As an expecting mother, you’re constantly curious about ways to make your pregnancy and labour experience even more pleasurable. Essential oils are a natural remedy to many of the problems you face on a daily basis, like stress & anxiety, trouble sleeping, and lower back pain. But they’re more than that; these benefits extend to your time during labour and even postpartum. We’ll explain the benefits of using EOs as a pregnant mother, which oils you should & shouldn’t use, and how to use them safely to maximise their effectiveness.
Benefits of essential oils for labour and pregnancy
Essential oils offer several potential benefits during pregnancy and labour. They can be used to relieve pain, reduce stress & anxiety, alleviate morning sickness and improve overall wellness during every stage of your pregnancy, and even postpartum.
Relieving pain naturally during labour
Frankincense oil can be used topically to improve skin health and inhaled to promote relaxation during labour. Loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, this is an oil you must have on hand during labour. For skin health, create a topical mixture with 2-3 drops of frankincense oil and 1 tbsp of carrier oil, then apply directly to the affected skin. To promote relaxation, add 3-5 drops to your diffuser along with water.
Neroli oil is effective at reducing anxiety and perceived pain in all stages of labour, according to a 2022 trial. The study determined that both women who had borne more than one child and women who were bearing their first child experienced less perceived pain when diffused throughout the room. Add a few drops of neroli oil to your diffuser when you enter labour and set the timer to cycle on & off every 30-60 minutes.
Promoting relaxation during pregnancy & labour
The floral, earthy aroma of geranium oil has been shown to reduce stress & anxiety during pregnancy and the first stage of labour. This 2015 study showed “significant” reductions in anxiety and diastolic blood pressure in the experimental group, who were treated to geranium aromatherapy. Whenever you’re feeling overly stressed during your pregnancy or are preparing for a more relaxed labour, consider adding a few drops of geranium oil to your diffuser.
Rose otto oil’s uplifting scent promotes relaxation and reduces stress, helping you to sleep more soundly at night. And if your lack of sleep is caused by lower back pain, there is some evidence that topical application of rose & carrier oil may help reduce lower back pain. Add a few drops to your diffuser before bed or inhale directly from the bottle. For lower back pain, mix rose otto with jojoba oil, then have your partner apply generously.
Alleviating nausea & morning sickness
Lemon’s fresh, crisp scent is one of the most effective ways to quickly reduce nausea & vomiting that hits around the 6th week of pregnancy. On average, 7 out of 10 women experience morning sickness in the first trimester, which can cause mild to severe lightheadedness & vomiting. Whenever that feeling begins to set in, grab your bottle of lemon oil and inhale directly from the bottle for 5-10 seconds to combat the nausea.
Cardamom is another oil that may serve as a suitable alternative for managing morning sickness. A study on cardamom powder was found to reduce the frequency & severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. As with lemon oil, place the cardamom oil bottle near your nose and inhale for 5-10 seconds whenever you begin to feel nauseous.
Supporting overall wellness during pregnancy
Lavender is one of the most versatile EOs, especially for pregnant women. It offers multiple benefits, like reducing stress, improving sleep, and managing morning sickness. Its calming properties help alleviate stress & anxiety, enabling you to sleep better at night. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have lemon or cardamom on hand, lavender oil is a suitable replacement to fight off feelings of nausea & vomiting. Lavender is most effective when inhaled, so add a few drops to your diffuser or place your nose directly over the bottle.
Clary sage oil is believed to naturally induce labour by stimulating uterine contractions. Studies are scarce, but the supposed ability is attributed to the rise of oxytocin levels after inhaling the oil. You should not use it before 36 weeks of pregnancy and only after speaking with your healthcare provider. If it has been deemed safe for use, pair clary sage with a carrier oil and rub directly onto your bump to potentially induce labour.
Restoring your health postpartum
As your body naturally heals and adjusts to motherhood, your skin will undergo some change. But German chamomile oil can help, whose anti-inflammatory & regenerative properties have been shown to restore elasticity and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. To reap the benefits and accelerate your skin’s healing, mix with a carrier oil and rub on areas where stretch marks are common like your abdomen, breasts, thighs, hips, lower back and buttocks.
Potential risks and precautions of EOs during pregnancy & labour
As with any form of medicine, there are potential risks associated with using essential oils during pregnancy and labour. Some of these risks include allergic reactions, skin irritation, and potential harm to the baby.
To ensure safe use:
Dilute oils with carrier oils and perform a patch test for sensitivity when applying topically
Never consume orally
Do not place a diffuser in the same room as newborns, as the effects of many EOs on children are largely unknown
Avoid using potent oils like ylang ylang, cinnamon, peppermint, and basil
- ALWAYS consult your healthcare provider before using EOs in any form
Essential oils can improve your comfortability during pregnancy and labour, offering benefits like pain relief, relaxation, and stress reduction. But EOs are not a one-size-fits-all solution, so check with your doctor before using. Choose oils with evidence-backed benefits, like lavender, geranium, and frankincense, and avoid potent oils that may trigger contractions. Exercise caution to maximise your pregnancy experience without harming you or your baby.