Inexpensive Birthing Tools to Make or Buy Before Labor

Massage Tool
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Labor is hard work, there is no doubt. But these inexpensive birthing tools can aid you in reducing the amount of pain and discomfort that can come from giving birth.

Rice Sock

A rice sock is very simple and just what it sounds like, it's a sock filled with plain rice. The rice sock is heated in the microwave and becomes a really great heating pad. In labor it can be used on your back, aching muscles in your arms or legs, to warm you up, or even to help with some pubic bone pain as that baby is coming down into your pelvis. You can buy a rice sock, or you can save a few bucks and make your own. 

Cold Pack

Cold packs are also great for labor. They can be used for more intense back pain or to help cool you down. You can purchase specialty packs that have fabric covers. You can also go very simple with these and use a glove or plastic baggie that zips shut and fill it with ice. Just use a sheet or pillowcase as a cover. All of these items are readily available at the hospital, birth center or in your own home. If you have an issue with finding ice, please just use cold water and whatever ice you have. Cold packs that stay in the fridge also work well, though the squishy ones are more comfortable in some ways, they can be punctured if pressed too hard.

Massage Tool

Massage tools are great in aiding in relaxation. Again, there is a great collection of fancy devices available. Some have batteries, some are designed for special areas of the body, like your back or head. But if your intent is to use it for pressure on the back and allow your partner or doula to save their hands for a bit, try tennis balls. I actually prefer to keep three balls, sealed in the tube and use it as a rolling pin. Some women choose to bring the rolling pins that are hollow and fill them with warm or cool water. You can also use a regular hair comb for acupressure on the palms of the hands. You can even use a 20-ounce plastic bottle from the store filled with cold or warm liquid to help roll out tension and relieve pain.

Birth Ball

A birth ball is a great way to relieve pressure on your bottom and yet actively engage your muscles. I'd encourage you to look for deals on these exercise or physiotherapy balls. You can pay a lot of money for the birth ball if you buy it from a specialty store, like a maternity shop. There are places to get them for less money, without risking quality. While you can get a good deal shopping in the exercise department of your local store, do not be tempted to purchase ones from the kids' department. They are not made to hold an adult up and you run the risk of bursting the ball.

As you can see there are a number of things that you can do to make labor more comfortable that doesn't cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. If you want to learn even more things about how to stay comfortable in labor, I would suggest that you take a childbirth class. It's a great way to try several of these types of products and ideas out before committing to any of them.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.