One 20-minute aromatherapy massage of the hands and forearms resulted in a significant reduction in fatigue and a significant increase in relaxation among new mothers in the first week of the postpartum period, according to recent research.
The study, “The effect of aromatherapy treatment on fatigue and relaxation for mothers during the early puerperal period in Japan: a pilot study,” involved 29 postpartum mothers, most of whom were in their early 30s.
These new mothers were in the maternity ward at a large hospital and all had given birth in the previous one to seven days.
Those who had given birth vaginally received a single aromatherapy massage session within the window of postpartum days one through four. Those who had given birth via repeat cesarean section received a single aromatherapy session within the window of postpartum days two through seven.
During the aromatherapy massage session, each subject received a 20-minute hand and forearm massage with their choice of one of five essential oils blended with sweet almond oil. The aromatherapy oil options were pure lavender, ylang-ylang, citron, rosewood and sweet orange.
Subjects were told about the benefits of each oil before making their selection, and a patch test was performed to prevent allergic reactions.
For the aromatherapy massage, the chosen oil was applied across the palm of the left hand, and the hand and forearm were “slowly and gently stroked in order to promote the flow of blood and lymph.” This was then repeated on the right hand and forearm.
Each session was performed in a private room with the subject either sitting or lying down.
The main outcome measures in this study were relaxation and fatigue, both of which were assessed via self-reporting survey tools. The women on the maternity ward completed these surveys before and after receiving the aromatherapy hand and forearm massage.
Results of the research revealed a significant increase in relaxation and a significant decrease in fatigue among the new mothers after receiving the aromatherapy session.
Although all participants experienced significant improvements in fatigue and relaxation, the positive changes were especially pronounced among those who selected citron and sweet orange essential oils.
“The aroma treatments significantly improved relaxation and reduced fatigue for mothers in the early puerperal period and were well received,” state the study’s authors. “Therefore, a larger study using a pretest-posttest random control trial is recommended.”
Authors: Kyoko Asazawa, Yoshihiro Kato, Atsuko Yamaguchi and Asako Inoue.
Sources: Department of Nursing, Tokyo Healthcare University, Japan; and Maternity Ward, Tokyo Medical Center, Japan. Originally published in October 2017 in the International Journal of Community Based Nursing and Midwifery, 5(4), 365-375.