Touch is language through which we can convey a range of things including caring, comfort and empathy. Massage at its base is touch. Massage in general has a multitude of benefits. It lowers blood pressure, improves body function, helps overcome pain and discomfort and speeds healing. In addition to this, massage promotes a feeling of wellbeing, comfort and relaxation to the recipient. For a labouring woman, the endorphins released during massage can provide her with natural pain-relief that for many women is preferable to alternative methods of pain relief.
Massage can promote relaxation in the labouring woman, decrease her stress levels, allay fear and anxiety and lessen pain. During labour, many women experience intense lower back pain and massage which focuses on the lower back, and counter-pressure can prove extremely helpful in providing pain relief for these women.
A study of labouring women from 1993 (Klaus, Kennel and Klaus) found that women massaged during labour reported a decrease in depressed mood, anxiety and pain, and showed less agitation. These massaged mothers also experienced significantly shorter labours and less post natal depression.
Massage during labour can be administered by a birth support partner, doula or midwife.
Aromatherapy is a complex and immensely interesting area of study! The following few paragraphs will hopefully give you a small insight into the benefits of aromatherapy for labour.
Essential oils can enter the body in one of three ways:
1) via the skin, such as in massage
2) via the nose when inhaled and thirdly
3) via the mouth when ingested (NOT recommended).
Essential oils have an effect on both the physiology (body) and the psychology (mind). Scientific studies have shown how emotional stress effects our physiology. Reducing our stress levels (by way of something like aromatherapy) can help the body to relax and thereby heal itself obviously benefiting both mind and body.
Essential oils, regardless of where they are placed on the body, will seek out the area of illness or discomfort and target them for healing. During a massage, the skin absorbs the diluted essential oil blend and then once inside the body, the particles of the essential oils circulate in the blood and travel to internal organs and body systems where needed. The inhalation of essential oil particles in the air, travel into the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. Additionally, these odour molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain via the limbic system (the emotional brain).
Essential oils for use in massage and aromatherapy are selected based on not only their scent but also on their therapeutic properties. For example an essential oil may have the following properties: sedative, antispasmodic, anti-depressant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, uterine (tonic of the uterus).
It’s interesting to note that in Oxford, England, some hospitals are using essential oils known for their sedative or anti-depressant qualities to release endorphins and enkephalins (neurochemical analgesics and tranquilisers). Lavender, marjoram, geranium, mandarin and cardamom have replaced chemical sedatives in these hospitals. These oils relax people, lower blood pressure, increase mental acuity, normalise body functions, reduce stress and even act as aphrodisiacs. (Damian and Damian).
Labour oils that have been specifically created with birthing women in mind, will usually contain a blend of essential oils to help labouring women either by helping them to relax or by helping the body to better manage contractions. Essential oils are selected based on their therapeutic properties, so for example lavender essential oil will often be chosen to support a labouring woman as the overall properties of lavender are soothing, calming and relaxing. Lavender can help to allay fear, relax the body and relax the mind. Lavender is an anti-depressant, nervine and a sedative.
Clary Sage oil is an essential oil very specific to hormones of the female reproductive system, as it is often used to treat menopausal symptoms and to regulate menstruation. In early labour, clary sage works on a physical level to relax the body, regulate contractions and ease pain. On an emotional level, clary sage is both a euphoric oil, and an anti-depressant, helping to ease anxiety and stress.
The right labour oil, combined with massage provided by a birth support person, doula or willing midwife can greatly enhance a birth experience. The benefits of massage and aromatherapy also continue after birth, into the post natal period and of course massage makes for great bonding with your new baby.
An oil to use during labour made with lavender essential oil to help calm and soothe you, clary sage to help ease uterine contractions and geranium to help balance your hormones.
Made with 100% certified organic ingredients.
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