Review on the Anti-Anxiety Effect of Aromatherapy During the First Stage of Labor

Anxiety is the most common psychological response of women to labor. According to the control theory, there is a relationship between pain and psychological problems like anxiety. Maternal anxiety during labor leads to severe contraction of the pelvic floor and perineal muscles and this can increase the labor pain. Another effect of anxiety is its effect on labor progression. Anxiety during labor activates the sympathetic nervous system and expands hormonal secretion such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, which can lead to decreased effective uterine contractions, prolonged first and second stages of labor, increased invasive interventions, and even increased likelihood of cesarean delivery.

There are numerous pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for reducing anxiety. In recent years, non-pharmacological methods such as relaxation techniques, reflexology, massage therapy, and listening to music have found a special place in midwifery science because of their availability, cost effectiveness, low complications, and easy usage. Aromatherapy is one of the non-pharmacological methods which use essential or volatile oils extracted from aromatic plants to treat or prevent several diseases.

Two basic mechanisms are offered to explain the purported effects of this therapy. One is the influence of aroma on the brain; especially the limbic system through the olfactory system and the other is the direct pharmacological effects of the essential oils.

Although several systematic review studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing pain during labor, there is no review of this therapy on women’s anxiety during labor. Hence, this systematic review study, published in Journal of Caring Science, summarizes the clinical trial intervention studies that evaluated the effect of aromatherapy on women’s anxiety during the first stage of labor.

In this study you will learn:

aromatherapy pregnancy 1. The efficacy of essential oils of lavender, rosa damascene, clary sage, geranium, frankincense, chamomile, bitter orange, sweet orange, peppermint, jasmine, clove.

2. Effectiveness of modalities such as footbath, inhalation and footbath, birthing pool, acupressure points and compression.

3. Positive effect of aromatherapy on anxiety level during the first stage of labor.

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Source: Ghiasi A, Bagheri L, Haseli A. A systematic review on the anxiolytic effect of aromatherapy during the first stage of labor. J of Caring Sci 2019; 8(1): 51-60.