Aromatherapy and Birth
Updated: May 17, 2021
Research has shown that the use of essential oils in labour can improve your overall experience of labour.
When used as part of aromatherapy, they may be calming, help soothe pain and discomfort, and even help reduce the amount of time spent in labour.
The limbic system comprises a set of structures within the brain that are recognised as playing a major role in controlling mood, memory behaviour and emotion. It is often referred to as a primitive part of the brain: these same structures were present within the brains of the first mammals. Knowing this, helps us to understand why smell plays such an important role in connecting and forming memory and evoking emotion.
Our sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of the other senses. The perfume industry is built around this connection, with perfumers developing fragrances that seek to convey a vast array of emotions; from desire to power and vitality to relaxation.
So where does this all fit in with birth preparation, I hear you ask?!
By stimulating the limbic system with the use of aromatherapy during pregnancy and familiarising yourself with specific scents known to induce relaxation (such as lavender and mandarin etc.) the brain forms powerful connections, associating the beautiful fragrance with a feeling of wellbeing and calm.
When aromatherapy is later used in labour, those firm connections formed during pregnancy, associating scent with relaxation, again evoke feelings of security and calm.
There is research that evidences the use of aromatherapy with decreased cortisol levels (stress hormones) and increased serotonin levels (the happy hormone). In other words, essential oils may work by increasing the output of your body's own natural stress relieving hormones.
Worth giving a try... don't you think?
Note: Please research carefully essential oils suitable for your stage of pregnancy before use or discuss with your midwife if you are unsure.