essential oils: aromatherapy for labor

One thought that kept repeating through my head while I was in labor: “wow, you just don’t get this type of special treatment in a hospital.” I mean, I was pampered. I ate well, my feet were rubbed, my hair was brushed, the supply of water and juice was never-ending, my shoulders were massaged, I got plenty of warm showers and baths…. it was amazing. Okay, apart from the pain of labor lol, it was amazing.

The part I want to focus on right now is the use of essential oils during labor. Aromatherapy can do some awesome things IF you know what scents to use and the goal you’re trying to accomplish. So here’s a list I’ve complied of some options…




If labor is long and tiring, this oil can be used to rejuvenate you–it’s a refreshing stimulant. I had a few drops added to my last shower before pushing baby Rebecca out. Peppermint (or spearmint) may also help alleviate nausea. You could use it for a foot massage too!

Mmm, one of my favorites. This is a gentle scent and can be very calming. It can also help ease uterine pain and relieve back pain. I’ve also heard that it can help strengthen contractions and reduce stretch marks? You can use it for a massage, diffuse it, or use it on a compress (for back pain).

Clary Sage:
Works as a muscle relaxant to relieve tension and stress–which may help bring on labor, if that’s what you need. May help with the third stage of labor, too (expelling the placenta).

Inhale for a calming effect. Massage into lower back or tummy for pain relief (and on perineum after birth if you’re sore).

Can dull uterine pain, strengthen contractions, and increase milk supply. Massage on lower back.

Can help soften ligaments (to open up your pelvis for birth) and acts as an antidepressant.  Add a few drops to a bath or massage on lower back.

SOME TIPS: Essential oils are very potent so don’t use a lot and make sure the mama doesn’t have an aversion or allergy to any of them. They can be hard to clear from the air once used (especially if first directly massaged on mama’s skin). Definitely ask your midwife or doctor before using any.

Your doula or midwife may carry some of these with them to a labor so ask what’s in their bag. If they don’t carry any or don’t have some you think you may want, just buy them yourself! I bought a few while I was pregnant to be sure we had them on hand–like lavender and peppermint. is a good place to find oils–they are Verified Pure Therapeutic Grade and they also sell some blends that might be awesome to try (I haven’t).

I just found this “recipe” on the Health-Essentials website and wish I had seen it before my labor! Near the end, especially while pushing, I loved having a cold, wet washcloth on my forehead or neck. This recipe is for a “Labor Cooling Compress Blend.” How nice does that sound?! Here it is:

  • 10 drops jasmine oil
  • 5 drops Roman chamomile
  • 5 drops geranium oil
  • 20 drops lavender oil
  • “Put the oils in a bowl of water; swish the water clockwise, and while the water is still agitated, place a wash cloth into the water, wring out slightly, and use to cool mom’s head and face.”

Any oils you love to use?

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