As a fully paid member of the love for aromatherapy oils, being able to use the power of these beautiful little plant oils to help those you love is a pure honour and joy.
Aromatherapy use for pregnancy advice can be a little conflicting and so this is our personal story of some of the oils we used and how to get the best out of them during pregnancy and Labour
Let’s start with a little background on how these gorgeous-smelling oils helped during pregnancy, birth and beyond for our family.
Why use essential oils during pregnancy?
When my youngest daughter told me her wonderful news just over 9 months ago, I was keen to use some of my favourite oils during the pregnancy to help keep her skin beautifully supple, promote relaxation and crucially help speed up the dilation process.
As I’d been asked several times too for tummy rub oil mixes to help my elder daughter after the birth of my first Grandaughter 6 years ago, I was confident that number 2 daughter would also benefit from aromatherapy oils during this exciting time in her life.
My eldest daughter has used all kinds of expensive branded creams and oils which, of course, is an expensive way to keep your skin looking its best after having her baby.
However, with young ladies being particularly discerning I was pleased when my eldest daughter asked for multiple refills of an oil blend I had created!
I was even more pleased when she asked me to mix up a blend as gifts for when visiting her girlfriends.
One oil blend, lots of uses
The magic of essential oil blends is that they have many uses and aren’t created simply to use in a single way.
Other types of creams are usually formulated for the body but not your face for instance.
Essential oil blends have a wealth of uses. From using in a bath, as a roll-on fragrance, adding to a diffuser to make your home smell gorgeous, popping on your pregnancy and post-pregnancy tummy and even helping to speed up labour.
Here’s the recipe for my favourite pregnancy oil blend. You can make more or less by increasing or halving the formula.
My favourite pregnancy tummy rub blend
- 2 tablespoons of apricot oil or jojoba oil (if you haven’t got either of these to hand, you can simply use sunflower or olive oil that you use for cooking. The results won’t be quite so aromatic.
- 5 drops of lavender oil
- 3 drops of chamomile oil
Pop all ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well. The best jars to use are amber coloured glass jars as it reduces exposure to light which can make the oils less effective.
However, whatever you have to hand will be fine. You might like to sterilize a small empty jam jar using boiled water or pop it in the microwave (while still wet) and turn it on ‘high’ (usually around 1,000 watts) for 30-45 seconds.
Essential oils for stretch marks
So this blend is right up there as one of my most successful blends ever, given the feedback I’ve had from my family and their friends!
Although I’ve been using oils in so many ways myself for years, it’s just great to find out they are winners where my adult children are concerned.
As all mums know, helping your daughters through challenging times is part and parcel of the job, but it’s so rewarding when you know you are helping!
My daughter who has recently delivered her first baby girl loved using the blend for lots of reasons. Here’s what she said:
“I used it twice a day even in the early stages of pregnancy, and post because your skin can feel quite loose after. The blend helped keep my skin tight and because I couldn’t bath or shower with perfumed soap it makes you smell nice too and feel relaxed”
One of the main benefits of using a tummy rub oil other than its benefit to your skin is that it smells lovely too! Post delivery it’s often recommended to use only water in your bath if, for instance, you’ve had stitches.
As most of us love the sensory experience of bathing, it can be difficult bathing in just water. I know personally, my daughter said she felt like she found it hard as she couldn’t ‘smell nice!’
One of the main benefits she found from
using the tummy rub was that you could still smell the aroma from the oils the next day even after having a bath and her skin still felt super soft and hydrated!
So how does it actively help stretch marks and why do these power-packed little oils help?
Why do essential oils help with stretch marks?
Stretch marks are indented lines or sometimes bands of reddened skin which can be found on your tummy during pregnancy and sometimes on the breasts after delivery when you are feeding your baby.
They can often disappear around 6 months after pregnancy but if not, eventually they will appear like little silvery or white lines.
While they are still red, they will respond well to moisturizing which can help not only lessen their appearance but also help prevent more from appearing.
Making sure your tummy and breast area are fully moisturized can keep your delicate skin areas supple which can help to lessen the chance of getting them in the first place.
Why does the essential oil tummy rub work so well?
Apricot kernel oil is scientifically documented as an anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids which absorb well into the skin and helps keep your skin nourished while retaining its elasticity.
Lavender oils are the king of all oils. Its uses literally know no bounds, it’s been used for centuries and is well known for its skin healing properties too.
A bottle of lavender oil is all you need to begin your oil journey. And it’s perfect for helping with the challenges of pregnancy, Labour and beyond.
It’s also safe for newborns. It’s used in many over-the-counter remedies for little ones from sleep sprays to nappy creams.
Lavender’s sedative and calming effects are also well documented. A lavender oil massage can help relax babies, encourage sleep and also add a little help to bringing up their wind!
Another great way to get lavender’s super speedy healing qualities is by adding a few drops to your nipples if they are cracked and sore mixed with a little breast milk to help the healing process.
There are so many ways Lavender can help with pregnancy, labour, and your new little deliveries that I will be dedicating a whole blog to it.
In the meantime head over and discover more about lavender oil.
Chamomile essential oil in labour
Chamomile too is a supernatural healer and is also packed full of skin goodies to keep your skin smooth, healthy and supple.
Similar to lavender it’s also packed full of antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory according to research.
It’s also used in many over-the-counter baby creams and nipple creams and has the most gorgeous daisy-like scent.
So now we’ve discovered the benefits of using the magical triad of chamomile, apricot and lavender oils to help with stretch marks, how did using essential oils during labour help my daughter?
Labour and essential oils: a story
So after a few false starts and two disappointing visits to the hospital where she was sent home, started the story of my daughter’s labour.
The first visit with a suspected water breaking turned out to be the beginning of her labour with a 1cm dilation on a super hot Thursday morning in August.
During the day she experienced niggling pains but nothing substantial, the following morning things seemed to heat up a little and before my eyes had the chance to open, my daughter and her partner had headed off to the hospital.
Although progress has been made she was sent home as still only 3cm at this point she was starting to feel uncomfortable so we started the Tens machine which helped initially and diffused some lavender in the room to help with relaxation and to help keep the air germ free.
I was initially a little reluctant to massage as I was worried I’d knock off the tens machine patches! However, soon my daughter was asking for a back rub, so we began.
Back rubbing with clary sage at 3cm dilated
Her labour pains began to intensify quite soon after returning from hospital, so along with timing the contractions I also made sure before each one started I was ready with the next lot of massage oil.
We didn’t say much, just me saying ‘it’s coming, yes?’ And my daughter responded with ‘yes’ …
She felt most comfortable standing up and leaning over the bed. So I’d get ready to rub her lower back right down to her bottom at the start of each contraction, and continued rubbing until the contraction had peaked and then waned.
We found harder rubbing made the most difference and helped her through each contraction. So I tried to apply as much pressure as possible without hurting her.
We did find rubbing too hard caused too much friction so it was a delicate balance between enough pressure to make a difference, but we weren’t rubbing against each other like a match on a matchbox!
Clary sage and apricot oil massage blend
- 2 tablespoons Apricot oil
- 15 drops of clary sage
Shake well in a small glass jar or pop in a saucer
I started off with an oil blend of clary sage, and apricot oil mixed in a small jar, but after half an hour of maybe 9 contraction massages, I’d run out!
During the next half an hour, I literally added some apricot oil directly to my hands holding the bottle in my palms and simply tipping it so it lightly covered my hand, then dropped 3 to 5 drops of clary sage straight from the bottle on my palms, before starting the massage.
This continued for a good half an hour at which point my daughter felt she needed some extra help perhaps in terms of gas and air and to be taken to the hospital.
Our issue was that if she still wasn’t dilated enough, they would send her home and my daughter felt like one more unnecessary journey in the car to the hospital would be the final torture!
But at some point the decision to go into hospital needed to be made.
Although I’m not a midwife and have no training at all in that area, my sixth sense told me she had moved along in her labour quite significantly, so I was sure she wouldn’t be coming back this time!
The good news I was waiting for arrived when my daughter’s partner texted to say she was now 6cm dilated and the midwives were running her bath!
So the upshot was we managed to progress my daughter’s Labour from 3cm to 6 cm in around an hour with lower back rubs and a blend of oils including clary sage.
So was it just the clary sage blend that helped progress Labour and control the pain?
Our own personal view is that the oils combined with the massage did definitely help my daughter control the pain and it did seem to quicken up a process that seemed to be dragging its feet a little!
The tens machine did work for a limited time in the beginning, but soon the effects wore off, and ultimately we just took the patches off so I could massage her more easily.
“We managed to progress my daughter’s labour from 3cm to 6 cm in around an hour with lower back rubs and a blend of oils including clary sage.“
Why did a clary sage massage help during labour?
A massage is a powerful tool for all kinds of pain as anyone who’s been to see a sports massage therapist will tell you!
Any kind of nonsexual touching dramatically such as hugging or massaging has been studied to increase oxytocin, which is also known as the bonding hormone.
Oxytocin and its power during birth
There has been considerable research on the effects of oxytocin in labour.
One particular study found that when it’s released into the brain during labour it has beneficial effects during birth and afterwards. It’s also used widely in inductions (artificially started labour). So there is evidence behind why it might help during labour.
The same study concludes that oxytocin is responsible for reducing anxiety and pain in labour and also helps to progress uterine contractions.
It works by helping to ‘switch’ on mum’s reward centre and get her ready to meet her precious newborn for the first time!
Oxytocin stimulates the onset of other ‘feel-good’ hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, alongside reducing stress hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol.
Additionally, clary sage has also been studied for its oxytocin increasing effect. Not only that, clary sage is a natural uterotonic which means it can cause the uterus to contract. Along with its sedative and pain relief qualities, it also helps to calm the nervous system.
Our thoughts on the use of essential oil massage during Labour
So it could be the combination of the oxytocin increasing massage coupled with the extra boost of the same from the clary sage which contributed to my daughter’s pain control. While also helps to increase dilation significantly during just one hour’s massage.
Talking to my daughter afterwards I know that having mum massage her also contributed to her feeling more ‘safe’ which would also add to the usefulness of the message and perhaps a reduction of anxiety.
The back rubbing I have to say will go down in our own family history as one of the most amazing ways I could help my daughter cope with the pressures and pain of labour.
The end result was completely mindblowing for me. Helping her to bring a precious new daughter and granddaughter into the world is something I’ll remember forever.