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After almost nine months of pregnancy, you’re ready to get the show on the road. It’s high time that you met your new bundle of joy, but there’s just one problem: your body isn’t exactly cooperating. You’ve tried all of the tried-and-true methods to induce labor – sex, spicy food and walking (you even walked a few extra blocks for good measure). Nothing is working.
Have you tried essential oils?
When it comes to inducing labor, essential oils probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. But people have been using these oils for thousands of years for medicinal purposes – and that includes facilitating labor.
We’re going to reveal four essential oils for labor and delivery, the benefits of using essential oils during labor and a few risks you need to be aware of.
Why Use Essential Oils During Childbirth?
Your midwife may have recommended aromatherapy during your pregnancy to help keep your moods balanced, your mind relaxed and those uncomfortable pregnancy side effects at bay.
Certain oils can be used during pregnancy to:
- Combat nausea (spearmint or peppermint)
- Alleviate headaches (lavender)
- Relieve pain (black pepper)
- Help you sleep (chamomile or ylang ylang)
- Wake you up (tangerine)
- Combat stuffy noses and allergies (eucalyptus)
- Get things moving – a.k.a. constipation (citrus oils)
- Bring down swelling in the ankles (cypress)
Aromatherapy and massages with essential oils can also provide you with relief during childbirth.
Black pepper and lavender oils, for example, have pain-relieving properties that can make labor a little more comfortable. Lavender and frankincense also have calming effects, which can soothe anxiety – which is common during the first stages of labor.
Aside from their beneficial properties, essential oils also provide you with:
- A safe alternative for pain management during labor
- A natural way to make childbirth more comfortable
And in some cases, certain essential oils can be used to induce labor and make childbirth as quick as possible.
3 Things You Need to Know When Using Essential Oils during Childbirth
Although essential oils (EO’s) are natural, you need to be cautious when using them – whether you’re pregnant or not. Just like herbal supplements, essential oils are potent and can cause side effects.
Here are three important things you need to know when using EO’s during labor:
1. Not All Essentials Oils Are Safe for Pregnancy
Many of the oils recommended for labor induction are not recommended for use during pregnancy. In other words, you’ll need to wait until you’re past your due date to use them. Otherwise, you may be putting your baby (and yourself) at risk.
You shouldn’t be trying to induce labor before your due date, but if you are looking for methods to help get your body ready for delivery day, certain essential oils should be off the table (don’t worry – we’ll talk about those shortly).
2. Always Dilute the Oil before Use
Many women just assume they can dab a drop or two of the oil on their skin (or in their vagina in some cases), but essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin without being diluted first. And you should never insert any oils into your vagina unless instructed by your midwife or doctor. Furthermore, you should never eat these oils unless they are food grade (even then, proceed with extreme caution).
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about dilution. There are several ways to dilute essential oils:
- Water: Water is commonly used to dilute essential oils in aromatherapy through a diffuser or warmer. You can also add oils to a bath and soak in it to take advantage of the benefits.
- Oil: The most common way to dilute oils before applying them to your skin is with carrier oil. Coconut, apricot and almond oil are the most popular and effective carrier oils.
3. Don’t Go Overboard
Essential oils are highly potent, so you want to be cautious when using them. If you’re applying the oil to your wrists or palms, a drop or two is all you need.
You’ll understand just how strong the smell is when you open your first bottle of oil.
One last tip: always use a reputable oil brand, and make sure the oil is pure (not fragrance oil). We recommend DoTerra essential oils for pregnancy because of their high quality and potency.
The 4 Best Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Inducing Labor
1. Clary Sage
While you can use clary sage to induce labor, you cannot use it at any other point in your pregnancy. That’s because this powerful oil is believed to be emmenagogues, meaning that it can induce menstrual bleeding (or a miscarriage early in pregnancy).
Because this oil can induce uterine contractions, many women use clary sage oil to facilitate labor.
Like clary sage, jasmine oil can induce uterine contractions to get the labor process moving. You want to avoid using this oil before you’re ready to give birth for this very reason.
Lavender oil is wonderful for relaxation and pain relief. Safe to use all throughout your pregnancy, lavender can keep you calm while making labor a little more comfortable.
Rose is an excellent oil for labor and also for rejuvenating tired skin. This potent oil helps expand and open the pelvis, which allows the baby to easily pass through. It’s also known to cleanse the uterus. Because not all rose oil is pure, we recommend DoTerra rose oil, which is of the highest quality.
Essential oils are a great way to induce labor and make your pregnancy a little less stressful, but do make sure that you check with your doctor or midwife before using them to ensure that they’re safe for your pregnancy.