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Aromatherapy During Pregnancy

Interest in using complementary therapies such as Aromatherapy is growing. Essential oils are widely available and women may purchase and apply them with no training or education regarding risks and benefits.

Aromatherapy in maternity care can lead to reduced use of opioid analgesia less need for augmentation as well as increased satisfaction in the care received. It is especially useful in the aiding relaxation which may in turn help promote physiological birth.

Aromatherapy is a way of accessing and applying the therapeutic benefits of plants by using oils called ‘essential oils’ which are extracted from plants, usually by distillation. Plants are used in a more concentrated way via Aromatherapy than in traditional herbal medicine. Methods of application include via: baths, compress, vaporisation, showers, inhalation and massage.


Inclusion Criteria


  • Who are 37 weeks + gestation
  • Who have given verbal consent in any setting where maternity care is provided
  • In latent phase, established labour, second and third stage of labour
  • Pre-term labourers if allowed to labour
  • Undergoing induction/augmentation of labour
  • Using the birthing pool/bath
  • Following discussion with the on call Consultant it may be possible to administer essential oils for an antenatal mother less than 37 weeks
  •  Women who have been assessed and have contraindications excluded


Exclusion Criteria


  • Women with allergies to essential oils or citrus fruits
  • Who decline Aromatherapy
  • With threatened pre-term labour. May use lavender if in established labour
  • Any medical condition i.e. epilepsy, kidney or liver dysfunction, cardiac disease, clotting disorders (including PE/DVT), unstable diabetes and cancer.
  • Women with open wounds or contraindicating skin conditions
  • Moderate / severe PIH and hypertension
  • Women in the first trimester of pregnancy are not to have direct contact with essential oils


The Essentials Oils Used at York:

Lavender Lavendula angustifolia - an evergreen woody shrub from the botanical family Lamiaceae. Essential oil is obtained by steam distillation from fresh flowering tops and stalks.

Relaxing, balancing, calming, analgesic, cheering, anti-viral, anti-fungal, antiseptic, bactericidal.

Highly versatile oil. May aid maternal coping capacity for labour/contractions by relaxing the mother. May reduce muscular aches and pains, is helpful with stress and insomnia and may reduce headache and/or migraine. May aid the healing of wounds and is recommended for LSCS wound and sore perineum.


Clary Sage Salvia sclarea - a stout biennial/perennial herb with large hairy leaves, green/purple, with small blue flowers belonging to the botanical family of Lamiaceae. Essential oil is obtained by steam distillation from the flowering tops, leaves and stalks.

Anti-spasmodic, anti-depressant, anti-septic, calming, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory.

A profoundly relaxing oil that may reduce anxiety, stress, panic attacks and depression. This relaxation enables the reduction of adrenaline and a consequent increase in oxytocin which promotes natural physiological labour. May relieve muscular aches and pains as anti-spasmodic. May help reduce migraine and asthma as it helps to relax arterial and bronchial spasm.


Frankincense Boswellia carterii – A North African tree which is cut to produce frankincense tears. Distilled to make a light yellow liquid and a clear terpene-like penetrating top note and a warm sweet balsamic undertone.

Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, tonic, uterine, vulnerary.

Can help to create a calming environment by releasing tension, deepens breathing and eases hyperventilation. May help to relieve anxiety, depression, nervous tension and mood swings.


Mandarin Cirtus reticulate – The rind of the fruit is cold expressed and is yellowish in colour. The aroma is a ‘top’ note, delicately sweet and citrus.

Antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive, stimulant, sedative, carminative, mild diuretic.

The combined stimulant, sedative and hypnotic actions make it uplifting on the mind, joyful and harmonious. Can help to relieve tension.


Peppermint Mentha piperita - The essential oil is steam distilled from the dried perennial herb. A pale yellow liquid with penetrating grassy, minty and camphoracous odour.

Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-galactagogue, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, peripheral vasodilator, stimulant.

Effective for nausea, vomiting and headache. Can help in acute situations such as fainting, shock and tremors. Aids digestion. Helps with decongestion.



For more information on Aromatherapy please ask your midwife.


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Blood taking, York Hospital

Due to COVID-19, from Monday 6 April the Phlebotomy service at York Hospital outpatient department will be closed until further notice.

We will continue to offer a blood taking services for patients who have urgent bloods requests only, at the nearby Nuffield Hospital. The urgency will have been identified during your medical appointment. Please access the Nuffield Hospital via the main reception and from there you will be directed to Phlebotomy. Please take a seat and wait to be called.

Patients who have routine blood test for yearly check-ups should not attend. Instead, please contact your GP to request an appointment at the GP surgery for your bloods to be taken.

Maternity services

If you are due to have a baby, please visit our website for up to date information about maternity services at this time

Haematology and Oncology services

With effect from Monday 6 April there will be temporary changes to the Haematology and Oncology services at Scarborough and York Hospital.  These decision have been made on the grounds of patient safety in the current coronavirus pandemic.  Find out more here.

Visiting cancelled

Due to the increasing number of cases of coronavirus across the UK, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has made the decision to cancel all visiting to all its hospital sites in order to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

There are three exemptions to the ruling which are for one parent of a sick child under 18, for the partner of a woman giving birth and end of life patients at the discretion of the ward sister.

We would ask people to respect this decision and to treat our staff, who will be enforcing the visiting restrictions, with courtesy and respect.  For more information visit our website.

Outpatient appointments

We know that NHS services will come under intense pressure as the coronavirus spreads, and as a Trust we need to redirect staff, free up staff for refresher training and carry out any works as necessary, so we are able to maximise capacity for patients for when the number of infections peak.  We also need to reduce the number of people coming into our hospitals to protect our patients, as well as keeping our staff safe, well and able to come into work.

To do this, with effect from Tuesday 24 March 2020, along with other trusts in the Humber Coast and Vale partnerships, we have made the collective decision to suspend all non-urgent routine outpatient appointments for at least three months.  Urgent and emergency cases and cancer appointments will be carrying on as normal.

These are unprecedented times and we thank you for your understanding.  We know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried but please not contact the hospital as we will be contacting everyone directly affected in the coming days and weeks.

If you do not receive a letter or a phone call from the hospital, please turn up for your scheduled appointment as normal unless you have symptoms of coronavirus, a cold, flu or norovirus in which case you should contact us to cancel your appointment by clicking here.