10 Natural Birth Essentials for Labor & Delivery

10 Natural Birth Essentials for Labor & Delivery

I often get asked what I recommend having on hand for the big day. No, not your wedding. I’m talking about the day you go into labor. And if you’re planning a natural birth there are a few essentials for your birth bag that can help everything go smoothly.

I learned so many things from my first labor and can’t wait to do it again so I can change some things.

For example, I can’t stress how important it is to replenish during labor whether you are planning a natural birth or not…. and I know, it’s the LAST thing we want to do but it’s so vital. I went nearly NINE hours without food/drink, which only made things worse. I will never forget when my doula gave me some apple juice and the change that took place. All of a sudden I had ENERGY. I had glucose running through my veins and an instant boost to my delivery. So, I will be sure to drink lots of fluids during labor next time… I think liquid nourishment is probably better than a lot of food since it’s easier on the body and we’re pretty preoccupied to stop and eat anyway.

Natural Birth Essentials

So, whether we give birth at home, in a birthing center or at a hospital, here are 10 helpful tools which can promote a natural birth and smoother delivery.

1. Honey sticks

Think Pixie Sticks for crunchy mamas. These are a great form of natural sugar that’s super convenient to suck down mid-labor. (where to buy honey sticks)

2. Dates

I’m eating these suckers the month before and during labor based on this study. Can’t hurt as they’re another form of natural sugar, plus they have calming properties due to their mineral content. (where to buy dates)

3. Bone broth

Nothing replaces electrolytes and soothes the soul like a mug of bone broth. Put in a large thermos and make yourself sip throughout labor. Your body will thank you!

4. Red raspberry leaf tea

RRL tea is a superstar! It helps to tone our uterus and pelvic wall muscles, which is very important for birth. Most midwives recommend drinking it in the 2nd trimester on. Check with your healthcare practitioner on when to consume for your individual pregnancy. (where to buy tea)

5. Fresh fruit juices

I personally like OJ for its vitamin C, potassium and magnesium content and coconut juice is wonderful for potassium, magnesium, and electrolytes. You can add gelatin and a little cream to balance out your sugars. (where to buy)

6. Progesterone mixed in coconut oil

This can be used as a pain reliever (YES!) during labor. Rub on belly and back to relieve cramping. Here are a bunch of progesterone products to choose from.

7. Magnesium oil spray

Another form of pain management, squirt on body to help muscles relax during labor which helps promote a natural birth (where to buy spray)

8. Homeopathy

Bring. On. The. Drugs. (Natural, of course 🙂 ). Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor so consult with your health care provider before using any of these remedies.

  • To help your cervix dilate, try Caullophyllum 200C or Cimicifuga 200C.
  • Taking Gelsemium 30C and Pulsatilla 30C every few hours can help keep labor progressing nicely.
  • During the pushing phase, Arnica – 200C can help with pain and fatigue.
  • For back labor, try Kali Carb 200C.
  • For overall exhaustion, use Kali Phos 200C.
  • Additionally, Arnica 30C every few hours or even every 1/2 hour after labor helps with soreness.
  • Gelsemium and Pulsatilla can also induce labor or help breech babies flip.

9. Water.

Yes, hydrotherapy is one of the best pain relievers out there. The tub felt good but the shower was my bestest friend during labor. The hard pellets of water falling down on my back felt like manna from heaven. Be aware, however, that water *can* slow labor, particularly the bath.

10. DOULA.

I think this is probably the most important “tool” to have at your birth. These angels from heaven give you the support, confidence and coaching to have your natural birth… wouldn’t do it without one of these 🙂

Are you pregnant? Planning a baby shower?

Check out my baby gift registry checklist, featuring everything you need and nothing you don’t 😉

How about YOU?

What would you recommend to have on hand during labor for a natural birth?


  • http://www.spinningbabies.com/spinning-babies-and/homeopathy
  • http://www.homeopathyworld.com/cbduring.htm


About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 75,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

Learn to have an amazing birth

(without leaving your couch)


Add a Comment
  1. What would the parts be for the progesterone and coconut oil ?

  2. Hello, what is the dosage you would recommend for both the arnica 200c and the pulsatilla 30c?

  3. I was interested in your magnesium oil suggestion..For those mamas out there who experience the killer after-birth pains after multiple births, I recommend looking into taking a reasonable calcium/magnesium supplement. I took a light dose of magnesium (500mg) during the pregnancy for baby no. 5 and had a near painless labour and delivery (maybe just 10 minutes of transition). Midwives didn’t make it in time so my husband and I delivered unassisted, no complications. I then doubled the dose immediately after birth to handle the afterbirth contractions. I originally took the supplement with the permission of my midwife to prepare for the afterbirth pains which didn’t knock me around like the previous births. I have since learned that the calc/magnesium helps absorb better and now we are having blessing no. 9 and my midwife/naturapath just recommended I also use magnesium oil post-partum, how about that?.. always learning – happy motherhood ladies.

  4. The post is very useful, I will follow the directions. Thanks!

  5. I love your post on essential oils for pregnancy, delivery, breastfeeding, etc, but was wondering what essential oils would help post-birth uterine cramping? I get terrible pain/cramps for a couple weeks after delivery especially while nursing, and am looking for some relief from that with my next birth.

  6. I’m curious about using magnesium oil during labor. I have had really good results with Natural Calm helping my sleep and general muscle aches. I’m wondering how you used it in labor and how you thought it helped. I can see how relaxing muscles would feel better–is there any concern it would slow or stall progress in labor?

    I’m currently pregnant with number 2 and trying to set myself up for an easier labor this time. I’m especially curious if it might help with vomiting during labor–I threw up with every contraction for 12 hours of active labor with #1. . . .

    • Just curious what was your results as I am also taking natural calm magnesium.

  7. How much progesterone cream mixed in coconut oil do you recommend during labor?

    • I would talk to your midwife or doctor. Otherwise, I’d follow the directions on label. Usually it’s 1/4 tsp of cream.

  8. I’m having a homebirth and I already have a hot tub and bath at home. I have concerns that our living room, though big enough and close enough to a sink, will not be a private enough spot for an inflatable birth tub due to the french doors and natural light. Our lovely deck with the hot tub, however, will be perfect. Do you have any suggestions for how to prepare a hot tub for a water birth. I imagine a good scrubbing and some protection over the filters would do it. I just don’t know WHEN to fill the tub back again and what to do to keep the water cleanish in the meantime…

  9. Most of these work on women without any complications as such. Do you mind posting some pointers for mamma’s with gestational diabetes? Dates,Honey sticks,OJ are not allowed to them. And the constant fear of having big babies, early induction by week 39 forced upon them, and so many other factors ultimately ending up in a csection.

  10. For the homeopathy, was does 200c mean versus 30c? I looked up those products you recommended and also found them with 6x rather than 200c. What is the difference and will the 6x be helpful if I can’t get 200c?

      • It’s true that 200c is a higher potency than 6X but they are also taken differently. X potencies are for taking multiple times over a few days like if you have a cold and are taking homeopathic remedies for your stuffy nose. 30c is a medium dose and might be used for first aid and also daily dosing. And then 200c you just want to take one time. We usually recommend starting with 30c and then upping to 200 for a one time dose if symptoms are stubborn.

  11. I am wondering how much progesterone cream to put in the coconut oil? Thanks

  12. I am on my second pregnancy and currently 16 weeks. My first birth was not at all how I had planned so I am hoping for a natural birth this time around. I have been watching your videos on YouTube and am so inspired! I want to start drinking red raspberry leaf tea as you suggest, when I asked my midwife she suggest I stay away from it until a couple weeks before my due date. I have had a completely healthy pregnancy this far as was my previous pregnancy. Do you think it would be safe to drink the tea?

    • When I was pregnant I had 2 different doulas and 2 different midwife suggest red raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy one midwife suggested pregnancy tea as well. It is supposed to help strengthen the uterus and prepare it for a healthy birth.

    • I would highly suggest listening to your midwife! She probably has good reason for telling you this!! You could have certain issues that cause her to believe that this isn’t the right approach for you personally! Every woman’s body is totally different especially during pregnancy and labor! As a L&D nurse it’s great to see mom’s that want to go all natural and help naturally with the process but frustrating when advice given by your Dr. and or midwife isn’t listened to just remember they have very good reasons for discouraging this and if confused by it all ask more questions!! Good luck

      • It’s not always the best to listen to doc/midwife. I say this very carefully but my cousin recently endured a very hard 2nd birth after her midwife told her to cut back on herbal supplements, evening primrose oil, and red raspberry leaf tea do to a quick first labor. Now the 3rd labor is coming up and this time the midwife is listening to the momma. This is a midwife who has delivered hundreds of babies and is certified. Sometimes your body knows best!!

  13. I’ll have to remember this list next time around! I had horrible back labor and used those thermo wraps. They worked pretty well for me. Am I the only person who tried a hot shower in the hospital and it was luke warm?!?! Worst shower of my life!!! Freezing, contractions, transition…talk about horrible!! Learned my lesson though!

  14. Great list – thank you!!

    In addition to many of the things you listed, and I will probably add some of these in, essential oils are another labor essential in my book! I have attended a few births and found a number of oils to be very, very helpful for calming and soothing the mother.

    In addition to calming oils such as lavender, Peace & Calming, geranium, and others, I will be mixing up this pain relieving oil blend before I have my first baby this summer. I’ll be using it under my tongue as needed throughout labor – http://essentialsurvival.org/essential-oils-surgery/.

    Of course, I also consider acupressure and reflexology labor essentials for calming, pain relief, and even helping labor progress when it stalls.

    – Julie =)

  15. Yes! I was hoping you would have Doula on this list!

  16. Yes! I was hoping you would have Doula on this list! 🙂

  17. A birthing ball aka exercise ball. If you don’t have someone with you who knows some good positions to use on it, just get on youtube and you can get loads of ideas.

  18. raspberry leaf tea causes contractions in early pregnancy which puts some women at risk for miscarriage! ive had two mcs this year and that particular tea was flagged as a hazard. wait until full term or at least viability.

    • She is talking specifically about labor, so hopefully ladies won’t be drinking RLT during pregnancy…

      • The article says raspberry leaf tea should be drunk throughout pregnancy actually. Very worrying advice if it has been linked to miscarriage in early pregnancies.

        • Thank you so much Tammy for bringing this to my attention! This was a mistake as most midwives recommend 2nd trimester on for consuming this tea. Post is updated!

      • I know quite a few women who drank at least a quart of red raspberry leaf tea a day during 2nd and 3rd trimester and all recommend it highly. Each eomn is different tho.

  19. I do like this list though, I’ll have to keep it in mind next time around 🙂 I think “helpful tools” is right on the mark.

  20. Wow! I somehow had a natural birth without ANY of the ESSENTIALS. Perhaps next time, I’ll consider some. These are great ideas, but essential? I don’t know. At home, the most helpful thing was standing in the SHOWER. At the birth center the most helpful thing was being in the jacuzzi TUB. Other than that I just wanted to be left alone to do what my body was created to do. We took Bradley birth classes which I think helped me know what was going on the whole time, so I was able to relax through it. Also, it was EXTREMELY helpful to have a MINDSET of labor as WORK, NOT PAIN. Those were my essentials.

  21. Hi Genevieve-

    My is more of a question that a comment. I am 14 weeks pregnant. I think for some reason I you might be living in Chicago? That is where my husband and I reside. I have been looking for an excellent midwife and having a hard time finding one. Any suggestions to help my search?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  22. My SIL’s midwife was amazing 🙂 She ordered water with lemons and honey to add to keep her sugar up. It really seemed to help! I thought that was awesome that she provided that information and support!

  23. Rescue Remedy for you and baby, nuts like almonds or pumpkin seeds, a squirt bottle filled with herbal healing tea to cleanse areas after birth, and massage oil for the neck and back.

  24. The progesterone you recommend is soy based. Even though it’s non-GMO soy, soy itself is still concerning to me. Do you know of any non-soy alternatives?

    • Hi Jen,

      Since you only use a few drops, the non-GMO soy doesn’t bother me. It’s the cleanest, purest progesterone I can find on the market.

      • My favorite is Progest-E (https://www.longnaturalhealth.com/Dr-Peats-Progest-E-Complex-34-ml) I’ve read that progesterone is used best in the body when absorbed with vitamin E. Also, I’m curious- some people say to stop taking magnesium when you’re nearing your due date because it can minimize contractions too much. Do you think that’s the case? Just curious! Trying to decide what I’ll take/do when the time comes!

  25. Rice sock: Fill a man’s tube sock with like a cup of rice, add some EO (lavender or another calming scent you like) – you can microwave for a couple minutes and use for pain relief and calming during labor!

    Essential Oils (and a doula who can apply them! 🙂 )

    Nut butters – I love those little individual packets that Justin’s has – I found them at a Whole Foods near the jars of nut butters. Great energy boost.

    Lara Bars were a good source of quick energy.

    Coconut water – I downed this right after my daughter was born and it helped replenish electrolytes and was yummy.

  26. Wow! I am SO saving this post for my next baby! I just had my first a month ago and was completely unprepared for it. Thank God it was nothing like the 48 hours my mom had to deal with four my brother, cause all I had for those 7 hours was water and cranberry juice. If I’d had more substantial foods I think I’d have lost it all.
    Thank you so much for posting this, Genevieve!!
    So much good information!

  27. For my last delivery I let the people around me do all the work. I just grunted out what I wanted and my husband made it happen. I spent almost my whole labor in a jet tub in a dark bathroom. I was safe, warm, and focused on the moment. I didn’t want anyone bothering me, and my husband protected my space. Have honest conversations with your support people about what you think you will want, but make sure they understand that it may happen very differently. Make sure they are prepared to let that time be about you and not about them. What I needed was, warm, dark, safe, quite, solitude. I also needed little turkey sandwiches, and juices. I had an amazing experience!

  28. I walked around costco for a coupleuntil I was probably six centimeters dilated. Its so big and all of the stuff is so distracting. The walking helped move things along and seemed to keep the pain at bay (somewhat) . Also there are these lavender tablets that you put in the shower on the floor. That helped a bit.

  29. These are all great but what if you’re in a hospital and they don’t let you eat??

    • I would sneak food in like at the movie theater 🙂

      No, if that was the case, I would do bone broth, teas, coconut water, raw milk, etc. Honey sticks should be fine too since it’s liquid and pre-digested.

      • Not always true, Genevieve. 🙂 The hospital I’m at is cool with broth, teas, coco water, and gatorade, but is NOT cool with honey sticks and milk. You should always check with your hospital.

        That said, they cant MAKE you do anything. You can always go “Against Medical Advice” and just eat what you want. Which is what I will be doing 🙂

    • I was in hospital and not allowed food or drinks even ice they didn’t let! I was mad. However I did have my doula who brought me ice and helped me sneak a few sips of grape juice I had brought along with me. Oh was that a relief.
      As soon as the baby was out all I wanted was that sandwich I had in my bag! And the juice!

  30. awesome list! will keep this in mind for baby number two. first time around, I had my daughter at a birth centre that didnt offer drugs of any kind because i didnt trust myself to stick to my natural birth plan!!

  31. Aww, I really was interested in the brand of progesterone you recommend, but can’t find it on the site linked?? Is there another link to use? Pretty please?

  32. Thanks for the amazing list, I’ve definitely bookmarked it for later referral.
    I see a lot of discussion around Doulas, but was wondering if having a Midwife was on par with that? I’m in Canada, not sure if that makes a difference. I know you can’t have an OBGYN and a Midwife (where I am at least) so I’m hoping to go with a Midwife, but would you recommend trying to get a Doula additionally? 🙂 Thanks for the advice!

    • YES! Midwives rock for sure and are believers in natural childbirth but I would definitely add a doula! She’s there with you nearly every step of the way unlike midwives who are often busy delivering other babies too 🙂

  33. I sipped tea the entire time I was in labor. I drank Women’s Blend tea from a local herbalist and red raspberry. I also snacked when I was hungry and slept when I was tired. It made for such a speedy labor with my daughter. With my son, I wasn’t allowed to have anything but italian ice, water and jello. I was RAVENOUS by the time he was born but I was also so sick from the epidural and pit that I just puked up bile. I’m still new to the bone broth thing but I’m already a believer and will be sipping it when I have my next. :o) I love your blog so much.

    • That stinks about not being able to eat during labor! Bone broth is the BOMB!

  34. Evening Primrose Oil and Red Raspberry Leaf Tea twice a day after 36 weeks. I spent the last 1/2 of my pregnancy sitting on a birthing ball while at my desk. I think that really helped. During labor, I did a lot of slow dancing positions and a few baths to alleviate my back labor.

  35. Thank you so much for this! It is nearly imposible to find a list as good as this one. I can’t believe that I didn’t even think about taking arnica internally.

  36. Before my pregnancy, I ate about 5 dates a day. During my first delivery, my mother made me a warm drink of concentrated date “soup” and my husband was constantly feeding it to me through a straw. This sweet potent drink gave me the energy and strength through a fast (4 hr), natural and smooth delivery with my daughter. This was also a life saver after the delivery ( I drank this drink for 2 weeks straight after my delivery) when i needed to replenish energy for the breastfeeding later on.

    Recipe: Boil 30 dried Chinese dates (also known as Jujube) in 3 litres of water for 2 hours. The “soup” will be sweet and brownish in colour.

  37. wondering if you could share your references to using natural progesterone during labor? i can’t seem to find anything about it when i search although i have seen reference to it being a natural anesthetic. thanks!

  38. I took a hypnobirth class and had the most AMAZING, calm, comfortable birth with my second child. My first child was a natural birth too and there’s no way to compare the difference. I needed to learn how to do DEEP relaxation and it worked! I loved giving birth to my second child, it was like a serious meditation session and a profound personal journey. Hypnotherapy, don’t let the name put you off, it’s like guided relaxation sessions that train you on how to divert the pain. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=hypnobirth%20video%20j%20breath&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CC4QtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DeU1DP18pCBs&ei=TFUVUeTVLYXh0gGduIH4Cg&usg=AFQjCNEWPQOgvq7kzYHylOr0hXeFwjQRvw&sig2=mif2Q7-YbBkvyWzeRQsxZA&bvm=bv.42080656,d.dmQ this link has great advice about it.

  39. Love that date study, thanks had not heard of that- been on my 4/day since!! I’m 18 days away from d-day so trying to be as prepared as I can. Have a few liters of coconut water packed for electrolytes & hydration and some local made extra zinger ginger beer for energy/easing the queasiness plus some great raw bars for energy/protein/powdered greens. Anyone tried the magnesium oil? Does it aid pain? I’ve spotted a great pack that has a magnesium oil, bath flakes and a gel? Not sure wether to invest?

  40. Where do you buy all those herbs listed under #8?

  41. Thanks for this! I’m due in a few days with my fourth and will definitely be adding a few of your suggestions to my birth list. My favorite (yet TMI) suggestion from Ina May Gaskin that kept me from tearing at all with my last 2 babes is clitoral stimulation! Yep, in between pushes, you play around down there and blood rushes to the scene making you very stretchable. It totally works.

    My question is where you found the info on progesterone cream helping with pain relief. I have some on hand, but can’t find any articles on this. Where did you learn this from?

  42. One other thing I learned from reading “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” (a must read!) was the importance of relaxing your muscles, especially your jaw muscles, in order to allow your body to open up and let your baby out. I know, it’s our natual instinct to clench up our jaw muscles at the first hint of pain, but this is the WORST thing you can do during labor. I found that if I moaned as low as possible (and quite loudly I might add), that I was able to keep my jaw muscles from tightening up, which in turn caused my entire body to relax. I only had 4 hours of hard labor (first baby), and I believe a lot of that was due to my ability to relax my jaw and not clench up the muscles in my body.

    • I second that–everyone needs to read “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”! I am not dreading & fearing labor now as I once was, but am looking forward to the challenge that it will be.

    • Totally agree! I read Ina May’s book before my first labor and followed her advice for relaxing and picturing yourself opening for the baby to come out. My labor was 3 hrs!☺ I had taken Dr. Christopher’s six week formula and used evening primrose oil capsules as vaginal suppositories for about a week prior to birth. I’m convinced it made a huge difference.

  43. The tub was a lifesaver for me! I had eaten during the early stages of labor, but ended up throwing it all up when I went through transition. Due to that, I was running on empty when it came time to push. Thankfully, my midwife recognized this and told someone to bring me apple juice. I chugged the juice inbetween a couple contractions and it gave me the last little boost I needed. I started pushing and had her out in 15 minutes!

  44. I second, third and fourth the doula!

    I’m also very glad I’d purchased a (high-quality double) breast pump about a week before my baby was born. My water broke before active labor began, so I needed to get those contractions going. My doula recommended doing 10-minute double pumping sessions with 20-minute breaks in between. She also massaged my ankles and fed me cotton root tincture. My labor progressed quickly and I managed to avoid being put on pitocin!

  45. I found a month before due I would start taking a large dose of vitC everyday along with lots of alfalfa pills, Floradix’s Calcium and Iron. The vitC & calcium raise your pain tolerance level. The alfalfa & iron help you with energy & blood clotting (after the birth). I bled so little agter my last two births, my midwife was amazed. I keep on hand small bottles of odwalla juices & lara bars for power snacks. In the pushing stage I drink juice with honey for an extra energy boost. Having lavender, frankincense & peppermint on hand for rubs was wonderful! I used them for the birth also. Showers or baths help take the edge off the pain & good way to pass time. It is imperative to have a list of encouragements & questions written out for your husband or labor partner. Also to have pictures you can refer to during pg, in labor & birth for positions to try out. In the midst of labor, things get forgotten. I’ve had seven beautiful home births.

  46. A Doula!!! This should be #1 on the list – it is invaluable and so helpful. It made all the difference for me!

  47. A doula!! you can google DONA to learn more – every mama deserves a doula – we improve birth outcomes and experiences (statistically speaking, in addition to the mountains of anecdotal evidence) JUST BY BEING IN THE ROOM, AND NOT LEAVING! We’re magical. I can’t take clients because I’m a full-time student, so I volunteer doula at my local county hospital, between semesters. I want to give back to other mamas, because my birth experience was so empowering and transformative (bathtub, midwife, at home, 6 hours) <3

    • Oh dear, YES, YES, YES! Going to add to post. Thanks!

  48. We made various types of pops. We froze smoothies, emergen-c, and labour-aid (honey, lemon, water, and powdered calcium)

  49. The confidence and determination to stick with having a natural birth, a great support team, and a birthing tub!

    • Oh yes! DETERMINATION on your part is crucial!

  50. deffinetley dates maybe with some butter inside or cucomber that i will have prepared or have my hubby prepared in the fridge.
    Actually as a muslim we believe that dates are really great when labouring, in the quran God tells about Maryam (virgin Mary) that when she gave birth to prophet Jesus, while labouring she eat dates 🙂

  51. Fresh or dried dates? I think I can only get my hands on dried dates this time of year. Thoughts?

  52. A positive attitude

  53. Arnica really helped me after birth 🙂 I wish I thought of bone broth, that would have been nice. Though we went home from the birth center the same day and I did have freshly cooked chicken soup in the fridge. It was the perfect after-birth meal as a new family of 4!

  54. I am absolutely flagging this for a reference (and hope I can remember when I’m in labor)!

  55. What did you do about the hot water running out in the shower? I am planning a homebirth with #3 and have always thought I would love the shower, but I’m afraid the hot water will run out on me.

    • Just wanted to say to turn your water heater on its highest setting when you are nearing the end of your pregnancy. We used to always run out of hot water with showers but once we did this I was able to be in the Shower for 5 hours during labor and there was enough to fill the huge birth tub with more to spare! Blessings on your upcoming birth!

    • We are having an endless hot water heater installed! Haha. I am far too paranoid to even risk cold water!

      • My second birth was REALLY long, so we filled up the tub entirely too early. We would scoop the water out and boil it on the stove. Unless the water got icky.

        Caution: the water actually relaxed me so much that it slowed my labor.

  56. *being

    • My midwife had this brilliant idea-damp cloths in a crock pot. I had unending back labor with both kids due to them being posterier until they were halfway out then they spun into place(I kid you not, my midwife was a bit taken aback-but I have scoliosis) Back labor hurts like no other pain. But hot towels on my low back with counter pressure made it bearable. Just stack em up, turn onto low and rotate the cloths as they lose the warmth. Better than a heating pad since your partner can REALLY push against your back at the same time.

  57. I had a homebirth/waterbirth with my first 6 months ago.
    I definitely found the water tub to be the BEST. THING. EVER. during labor. I also had the little newborn outfit–that I had picked out to be my baby’s first clothes– in my hands as a visual aid while I endured the pain. It really helped motivate me. Advice I definitely give other mamas is to birth wherever YOU are going to be most comfortable. Be really well informed about your birthing options (read read read and research)and then choose what you know is best for you to be comfortable and confident. Bean at home was the most in valuable tool that I had

  58. Belly dancing!

  59. I think either a doula or a friend that has expierienced natural childbirths herself is a must for support! My husband was the best but didn’t know what to do to help. Another thing I saw someone do was they pulled on a towel while squating. I want to try this. I ALWAYS end up pulling on my poor husbands shirt LOL I literally yank on it 🙂 poor guy I also want to use one of those rice heating pads for my back. Anything heat always relaxes me. And the most important thing of all is PRAYER cause yikes it hurts!

    • I have a flax bag that’s lavender scented. Because flax has a naturally oily shell, it stands up better to the heat & cold…

  60. Great list! Will definitely keep these in mind for #2 expected this April. 🙂

    • Congrats on baby number 2!!! Hope you’re feeling great.

  61. With my first I found moving around and finding various “comfortable” positions helped early on. Once things got more intense a hot shower with my yoga ball (and a wash cloth between my teeth) got me through transition. I drank mostly water during labor, but did drink OJ soon after the birth. Looking forward to trying out some of these great tips for baby #2 coming in January!

    • Congrats on baby number 2!!! Oooo, a washcloth between teeth is a great idea when it really hurts. LOL!

      • I smashed my forehead into a cold washcloth during contractions when I was in the hot tub. That, along with being very LOUD (but in a low register), really helped me! And counterpressure against my hips. I got pretty demanding about that!
        My favorite thing was during pushing when my midwife wrapped her robozo/scarf around her waist and knotted the ends, and I would pull on it. I’d always envisioned pulling on something during the pushing stage!

  62. Hot tub!! Or luke warm tub I should say. I’m a mermaid so anything water is great for me. I did sip water and grape juice during my whole labor. You are allowed to eat once you enter the hospital I gave birth at but my doula kept sneaking me graham crackers and peanut butter along with grape juice and water. Thank God for her, she was amazing and I’m glad I ate b/c I was in labor for 20 hours and looking back I went to the hospital WAY too early!

    • Sorry typo, are NOT ALLOWED to eat.

    • Grape juice is another great liquid. Plenty of sugar 🙂

  63. I’d actually stay away from OJ or any other acidic juices. Not only can they contribute to heartburn (which I always get in the third trimester) but as one of my midwives said during my first labor “Eat whatever you want but just be careful because it may well come back up.”

  64. I second the essential oils! I wish I had them with my first baby.

    My suggestion is a visual printout of laboring positions. My midwife group had 5 midwives and whoever was on call the day you went into labor was the midwife you got. Unfortunately she did not take an active part in the labor process and my husband was beyond bewildered. It would have been nice to have visual suggestions of positions, an ultrasound photo, and a page of positive aspirations or mantras. Things to give me inspiration between contractions.

    • Hi Amy – do you know if there is an easy printable of this posted online somewhere? That is a great idea – I’m due right after Thanksgiving and my midwife is out of town the week of Thanksgiving. (FTM so I’m hoping to deliver late!). But, if I do go early and my midwife is away, I’ll have a doctor from the practice my midwife works in. So I’m trying to gather as many tools as possible in the event I need to be a little more on my own.

  65. Music playlist!!

    • YES! I find I like more “pump you up” music than Enya 🙂

  66. Tub and counter pressure, and lots of position changes. Juice was also helpful.

  67. Essential oils!!!

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