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Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 16:32 UK
North Bristol NHS Trust offers aromatherapy to new mums
Aromatherapy room at Southmead Hospital
The facility will provide the 'natural pain-relief technique' at the hospital

Women in labour will be given aromatherapy as a "natural pain-relief technique" at North Bristol NHS Trust.

Trained midwives are now offering women relaxation and massage with essential oils to help ease labour pains, sickness, muscle aches or anxiety.

There are 24 midwives at North Bristol NHS Trust who have recently completed the aromatherapy training.

They are offering the therapy at Southmead Hospital's birth suite and in the local community for home births.

The midwives use seven basic oils which are mixed with a base oil.

Different combinations of oils - a maximum mixture of three - can be used to suit different symptoms.

The oils can be applied by infusion through inhalation, in a footbath, through a compress to the skin or a drop on the hand.

Bergamot- said to promote restful sleep and strengthen the immune system
Clary sage - said to aid depression, throat infections, high blood pressure, and ease labour pain
Frankincense - said to have a calming effect on the nervous system and helps to slow breathing
Grapefruit - said to be energising, strengthen the spirit, raise self esteem and relieve headaches
Jasmine - said to promote love and sleep
Lavender - said to help insomnia, stomach aches and anxiety
Peppermint - said to aid sore throats, digestive tract problems, stomach ulcers and nausea

Midwives can also apply aromatherapy through massage and only those trained can prescribe and mix the oils.

New mother Sarah Ludwell, 18, from Kingswood, gave birth to her first child, Ethan, on Friday, 14 May at Southmead Hospital.

She said: "I had a bath with the oils and a smell stick which attaches to your top.

"I felt a little sick so they gave me peppermint on the smelling stick which is supposed to help with nausea and it really helped, the sickness went away.

"I also had frankincense and lavender which helped me to feel relaxed.

"The atmosphere was really calm and cosy, it just felt like I was at home."

Mary Carlisle, manager of Southmead's birth suite, said: "Aromatherapy reduces anxiety and fear by helping women feel more relaxed and can help to reduce symptoms such as heartburn or backache.

"When women in labour are relaxed their need for pain relief is reduced but every woman is individual and we can use the oils specific to their needs.

"Aromatherapy will not be appropriate for every woman and our midwives undertake a health assessment to ensure that the oils will be safe and beneficial."

Aromatherapy will also be offered at Cossham Birth Centre, Bristol's first midwife-led birth centre, when it opens in the autumn of 2011.

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