Does Hypnobirthing and Aromatherapy work well together?
My daughter invited me to join her in her hypnobirthing classes, as I was to support her and her girlfriend in the birth of their son. My focus was as an aromatherapist/mum/gatekeeper/tea maker.
She planned a water birth at home and practiced for the last month hypnobirthing techniques. Her labour was long and her son was born with Ventouse due to the baby’s presentation. She stayed amazingly focused and calm throughout the whole journey, and after she was taken to hospital her midwives particularly mentioned how well she did without any analgesia.
During the labour at home we used essential oils in the diffuser intermittently to help with breathing and focus. I gave her clary sage and lavender essential oil massages especially later in the labour during the surges, using acupressure points to help with such strong sensations in her lower back. Her partner helped keep the hypnobirthing focus. We all worked together, aroma and hypno-therapy worked beautifully together too.
A simple aromatherapy method most surprised my daughter with how effective it was. I gave her a drop of peppermint essential oil on a cotton wool pad, to support her breath, focus and especially her nausea. She says that this gave her incredible relief. Smelling this in between surges became a ritual for her. As she finished each surge through the long night and into the next day and evening, she returned to her cushion nest, re-found this pad to hold and sniff, as she rested and used hypnobirthing techniques. For her aromatherapy was another therapeutic layer that worked beautifully alongside hypnobirthing keeping calm and focus during her experience.
As she was wheeled away from me in hospital with her still present and active I gave her frankincense to smell to help reduce any potential trauma and fear with this huge change of plan. Asking her now she says that although the Ventouse delivery obviously wasn’t in her birth plan that she didn’t feel distress or that she missed out on the experience of giving birth to her son at all.
After his birth he settled easily. I was blessed to experience the birth of my grandson, in addition to seeing the hypnobirthing and aromatherapy combo work so well and inspiring me for my work with childbirth.
Women often gravitate towards hypnotherapy techniques and aromatherapy in equal measure in aiming to avoid significant side-effect laden medications such as opiate-based injections and epidurals. In my practice I have had the privilege of working alongside women using both of these and its easy to see how well they work together to aid facing the challenges of childbirth.
Expectation of birth and how we will respond to it is a tricky thing to manage, especially with the first time. When we read accounts that state that birth became easier with hypnobirthing or aromatherapy, we might mistakenly translate that as ‘easy’ in our minds and then the demands of labour might come as a shock.
One midwife friend of mine was irritated at the saying ‘they don’t call it labour for nothing’, but I wasn’t sure why as it was a phrase that Lindsay had said to me at some point in the middle of my first pregnancy and it helped prepare me for the significant amount of effort required for birthing babies. I think it’s important to understand that these gentle yet powerful tools will not do the work for us, but may significantly help us to work with our bodies in labour.
Hypnobirthing techniques often produce a calm acceptance of birth with an underlying understanding of how the body opens up. Both hypnobirthing and aromatherapy encourage the mind to find calm acceptance and respond to the sensations of labour in a way that allows rather than resists the body’s work, and so the two work synergistically towards this aim.
In the birth room I have seen a number of moods lifted by mandarin, a lot of nausea eased by peppermint, much anxiety and fear reduced by frankincense, countless surges encouraged by clary sage and plenty of pain soothed by lavender. I’ve used aromatherapy with and without hypnobirthing techniques and find both to be effective, however the combination of both can be exquisite.
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