Essential oils are all the rage right now – and for good reason! They can have great effect with usually low risk. Most are affordable and easy to use. Plus, as more and more research is being done, we are learning the safest and most effective ways to use them in our homes. Naturally, as this trend is growing in society in general, it is also finding its way into birth. Until a little over a year ago, I had never had a doula client ask me about essential oils. Now, I get asked by almost every single mom I meet with! I learned quickly, I need to always carry some with me and be ready to help my clients navigate the EO waters.
So… what do you think is the very, very, very best way to use EOs in labor?? Rub them on your belly? Make a lotion? Add them to your water? Use a diffuser to fill the room with your favorite scent?? I’ll give you a hint… the last one is the closest! But a little more planning will make it even more effective.
Where to start?
Begin by picturing what you want your labor to look like. Do you want the lights low? Do you want music? Loved ones? Comfort items from home like a favorite pillow? If you already use essential oils, which one do you usually choose to help you relax? If you don’t have a favorite already, lavender or bergamot are excellent ones to start with.
In the weeks leading up to your due date, begin incorporating a relaxing routine into your evening. When you first get into bed at night is the perfect time – your body is already accustomed to relaxing. Start adding in the elements that you plan on using during your labor: dim the lights, put on the same calming music you will have in labor (or the same radio app or pandora channel), and diffuse the essential oil you have chosen. If you have a fancy diffuser, you can use that. If not, placing a few drops on a tissue near your head will work just as well. In fact, the benefit of using this technique in labor is that if you decide you don’t want the scent anymore, a tissue is much easier to remove than an oil you have been diffusing throughout the room.
To this routine, you can add one of any number of relaxation techniques. I will do a longer post on these soon, but some examples are: controlled deep breathing, visualization, progressive relaxation (tensing and relaxing your muscles head to toe). If you are using a hypno program this would be the perfect time to listen to the scripts, or if your partner has scripts that he will be using you can have him practice at this time.
Now, why do I say this is the very, very, very best?? For a number of reasons:
It is super safe. Inhalation of these mild oils for these short periods of time doesn’t take any special training or extensive education to be done safely and effectively.
It is super easy. You don’t need any special equipment or complicated formula to make it happen.
But most importantly, by using the essential oils as a part of a complete relaxation routine, you are training your body to relax when exposed to these specific stimuli. Then, when you get to labor, your scent memory will kick in – in addition to the powerful relaxing properties of the oils themselves – and help your body get to that relaxed state more easily. The oils on their own in labor will be helpful, but when they’re tied to memory and to that routine, they can make all the difference!
To find out which essential oils are my favorite in labor, click the image below to download my free “Essential Oils Cheat Sheet”. It was designed for doulas to use in their work, but it also perfect for expectant parents!!