Clary sage oil has been used traditionally in the later stages of pregnancy for birth preparation and during
labour due to its effects on the uterus. As it is thought to both cause contractions and increase their efficiency it shouldn’t be used prior to 37 weeks gestation.
What is clary sage oil and what is it used for?
Clary sage (salvia sclarea) is an essential oil derived from a flowering plant. It is beneficial for several conditions including:-
- Improving vision and overall eye health, such as tired and strained eyed
- Calming the nervous system, which helps with anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia
- Hormonal regulation and as a uterotonic, which can assist in heavy and painful periods, irregular periods and to contract the uterus
- Menopausal symptoms, such as reducing hot flushes and irritability
- Digestive disorders, such as cramping, bloating and abdominal pain
- Muscle relaxant to ease aches and pains, stiffness, cramping and headaches
How does it help in labour?
Clary sage oil is a natural uterotonic, meaning it can cause contractions of the uterus. Therefore, it is understood to be a natural method to improve the effectiveness of contractions in labour. It also promotes relaxation during labour as it calms the nervous system and acts as a form of pain relief. Due to its ability to cause uterine contractions, it may also assist in the birth of the placenta and prevent post-partum haemorrhage (excessive bleeding).
Some women use clary sage oil to naturally induce labour or to improve the effectiveness of their contractions. If you are thinking about using clary sage to try to induce labour it is important to be cautious and it is highly recommended to work in collaboration with your midwife or obstetrician if you are thinking of this option.
In my clinic I use both the Perfect Potion Clary Sage essential oil and Perfect Potion Full Bloom Birthing oil on my clients during their pre-birth acupuncture treatments. You can buy it here.
There is very limited research on clary sage essential oil in pregnancy, as it has not yet caught the attention of researchers. However, the effects and benefits of clary sage oil in labour are well known amongst health practitioners through their own experiences with women and the understanding of aromatherapy.
How do you use clary sage oil for labour?
Clary sage oil is very potent and should be used correctly to prevent hyper-stimulation or other side effects. There are several options on how to use clary sage oil to induce labour or during labour:-
- Put 2 drops on a dry cloth or flannel and inhale.
- Massage 2 drops to acupressure points during contractions.
- Inner ankle, one hand breadth from the centre of the ankle bone (acupressure point spleen 6 – see image)
- Centre of feet soles, one-third from base of the toes (acupressure point kidney 1– see image)
- Put 2 drops on a cotton ball and put under pillow or near where you are labouring.
- Create a massage oil blend with the ratio of 2 drops of clary sage oil to a teaspoon of base oil (such as olive, coconut or grape seed oil). Massage gently around the abdomen area, including the hips, pelvis and lower back. This blend can also be rubbed into your feet and palms.
- Use a combination of these techniques during labour to increase effectiveness.
- Other essential oils that work well with clary sage oil for massage include rose, neroli and lavender.
What are the side effects?
It is important to be aware that essential oils are a type of complementary medicine and are not as strictly regulated as pharmaceutical medicines. Essential oils are potent, just like medications and drugs, and should only be used in consultation with your health practitioner.
Some women experience hyper-stimulated contractions, headaches, nausea or skin irritation from clary sage oil. Stop using immediately if this occurs.
- Use in early pregnancy may cause miscarriage or other pregnancy complications.
- As clary sage oil induces contractions of the uterus, it should only be used after 37 weeks of gestation, as the baby is not considered full-term until then.
- Keep away from infants and toddlers.
- Avoid when consuming alcohol or narcotics.
- Be aware of other people present in your birthing space that could be negatively affected by clary sage oil.
For other methods of naturally inducing labour, check out our article on natural ways to induce labour.