Background: Stress, anxiety, and postpartum depression are the most common problems among women in their childbearing age. Research has shown that aromatherapy administered during labor reduces anxiety in mothers. With regard to the specific biological conditions in postpartum period and the subsequent drop in hormone levels, this study investigated the effect of lavender on prevention of stress, anxiety, and postpartum depression in women.
Materials and methods: In a clinical trial, 140 women admitted to the obstetric and gynecological unit were randomly divided into aromatherapy and non-aromatherapy groups immediately after delivery. Intervention with aromatherapy consisted of inhaling three drops of lavender essential oil every 8 h with for 4 weeks. The control group received routine care after discharge and was followed up by telephone only. After 2 weeks, 1 and 3 months of delivery, women were assessed by the 21-item Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale and the Edinburgh stress, anxiety, and depression scale in the two groups. Data analysis was performed by Mann-Whitney, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and post hoc tests. Level of significance was set as 0.05 for all tests.
Results: The results showed that the mean stress, anxiety, and depression at time point of 2 weeks (P = 0.012, P < 0.0001, and P = 0.003, respectively) and stress, anxiety, and depression scores at time points of 1 month (P < 0.0001) and 3 months after delivery (P < 0.0001) were significantly lower in the study group compared with the control group.
Conclusions: Inhaling the scent of lavender for 4 weeks can prevent stress, anxiety, and depression after childbirth.
Keywords: Anxiety; depression; lavender; postpartum period; prevention; scent of lavender; stress.