Aromatherapy during labor and birth can be extremely helpful in managing pain, reducing anxiety, and preventing unnecessary interventions. Many women approach labor with anxiety and fear, which is a natural response to an experience that many define as extremely painful. Any method of reducing stress, anxiety and fear, can go a long way to having a healthy and blissful birth. One of the best ways to reduce anxiety during labor and birth is aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that has been used for a very long time in cultures all around the world.
There are three different ways of using essential oils. These are known as aerial diffusion (releasing the essential oil into the air surrounding the patient, such as using an oil in a spray bottle), direct inhalation (such as inhaling peppermint for a cold or stuffy nose) and topical applications (such as rubbing lavender oil directly on the skin). All of these methods can be extremely useful in relieving stress and anxiety and ensuring a relaxing and healthy birth.
There are many different oils that have direct effects on the body and mind. There are five common types of oils: absolutes, carrier oils, essential oils, herbal distillates and infusions. Absolutes are oils that come directly from flowers or plants through the process of supercritical fluid extraction. Carrier oils are oils that are used to dilute essential oils, such as sesame oil or almond oil. Essential oils are oils that come from plants and are retrieved through steam distillation, such oils would be eucalyptus or grapefruit. Herbal distillates, are retrieved through a disillation process (such herbs would be chamomile or rose). Infusions are products that are infused with an essential oil.
These different types of oils can be used in various ways and for various afflictions. Some of my personal favorites for birth are sesame oil (a carrier oil), lavender (an essential oil) and peppermint (an essential oil). I like to use the lavender and sesame oil topically and the peppermint oil as a diffuser (mixed with water in a spray bottle). These three oils can be very helpful in birth, with sesame oil being physically comforting, lavender oil being relaxing and soothing and peppermint oil being uplifting for that extra little motivation to keep on going.
Aromatherapy is great and I personally recommend it to all of my clients. I use oils during births and also help clients use them during the postpartum period, for example taking a bath infused with lavender oil to relax and help yourself sleep. Most people find that aromatherapy is a wonderful addition to other relaxation techniques during labor.