By Megan Leary
A year and a half ago, I was 42 weeks pregnant with my first and I was walking around 9 centimeters dilated. So, it should come as no surprise that when labor finally did come it only lasted three hours from the first contraction to meeting my darling girl. I didn’t get to experience or put to use the knowledge I had acquired on how to manage a long and laborious labor. This is not to say that I didn’t have any pain. My labor came hard and fast and I had grueling all back labor for the totality of the three hours. However, my preparations for the long labor that never happened went to waste. And I must say, I am pretty proud of them! Meet the Labor Box!
You will hear a lot about Lamaze, Bradley Method, Hypnobabies, and other pain management techniques, but you don’t hear very often about the actual items that will help you cope with labor pain. I put together my Labor Box for my first pregnancy to help with managing the labor pain at home. You can read about my home labor and birth on my website, here. I am now pregnant with a son (Hooray!) and I am beginning to start the contents of my labor box again (should I need them!). Here are my Labor Box must-haves!
· Back Massager and Tennis Balls
Have someone from your birth team rub these bad boys around on your back.
· Essential Oils
Pleasant stimuli are going to help you with the pain and help you relax. Not only do oils have a good scent, but many have healing, antiseptic, and pain relieving properties. You can put a few drops in a warm bath, have a drop added to your massage oil for that massage you most certainly deserve, a drop on a wash cloth that you lay across your belly or forehead, or infect the whole room by adding a half a dozen drops in a bowl of hot water.
Find a good directory of oils from a brand I like here. My scent of choice on the big day will be lavender!
· Rice Sock
Take your husband’s tube sock and fill it with white, uncooked rice. The rice will expand so make sure you leave some room and then knot it tight. Stick the sock in the microwave for two minutes and BAM you have a heat pack. You can also add 2-3 drops of your essential oil in here as well!
· Wedding and Honeymoon Album
I had a beautiful Bahamian beach wedding and honeymoon. The pictures are relaxing and evoke feelings of love and calm for me. Any collection of pictures that bring a smile to your heart will do the trick. Pictures from your previous birth, other vacations, or of loved ones are a few examples.
· Music and Sounds
I have a CD of nothing but ocean waves. Next to my daughter’s laughter and voice, it is the best mood enhancing sound for me. You could also try classical music or even just a mix of your favorite tunes.
· Favorite movie
The first thing I did when I realized I was in labor with my daughter was pop in Ever After — my ultimate favorite movie. I never got to watch it, but it will for sure be in the box again! Movies during early labor or longer labors can be especially helpful to pass the time without concentrating on the pain.
· Exercise ball
This can’t quite fit in a box, but definitely have one on hand! You can use it for upper body support as you squat or kneel by hugging it with your arms while resting your head. While sitting on the ball you can rock or sway your hips with the contractions. It is also perfect for your back massage! Just lean over onto a chair or the bed with your birth partner massaging you from behind.
Electrolyte drinks like sports drinks will keep you hydrated. There are healthier options, but my poison will be the ever-tasty Red Punch PowerAde. Granola bars and trail mix will by my carbohydrates of choice. Protein for labor and post-partum is also important for mama to help repair and rebuild tissues. I will have some cheese cubes and some peanut butter on hand. I have also heard some good things about honey sticks that I am considering trying.
I may not need my labor box again. I would welcome that, really. But the more prepared mama is for labor the less anxious she will be, the better she will feel, and the better experience she will have. A labor box will not just be beneficial to home birth mamas, but to mamas headed to the hospital as well. Even if you are planning on using pain medication, your Labor Box contents will help you cope with the pain longer and delay the use of medication.
What are some items in your Labor Box?
About Megan Leary
I am a work-at-home mama of one darling girl and a baby boy who is on the way! I am an advocate of natural and home birthing. I am passionate about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and most things natural in a mama’s life.