Every woman is different and every birth is different. But consistently there are a few items that seem to be very helpful for women to use or bring with them to their place of birth.
1) Your pillow. Yes, the hospital or birth center has pillows. They just won’t be the same. You’ll need all of their’s for positioning and all kinds of stuff. Bring your own pillow so you’ll be comfortable and sleep better. Bring an extra pillow case too.
2) Oil for massage. While lotion works, I really prefer oil for massage in labor. Touch is very helpful for most women. Occasionally there is someone who finds that she does not want to be touched but most women find massage to be relaxing and distracting. Oil provides a nice gliding massage that lotion just doesn’t do. Jojoba oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, really any skin care oil will work. Do a patch test ahead of time to make sure you won’t react to the oil you’ve chosen.
3) Hot/cold packs. Depending on your birth place, there are several things you can use for these. My favorite hot pack is still a rice sock. It comes off easily so you can put it on and take it off as is helpful. But this depends on having a microwave easily accessible and some hospitals don’t have that. Another option are the stick on chemical heating pads that last hours or some version of toe/hand warmers. For cold packs, my favorite is a small bin of ice water to put washcloths in. Bring lots of washcloths or make sure your hospital has lots you can use. This way you can use them as compresses on your back or as a cooling cloth for your neck/forehead. Another good option here is wet wash clothes in the refrigerator for later use. But this is dependent on having a private fridge.
4) Tennis Balls. This may seem a bit odd but a tennis ball is firm but flexible and a wonderful massage and pressure too. It will make it much easier on your birth partner and doula as they use pressure to ease you through contractions.
5) Music. Bring a playlist and something to listen to it on. Keep in mind that any kind of personal listening device is going to get annoying by the end of labor and sharing your music shares the energy it creates. Music creates atmosphere and can change the energy of the room. Depending on the choice and what’s going on in your labor, it can be encouraging, uplifting, relaxing, joyful. It can give you that last boost of energy you need. I’ve been introduced to so much music I love at clients births and it helps me get to know them just a little bit better. Choose music you love, that makes you smile, and what you’d potentially like to have your baby hear as soon as they are born.
Above all, bring things that you find relaxing and comforting. This is by no means a complete list. Happy packing!
Adina Nelson, CD(DONA)
I am a birth & postpartum doula and chlidbirth educator practicing in North Idaho.
She was there every step of the way for me and my husband...I thank Adina for everything she helped us with. She truly is a special person and we will be forever grateful for her! ~Erin