Birthzang’s Guide to using Clary Sage Oil in Labour


Clary Sage Oil

Clary sage oil is often touted as an effective method to induce labour naturally and enhance contractions once labour has started. The reality is that babies come precisely when they are ready. Studies have shown that labour is triggered once the baby’s lungs are fully developed. They then release a protein that triggers labour. However, many women will try all manner of things – some more effective than others – to try and induce labour naturally and avoid a medical induction. Clary sage oil is an easily-available and easy-to-use method.


Eleanor Hayes, Birthzang

Eleanor Hayes, Birthzang

Director & Educator

I founded Birthzang after having an incredible birth experience that enlightened me that with the right tools and skills at her fingertips, any woman can have a positive birth experience.

I discovered my passion for providing parents with practical and non-fluffy information about how to cope with pregnancy, labour, birth, and parenthood.

What is Clary Sage?

clary sage oilClary sage is a variety of the sage herb plant, and has various aromatic and medicinal properties.

The leaves are edible and the leaves and flowers can be distilled into an essential oil for therapeutic use. Please note that ‘sage oil’ is quite a different thing and musn’t be confused with clary sage.

Clary sage has oestrogen-regulating and stimulating properties, because of its similar chemical structure to oestrogen. It has had a long association for use with menstrual problems. It is also thought to have a stimulating effect on pregnant women so it is advised not to be used before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

It also has a host of other beneficial properties as varying as an antidepressant, aphrodisiac, deodorant and euphoric for people outside of pregnancy.

For the purposes of this article, I just want to focus on its use after 37 weeks of pregnancy and in labour.

Cautions about Clary Sage Oil

All essential oils prepared by a reputable source are safe to use providing you stick to these guidelines.

I personally use Neal’s Yard essential oils as they are a really well-known and reputable brand, we use the oil in a variety of ways for example my kids really respond well to the roll on lavender before bed, which we call “sleepy magic” and it really works!

While they are not the cheapest oils on the market, you really don’t muck around with this stuff as some of them can be harmful. Plus their scent is amazing and the quality is top notch.

The company also works to a high ethical standard which I love! They support organic farming, sustainable wild-harvesting and fair trade programs, they also do not test on animals and the products are approved by the vegetarian society.

Buy Clary Sage Oil

Use neal's yard clary sage oil to induce labour

This warming oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowers.

With naturally calming properties it helps to soothe your nerves and prepare your body and mind for a more restful night’s sleep.

Key benefit: Relaxing
Latin name: Salvia sclarea
Country of origin: France
Blends beautifully with: geranium, jasmine, lavender, sandalwood, and vetiver


Golden Rules

  • Do NOT use clary sage oil before 37 weeks of pregnancy. It has a stimulating effect on the uterus and so it should be avoided until you are at term or later. For most women, it is probably not appropriate to use clary sage before your due date.
  • Do NOT use clary sage oil directly onto the skin as it is very intensive – in some cases up to 100 times stronger than it’s original source – and can cause burning and skin damage.
  • Do NOT ingest clary sage oil, it is poisonous, so keep it out of reach of children.
  • Do NOT get it on your mucous membranes (such as eyes or lips) as it can cause irritation or burning, even in a diluted form.
  • Do NOT mix clary sage with any other essential oils or products unless you have consulted a qualified aromatherapist. It can react with other oils and have unintended results.

How to safely use Clary Sage Oil to naturally induce labour


To scent a room

You can put a few drops of clary sage oil into an Essential Oil Aroma Diffuser, an essential oil reed dispenser or an essential oil burner.

Make sure any previous oils are thoroughly cleaned off as some are not appropriate for use in pregnancy.

You can use clary sage oil in this way from 37 weeks in any room, and can also be used in labour to enhance contractions. However, if you get fed up with the smell, then it can be difficult to get rid of it quickly so it is therefore probably not advised during labour itself.

Note, you cannot burn candles in a hospital setting so we recommend a Nebulizing room diffuser mainly because its the most powerful type but also they do not use heat or water, therefore, is safer and easy to use for your birth at home or in the hospital.


Some of these new diffusers run off a USB socket which would give you some flexibility in the placement of the diffuser and maybe even allow you to run it off a battery power pack and run it in the middle of the room for example.

Massage with clary sage oil

Add a few drops of clary sage oil to an unscented base massage oil – such as coconut oil, almond oil, baby oil, etc.

Ensure you have at least equal parts clary sage to the base oil, but ideally, have a few drops of clary sage oil with about 10-15 ml of your carrier oil to ensure it is properly diluted.

The oil can be massaged over the entire body but is particularly nice to Massage into your bump. This helps to bond with your unborn child please read my in-depth blog here make a connection with your baby and coupled with relaxation music and birth visualisations, it can be a wonderful way to encourage labour to start.

Just remember that in late pregnancy you should avoid lying on your back so make sure you are either supported in a semi-reclined position or lying down on your side.

Sexually active with your partner

Obviously staying sexually active with your partner is a very personal choice in late pregnancy as I have written in a past article about how sex could induce labor.

This lovely pregnancy massage book was recommended to me during my second pregnancy and Mrzang thoroughly enjoyed trying all the techniques on me!

Massage can be a wonderful way to get intimate with your partner and help them feel involved.

  1. Nurturing Massage for Pregnancy: A Practical Guide to Bodywork for the Perinatal Cycle
    This book focuses not only on the practical side of birth but also the spiritual and the clinical side.

  2. Massage During Pregnancy
    A good reference on the anatomy side of pregnancy, safety precautions for massage during pregnancy, and some tips for headaches & nausea.
  3. Aromatherapy And Massage For Mother And Baby: How Essential Oils Can Help You in Pregnancy
    Every mother-to-be approaches pregnancy differently; some are excited and positive in their outlook, while others feel apprehensive stressed and worried. One of the most popular forms of complementary treatment, aromatherapy is an ideal way to help you through the stresses, strains, and discomforts of pregnancy, birth and into the first six months of motherhood

Massage Advice: Relaxes your body and mind while helping to soothe aching muscles. For adults, use up to 15 drops in 2 tbsp of base oil. Please note not suitable for children under two years old.


Bath tonic

You can add a few (5-10) drops into a bath to get a fully immersive clary sage oil experience.

You get the benefit of the oil on your skin, but also through the steam of the bath get the inhalation as well – double whammy! Clary Sage as a Bath Tonic for inducing labour In order to prevent the oil collecting on the surface of the water, add the drops to an eggcup of milk before pouring into the bath.

The milk acts to help disperse the oil in the water so it doesn’t just sit on the surface. CAUTION: It is inadvisable to use clary sage oil with any other bath products just in case it interacts with them so best avoid bubble bath and shower gel and just add it to a plain water bath.

It can also cause the surface of the bath to be slightly slippery so take extra care when getting in and out of the bath., and wipe it down with detergent afterward (just get your partner to do it, you are pregnant after all!)

Buy Clary Sage Oil

neal's yard clary sage oil

Use of clary sage oil to induce labour

Like so many natural methods to induce labour, clary sage oil has not been studied in great depth, and so its efficacy to bring labour on is hard to pinpoint.

There are many cases of women who attribute going into labour as a result of using clary sage oil but it is very anecdotal. How soon you go into labour after using clary sage oil is a big question.

What other methods have you used? And for as many people the clary sage oil does little or nothing towards inducing labour. It is known to have relaxation properties and perhaps just the act of relaxing and not getting stressed about going into labour has the desired effect?

Labour is controlled by oxytocin and getting in a warm bath in a private dark space will boost your oxytocin well before you add clary sage oil into the mix.

It certainly doesn’t seem to do any harm though! And baths and massage are a lovely way to bide your time before labour starts.

Ultimately if it was THAT efficacious to bring on labour, we would be using it in hospitals rather than the artificial oxytocin that is currently used for inductions. Just remember that the due date of a baby is not very scientific and babies have a normal due “window” from 37 to 42 weeks!

Foods to Induce Labour Naturally

Use of clary sage oil in labour

There has been a study that looked at different essential oils used by midwives during labour.

Although the study didn’t have a control group (so it is difficult to draw hard conclusions), it did indicate that clary sage (and chamomile) oil were effective in helping to reduce pain and ease anxiety. Clary sage is thought to stimulate contractions and oxytocin which are two essential ingredients for labour. So its use during labour is believed to enhance the labour and intensify contractions.

Clary sage oil could be used to help speed things up if labour seems to be slowing down or taking a long time to get into an established routine.

Have you used Clary Sage Oil?

Do you think using clary sage oil helped you go into labour? Did it enhance your contractions? Or did it do absolutely bugger all! Please leave a comment and let me know how you used it and whether it worked.


Helping Birth is now available on Amazon

helping birth eleanor hayes

This website contains endorsements for products that I think are high quality and good value for money. When you click on a link that I recommend, I may receive a commission. This in no way clouds my judgement about what I recommend, and I have personally bought and used every single item I recommend. There is no extra cost to you.



Helping Birth

In my book, Helping Birth: Your guide to pain relief choices and interventions in labour and childbirth with real stories, I go into great detail about all labour pain relief choices and common birth interventions. I use the BRAIN framework (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Implications, Nothing) to look at each option's pro's and cons, to help you understand which choices are right for you and your baby.

helping birth eleanor hayes

I discuss what each option is, what it feels like and what happens, discuss the risks and benefits, and give advice as to what you can do to minimise complications if you choose these drugs or procedures.

There is an insight to help you understand risks and statistics around birth, and also things that may happen to you or your baby such as continuous monitoring, and immediate cord clamping.

Each of the 25 chapters has women's real-life stories and experiences to enhance your understanding of what it is really like to experience these labour pain relief choices or birth interventions.

Buy the book for £10 on Amazon (free delivery in the UK).

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