New Baby Smell!
May 24, 2010
Expectant mothers leaning toward natural childbirth but not toward the pain associated with labor may find the solution right under their noses.
At Southmead Hospital in Bristol, U.K., 24 midwives have been trained to employ aromatherapy as natural pain relief for patients giving birth at the hospital and in their own homes. Bergamot, jasmine, lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, clary sage and frankincense are being mixed and administered by the midwives via massage, bath, or smelling stick.
Southmead administrators point out that the use of aromatherapy oils does not necessarily mean that a woman will not have an epidural - although it does mean they may be able to go longer before they require the pain relief. In fact, women who plan in advance to have an epidural will not be offered aromatherapy. However, women who plan a natural birth and opt for the essential oils can turn to an epidural if they should need it.
It is hoped that offering women aromatherapy will support the drive from the Department of Health for more women to give birth naturally. The oils will generally be used for lower risk births in which medical complications are not expected, already the criteria for women giving birth in their own homes or in the birth suite at Southmead, which is run by midwives rather than doctors.
Establishing guidelines and setting standards for the prescription of aromatherapy during labor took hospital administrators and clinicians a year but, for the 30 women who have benefitted from the new approach, it was time well spent. “I had a bath with the oils and a smell stick which attaches to your top,” says Sarah Ludwell of Kingswood, who gave birth to her first child Ethan last Friday. “The atmosphere was really calm and cosy, it just felt like I was at home.”
Manager of Southmead Hospital’s midwife-led birth suite, Mary Carlisle, is likewise enthusiastic. “In a way this changes the relationship between midwives and the woman, rather than being prescriptive and being associated with a painful experience.”
In addition to the primary benefit of natural pain relief, this aromatherapeutic approach will offer a secondary one to the mothers which Southmead may not have anticipated, a phenomenon which the Whiff-Guys have dubbed endorphin branding™. “Endorphin branding is the use of scent as a means of imprinting a highly emotional, positive experience in tandem with a targeted signature scent, which can be reintroduced at a later time to trigger and recreate the desired response,” explains C. Russell Brumfield. It’s difficult to imagine a more highly emotional, positive event than the birth of a child, and the emotional impact of that moment will forever be triggered in mom’s brain - not by the antiseptic smell of a traditional delivery room - but by the sweet natural scents of bergamot, jasmine, lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, clary sage and frankincense.