A rice sock is very simple and just what it sounds like, it’s a sock filled with plain rice. The rice sock is heated in the microwave and becomes a really great heating pad. In labor it can be used on your back, aching muscles in your arms or legs, to warm you up, or even to help with some pubic bone pain as that baby is coming down into your pelvis.
Massage tools are great in aiding in relaxation. Again, there is a great collection of fancy devices available. Some have batteries, some are designed for special areas of the body, like your back or head.
But if your intent is to use it for pressure on the back and allow your partner or doula to save their hands for a bit, try tennis balls. I actually prefer to keep three balls, sealed in the tube and use it like a rolling pin. Some women choose to bring the rolling pins that are hollow and fill them with warm or cool water.
You can also use a regular hair comb for acupressure on the palms of the hands. You can even use a 20 ounce plastic bottle from the store filled with cold or warm liquid to help roll out tension and relieve pain.
A birth ball is a great way to relieve pressure on your bottom and yet actively engage your muscles. I’d encourage you to look for deals on these exercise or physiotherapy balls. You can pay a lot of money for the birth ball if you buy it from a specialty store, like a maternity shop. There are places to get them for less money, without risking quality. While you can get a good deal shopping in the exercise department of your local store, do not be tempted to purchase ones from the kids department. They are not made to hold an adult up and you run the risk of bursting the ball.
As you can see there are a number of things that you can do to make labor more comfortable that don’t cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. If you want to learn even more things on how to stay comfortable in labor, I would suggest that you take a childbirth class. It’s a great way to try several of these types of products and ideas out before committing to any of them.