Coping aids for labour


It is a good idea to pack a bag of things that you are likely to use during your labour- at least three weeks in advance of your due date. A few well-chosen personal items are all you need.

Lip balm

  • Use when lips become dry and chapped due to heavy breathing.

Cool or warm cloth

  • Whichever makes you feel better- wipe down face, neck, shoulders and chest when you start to feel hot and sweaty.

Deodorant and rose water spray

  • Rose water spray may be a better alternative to a facecloth as it can be sprayed on and left to evaporate off the skin. It also has a subtle rose fragrance that can overpower the typical smell of hospital. Deodorant spray also goes a long way to freshen up damp skin. 

Popsicles and boiled sucking sweets 

  • Those that contain sugar will help you keep up your energy levels. Remove during contractions and store in a cup of ice chips. 

Water/fruit juice 

  • Natural fruit juice that has been diluted will help keep you from becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can increase your perception of pain, so keep up your water levels.

Snack on high energy foods 

  • Although you won't feel much like eating, hunger can also make your labour feel more intense. 

Massage balls or tennis balls 

  • There are many aids that one can use for massage during labour. These include tennis balls, rollers and reflex balls. Hands, knees and elbows are the best tools of course, and firm yet gentle touching can be very reassuring. 

Oil for massage

  • Certain aromatherapy oils can uplift your mood and decrease your perception of pain. Try clary sage, geranium, neroli or chamomile. 

Personal toiletries

  • These will make you feel much more at home so pack your toothbrush and paste, mouth wash and moisturiser.

Ice chips

  • Sucking on the ice chips will make your mouth tingle and quench a slight thirst or reduce nausea when labour is becoming long and drawn out. 

Hair accessories

  • To keep bothersome hair out the way. 

Birth balls 

  • A new addition to the childbirth arena is the birth ball. Sitting on it during labour allows you a different freedom of movement and it encourages the pelvis to open to maximum during the first stage. 

Warm compresses

  • Warmth can be very soothing to sore ligaments and painful joints. Hot water bottles can be used, but the popular buckwheat huggers are safer. Heat in the microwave for a few minutes and enjoy at least an hour of warmth. It is great for back labours. If you are cold during labour it could make your contractions feel worse. 

Ice packs 

  • Buckwheat huggers can be placed in the ice chest of a refrigerator and used to cool a hot body or to numb a sore back, and are safer to use than ice. Never place ice directly against the skin. 

Comfy clothes

  • A large T-shirt and socks for cold feet will keep you comfortable. Also, a boob tube top is good if you are labouring in water.


  • It's such a simple thing and can be forgotten, but pack coins for the vending machine s in the hospital- when snacks, coffee or juice are needed in the middle of the night and cafeteria is closed. 

Empty your bladder 

  • A full bladder will make your discomfort far worse and may slow the descent of your baby. 

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