Heat Pack Options for Birth & Beyond | Tips for Doulas

BetterBirthDoula.orgMany, many moms find that heat on their lower back is helpful during labor, especially if baby is OP and they're experiencing back labor. I've tried a few options for heat packs and wanted to review some of the pros and cons here. Ideally clients will have some time of hot pack they bring to the birth themselves but they may not have one, or may forget to pack it, so many doulas do provide one.

* Plug in heating pads. Easy to wipe down to clean, covers are washable, they can get extremely hot, but you're limited by the cord needing an outlet. They're not very expensive and easy to find. You also don't have to leave the client to heat it up at a birth. They don't cool down (though some turn off automatically after a set time, you can just turn it back on.) This one I have at home (I've not tried it for a birth) but I love it for warming my bed on cold winter nights. The cord I decided wasn't long enough to provide much mobility at a birth, but it's great if you know mom will be in one spot for an extended time such as her bed - Sunbeam

* Hot water bottle. Also easy to wipe down, covers are washable, they cannot get as hot, which can be a good thing. You can fill with hot tap water and if that's not enough, add a cup or two of hot water from the coffee maker, presuming the hospital/birth center has one. That may require you to leave the room/client. The cool off and require refilling, but that's a quick fix. I just purchased this one with the washable fleece cover - though some of those knit sweater type covers are adorable! Carex Hot Water Bottle with Fleece Cover

* Rick packs. These are trickier as they cannot be cleaned, though previously I had some with washable covers. I ended up gifting one of mine to the client after it got messy. You can easily sew these for clients, as they're lovely to have postpartum as well. After recent discussion on a doula board I agree that there is no way to ensure these are clean and shouldn't be shared between clients. (Despite keeping mine in the washable cover and wrapping in a towel at the birth, they can still get dirty.) They need a microwave to heat them, and at one local hospital to me that is only behind a locked door that requires staff to give you access. Depending on how busy they are at the nurses' station this may mean I'm away from the client 5+ minutes while waiting to be let in and for the hot pack to heat. It's not long, but when things are moving fast even that length of time away can be nerve wracking. They also need to be reheated relatively often, sometimes within the same hour depending on what mom needs. (They can stay warm for hours, but not hot.) I love this one, but new covers were almost as much as the rice pack itself - Earth Therapeutics - Lavender Chamomile

* Reusable instant heat gel packs get nicely hot, last comparable time to rice packs or hot water bottles, don't require you to leave the mom's side, and can be easily cleaned and reused down the line. However, they cannot be reused instantly as they have to be "recharged" by boiling them. They are also one of the pricier options. You can see some options online like this: Heat Wave

Currently I'm trying out the hot water bottle and my primary concern is getting it hot enough for mom's comfort. I'll let you know what feedback I get about it!

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