Background: Anxiety is the most common psychological response of women to labor. Aromatherapy, i.e. the use of fragrant essential oils to stimulate the olfactory system, can create a state of calmness and help to alleviate anxiety.
Objectives: The present study tried to determine the efficacy of aromatherapy with Citrus aurantium oil in reducing anxiety during the first stage of labor.
Patients and methods: This randomized clinical trial was conducted on two groups of pregnant women, referred to Vali-Asr Hospital (Tuyserkan, Iran) between June and September 2013. The sample size was comprised of 63 subjects in each group. Gauzes impregnated with 4 mL of C. aurantium distillate and normal saline were attached to the collar of subjects in the aromatherapy and control groups, respectively. The gauzes were changed every 30 minutes. The levels of anxiety in both groups were measured at baseline and after the intervention at dilations of 3-4 and 6-8 cm. The participants were followed up until delivery and the first- and fifth-minute Apgar scores were recorded. Data were collected using a demographic and obstetric characteristics questionnaire, an examination and observation checklist, and Spielberger state-trait anxiety questionnaire. Data analysis was performed with independent-t, Mann-Whitney, and chi-square tests in SPSS-22. P values less than 0.05 were considered significant.
Results: Before the intervention, both groups had same levels of anxiety. However, the levels of anxiety at dilations of 3-4 and 6-8 cm were significantly lower in the aromatherapy group compared with the control group.
Conclusions: The results of this study confirmed aromatherapy with C. aurantium blossom oil as a simple, inexpensive, noninvasive, and effective intervention to reduce anxiety during labor.
Keywords: Anxiety; Aromatherapy; Citrus aurantium; Complementary Medicine; Medicinal Plants.