Birthzang’s 5 Essential Pieces of Equipment for Labour and Birth
Equipment for Labour and Birth
However you manage to cope with contractions, it can be incredibly helpful to have some useful pieces of equipment for labour and birth that can enhance the whole experience. Whether you are at home or hospital, there are some really useful things that can help you cope with contractions and help reduce pain.
Here are Birthzang’s top recommendations, in no particular order, for the 5 pieces of equipment for labour that I think no mum should be without.
1. Birth Ball (& Pump)
If you have nothing else, get a ball. It is so versatile for labour. You can bounce, roll, rotate, lean on it. You can sit on it, lean over it, sit up against it, put your legs or feet on it, or have someone else sit on it to make it more comfortable for them to massage you!
It helps your pelvis stay completely mobile while not restricting the movement of the sacrum or coccyx. It facilitates movement which helps the baby make the necessary rotation to be born, and also helps dissipate the pain of contractions.
It is waterproof, wipe-clean and can be blown up or let down as required. Don’t forget to take a pump! I consider this an absolutely essential piece of equipment for labour.
2. Thick Rubber Mat
Some hospitals and birthing centres have floor mats similar to yoga mats but there is nothing better than taking your own super thick soft rubber mat with you. First and foremost it helps to protect your hands and knees from hard floors, and should be quite comfortable to be on all fours, or kneeling for many hours (yoga mats just won’t do this). It also gives you a soft and comfortable space away from the bed to encourage you to remain in upright positions in labour and birth.
Finally, it actually acts as a way to mark your territory. OK I am in hospital but THIS is my little space and THIS is where I am having my baby and please don’t disturb me when I am busy on it!
Most people don’t even know what a rebozo is, and one day I hope to get round to writing a blog about it. But essentially it is a long piece of fabric that can be used in labour and birth in many different ways. I include it here because I found it invaluable for my own labour not least because I couldn’t bear to be touched but needed support in my lower abdomen and it enabled my husband to be able to do this without touching me.
You can use it for “sifting” or jiggling the bump to encourage baby to turn. you can bind your hips for support and to do a hip squeeze to help open the pelvic exit. You can tie a knot in it and hang off a door. Blimey you can just stick it over your head for a bit of privacy. Everyone should have one, especially for labour. Pop over to my You Tube channel and check out these rebozo videos.You can use any piece of fabric but good to be at least 2-3m long. A sarong, or pashmina is great. As a piece of equipment for labour you are limited only by your imagination, but do further research to find out more techniques.
A word of caution: if you have an anterior placenta, you need to be very gentle when doing any type of sifting or juggling with the the rebozo over your bump.
4. TENS Machine
This stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and is basically some crazy/whizzy way to reduce pain by zapping your back with electric pulses – yes you are basically giving yourself a low level electric shock. It sounds awful but this little machine is a fantastic way to cope with contractions. Used early in labour, it interrupts the pain signals being sent to the brain through the spinal column and instead encourages the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates. In my opinion, it is an incredibly useful piece of equipment for labour.
Special labour and birth TENS machines have a boost function that allow you to quickly increase the charge and it doesn’t hurt and has no side effects! The only downside is that you can’t use it in water but as water has such positive effects on pain in labour then you can probably manage without. Don’t forget spare batteries!
I have written a detailed post: Birthzang’s Guide to using a TENS Machines if you are interested in finding out more.
5. Clary Sage Oil
Clary Sage Essential Oil is known for its properties to enhance labour and birth, so much so you are not advised to even pop the cap for a sniff until you are at term (37 weeks or later)! It has been shown to help reduce pain in labour, and also reduce fear and anxiety in labour (which can slow labour down). See this study for the full report.
You can diffuse it to make the room smell nice; pop a few drops on a tissue and sniff it; drop a few drops into a warm bath; and you can also use it for massage although it should never be used directly onto the skin – it must be added to a carrier oil (baby oil, olive oil, almond oil?) before being put on the skin or you are likely to burn yourself. It can also be used to help bring on labour,
I have written a detailed article on this here Clary Sage Essential Oil.
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My Book: Helping Birth
In my book, Helping Birth, I discuss all labour pain relief choices and common birth interventions. I use the BRAIN framework to look at the pro's and cons, to help you make the right choices for you and your baby. Includes real-life stories.