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I am currently developing an essential oils course for doulas.  As a part of the course, the student will be learning around 40 different oils.  One of my favorites to use, particularly during pregancy and birth, is lavender oil.  Below is an indepth look at what lavender oil is, how it is used, and any safety considerations.  Enjoy!

Essential Oil Profile for English Lavender

Botanical Name: Laveandula angustifolia

Common Names: true lavender, English lavender, common lavender, garden lavender

Synonyms: L. officinalis Chaix, L. spica L., L. vera DC

Botanical Family: Lamiaceae(Labiatae)

Geographical Origin: Found in the mountain regions of France, Italy, and Spain. It has been introduced outside this area and is now found all over Europe.

Habitat: found among rocks in hot environments. It is also cultivated in gardens.

Extraction Method: steam distillation

Aroma: sweet, floral, herbaceous

Relevant Chemical Composition: apinene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, cis-ocimene, trans-ocimene, 3-octanone, camphor, linalool, linalyl acetate, caryophyllene, terpinen-4-ol, and lavendulyl acetate

Physical Characteristics: a woody evergreen shrub that grows to be about 3.5 ft tall. It has fine silvery-green leaves and bluish purple flowers.

Traditional and General Uses: the Latin word ‘lavera’ means to wash and it was used by the Romans in their baths. Dried flowers have been used in sachets or tied together. It has traditionally been used to soothe the nerves. It was also used to help with restlessness or insomnia. The Egyptians used it as a part of mummification. Used as an antiseptic and disinfectant by the Arabs.

Therapeutic Uses: Scar/wound healing, agitation, insomnia

Cautions and Contraindications

Pregnancy: While it has been cautioned to use during pregnancy, there is no clinical evidence to support that belief. Most authoritative sources regard lavender as safe during pregnancy.

Research has shown no increase in frequency or malformation or other harmful effects on the fetus.

It is recommended not to use lavender oil internally during pregnancy.

Gastrointestinal: some stomach cramping has been reported with lavender oil.

Allergies: Possible contact dermatitis.

Evidence: Supports anxiolytic effects and improves sleep. May improve postoperative and menstrual pain. Antimicrobial and pesticidal.


In a bath- 6 drops for a 20L bath

Inhalation-2-4 drops in 2-3 cups boiling water or diffuser

Massage- 1-4 drops/20ml of base oil

Internally-no more than two drops should be taken internally



Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Heral Medicinal Procucts. (2015). Sarah E. Edwards, Ines de Rocha, Elizabeth Williamson, Michael Heinrich.

Supporting a Physiologic Approach to Pregnancy and Birth: A Practical Guide. (2013). Melissa Avery.

Lavender: The Genus Lavandula. (2003). Maria Lis-Balchin.


Aromatherapy Easy Guide for Beginners. (2015). Daniela Marrone

Herbs and Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Guide, Volume 2. (2015). Lesley Braun, Marc Cohen.

Follow Rachel Leavitt:

Rachel has worked as a register nurse (BSN from University of Utah) since 2004 with a work history in Labor and Delivery, NICU and Postpartum Care. She is also the founder of New Beginnings Doula Training which she organized in 2011. When she's not busy being a mother and grandmother, she can be found reading research papers related to some aspect of childbirth.

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