There is nothing like the experience, the intensity, or the transformation of going through active labor. I recall from my own first childbirth that 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 kicked in.
From then on out, I could do nothing more than breath from one moment to the next. But throughout this ritual of transformation there were calming voices, healing hands, and hot water compresses. I felt safer in the knowledge that my ‘team’ was there, those ever-present sages of wisdom (who used to just be women but were elevated in my mind to Goddess level) and their bag of tools to support them as they coped with my anxiousness and 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 support team and all of the caretakers of women in the generations before me who gave birth without essential oils. I’d whisper in their ears, don't forget the essential oils, Goddesses of Birth!! Why did we set aside this beautiful, ancient, traditional practice of oiling our moms during labor? However, at the crux of it is that we are in a period of “re-oiling now”, with higher-quality essential oils and evermore positive 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 incredibly minute 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 spine) 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 begin.
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 Cage**, 8 drops of Lavender, 6 drops 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 drops of either Jasmine or Frankincense
** Discontinue the use of Clary Sage once contractions are regular and effective.
During active labor or when you next have a normal bodily ache or pain of your own, pull out your choice blend 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 inhale deeply between contractions (or if you are supporting a mom-to-be, you may prepare a blend on cloth for her to inhale, always asking her permission first of course!).
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 bath 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 pain, 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.