It’s hard to imagine that the intoxicating scents of lavender, rose and jasmine are powerful enough to relax a woman during the pain and high anxiety of labor. The fascinating science of aromatherapy is known to reduce anxiety, which is why it is an ideal solution to reduce pain and improve labor progression.
Anxiety is the most common psychological response of women in labor. Maternal anxiety during labor can lead to severe contractions of the pelvic floor and perineal muscles, which can increased labor pain. The other effect of anxiety is its ability to impeed labor progression. Aromatherapy is a simple solution that is both effective and pleasant.
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 has a place as well.
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.
The researchers of this study conclude: “As generally most of the reviewed studies showed a positive effect of aromatherapy on anxiety level during the first stage of labor, it is recommended that aromatherapy might help as a complementary therapy in reducing the anxiety level of women during labor.”
In this study you will learn:
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.
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.