Support Your Pregnancy and Birth with Essential Oils

Posted 26 Sep 2022

There are many tools available to support Mamas through pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond. One of my go-to tools during sessions and in childbirth education classes is essential oils.

This is because essential oils can support on both a physiological and emotional level and I have firsthand experienced both professionally and personally the profound effects scents can have on emotional and physical well-being during pregnancy, birth & labour.

How Can I incorporate Essential Oils into my Pregnancy Journey?

The first way essential oils can support Mamas is by using them during labour and birth to feel a deeper sense of calm and relaxation. Certain essential oils can help calm our sympathetic nervous system and activate our parasympathetic nervous system to support mothers who are feeling fear around labour and birth.

Why does this matter?

When a woman can move through fear and feel calmer and safer during labour, not only does this support her in having a positive birth experience but also supports her body to birth her baby naturally and safely into the world. When a mother’s sympathetic nervous system or fight, flight, freeze or appease response is activated, her body will respond accordingly to the immediate threat at hand. This means her body will prioritise dealing with the perceived danger by redirecting oxygen to her defence systems, which the uterus is not a part of. Her body will release stressor hormones such as noradrenaline, cortisol and adrenaline. Furthermore, the circular muscles at the neck of the uterus which are linked to the sympathetic nervous system constrict and tighten. Meanwhile, the longitudinal muscles of the uterus continue to work and push the baby against the taut muscle. You can see how this could stall labour and increase the likelihood of medical intervention.

Inhalation of essential oils either through a diffuser or a couple of drops into a cloth gives Mamas a way to calm their nervous system and start to release and let go. Taking deep belly breaths through the nose whilst using an essential oil also activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

Top Essential Oils for Labour

Lavender Pure Essential Oil – Calming & soothing.

Geranium Pure Essential Oil – Studies have shown that inhalation of Geranium during labour decreased anxiety levels, you can learn more here.

Dream Drops Essential Oil Blend – is a beautiful blend of Lavender, Geranium and Ylang Ylang.

Clary Sage Pure Essential Oil – A calming oil, it is said to bring on spontaneous labour and aid in naturally birthing the placenta by boosting oxytocin, increasing prostaglandin levels and stimulating endorphins, which at the right levels can stimulate effective uterine surges. *This is why it is important NOT to Use Clary Sage before 37 weeks as it can support in bringing on spontaneous labour.

Another reason why I love essential oils is that they provide a tangible & instantaneous way to drop out of our minds & into our bodies

As more research is being directed toward what trauma is and how we can heal from it, we are starting to learn more that trauma is stuck emotion in the body and as Stephen W. Porges an American psychiatrist and neuroscientist and author of The Polyvagal theory shares, trauma is dysregulation in our nervous systems where we don’t feel safe and secure. The more we can start to feel safer in our bodies the more we can start to live from a space of creativity, joy, and flow and feel safer to explore who we are as women, mothers and how we want to experience motherhood. It’s also important to mention that whilst growing up children don’t yet know how to self-regulate and look to us as their caregivers to mirror and co-regulate. Essential oils are a great way for when we are stuck in a loop of our thoughts to pause, take a moment, take a deep breath and bring ourselves back into the present moment and be with our children.

Lastly, our sense of smell is the sense that is most connected to our memories & emotions.

This is why certain scents can instantaneously take us back to our fondest or not so fondest memories. It is so strongly linked to our limbic system that certain scents can also stir emotions within us. As a collective, we already associate certain smells with certain feelings, Chamomile with calm, Orange with invigoration, and Lemon with zesty, to name a few. Then there are the scents that invoke something memorable that is just unique and special to us.

How we can use this to support Mamas during pregnancy, birth and beyond is by conditioning a specific essential oil to act as an anchor so, when inhaled will bring on positive emotions and thoughts. In the Hypnobirthing Australia ™, Positive Birth Program we teach Mamas to condition themselves to release endorphins through light touch massage. The same conditioning can be achieved with your favourite essential oil. The more you create a personal relationship with your chosen oil the stronger the connection will be between the scent and emotion. This can be useful during pregnancy, birth and especially in the postpartum period where creating the space for self-care rituals is vital and where it is your time to receive and fill your cup when most of your day has been spent giving to your little one.

All the essential oils mentioned in this article are safe to use in pregnancy from the second trimester onwards and to avoid use during the first trimester. Other beautiful essential oils to mention are:

  • Frankincense Pure Essential Oil
  • Mandarin Pure Essential Oil
  • Ginger Pure Essential Oil
  • Rose 3% Essential Oil – learn more here.
  • Neroli 3% Essential Oil

It is truly an honour to be a part of a woman’s sacred journey into motherhood and to witness her stepping into her power by taking on more of an active role in her pregnancy journey and seeking tools to support her in having a positive birth experience. Seeing a Mama reconnect to her wisdom ,body, trust her birthing instincts and speak up to ask for ways to support her body, mind and spirit are remarkable to witness.

If you would love to learn other tools, knowledge and techniques you can use Mama during labour & birth to support yourself in having a natural positive birth experience, visit here to learn more about our Hypnobirthing Classes.

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