There is nothing like the experience, the intensity, or the transformation of going through full-on, active labor. I recall from my own first childbirth that the experience of early labor was a state of full awareness bound up with excitement, exhilaration, and anxiousness; you are living right on the edge of the spectacular, while dreading the impending muck of the pain and terror of the unknown. From this mixture of adrenaline and fatigue, just when I was forgetting what I was doing and why I was doing it (baby, what?!), full-on active labor dug in.
Goddess level) and their bag of tools to support the, I’ll just say it, PAIN!! of unmedicated childbearing. Years later I feel a bit like Rodney Dangerfield going “Back to School”. If only I could go back all-knowing and with all of the research and technology we have now and hand out bottles of essential oil to my care team and all of the caretakers of women in the generations before me who gave birth during without essential oils. I’d whisper in their ears, don't forget the essential oils, Goddesses of Birthl!! Why did we set aside this beautiful, ancient, traditional practice of oiling our moms oils during labor? (I blame the Puritans, but that’s a different story.) At the crux of it is that we are in a period of “re-oiling now”, with higher-quality essential oils and evermore testimonials and evidence-based research. Those in the know get that essential oils belong with birthing. Why? In a nutshell, essential oils are unique from both the natural and allopathic models of support during labor in four main ways:
1. Pure essential oils are truly holistic, offering healing on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels all at once.
2. Their ridiculously small molecular weight and lipid make-up enable them to easily and deeply penetrate tissues, muscles and nerves so that they can soothe, heal, numb, and relax where they are needed most.
3. The required methods of application for use are actually as pleasant (opposed to say, getting an injection in your spin) and healing as they are therapeutic.
4. And they work. It’s proven.
But you really don’t have to understand how or why they work to enjoy their beauty and power. The best way to get started is with personal experience. Use them on yourself when you have pain and bring them to your next birth. Here are three simple formulas and methods of application to choose from to start.
In the tiniest glass jar that you can find (check for 5/8 dram glass bottles at Fettle Botanical or online) blend one of the formulas below using only therapeutic- quality essential oils (contact me for a free consult if you need help) and keep closed with a tight-fitting lid stored in a dark place.
Blend 1: 10 drops of clary sage, 8 drops of lavender, 6 drop of rose
Blend 2: 10 drops of clary sage, 8 drops of Roman chamomile, 6 drops of cedarwood
Blend 3: 10 drops of white fir, 8 drops of lavender, 6 drop of either jasmine or frankincense
During active labor or when you next have a normal bodily ache or pain of your own, pull out your blend, ask your mom-to-be for her blessing, and experiment with using the oils in one or more of the following ways:
Inhalation- Apply a few drops of your blend to a cloth and encourage mom-to-be to inhale deeply between contractions.
Labor bath- Add 4-8 drops to one tablespoon of full fat milk, glycerine, or bath salt and stir into a hot bath after it has filled. *Do not use essential oils in a birthing tub.
Foot bath- Add 3-4 drops of your blend to 1 tsp. of glycerine, bath salt, milk or cream and stir into a hot foot bath. *A foot baths is a good alternative to a labor bath if a bathtub is not available or if a water birth is planned and there is only one tub.
Hot compress- Add 2-4 drops of your essential oil blend to 1 tsp. of glycerine or another emulsifier and stir into a bowl of water. Soak a rag in the hot water blend before applying as a compress. For back labor, try adding a few drops of black pepper essential oil to your blend.
Massage- Add 2-3 drops of your labor blend per teaspoon of massage oil used. Apply via massage.
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Stephanie McBride is a published writer and certified clinical herbalist who has worked with herbal medicine for over 20 years. She has been in practice as a functional nutritionist and essential oil educator for Daily Nectar since 2009.