Alli & Lea
Childbirth educators, doulas, and Lumos co-founders
“Tips for Doulas”
Todays tip: When using aromatherapy, wait on using a diffuser if labor is in full swing.
One of the most remarked-upon and beloved items in our doula bags are our oils and diffuser.
Aromatherapy really is effective in labor for adding to/changing the mood in the room for the laboring family and also staff. We’ve seen countless big deep breaths and shoulders visibly relaxing from staff as they walk in the room when the diffuser is running.
AND. If someone is deep in labor-land, you don’t want to whip out that particular tool without first doing a sniff test. Senses are heightened in labor – and something that may have sounded or worked fantastic prior to labor might just be awful in labor. We’ve seen both nausea and panic on the part of laboring folks when strong smells have hit them – even smells they otherwise love.
Lea almost throttled a good friend when she lit sweetgrass (a sacred medicine for them both) during her first labor – the smell would normally be incredibly soothing but was absolutely overwhelming in labor.
So here’s what you do: put any oils on a washcloth to start. It can get placed close to the laboring person, and easily removed and tucked away if it’s too much. If it’s well tolerated over a period of 15-30m, then go ahead and start the diffuser.
The washcloth is a good trick for partners too – peppermint is great for nausea and tired-ness, and something citrusy (we love lemongrass) is strong and great for masking other smells. You can put a few drops on a washcloth and have partners tuck it into the neck of their shirt so they can lean down and take a subtle whiff if they need it.
Also – NEVER EVER put the oils in the tub. It may be what you love to do at home, but sometimes folks have a skin reaction to the oil, and that’s a shitshow to deal with while also in labor. Not to mention the time it takes to then drain and wash the tub, and then refill.
Our goal is to do these on a regular basis, so check back again! And if you’re a birthie and you want to get updates when we send out doula-related info, subscribe here! 💛