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Preparing for labour can be nerve-wracking. You want to make sure you have everything you need in order to make it as smooth and easy a process as possible, but in reality it’s very hard to know exactly how your birth will go.
These following products are good options to have on standby – from TENS machines and birthing balls to heat packs and aromatherapy oils, they might just give you a boost when you need it the most.
1. Babycare Obi TENS, £44.95
Type: TENS machine
A winner in our MadeForMums Awards 2019, the Babycare Obi TENS Machine is a popular choice among mums-to-be. Effective and user-friendly, its features include a contraction timer, pre-set modes and a boost button for contractions. Plus, it even comes with spare batteries, so that’s one less thing to think about. MFM reviewer Amanda said: “This product was a life saver when in early stages of labour. It really helped with my contraction pains and felt like I was having a little massage.”
A TENS machine is a fairly expensive outlay (although this one is at the cheaper end of the scale), but bear in mind that it can also be used post-labour for pains in your shoulders and back and for menstrual cramps too, meaning it won’t necessarily be defunct after the birth of your little one.
Also remember that they shouldn’t be used in water, so if you’re hoping to spend some time in a birthing pool you’ll have to take it off.
Available from: Amazon, Babycare and Boots
2. BabyGo Birthing Ball, £20.95
Type: Birthing ball
It’s well known that a birthing ball can help encourage your baby into the right position for birth, induce labour and ease pains too, and this one from BabyGo is a great option.
It’s five times stronger than a usual gym ball, made of high-quality, non-slip material and has an anti-burst feature, meaning it will deflate slowly and safely if it is pierced.
The pack contains more than 30 different pregnancy exercises and advice, and the ball is available in two different sizes depending on your height.
It does take a little while to pump up, but it can be deflated and inflated whenever you want and is easy to store.
And, try not to forget about it after birth too – it’s a great bit of kit to use as part of a workout and you can do all sorts of strengthening exercises on it.
Available from: Amazon and BabyGo
3. Mama Mio Push Pack, £40
Treat yourself to this fantastic pack of goodies in preparation for the big day.
Containing a facial spritz, massage oil, multi-purpose balm (good for dry lips and to use on the baby too!), and a soft, cotton organic flannel, it’s got everything you need to relax your mind and soothe your body.
All the items are free from parabens, petrolatum, colourants, PEGs and phthalates, and feature natural ingredients such as baobab oil and aloe vera.
It is a little bit on the pricey side, and doesn’t offer pain relief as such, but it makes a lovely gift for yourself – or a special present for another mum-to-be.
Available from: JoJo Maman Bebe, John Lewis and Mio Skincare
4. Wheaty Bags Original Rectangular Heat Pack, £12.95
Type: Heat pack
Lower back pain is a common complaint of women in labour and these heat packs are a brilliant way to soothe discomfort.
Filled with locally sourced, natural wheat, they can be warmed easily and quickly in the microwave (which is great if your contractions have started quickly).
They’re really reasonably priced, too – especially when compared to other forms of pain relief such as TENS machines, and can be used for other aches and pains for years after.
On top of this, there are plenty of ways to personalise your purchase – you can choose the filling/scent, and the colour and fabric of the bag.
Available from: Wheaty Bags and Amazon
5. Aromatherapy Kit for Labour, £6.99
Type: Aromatherapy oils
This kit from Birth-Ease contains two aromatherapy oils designed to help with labour, as well as an empty spray atomiser to allow you to easily fill the room with your chosen aroma.
Lavender is known to have a calming and relaxing effect and can be a good way to lower anxiety, while clary sage is also believed to help ease stress, reduce the pain from cramps and strengthen contractions to make them more efficient.
While they’re a nice and fairly cheap option for the day, aromatherapy oils are quite a personal thing, and the scents don’t work for everyone.
They don’t offer the same sort of pain relief as a heat pack or a TENS machine, but they can be a natural way to introduce a sense of calm and many mums-to-be swear by them.
Available from: Amazon and Birth-Ease
6. Burts Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm, £3.99
This all-natural, ultra-conditioning lip balm from Burts Bees will be a lifesaver if you decide to use gas and air during your labour, as this method of pain relief can make your lips and mouth feel dry and uncomfortable.
We love the fact this lip balm is made solely of natural ingredients and is infused with kokum, shea and cocoa butters which literally melt on your lips.
There are no added flavours or fragrances and it will leave your mouth feeling soft and supple. And at £3.99, it’s not going to break the bank either!
Available from: Amazon, Feel Unique and Waitrose
7. CUB Inflatable Support, £120
We know this looks a bit strange, but bear with us. The CUB (which stands for Comfortable Upright Birth) is designed to help encourage mums-to-be to adopt and stay in positions that help support a smooth and natural birth and many mums and healthcare professionals rave about it.
You can sit on it, lean over it or squat/kneel against it while labouring and it will help ease pain and progress the birth.
It is much more expensive than a birthing ball (in fact it’s nearly £100 more than the BabyGo birthing ball), but it does provide a different sort of relief and is more stable, as no balancing is required. You’re even able to give birth on one of these if you wish.
Available from: Amazon, CUB and HCE
8. Perfect mamaTENS, £44.99
Type: TENS machine
This simple-to-use TENS machine is very similar to the one from Babycare in that it has three preset programmes designed to help counter labour pain at every stage, as well as a boost button to provide extra relief during contractions.
The product itself is lightweight and compact and has an easy-to-read screen, and the instructions are very straightforward to follow. There’s a lanyard included and batteries also come as standard.
Just bear in mind that, as with all TENS machines, you can’t use it when in a birthing pool, so if you’d like a water birth, or plan to use the bath as a form of pain relief, this may be fairly redundant.
Available from: Amazon, Argos and Tens Care
9. Labour Companion Hypnobirthing CD by Maggie Howell, £11.99
If you’ve attended a hypnobirthing class during your pregnancy you’ll have a sense of how empowering this approach to birth can be.
This CD uses this idea to help trigger a deep state of relaxation and encourage you to inwardly focus and maintain a sense of calm while in labour. It features both soothing birth music and three hypnosis tracks which are suitable for different stages of labour, and it can give you a welcoming boost when you need support the most.
Maggie Howell has created all sorts of different pregnancy CDs (many of which are well worth a listen) and mums love the gentle tone of her voice.
As with other natural methods of pain relief like aromatherapy, hypnobirthing isn’t for everyone. However, if you attended a hypnobirthing class or have read a lot of books about it, and are interested in taking the concept into the delivery room – this CD could be for you.
Available from: Amazon, Birth Ease and Hive
10. Vital Touch Natalia Labour Massage Set, £10.75
Type: Massage oil
When your back hurts, a soothing massage from your partner can really help – and this massage oil can make it even more comforting.
With a blend of clary sage, jasmine and bergamot essential oils, this all-natural product has been created to help ease pain and calm anxiety during labour and uses aromatherapy to this end.
As well as the massage oil, the set also contains a booklet of simple labour massage techniques which your birthing partner will find really useful.
Available from: Amazon and Vital Touch