Efficacy of aromatherapy for reducing pain during labor: a randomized controlled trial

Abstract

Background

Many strategies for labor pain management have been studied, including aromatherapy, which is a noninvasive, alternative medicine used as an adjunct for labor pain control. Nevertheless, the results were contradictory. Therefore, we conducted this study to determine the effectiveness of aromatherapy for reducing pain during labor.

Methods

A randomized controlled trial was carried out on Thai laboring primigravidae who were a low-risk singleton pregnancy undergoing vaginal delivery. All participants, both study and control group, received standard obstetric care. Aromatherapy was only provided to the study group during the first stage of labor. The women rated their pain intensity by rating scales at different stages of labor. The primary outcome was pain scores and the secondary outcomes were necessity of painkiller usage, labor time, aromatherapy-associated complications, route of delivery, and Apgar scores.

Results

A total of 104 women were recruited, 52 in each group. Baseline characteristics and baseline pain scores were comparable. The median pain score of latent and early active phase was lower in the aromatherapy group, 5 vs 6 and 7 vs 8, respectively. The mean differences of pain scores between latent and early active phase and the baseline were significantly lower in the aromatherapy group, 1.88 vs 2.6 (p = 0.010) and 3.82 vs 4.39 (p = 0.031), respectively. Late active phase pain scores and other perinatal outcomes were not significantly different.

Conclusion

Aromatherapy is helpful in reducing pain in latent and early active phase, and can probably be used as an adjunctive method for labor pain control without serious side effects.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. 1.

    Jones L, Othman M, Dowswell T, Alfirevic Z, Gates S, Newburn M, Jordan S, Lavender T, Neilson JP (2012) Pain management for women in labour: an overview of systematic reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD009234.pub2

    PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Allaire AD, Moos MK, Wells SR (2000) Complementary and alternative medicine in pregnancy: a survey of North Carolina certified nurse-midwives. Obstet Gynecol 95:19–23

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Dhany AL, Mitchell T, Foy C (2012) Aromatherapy and massage intrapartum service impact on use of analgesia and anesthesia in women in labor: a retrospective case note analysis. J Altern Complement Med 18:932–938

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Burns E, Zobbi V, Panzeri D, Oskrochi R, Regalia A (2007) Aromatherapy in childbirth: a pilot randomised controlled trial. BJOG 114:838–844

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Burns EE, Blamey C, Ersser SJ, Barnetson L, Lloyd AJ (2000) An investigation into the use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice. J Altern Complement Med 6:141–147

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Arendt KW, Tessmer-Tuck JA (2013) Nonpharmacologic labor analgesia. Clin Perinatol 40:351–371

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Smith CA, Collins CT, Crowther CA (2011) Aromatherapy for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD009215

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Jensen MP, Chen C, Brugger AM (2003) Interpretation of visual analog scale ratings and change scores: a reanalysis of two clinical trials of postoperative pain. J Pain 4:407–414

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Adams J, Lui CW, Sibbritt D, Broom A, Wardle J, Homer C, Beck S (2009) Women’s use of complementary and alternative medicine during pregnancy: a critical review of the literature. Birth 36:237–245

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Burns E, Blamey C, Ersser SJ, Lloyd AJ, Barnetson L (2000) The use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice an observational study. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 6:33–34

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Smith CA, Collins CT, Cyna AM, Crowther CA (2006) Complementary and alternative therapies for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003521.pub2

    PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Namazi M, Amir Ali AS, Mojab F, Talebi A, Alavi MH, Jannesari S (2014) Effects of Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) on the severity of first-stage labor pain. Iran J Pharm Res 13:1011–1018

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Yazdkhasti M, Pirak A (2016) The effect of aromatherapy with lavender essence on severity of labor pain and duration of labor in primiparous women. Complement Ther Clin Pract 25:81–86

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Diego MA, Jones NA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C, McAdam V, Galamaga R, Galamaga M (1998) Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. Int J Neurosci 96:217–224

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Bishop K (2005) Aromatherapy: does it work? Ky Nurse 53:23

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Rashidi-Fakari F, Tabatabaeichehr M, Mortazavi H (2015) The effect of aromatherapy by essential oil of orange on anxiety during labor: a randomized clinical trial. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 20:661–664

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Rashidi FF, Tabatabaeichehr M, Kamali H, Rashidi FF, Naseri M (2015) Effect of inhalation of aroma of geranium essence on anxiety and physiological parameters during first stage of labor in nulliparous women: a randomized clinical trial. J Caring Sci 4:135–141

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Tillett J, Ames D (2010) The uses of aromatherapy in women’s health. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs 24:238–245

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Hall HG, McKenna LG, Griffiths DL (2012) Midwives’ support for complementary and alternative medicine: a literature review. Women Birth 25:4–12

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Kaviani M, Maghbool S, Azima S, Tabaei MH (2014) Comparison of the effect of aromatherapy with Jasminum officinale and Salvia officinale on pain severity and labor outcome in nulliparous women. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 19:666–672

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Hjermstad MJ, Fayers PM, Haugen DF, Caraceni A, Hanks GW, Loge JH, Fainsinger R, Aass N, Kaasa S (2011) Studies comparing Numerical Rating Scales, Verbal Rating Scales, and Visual Analogue Scales for assessment of pain intensity in adults: a systematic literature review. J Pain Symptom Manag 41:1073–1093

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Mousley S (2005) Audit of an aromatherapy service in a maternity unit. Complement Ther Clin Pract 11:205–210

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This study was funded by Faculty of Medicine Research Fund, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Grant Number 065/2559.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

TR: Protocol development, data collection, administration of the project and manuscript writing. TK: Proposal editing, data collection, data analysis and manuscript editing. TT: Data analysis and final manuscript editing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kuntharee Traisrisilp.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tanvisut, R., Traisrisilp, K. & Tongsong, T. Efficacy of aromatherapy for reducing pain during labor: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet 297, 1145–1150 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-018-4700-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Aromatherapy
  • Labor pain
  • Labor analgesia
  • Labor management