Until the middle of the 19th century women usually gave birth with other women helping them, most likely women from their own family who had children themselves. There were no drugs to ease labor pains, so these early midwives used the only things they knew could help, aromatic plants and other substances. Recipes and knowledge to heal and deaden pain were handed down from mother to daughter, One of the substances used in childbirth was ergot a cereal fungus that helps the uterus to contract. Today a derivative ergometrine is used in injection form immediately after birth to help the uterus to contract and expel the placenta.
Medicine advanced with the discovery of ‘laughing gas’ in 1772. The use of natural remedies faded as the use of drugs increased. Substances such as Chloroform and morphine were used along with scopolamine (known as twilight sleep) as it made the mother nearly unconscious. Men were the authority on drugs and with it childbirth, whilst midwives were considered second class! Women became conditioned to the idea that birth meant pain and fear and that labor represented giving birth flat on their backs.
During the 1930’s to was this fear of childbirth that a Dr. Dick Read observed in his patients, which led him and others such as Fernando Lamaze to realise that childbirth without conditioned fear was possible and that mothers could partake in and enjoy birth without huge interference from drugs. By the late 1940’s a new era was opening up for women encouraging the use of breathing methods, relaxation and massage as aids to a pain controlled labor.
The revival of Aromatherapy over the last decade has led to it becoming an acceptable form of treatment. Women can be in control of their pain and emotions using the healing powers of essential oils. They also have a choice as how to give birth, and even for those in favour of modern methods of pain relief. Aromatherapy and massage can still play an important role in their labor, as back-up to conventional treatment.
Today in many hospitals, nurses have taken up Aromatherapy courses and are using essential oils in the labor wards. One midwife in a hospital in London says ‘Aromatherapy is a way of life here’. It is one of the first choices for pain relief in labor and is also used for postnatal and baby care.
Some Helpful Blends:
Blend to support Stretch Marks:
80 ml Sweet almond (Prunus amygladus) cold pressed base oil
20 ml Avocado (Persea americana) cold pressed base
7 drops Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia)
5 drops of Mandarin (Or Tangerine) (Citrus reticulata)
•Apply a small amount daily and massage gently to the areas required. After birth carry on using this blend until the weight and figure come back to normal.
Blend to support Varicose Veins:
100 ml unperformed body lotion
5 drops Lemon (Citrus limonum)
5 drops Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
5 drops Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- Mix well and keep refrigerated and use as a light massage over the affected area once a day
Labor Day Massage blend (only to be used when client goes into contractions, water bag breaks, there is a show etc., not otherwise)
50 ml Sweet Almond (Prunus amygladus) cold pressed base oil
6 drops Lavender (Lavendula augustifolia)
6 drops Jasmin Absolute (Jasminum officinale)
- Mix this together and use ONLY when the woman is going into labor or has a show etc., as this will assist with the pains and the expelling of the placenta (after birth) as well. It can be continued until over.
Compiled by Sunita Teckchand – THI-MIFPA
Principal Tutor IFPA – External Examiner