CINCINNATI -- St. Elizabeth Health Care has added a sweet but unusual new feature to its suite of maternity services: Aromatherapy.
According to patient Leslie Minard, who gave birth to a son Nov. 15, a spritz of lavender essential oil at the right moment during labor can make a genuine difference for the mother.
"The oils they used helped me progress through labor and helped me to relax," she said.
It might sound strange, but nurse Stephanie Dunn said St. Elizabeth added the service in response to patients' requests. Some mothers-to-be had begun to bring their own essential oils to help them through the birthing process, leading her and coworker Katlyn Devereux to search for a way to integrate it into the St. Elizabeth Birth Place's practices.
"And (we wanted) to do it in a safe way, so all of the oils are evidence-based, proven safe during pregnancy, labor and delivery," she said.
She and Devereux trained to become certified clinical nurse aromatherapists who work with eight essential oils meant to confer different benefits to women in labor.
For instance, she said, rose targets depression and can help regulate contractions. Mandarin is meant as a wake-up scent to encourage alertness and focus.
"Our desire is to make this a more enjoyable experience for women to have their babies here at St. Elizabeth," she said.
Leslie Minard's choice, lavender, is a common ingredient in lotions, sprays and soaps intended to encourage relaxation.
"Something with the scent helps you to unwind and take the moment in and try to enjoy what's coming next for you," she said.