For my first pregnancy, my husband and I took Bradley Birth classes. I would highly recommend this to anyone, even if you aren’t planning a natural birth. I think it is empowering. And since we don’t really witness births anymore in our society (aside from The Learning Channel), I think it is a good way to get to know the process and understand it.
In addition to general birthing education (such as what happens during birth), Bradley emphasizes relaxation techniques and having a coach (such as husband or partner). Nick and I never really practiced the relaxation techniques when I was pregnant with Briony. One night, we finally sat down together and he started reading a script. Then, my bag of waters started leaking and well, that was the end of that. Everything turned out and I had an unmedicated birth, but knowing now what I didn’t know then, I have been taking more time to practice relaxing and other methods of support during labor.
One new thing I am trying this time around is using aromatherapy. When I was in college, I was way into essential oils and learning what different oils were good for and how to blend them. It had been so long, I ended up spending all of my Christmas gift money (thanks, Grandma!) on essential oils to aid in my labor and recovery processes. So far, I have been trying out different combinations and concentrations before bed each night to see how I feel about them. I just use a ceramic lamp diffuser (a bit of water with a couple drops of EO). When it gets too strong, I turn off the light.
I chose oils according to the book, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. For the labor room, suggested oils include rose, neroli, lavender, clary sage, and geranium. I collected all but rose. No doubt, lavender takes the cake for relaxation. It should also be good for pain and can be added to a bath or warm compress. Clary sage is also good for pain relief, and when combined with lavender in the diffuser, it has a nice smell, though I have yet to experience pain relief since I have not been in pain.
Geranium as a fantastic mood lifter; it was always one of my favorite oils. Surprisingly, when combined with lavender in the diffuser, I felt relaxed and stimulated at the same time: like an alert relaxed state. Might be good for entering that self-doubt stage just before the pushing starts.
That leaves us with Neroli. What a gorgeous fragrance! I did not blend this oil because I love the smell so much. It hasn’t done much for me in the line of relaxation, but it does make me feel like I am being pampered. I’ll probably use this one for post-partum recovery when I am feeling drained and need to feel like a queen!