen.
Frankincense – Pain Relief
As well as Clary Sage, Frankincense is an excellent natural remedy for pain management in labor. A ‘back baby’ in particular can result in unexpected back pain in addition to unnerving discomfort from surges. With analgesic and anti inflammatory properties, Frankincense mixed with a carrier oil and massaged into the back can ease pain and relieve muscle tension.
Also known to relax the nervous system Frankincense is wonderfully calming.
Roman Chamomile, Lavender oil, Ylang Ylang – Calming
A heady mix of fear and adrenilen can present at any time in labor. It’s very normal to feel anxious and lack confidence despite our best efforts to be mentally and physically prepared for the task in hand. Find your breath. Regulating your breath will be the best way to regain control.
To assist with calming and grounding try diffusing some Chamomile, Ylang Ylang or Lavender. All of these are known to offer reassurance and lower levels of anxiety. Ylang Ylang is particularly helpful in normalising a racing heartbeat and rapid breathing associated with fear and shock.
Citrus Oils – Energising
Long labor? Tired legs from squatting? Or maybe you were exhausted before your labor even started….
I was once told to prepare for labor like I was preparing for a marathon. There is no doubt labor is hard work and if you have not packed your hospital bag with energy drinks and protein bars I suggest you do! Particularly if this is your fist time – be prepared for the long haul. Duration of labor in first time mothers averages 8-12 hours.
Citrus Oils may make all the difference. Orange and Lemon oil are energising, refreshing and revitalising. Add to your diffuser or massage into tired legs and feet.
Peppermint – Placental Induction/assisting urination
Its first of many uses is its ability to assist urination. This may not be something you have even considered but if you forget to wee during labour, or lose the urge to go, your bladder may become distended and obstruct baby’s exit. It’s a good idea to get your birth partner to remind you to go to the toilet every hour. However if the bladder does become full, to avoid catheterization, have a peppermint soaked handkerchief nearby for inhalation. Be assured if a catheter is needed this is painless and quick and often a great relief.
You may also need help with the first wee postpartum. In the UK you are not permitted to leave the hospital until you have passed urine which should occur within six hours. Again use Peppermint to initiate the urge.
Peppermint is also known to assist the induction of the Placenta. A placenta can take up to 40 mins to be expelled physiologically but past this time and if any bleeding is present you may be encouraged to induce with pitocin injected into the thigh. A warm flannel soaked with a few drops of peppermint laid across the belly may help with this final phase and avoid use of any unwanted drugs.
In addition to these important functions Peppermint is great for grounding, mental clarity and nausea. A hospital bag must have.
Essential Oils for Postpartum Care
Essential oils can continue to support you even after baby’s arrival. Jasmine oil has been proven to increase breast milk flow when added to massage oil. Also Cypress has healing properties for the perineal area when used within a compress.
There are also plenty of oils known to lift spirits and combat fatigue associated with the ‘baby blues’, notably Geranium and Rosemary. Just be careful to monitor your baby’s inhalation of any oil you use.
Wishing you a wonderful Birth mama!