What Are the Benefits of Aromatherapy for Labor?

A. Gamm

With the several homeopathic remedies available as of 2011, it may come to no surprise for many that using aromatherapy for labor may also be a viable alternative or complementary option with traditional medicine. Indeed, aromatherapy has many properties that are believed to be beneficial for women in labor. This ranges from relieving fear and anxiety, especially in first time mothers, to easing the pain from contractions among several other benefits. Some oils are even recommended for expelling the placenta and post-partum healing.

Aromatherapy has many properties that are believed to be beneficial for women in labor.
Aromatherapy has many properties that are believed to be beneficial for women in labor.

One of the more well-known benefits of aromatherapy for labor is its ability to calm anxiety and even remove fear. A few essential oils in particular have been documented to be especially effective in this area. Chamomile and lavender are often used by healthcare professionals and laboring mothers. Other oils such as bergamot are believed to lift the spirit and even aid in boosting confidence. As of 2011 peppermint and rosemary are increasingly being used to reduce nervousness as well as re-energize the mother.

Scented lotion and an aromatherapy candle.
Scented lotion and an aromatherapy candle.

Many essential oils used in aromatherapy for labor are reported to regulate all three stages of labor. Some oils are typically massaged around the uterus in early labor to ease the contractions so they may feel similar to menstrual cramps. At this stage, other aromatherapy oils are massaged on other areas of the body to promote feelings of well-being, confidence and comfort. Oils, such as lavender, aid in several areas of labor ranging from adding comfort to strengthening contractions to healing post-partum sores. Combinations of oils may also reduce nausea and risk of vomiting, while others like rose, frankincense and rose water are believed to regulate contractions.

As of 2011, the majority of the information known about aromatherapy for labor centers around one eight-year uncontrolled study in which approximately 8,058 mothers participated. A significant number of the women and healthcare professionals who were involved in this research noted positive outcomes from aromatherapy use. In fact, several women reportedly required little to no additional medications during labor when using therapeutic essential oils.

There are a few risks associated with aromatherapy treatments for both the mother and others in the room. This is because the vapors from the oils travel around the room and are breathed in by anyone in the surrounding area. Typical side effects of aromatherapy for labor include headache, rash and nausea. It is unknown, however, if the side effects are indeed from aromatherapy use or from the natural course of labor.

Aromatherapy oil.
Aromatherapy oil.

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