Tennis Balls in a Tube Sock
(and 9 other great labor tips)
Laboring women tend to be portrayed as wild banshees hurling epithets at husbands and night-shift nurses, but in reality, having a baby is a pretty good time—you do, after all, get a great reward at the end. It is called labor for a reason, though: It’s hard work, both physically and mentally. Yet with the right tools and tips, you can make the whole experience easier. Read on for 10 tricks from women who’ve been there.
1 Stuff a sock Place three tennis balls in a tube sock and have your partner roll them up and down your back to relieve back pain. Or have him rub your back with the heels of his hands.
2 Use rice Fill a long sock with uncooked rice and heat it in the microwave for about one minute, then place it on your abdomen (make sure it's not too hot). If it gets cold, reheat it in the microwave. (This tip works best if you're having a home birth or if you do it before leaving for the hospital.)
3 Get on the ball Drape your upper body faceup over a large exercise ball to relieve back pain. Or sit on it with your legs apart to relax the pelvic area.
4 Ask for a massage Have your partner apply a lavender- or jasmine-scented massage oil to whatever part of your body that needs some kneading.
5 Get iced Fill a rubber glove with crushed ice and place it on your lower back to relieve back pain. Never use
a cold pack on your abdomen.
6 Walk or float If you can, stay upright and mobile to let gravity help move the baby down and out. Or slip into a bathtub full of warm (not hot) water for “ahhhhhh” pain relief.
7 Pinch some flesh Use acupressure to help ease pain by pinching the fleshy part of your hand between the thumb and index finger. Don’t do this before you go into labor, though, as it can also stimulate contractions.
8 Create a peaceful space Dim the lights. Plug in a small lamp. Play your favorite relaxing music. (I listened to Dan Gibson and John Herberman’s Rhythms of the Sea while watching a hypnotic image of Matisse’s dancing bathers projected on the wall by a pinwheel lamp.)
9 Bring a favorite photo Focus on it during contractions to help take your mind off the pain.
Inhale, exhale Breathe. Your baby is almost here.
10 Inhale, exhale Breathe. Your baby is almost here.