Menu

5 Must-Haves for Comfort During Birth

These comfort measures will help you manage the intensity of labor.

5 Must-Haves for Comfort During Birth

When people think about giving birth, most go straight to the pain (damn movies!). Some feel confident in their ability to cope. Others are flat out terrified or at the very least unsure about their ability to manage. Whether your preference is to go natural or medicated, learning different ways to be with the painful parts and find comfort and even pleasure in the process will serve you.

There are many comfort measures that women can employ to manage the intensity of labor. These are my top 5 must-haves to infuse your birth with the comfort and support you’ll need to have a positive experience regardless of your birth plan.

FEATURED VIDEO

  1. Birth ball. Birth balls are the same as exercise balls, and many women find them to be an extremely useful tool during labor. First, they are comfortable to sit on as they are soft and easy to move around on. Movement is a huge comfort measure, not to mention often quite helpful in assisting in the progress of labor. I mean, everyone wants all the help they can get with things moving along, right? Providing a perfect seat for bouncing or making hip circles, this can help women better manage the stronger sensations of labor as well as making space in a woman’s pelvis for babies to descend.Birth balls are also one of the most comfortable things to lean on in labor. If you end up not wanting to sit on it, you may just want to use it as a tall pillow! Since forward leaning is such a helpful and comfortable position for most women in labor, having something soft to hug while kneeling can make resting between contractions quite accessible. It is also more supportive than putting pressure on your wrists for a hands and knees position.

  1. Warm Compresses. Another great comfort during labor is the use of heat or warm compresses. Warmth has the ability to soften and relax muscles and release tension -- hence the popularity of hot showers and baths in labor. Many women already know the power of warmth for comfort from when they had menstrual cramps. This is a common cure. In particular, I recommend using Thermacare wraps. They are disposable heat wraps that have a velcro adhesive (not the ones that stick on) and can be purchased at most pharmacies. The warmth is initiated when exposed to air and lasts 8-12 hours. I tell people to get the low back-hip one in L-XL so it’s big enough to wrap around a pregnant belly. During labor, you can wear it around your waist with the heated side facing your belly for frontal pain or swing it around to your back if you’re experiencing back labor. Every time you have a contraction, you or your partner can place your hands on the hot spot to drive the warmth deeper into your body. It can really melt you.The reason I prefer these wraps is because of their portability. Since you can wear it, it can come with you on walks, in transition to the hospital from home, etc. A electric heating pad will work too, but it bounds you to the nearest outlet. Microwaveable heating pads and hot water bottles are also options, though these too may be impractical in action.

  1. Washcloths for ice water. Temperature shifts are common in labor. While warmth may be desirable at certain points, especially toward the end of labor, women tend toward feeling really hot. Active labor is hard work. When the sweating and stripping off of clothing starts, that’s your cue. Having washcloths handy will be softer and more functional than most other linens the hospital or birth center will have.Fill a pitcher or bowl with ice water from the pantry and soak your washcloths in them. I usually like to have 2 or 3 cloths rotating at a time so one of them is always fresh and cold. Strain off any excess water so it doesn’t drip too much and use this as a cool compress for her forehead and brow, to wipe sweat off her face or simply to rest on her neck, upper back or chest. Not every woman likes this but many do, so it’s definitely worth a try.

  1. Rebozo. A rebozo is the Mexican name for a long shawl often used in childbirth. As such, any long and wide scarf or even bedsheet will do the trick. There are many things you can do with this tool in labor, many of which provide an easy way to lift up the weight and pressure of a woman’s pregnant belly. What a gift it is to take the weight of a woman’s weight off her body! In prenatal visits and classes, I often show people a few simple ways to use this fabric to support a woman during labor. An example can be viewed here, but you can find even more resources online if you look for them.

  1. A birth doula. This cannot be said too often. In my opinion, a doula is an essential member of any birth care team. Their role is to provide physical, emotional and informational support for women and families during birth. They are specially trained in numerous comfort measures and able to offer both a hands-on comforting touch as well as suggestions for things you can do on your own that might ease your pain and discomfort. Doulas meet with clients prenatally to discuss their concerns and preferences in advance of labor, often discussing the wide variety of options available for comfort during labor. They help you identify the techniques you are most apt to appreciate during labor and thus can be trusted to anticipate the best ways to support you when the big day arrives.

While this may scratch the surface of all the ways a woman can find comfort in labor, I do think these are the most essential tools to have with you on this most special day. If you want to learn more about comfort measures during labor and birth, check Yiska’s workshop, Comforting Touch in Birth.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week?

    Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

    Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

    WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

    WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

    Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

    Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop