4 Reasons to Include Plants in Your Birth Space

February 14, 2018 at 3:57 pm


Today I am 28 weeks pregnant, and lately I’ve been spending a lot of time preparing for my birth. The plan is to give birth in my bedroom, so I’m working to make that space feel peaceful, comfortable, and visually uplifting and appealing. This isn’t something I have ever really done before, despite having given birth five times previously. Two of those births were at home, but I didn’t prepare my birth space beyond trying to keep it tidy. I’m not exactly sure why I’m so motivated to sanctify my birth space this time around. Perhaps it’s because this could be the last time, and I want to make it as special as possible?

So one of the first things I did was to move three house plants into my bedroom from other areas of the house. I also bought some succulents and potted them to add to the room. Plants make me happy. I’ve written several times about my plant obsession. Some people are cat ladies. I’m a plant lady. Though I can’t vouch for the sanctifying power of cats, I can guarantee that bringing plants into your home will purify and improve your living space.

Many women create birth altars with objects and images to inspire them in childbirth. The purpose of this post is to convince you that plants are a must-have for your birth space.


So why are plants a must-have for your home and birth space? 


#1- Plants reduce toxins, dust, and infectious illness.

The most famous research on the air purifying power of plants came from NASA in the 70s and 80s. When volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and other irritants were found in excessive levels inside the Skylab space station, Bill Wolverton was tasked with finding a solution. In a a NASA report later published by Wolverton, he explained: “If man is to move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system.” Plants. When plants are added to enclosed spaces with high levels of toxins, those toxin levels decline. In his book, How to Grow Fresh Air, Wolverton explains that air pollutants are pulled “down around a plant’s roots, where [they are] then converted into food for the plant” (Source). This happens with assistance from microbes living in the soil around the plants’ roots.

More-recent research from Australia supports the NASA studies’ findings:

Potted-plants can provide an efficient, self-regulating, low-cost, sustainable, bioremediation system for indoor air pollution, which can effectively complement engineering measures to reduce indoor air pollution, and hence improve human wellbeing and productivity (Source).

In addition to removing toxins, plants can also remove dust and airborne particles and reduce rates of illness. A study at Washington State University found that 20 percent of dust was reduced with plants. And a study from the Agricultural University of Norway found that houseplants decrease rates of colds, flu, sore throats, coughs and dry skin.

Plants alone can’t do all the toxin-removal necessary in most homes. Opening windows when possible, ensuring good air flow, and reducing chemical products within the home will all help as well.

#2- Plants oxygenate and humidify the air.

Most homes aren’t really deficient in oxygen, but childbirth is definitely a time when oxygen needs can increase. During the day, when most plants are actively involved in photosynthesis, they convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. Some plants, however, release oxygen at night instead (succulents, snake plants, bromeliads, and orchids). Night oxygenators would be best in bedrooms, and many women go into labor at night, so it’s probably best to have a mixture of plant types.

Dry air can be problematic and irritate airways. I live in the desert, so the air is pretty much always dry here. Plants can help humidify indoor air, though their effect is not excessive. The same Washington State University study sited above also found that “relative humidity without plants averaged 25%, and with plants it averaged 30%” (Source).

#3- Just being with plants can make you feel calmer, more confident, and happier.

The Internet is full of articles and studies touting the mood-boosting power of plants. Prevention reports:

In one paper, researchers found that those who spent time in a room with a plant rated themselves as more confident and energized compared to those who spent time in spaces without plants (Source).

The study mentioned above says in its abstract: “Highly significant reductions in negative mood states were found with plants – and one plant can make the difference.” Later in the report, that reduction is specified: “Plants were associated with 40-60% score reductions in negative mood states measured – anger, anxiety, depression, confusion, fatigue and stress (Source).”

Other research published in Preventive Medicine found that placing a plant in a hospital room reduced feelings of stress. Childbirth is a time when calm and confidence are key, not just for the laboring mother but also for her support team and caregivers. Plants can totally help everyone in the space. Whether you’re planning a home, birth center, or hospital birth, plants can be included to enhance the space.

#4- Plants could help you be a better mother.

I’ll confess that I get angry and snippy toward my kids sometimes, despite all of the plants in my home, but maybe I’d be a lot meaner without them? My kids often tell me I’m a good mom, so I’m not doing too shabby I suppose. Texas A&M University has studied the effect of plants on relationships and levels of compassion and, not surprisingly, plants do help us be kinder to each other:

Ornamental plants affect the levels of compassion that people feel for others. Studies have shown that people who spend more time around plants are much more likely to try and help others, and often have more advanced social relationships (Source).

In another really interesting study, participants filled out a survey about their emotions and then were told they could leave, or they had the option to stay and volunteer to fold paper cranes for a relief effort in Japan. As you might have guessed, plants were also involved:

Results showed that the presence of more beautiful plants significantly increased the number of cranes made by participants. . . . The researchers concluded that experiencing the beauty of nature increases positive emotion—perhaps by inspiring awe, a feeling akin to wonder, with the sense of being part of something bigger than oneself—which then leads to prosocial behaviors (Source).

Plants, it seems, help us connect with others and their needs and have a desire to help them. And this, of course, is a very important part of motherhood.

The following are some of my favorite low-maintenance house plants:

  • Snake Plant
  • Rubber plant
  • Hoya
  • Pothos
  • Dracaena
  • Heart-leaf Philodendron
  • Spider Plant

And, of course, my favorite place to get pots for my plants is Goodwill. Definitely don’t pay more than a few dollars for plant pots!

What other items do you recommend mothers include in their birthing space?