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Essential Oils for Childbirth

How do you choose the best essential oils for childbirth?  There is more to it than this oil is good for that, there is also using the oils you have, applying your creative intelligence to combine them.

Using aromatherapy for birth is an age old process and regaining popularity.  Top quality essential oils, which are truly 100% grown on the planet all offer to some degree the general supports below to both two and four legged animals, even though different species have some special caveats.  Over 90% of “essential oils” sold on the planet are not grown here though, so let’s talk about that soon too.  I.e. they may be petrochemical entirely, or laced with synthetic molecules to bring the profile up to sniff test or even gas chromatography profile that may be hard to distinguish from natural.  So, damaging molecules come not just from the pesticides which any fat or oil concentrates while growing.

Here are some of the exciting virtues of organic low temperature and low pressure distilled essential oils (I use Young Living oils for their purity):

  1. antibacterial; many are antiviral also
  2. enhancing oxygenation and life force or “prana”
  3. most cross the blood brain barrier with their effects by diffusion through inhalation, topical application or ingestion, and all quickly penetrate topically being very small molecules (compared to food oils which are much heavier)
  4. antioxidant, free radical reducing effects
  5. many are cortisol reducing (stress hormone)
  6. help maintaining proper acid/alkaline balance
  7. lifting toxins out of tissues for elimination
The body will actually use oils for some of these purposes if needed, rather than their more familiar signature effects, and sometimes people will say, essential oils don’t work for me much.  It is a sign either the quality of the oil is not up to snuff even if it was up to sniff, or that there are higher priorities in this body at that time.  If we tend to be constipated or use toxic chemicals for body and home care for instance, this may happen, along with a rash from those toxic chemicals being pushed out.

But I digress.  You can hear more about the really important Essential Oils Basics on a recorded 2 hour class available now in our shop.

Where to begin choosing birth oils

Some mothers like aromatherapy more than others for general labor support to relax or surrender into the process, and we let their nose know what to use.  Some prefer lavender, others more feminine florals like jasmine, rose, neroli or geranium.  Geranium has gifts for mother issues and all 4 are very skin friendly, neroli for anxiety, jasmine so feminizing and sattvic and also may help release the placenta, rose oh my and the price is an oh my too if it is the real stuff.

Some may want the aroma of the evergreens to bring nature’s life force into the room (and many other benefits), or one of the more hormonal oils like vetiver, clary sage for jump start or try a touch of chamomile for a respite when labor slows.   Sandalwood may help on any chakra level issue, or be not quite feminine or warm enough – see how she feels.   She may be dry, choose a thicker oil, or ungrounded – vetiver, clary sage, sandalwood or jatamamsi/spikenard may call. Well formulated blends offer more bioconstituents which means a broader spectrum effect.  I carry a blend with clary sage, peppermint et al for stalled labor on the rare times I get to attend births – I don’t have a midwife’s physical constitution, so don’t do that much.

Non-toxic antimicrobial support in hospital or home setting has extra benefit of smells and feels good.  Again blends are great here – or use what Mama’s nose chooses.  I use Ayurvedic principles to help choose too.  For example, in hot season we choose a less heating blend, or even lavender can be helpful here with it’s mild antimicrobial action.  In winter, or with kapha mama or someone with a bug in the family, and to protect my client from my own microclimate, I’ll often use a well researched blend which has clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiate and rosemary.  I use less expensive oils for diffusion, and the super potent/expensive ones on key physical or emotional points on the body directly.

For special needs during labor and delivery, aromatherapy is not nearly appreciated enough.  Used correctly is a key caveat to this discussion – essential oils are ideal for helping ease some of the problems occurring during labor.  If you are not sure about quality, dilute significantly.  If you know the inside story, and are not just trusting a bottle which says “100% pure therapeutic” etc (which could be synthetic plus hype according to the loose regulations on aromatherapy) you may dilute 1:1 or 1:2 with a carrier/massage/vegetable oil or use “neet” (straight).

But see what Mama feels about that concentration on her abdomen or near her nose before just putting it on, and know which oil may create some dryness, or be really intense.  We have booklets with nice color coded charts to make it easy.  If she is sweating with an undiluted oil on her, it is likely to sting.  Dilute with oil not moisture or cream to prevent this.

Most commonly –

  1. Enhancing tissue oxygenation
  2. Help relieve tension and promote relaxation – topical on muscle or inhalation
  3. Relaxing oils can help relieve emotional fears and trauma
  4. Help ease pain and strain – wonderful during and after labor
  5. Aid in opening the breathing passages – be careful here, oils like Peppermint are too strong for Baby!  Many oils are respiratory specific – check your reference for their other qualities.  Ayurveda talks about the 20 qualities or gunas, and it is very common sense to apply this wisdom with things like, are they soothing, warming, denser and grounding or light, penetrating, cold or hot?
  6. Communicating & Bonding with Unborn/Newborn
  7. Refreshing oils like the citruses, evergreens eucalyptuses can enliven when dullness or some kind of congestion seems to slow or tire.
  8. Antimicrobial and pain relieving oils are being used internally as well as topically by D. Gary Young for surgery!  That’s for another discussion though.  Some oils are safe for internal use, others not wise, and how they are used is key.
  9. Spiritual and emotional protections – from both solar and lunar oils can be valuable in special cases too.

So I”m asked for my favorite 3 oils for birth.   Not an easy sort, unless mama and the oils collection is there together.

  • Lavender gets the most votes for calming.  It has some benefits for pain also, called the “Swiss army knife of essential oils”.
  • A pain oil….if I’m choosing a single, I’ll choose an evergreen, fav is Balsam Fir, as it helps all the tissues – muscle, connective, bone, nerve, plus all the systems.  Evergreens are more solar, but labor is hard work and it may suit.
  • If mama is fearful or anxious, we will go into a couple emotional supportive oils and the Valor blend by Young Living is first on that list.  It has spruce, blue chamomile, rosewood and frankincense in it.  Vetiver has multiple virtues and is inexpensive.  There are many wonderful oils with hormonal and emotional benefits, that’s another class I’ve spent easily 2 hours on.
  • A hormonal oil, helpful if labor slows – clary sage if mama likes the aroma.

That’s …4… and I’m kind of biting my tongue, but a good start!

I’m of course happy to escort you into the world of my favorite oils, and your most cost effective way to do it.   What’s missing here?  More on how to USE them. If you really want to dive deeper, consider taking our Perinatal Essential Oils Home Study course.

bye for now,
Ysha Oakes