Safe Essential Oils for Labor
They can help treat backaches, nausea, tiredness, and a number of other discomforts that accompany the labor and birthing process.
Besides being useful when trying to counteract the discomforts of labor, research has also found that many women feel more relaxed when essential oils are being diffused around them. Feeling relaxed is obviously an important thing when you’re in labor.
How to Use Essential Oils for Labor:
The most common ways to use essential oils for labor is by diluting them in a carrier oil and then massaging the oils into the skin, inhaling them from the bottle, and/or diffusing.
To use essential oils for a massage: dilute 1-2 drops of the essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. (This is the coconut oil I use.)
There are other carrier oils to choose from such as: grapeseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, etc.
After combining the essential oil with a carrier oil, your husband can massage the mixture into the area(s) mentioned in the next section.
If you’re using a diffuser, the amount of essential oil drops that you add to the water will vary depending on the size of your diffuser and the amount of water it holds.
Most diffusers are made to hold between 100 ml and 300 ml of liquid. A good rule of thumb is to add approximately 3-5 drops of essential oils per 100 ml of water. So for 200 ml, you’d add a total of 6-10 drops. And for 300 ml, you’d add a total of 9-15 drops.
Here are some diffuser blends to try:
Early Labor: 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Orange, and 3 drops Peppermint
Active Labor: 3 drops Lavender, 3 drops Frankincense, 2 drops Ylang Ylang, and 2 drops Roman Chamomile
Transition: 3 drops Orange, 3 drops Lavender, and 3 drops Clary Sage
And remember to change the drops according to amount of water in your diffuser. The amounts above are based on a diffuser containing 200 ml of water.
Safe Essential Oils for Labor and their Uses:
Essential oils offer many benefits to a woman when she’s in labor. But you should check with your doctor or midwife before using them, especially if you’ve had a high-risk pregnancy!
Also, it may be a good idea to inhale different essential oils a few weeks before you expect to be in labor. This way you can sort out which scents appeal to you most and which you’d prefer to avoid.
And if the baby is breech, rubbing a small amount on the top of your abdomen may be helpful in negotiating him/her into the proper birthing position.
Peppermint oil should be moderately diluted before applying to the skin. Also, keep this oil away from your eyes.
Note: Some women may experience decreased milk supply with the use of peppermint oil. If you’re not breastfeeding your baby, after birth you can apply peppermint with a cold compress to help reduce production.
Besides stimulating circulation, lavender oil has a calming effect which can be very helpful if you have any fears or feelings of anxiety when in labor.
You can apply it to your hips, feet, or abdomen and in most cases it doesn’t need to be diluted before applying to the skin.
However, you should always consult your doctor or midwife before applying oils without dilution.
Clary sage has been shown to induce labor. So it should only be used after you’ve gotten your doctor’s okay and are full term.
Also, clary sage helps to start or increase the production of your milk supply. If you want to use it for this, dilute 1-2 drops in a carrier oil and apply on your breasts.
If you begin feeling exhausted while you’re in labor, try this blend of oils:
Combine 2 drops Roman Chamomile, 2 drops Geranium, and 1 drops Lavender in 2 teaspoons of fractionated coconut oil (or other carrier oil) and massage into your skin; specifically your feet and upper and lower back.
A randomized clinical trial involving 100 pregnant women suffering from nausea, found that after inhaling lemon essential oil, the women felt less nauseous. 
Alternatively, inhaling peppermint oil can also be used to reduce feelings of nausea.
In labor (and pregnancy in general), a woman’s blood pressure may rise. High blood pressure can cause several health concerns including a decreased flow of blood to the placenta.
Dilute as recommended and apply over your heart and on the reflex points on your feet and hands.
You can also diffuse it into the air.
Note: If you have high blood pressure it’s best to avoid rosemary oil, thyme oil, and large amounts of peppermint oil.
When diffused, this oil helps to focus energy, minimize distractions, and improve concentration. It also eases hyperactivity, impatience, irritability, and restlessness.
Inhale the oil from the bottle, diffuse it, apply a single drop on the center of both of your palms, or after diluting rub some onto your lower back and belly.
Orange oil is calming and uplifting to the mind and body. It has been shown to help reduce feelings of anxiety and nervousness.
Alternatively you can diffuse this oil into the air or place a drop on each palm and inhale between contractions.
Note: When orange oil is exposed to ultra violet light (including sunlight) it can cause adverse effects such as skin damage. So if you apply orange oil to your skin, you’ll want to avoid direct sunlight to that area for approximately 12 hours.
Have you used essential oils during a previous labor and found that they worked well (or didn’t work for you)? Leave a comment below!
Also, if you’re looking for which essential oils should be used and avoided during your pregnancy, I recommend reading this article: Safe Essential Oils for Pregnancy.
Sources & References:
Yavari Kia et al., 2014 Mar. The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Iran Red Crescent Med J, 16(3). 
Hongratanaworakit et al., 2006 Sep. “Relaxing effect of ylang ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption,” Phytother Res. 20(9):758-63 
Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils. 7th ed. Pleasant Grove, UT: AromaTools, 2015. Print.