This is the fifth and final post in a series about comfort measures for labor that appeal to each of the five senses. Today, we're focusing on the sense of smell! Studies show that aromatherapy can be an effective way to reduce anxiety and tension. This decrease in anxiety can then reduce your perception of pain. Here's a look at some essential oils that can be useful during labor.
Several floral scents have been shown to likely relieve stress and/or lower pain scores during labor. Diffusing lavender, jasmine, rose, or geranium into your labor and birth space can help you feel more at ease and comfortable during labor. Something I've noticed about floral scents is that people often have strong preferences towards or against certain scents. So smell a few and find a scent that you like!
I love the smell of citrus! When I found the picture above of the sliced open oranges, I could just smell and taste their tangy sweetness! Studies show that citrus scents can also be helpful during labor. Specifically, bitter orange (citrus aurantium) may lower pain scores, and both bitter orange and sweet orange peel (citrus sinesis) may decrease stress and anxiety during labor. Sign me up!
Peppermint for Nausea
As much as I love citrus and enjoy floral scents, the essential oil that I use most--hands down--is peppermint. An unfortunate side effect of transition in labor (when your cervix dilates from 8 cm to 10 cm) that many people experience is nausea. The rapid changes--physical and hormonal--that your body goes through during this time often lead to an upset stomach. For many of my clients, when I put a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton pad and give it to them to inhale, their nausea goes away. It's not always effective, but it's a very handy tool to have on hand!
Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a childbirth educator and birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!