Being well-prepared for your birth includes bringing along the right tools. Let’s discuss the 5 natural birth accessories that you’ll want to be sure to have at the ready for every delivery.
Natural Birth Accessories #1: Birth Ball
Birth balls are large, inflatable balls, more commonly known as “exercise balls.” In labor, birth balls help support you in positions that would otherwise be uncomfortable or difficult to hold for long periods of time. For example, a squat can be hard to pull off during a contraction. Fortunately, sitting on a birth ball offers the same benefits of a squat — namely a wide pelvis — without any of the effort. Birth balls are also a helpful tool to support your upper body during hands-and-knees positions. Additionally, they enable you to rock, sway, and stay mobile during periods of fetal monitoring.
Many hospitals have birth balls on hand, however I still recommend that you buy one and bring it along, just in case. You’ll also need to have one to use as you practice labor positions during your natural childbirth class. If you don’t own one already, be sure to purchase the correct size ball for you. When you sit on the ball, your hips should be higher than your knees. A good rule of thumb is:
Birth Ball Sizing
- If you’re up to 5’4 in height, use a 55 cm ball
- If you’re up to 5’8 in height, use a 65 cm ball
- If you’re 5’9 or taller, use a 75 cm ball
If you’re in between heights, it’s better for the birth ball to be a bit on the big side, so purchase up in size. If you need to, you can always under-inflate the ball to make it smaller.
Natural Birth Accessories #2: Peanut Ball
Peanut balls are another helpful natural birth accessory to have handy. If you need to spend some time laboring in bed, the peanut ball can keep your body in optimal positions. For example, you can lay on your side and put the peanut ball between your legs to open your hips. You can also do a modified lunge in bed with a peanut ball. In a semi-sitting position, put the peanut ball under one leg. Gently curve the other leg around the ball to complete the lunge.
Like with birth balls, hospitals typically have peanut balls available to use during labor. If you’re planning a home birth or simply want one to practice with one before labor, the 50 cm peanut ball will fit most women.
Natural Birth Accessories #3: Massage Tools
Touch and massage are powerful coping techniques to use during natural childbirth. However, all that deep massage can wear out your partner’s hands in no time. Save the hands and use massage tools instead! You can purchase massage tools, such as rolling massagers or fancy, battery-operated massage tools. Or, you can stick to simple, inexpensive ones, such as:
- Tennis ball
- Tennis balls knotted into a sock
- Lacrosse ball
- Rolling pin
Natural Birth Accessories #4: Hot/cold Tools
The use of hot and cold can help ease the discomfort of contractions during natural childbirth. An easy way to apply heat is through rice socks, which you can make yourself for around $5. Simply heat the rice sock in the microwave for 2 minutes, and it will provide about 20 minutes of moist heat. A hot water bottle is another useful option.
Cool pressure can be applied by purchasing one of a variety of soft, flexible icepacks. Or, you can freeze water bottles and your partner can use them to apply cool, rolling pressure to your lower back. Gloves filled with ice are another option that are commonly used in the hospital in a pinch, especially on the perineum after birth.
(Note: When using heat and cold, use caution and avoid applying the tools directly to your skin.)
Natural Birth Accessories #5: Music
Another must-have natural birth accessory is music. And don’t forget a device to play your music on, too. While you may enjoy headphones during early labor, many women prefer to put the music on an external speaker as labor gets more intense.
There’s no one “right” type of music to listen to during labor, although gentle, calming music may increase your relaxation. In your Kopa Birth® class, you’ll receive access to download mp3 files of Meditations & Imagery for Labor. These audio downloads will take you on a mental journey of relaxation through 6, soothing, birth-focused meditations. Use these guided imagery tracks to practice deep relaxation during pregnancy. They’ll also be a valuable tool to help you stay calm and relaxed during labor contractions.
Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for a natural hospital birth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class and start preparing for your natural birth!