In today’s society, having the best products for your pregnancy, labour and postpartum period has almost become a fashion statement as much as it can be a necessity. The brand- name and gently used products are coming in from all angles—your parents are buying them for you, your best friend has them and you’re eyeing up something new. It’s an incredible situation to be in– being able to sift through all the materials someone has created to make your journey easier. The only downside to a lot of these products are they may become expensive, might require a bit of time to figure out how use or might not even be feasible down your birth path.
What if I told you there are a few products for comfort measures in your house right now? What if I told you there is a high chance a group of them were hanging out on your vanity or in your bathroom?
When I am working with a mother and her birthing partners, I love to show everyone some easy ways to relieve the pressures and sensations that the mother may experience. One of the things I love to highlight are acupressure points (pressure applied to specific meridian points on the body to relieve or enhance sensations and health following Traditional Chinese Medicine) and massage to connect and comfort the energy within the birth gathering. The things I choose to share with clients are meant to encourage them to be a part of the rhythm of labour, feel confident they can comfort the mother no matter where the birth journey leads and encourage baby that the transition from womb to earth side is welcomed and supported.
So what are these things lying around the house that are easy to use, install confidence in the birthing partners and relieve sensations and enhance relaxation in the mother?
Hair Combs/ Brushes
Bobby pins are an amazing tool for pin-pointing acupressure point. Although the fingers are an amazing way to apply pressure to these energetic points, using an isolated point like the end of a bobby pin can enhance results and ensure that the mother will get the relief she needs (Also, as a birthing partner your fingers and thumbs won’t be as stressed from applying pressure). When you think of acupuncture (using very thin needles to enhance/change the flow of energy at meridian points within the body), they are using isolated pressure. The bobby pin head allows us to access these points and welcome the mother’s body to the sensations of labour while comforting her through them.
Hair Combs/ Brushes:
Do you remember that feeling when you were little and your parent would brush your hair for you? Or when you get to the hairdresser and they’re giving you a shampoo wash and you can’t help but melt into that chair? Let’s bring those feelings into labour land. The three R’s of labour are Rhythm-Relaxation-Ritual. This can be incorporated into breathing, movement, support—everything. Using a tool like a soft bristled brush to sweep through the mother’s hair, down her back or up her legs to softly relieve the crampy leg feelings can be incredibly soothing. It gives her something to focus on, something to match her breath with and as the partner, you can be close to her without exerting too much energy (save that for the hip squeezes).
Using a comb in labour can be useful for acupressure points as well (here they are again- SO useful). Along the bridge of our hands where the fingers meet the palms are a line of points that can be used to relieve that pressure of a sensation coming on. The teeth of the comb go along the finger line and the mother can squeeze her hands around the comb. When she is able to control and release the pressure using combs, the partner is able to apply comfort measures (to both the mother and themselves) in another area. Maybe you can sneak an hours nap in or run to the bathroom to freshen up. The possibilities are endless!
Oils are wonderful! They moisturize our hair, they carry essential oils, and they can be massaged into the skin! Coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, avocado oil—we all have our oil preferences and guess what? They’re all great. Putting a small amount of oil into your birth bag can be a life saver (as long as it doesn’t open- I always keep mine in a zipped plastic bag). You can easily soothe the mother’s body with a dash of oil in your hands and a drop or two of her favourite essential oils. ( check out my blog post to learn a bit more about essential oils and some of my favourite properties https://theficusandthedoula.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/essential-oils/)
Some of the most useful oils for labour from my experiences are clary sage, lavender and citrus oil like grapefruit or lemon. Our senses are powerful as are the oils. If you are in the hospital, be aware that they most likely will not allow you to use essential oils, but that’s okay! You can still use your carrier oil to massage her feet and shoulders or any tension spots she may be feeling. You can rub over her belly and speak welcoming words of love and comfort to baby and change the mother’s state of relaxation.
So there it is folks! Easy to find around the house, easy to use and most definitely useful when it comes time to welcome the newest member of our universe. I hope that you can find these tips helpful and if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With love, from Ficus.