One of the most common questions I get asked at my workshops is:
“Do I need…for labour?”
You can fill so many items into the gap there.
More often than not, it’s usually “do I need my own birth ball?” or “do I need a TENS machine?” but it can be myriad things such as my own pillows, aromatherapy oils, a diffuser, heat packs, mini speakers, massage oil, snacks, warm socks, you name it.
When it comes to the big ticket labour comfort supports – like the birth ball, the TENS machine or heat pack – you’re going to hear me say:
“It’s better looking at it, than looking for it”
Different hospitals have different policies about birth balls for example.
A birth ball is one of the most versatile comfort support that you can have during labour. You can sit on it, lie across it, pop it up on the bed with you, stick it in the shower, use it to help your baby get into a good position, use it to prop up your back. Your partner can sit on it while giving you a massage or doing some counter pressure. The list is endless. So having access to one during pregnancy and when you’re in labour is an excellent idea.
In one hospital you might find they provide them. In another hospital, their preference might be that you supply your own. In either scenario, your best bet is to have a spare one in your car if you’ve driven to the hospital. That way, if you need it, it’s just right there ready to go. In a hospital that provides them, you might find they’re all in use. Having the back up plan means you’ll never be looking for one. Even if you never get around to using it – it’s better to be looking at it, than looking for it!
When you’re buying a birth ball, there’s a few important things you need to bear in mind. Firstly, a birth ball is just a gym ball. You don’t need a special one that’s branded “birth’! Make sure it’s anti-burst, that it has a CE quality stamp and that it has a good high maximum weight limit. Your birth ball needs to be the right size for your body. The ideal size will be where your hips are slightly higher than your knees when you sit on it. So if you’re 5′ 8″ or taller, you’re looking for a ball with a 75cm diameter. Between 5’4″ and 5’7”, a 65cm ball should due the trick for you. If you’re smaller than that maybe a 55cm ball might be best. If at all possible try a couple out – perhaps at your yoga or Pilates class – to get the best fit. Birth balls can be purchased in sport shops or places like Argos. There’s also plenty of online options.
The same would apply to a TENS machine. You might have one, try to it out and think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. You might try to out and realise after a few minutes it’s definitely not for you. The important thing is you got to try it. TENS machines are like Marmite – you either love them or hate them. I’m like a broken record now – it’s definitely better to be looking at it, than looking for it! If you’re thinking about having a TENS machine to use during labour, there are a number of options available. You can hire one from places like Boots or Umamma. You can buy one like this one from Mothercare or these ones from Inhealth. Or you might have a family member or friend you could borrow one from. All you need in that case is some replacement pads, which are readily available in most pharmacies.
When it comes to any other comfort measures that you’re thinking about, if you find yourself thinking about them regularly, then maybe there’s something about that item that’s resonating with you. So rather than humming and hawing about it, grab one! You might never use it but it’s better to be looking at it, than looking for it!
Learn about a whole breadth of comfort measures and other comfort strategies for labour at a GentleBirth workshop with AlphaBirth. Click here for upcoming dates.
© Sylda Dwyer, AlphaBirth 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the owner is strictly prohibited.