It’s okay to be terrified of labor. Even if you’re ready to be the most caring, proficient mother in town, the actual thought of giving birth is intimidating. Of course, you can take the classes and read the books, but it’s impossible to prepare for the physical pain. For that reason, many women choose to have cesarean sections. Natural birth is a beautiful thing, but when modern medicine gives you an easier alternative, many women find it difficult to resist. There is also the option for medicine such as an epidural. Getting these things in the moment might seem like the best idea, but years later you might wish you had held out for the natural birth.

That’s where aromatherapy comes into play. Many women don’t like medicinal or invasive forms of pain management during their pregnancy. In fact, some women are even averse to labor massages and breathing techniques because they feel it interferes with their reeling thoughts and feelings. One important thing to remember as you approach your pregnancy is that there’s no way to predict how you’ll feel. You might love massages right now, but when you’re having contractions every other minute, you might find them irritating. The same goes for breathing exercises. You might have practiced your breathing patterns one hundred times in Lamaze class, but the routine might seem silly when you’re screaming in pain. Thus, you should consider having aromatherapy on hand for the day of labor. Studies show that scents such as chamomile, sage, lavender, and mandarin were all equally effective in reducing pain during labor. These scents can be rubbed on the skin or released in the air to calm you down and make for a more pleasant birth experience.

It’s okay to be screaming in pain during labor. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to act calm, cool, and collected while giving birth, especially if you chose not to use any medicinal aids in pain management. However, you should try to achieve the most pleasant birth possible just so that you can look back fondly on the once-in-a-lifetime experience. While it might be just as ineffective as all of the other pain management methods you had in mind, consider trying aromatherapy during labor to reduce the pain and enhance the experience. It’s a low-cost option, and if it’s effective, you’ll be proud to say that you had a beautiful, natural birth experience.

Source: Caroline A Smith et al: Aromatherapy for Pain Management in Labor. The Cochrane Library July 2011