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A Room with Aromatherapy: Essential Oils at Aspirus St. Luke's Birthing Center

Category: Patient Stories
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Amanda Barningham used essential oils during labor at St. Luke's Birthing CenterPublished in Moms & Dads Today magazine, March/April 2017

A Room with Aromatherapy

New Birthing Suites at St. Luke’s Offer Essential Oils to Moms in Labor

“Should the lights be bright or dimmed? Music on or off? Birthing ball or take a walk through the hallway?” At St. Luke’s Birthing Center, these are just a few of the questions expectant mothers ask themselves as they plan their ideal birth experience. A new consideration, however, is quickly growing in popularity for soon-to-be moms: aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to influence mood and wellbeing. Scent can be a powerful element during labor, helping expectant mothers feel comfortable and calm.

“Diffusing essential oils during labor can have a great calming effect for both mom and baby, as well as the nurses, doctors and staff who are helping with the laboring process and delivery,” said Cathy Verry, a registered nurse at St. Luke’s Birthing Center.

Aromatherapy has been part of Verry’s life and work for over 15 years. While becoming a certified aromatherapist, she completed her research on stress and pregnancy. Of course, being pregnant and giving birth is an exciting experience, but it can also bring waves of other emotions, including stress. Essential oils can aid in creating an overall calming environment for labor and delivery.

Essential oils did just that for Amanda Barningham as she welcomed her second baby at St. Luke’s this past year. Barningham, who is also a registered nurse at St. Luke’s Birthing Center, delivered her baby in one of the new birthing suites, where she was able to customize the entire experience.

“At St. Luke’s, I was able to have the environment I wanted, which included aromatherapy,” Barningham explained. “The nurses were very open to the wishes I had for my birth experience.”

Because they’re natural and plant-based, many essential oils make great options for expectant mothers. They are safe for babies to be around. Our bodies know what to do with these plant-based oils, which is why there aren’t any side effects unless you have an allergy to the plant that the essential oil comes from. That’s why it’s important to know if you or your support team have any plant allergies before using an essential oil, just to be safe.

Currently, St. Luke’s offers four different essential oil blends and diffusers at no charge. These blends are focused on providing calming, soothing and refreshing scents to laboring mothers. Most moms who do choose to use essential oils have a positive experience. St. Luke’s uses a very diluted solution for topical use, as pregnant women have accentuated senses of smell.

Expectant mothers might even consider adding essential oils to their About Baby Birth Plan, a customizable birth plan from St. Luke’s for families to fill out a few months in advance.

Families can contact St. Luke’s Birthing Center to find out more about aromatherapy and other customizable options for labor and delivery, or set up a tour to see the new birthing suites.

St. Luke’s Birthing Center offers four different essential oil options for moms. Learn more:


Helps expectant and laboring moms with nausea relief.

  • Also aids in relieving headaches and fevers
  • Can be applied to temples
  • Great for energizing tired moms or easing sore muscles after pushing


Sometimes referred to as “the mother of all oils.”

  • Calming
  • Mood-lifting
  • Can help with sleep
  • Great for skin issues and rashes

Citrus Fresh

For calming and uplifting.

  • Analgesic (or pain relief) properties
  • Antibacterial
  • Energizes tired parents who aren’t getting much sleep
  • Blend of citrus essential oils

Gentle Baby

Blend designed for laboring and postpartum moms. Gentle enough for babies to be around.

  • Made from a blend of oils
  • Analgesic (or pain relief) properties
  • Very calming
  • Contains oils that can strengthen contractions naturally
  • Partner can use this to massage mom’s feet while she’s in labor