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Clary sage: One magical oil for supporting birth

I often get the question during treating pregnant woman, what tool could they use to support natural birthing? There are many options of course, but I’d have to say one of my favourite and really effective oil is clary sage.

I’ve seen the effects of it in labour and birthing many times during my years in midwifery, not only helping the mother, but creating a relaxing environment for everyone else in the birthing room. I believe that it is important to create a calm birthing space and clary sage supports this perfectly.

This oil has in fact been used for centuries to alleviate feminine problems. The content is rich in antioxidants and sclareol, a chemical element that helps in stimulating the hormone production. The name is believed to be derived from the Latin word ‘claris’ that means ‘clear’ and it was well known in the middle ages to clear eye problems and for its medicinal properties like helping inflammation, sore throats and wounds.

Some properties of this amazing oil:

  • Antibacterial – kills bacteria and fungi

  • Very useful for women menstrual complaints

  • Euphoric – can induce stages of relaxation and euphoria, helps in time of emotional stress

  • Reduces blood pressure by relaxing the veins and arteries

  • Help to reduce Premenstrual symptoms, like Mood Swings

Effects in birthing:

  • Moving labour, keep contractions strong and steady

  • Helps to relieve pain during difficult times and it is an amazing relaxant

  • It can induce euphoria and peace of mind

  • May help to speed up dilation and birthing

  • Many mothers said after applying the oil, that they feel like they are present and strong again. I experienced It’s amazing “pulling together” effect in birthing mothers.

It is important to know though, that everybody has a different sensitivity to smells, and the olis and preferences might be individual. In about 100 women I met an average two, who could not stand the smell, so it is important to get familiar with the smell before you use it in action! Some people like to replace it with jasmine oil. Always uses good quality oils, purchased from a trusted source.

How to use it:

Not recommended to use during pregnancy, but it is ok to use once you have reached your due date. Always use it with some carrier oil (pure coconut, wheat germ, or even a simple rice bran oil). Normally 2 drops of essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil works well. Of course strength of effect may vary with each individual.

Can be applied on lower abdomen, and inside of ankles. Or used in a diffuser in the birthing room.

My favourite method used to help women through labour was the following:

  • Get a pot/bowl of really hot water (as hot as the hand can bare)

  • Place a hand towel, or cloth nappy into the bowl

  • Add a few drops of clary sage oil to the water (this depends on the size of the bowl). Normally I add around 5-6 drops to 2L of water

  • Squeeze excess water off the cloth, or towel you are using, and place it on the lower abdomen of the birthing mother during surge (contraction). I found this was really preferable with many ladies in birthing, many of them didn’t let me go anywhere. It helped them so much in coping with the discomfort.

I definitely recommend everyone to keep clary sage in mind and in their birthing tool box. If you have any concerns of using this oil, the best is to talk to a qualified aromatherapist. 

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