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.

  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.

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.


Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.


Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.


Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.


BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


We are one and done—and we planned it that way

I didn't forget to have children. I just had a child. One child.

The other day, I saw a woman wearing a shirt that read, "Oops! I forgot to have children!" across the front, and I wanted to run up and give her a hug. Except that would be weird on many levels, so I buried the impulse.

I didn't forget to have children. I just had a child. One child. And lean in closer while I make this confession: My partner and I made that decision on purpose.

It's not really what I'd planned for myself when I was younger and daydreamed about my future family. In fact, I went through a phase in the '80s when I imagined myself with five children who I would name Mandy, Randy, Candy, Sandy and Andy.

I certainly never envisioned myself being any kind of spokesperson for the only-child crowd, but over my last 11 years, the most-asked question I get is whether or not I have regrets that we never gave my daughter a sibling.

That's a hard question because the number of kids you and your partner decide to have is an extremely personal decision—although you wouldn't necessarily know that by all the complete strangers who regularly ask, "So, when are you going to have another one?" or, "Don't you worry about what will happen to her when you die and she's left all alone in the world?" People, even well-intentioned, can be extremely insensitive and feel like they have the right to get in your business even if you just met them on an airplane.

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