Has anyone else been watching BBC1’s fantastic ‘The White Queen’? Well we have, and we love it! Not only are we completely fascinated by the details of the life and politics of the medieval court, but also there are also some fantastic snippets information about domestic and especially female medieval life, which we just don’t normally find in the history books. For example during last week’s episode, Queen Elizabeth was seen giving birth to the latest of her numerous children (another boy – the ‘spare’ to go with the previous heir), but during the pains of labour she sent one of her ladies in waiting to fetch her some lavender ‘to help with the childbirth’.
Lavender has long been known to possess soothing and calming qualities and so seems to be an obvious choice for use during labour. Many modern hospitals and maternity units now offer lavender and other aromatherapy oils that can be inhaled or used as a massage oil to aid labouring women to keep calm and concentrate on the job in hand, thus promoting a more effective birth. Also lavender can be used as a room spritz to help to disguise that ‘hospital smell’ which can result in the mother feeling more comfortable and relaxed, thus again promoting a calmer labour.
Further to this a study was carried out in 1994 in Hinchingbrook Hospital in Cambridge by Dale & Cornwell, that showed that using pure lavender essential oil as a postnatal bath additive can help to relieve perineal pain. Also importantly no side effects have been found to the use of lavender oil for this, a result of significant importance to many mothers who do not wish to use synthetic products around either themselves or their newborns.
HOWEVER, PLEASE NOTE THAT WE DO NOT RECOMMEND USING LAVENDER, OR ANY OTHER ESSENTIAL OIL DURING PREGNANCY OR LABOUR UNLESS UNDER THE STRICT SUPERVISION OF YOUR DOCTOR OR MIDWIFE. In the wrong proportions, lavender or any other essential oil, could exhibit toxicity levels which could cause side effects. As a precaution, we would never recommend placing aromatherapy oils directly onto the mothers’ skin, instead mix with a carrier oil or simply allow the scent to infuse the room by placing away from the direct birth site.