22 Ways to Make Your Birth Easier

By Lyn Dee Rankin, LCCE, CLS

21 ways to make your birth easier? It is all in the birthing bag that every pregnant woman should assemble in her last trimester. This is the bag that goes with you for birth — different from the suitcase you pack for the hospital stay after the baby is born. Wherever you choose to birth, you and your labor support people can be well prepared for the potential use of many items to make labor easier. The image of the Mary Poppins bag comes to mind. Different items serve specific purposes, but may simply serve as a distraction or a much needed change to support relaxation, focus, confidence and resolve so as to move through intensifying uterine waves (contractions). Consider the following:

  1. Written birth plan/preferences: It is helpful for all involved to have a reminder handy of what your preferences are. A mother-led birth helps result in a satisfying birth.
  2. Clothing to maximize freedom of movement in labor in and out of a birthing room (light shirt, sweater or robe and slippers or warm socks); anything to replace or cover a typical hospital gown.
  3. Focal Point: Many women practice relaxation using both internal and external focal points. Use one you can take with you.
  4. Favorite music or relaxation narrative on a portable device: Several compilations from smooth, relaxation, to motivating, movement music may be chosen during different times in labor for calming “zoning out” or rocking and dancing to encourage baby’s descent.
  5. Lollipop: Especially sour candy on a stick promotes salivation to keep mouth moist and deliver sugar for energy. The stick allows taking out to breathe.
  6. Breath spray or mouthwash: If support partners are breathing closely with birthing mom….
  7. Juice: A small can of sweet juice or energy drink to add to ice chips.
  8. Washcloth for cooling moisture. Colored so it can be distinguished from facility’s white ones.
  9. Lotion/oil for massage.
  10. Lip balm: It just feels good.
  11. Distractions: Cards, portable game for prolonged labor and distraction
  12. Back massage devises: Commercially designed rollers or just tennis balls in a can. (The balls alone are useful for easing back labor and the entire can rolled in a towel works well too.)
  13. Aromatherapy
  14. Mood lighting if birthing room has limited light control.
  15. Birth ball if not provided at facility.
  16. Hair accessories to pull hair from face.
  17. Labor log to record timing of uterine waves and other sign posts of labor (don’t forget a pencil/pen).
  18. Timing Device to track progress through length of uterine waves — stop watch, watch with a second hand, etc.  Reminding a laboring woman of her progress through each uterine wave builds confidence and resolve, one wave at a time.
  19. Labor positions on a list or a set of cards of each position to post around the labor room. It is essential that labor support partners promote movement and changes in positioning throughout labor.
  20. Support partners’ notes for reference. Childbirth educators usually provide summaries of labor signs and suggested appropriate coping techniques. Written narratives for relaxation and mediation will ease labor. No one is expected to remember it all!
  21. Support partners’ snacks: A well-nourished, comfortable support partner will be your best advocate.
  22. Support partners’ trunks or bathing suit for joining you in the shower or tub.


Key phone numbers: Birthing facility, doctor, support persons and family.

Last minute additions:  Wallet and insurance documents, glasses and contacts and respective cases, camera and phone.

Lyn Dee Rankin is an experienced educator, having taught children and adults since 1976 in multiple areas of Health Education and served on educational boards. As an independent, non-hospital Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, she has prepared hundreds of couples for safe and healthy births, and has had both a vaginal and cesarean birth, and breastfed both of her children. 


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  1. I’m an independent Lamaze educator and Prenatal Yoga instructor. Some things to add to and to edit your list:

    “3. Focal Point: Many women practice relaxation using both internal and external focal points. Use one you can take with you.”
    You don’t need to bring one with. A spot on the wall or your partner’s nose work just as well. A focal point, to be at it’s most useful should be 8-12 inches from your eyes. So, you don’t need to bring anything fancy, just use what you’ve got.

    “10. Lip balm: It just feels good.”
    Actually, pressure on the lips is a coping technique. ;-)

    “17. Labor log to record timing of uterine waves and other sign posts of labor (don’t forget a pencil/pen).”
    I’m assuming this is to help you write your birth story. Once you are at your birthing facility, the staff will keep the log. You only need to write down these type of things at home, before you go in.

    “20…. Written narratives for relaxation and mediation will ease labor”
    For some people, yes. For many people, however, scripts don’t work. There are many, many other relaxation, mediation, visualization techniques that work which are not script based.

  2. Avatar of Amy Bauer Amy Bauer says:

    As a labor & delivery nurse, I find that women in labor benefit, too, from other creature comforts from home, like their own pillow or socks (sometimes the socks don’t quite survive the experience, though).
    I’d like to add to another’s response to #17: labor logs are useful at home (if delivering in-hospital or at a birth center), but when used for too long, it can sometimes cause the laboring woman to focus too much on each uterine wave, if you will, and less on the other signals and coping tools she has with her. Best to think less about cervical change and whatnot, and more on movement and rhythm in labor…

  3. Janis Bell Ryan Bush says:

    Wow, Great! Lyn Dee Rankin is one of the most talented Lamaze teachers I know—and I know lots! Hope to see more articles by her here! Aloha, Janis

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