Essential Oils and Why We Don’t Recommend Them for Birth

We realize that we may get a lot of backlash for this. We know that people love essential oils, and hey, they do smell really pretty. Most of them, anyway. We know so many birth professionals, newborn specialists, postpartum doulas, and moms who just want 20 seconds of freakin’ peace in their house that use them religiously.

But we don’t.

We actually have a little bit of a soapbox about specific companies, but we won’t get into that this time.

Here is our number one reason for not recommending the use of topical application or diffusing of an essential oil during your labor & birth: respiratory distress.
Have you ever added a few too many drops of peppermint or lavender to your diffuser and found it difficult to breathe? That can happen to baby even if you are only using a small amount of oil.

There are very few circumstances where we are comfortable with the use of essential oils:

  • Peppermint for nausea. It goes on a cloth and the oil does not touch mom’s skin. Ever. As soon as pushing begins, the cloth is tossed in a bag and tied up away from mom.
  • Lavender for a nervous mom. Or partner. Again, it goes on a cloth and does not touch mom’s skin. Tossed in a bag and tied up when we are done with it.
  • Clary Sage for a mama that needs more effective contractions and only if the care provider has okayed this tool. The same precautions are taken when we are done using it.

Those are the only times we are comfortable with the use of essential oils during labor and birth. We always strongly encourage families to do research on their own, because we believe that informed choice is incredibly important. We urge anyone thinking about using essential oils to speak with a certified aromatherapist before they do.

There are a number of oils that are great for facilitating healing of the perineum and we’ll save those for another day.

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