Did you know if a person in labour can hold one or more combs as shown in the picture, and squeeze them during a contraction, it might help them relieve discomfort or pain during contractions — if it feels a little uncomfortable it means it is working!

The combs work in a few different ways to provide relief and comfort:
Pain Gate Theory — The brain can only pay attention so many sensations at once. So by creating a pressure or sensation in the hand reaches the brain faster, and over rides the signals sent from the uterus via the spine. Sterile Water injections and a TENS machine work in the same way.

Bonapace Method — By creating a sensation or mild discomfort elsewhere on the body helps to release endorphins that may decrease the perception of the sensations felt in the uterus muscle.

Reflexology — In her book Special Delivery author Rahima Baldwin suggests that the points across the palm, at the base of the fingers, correlate to the uterus and that stimulating these points may help labour progress. While those in labour tend to stimulate these points without consciously thinking about it by holding hands with their partners or doulas, gripping bed rails or the edge of the bath, tugging on a rebozo, or clutching the bed clothes, using combs may be an efficient way to do so intentionally.

Psychology— The perception of control or distraction technique, because the woman in labour is in control of the combs, they may feel less out of control of the sensations of labour. Being able to control the strength of the TENS unit may also have a similar benefit. It can also be a useful way to give the thinking brain something else to focus on rather than on the sensations of labour.

So a standard comb who would have thought it could be such a useful tool for labour. I always have a couple of combs in my doula bag for clients to use during their birth and I also carry a couple of massage balls as some prefer those over the comb and they can have a similar effect.

Remember with all of comfort measures such as water, affirmations, music, low lighting, massage, breathing techniques, movement, birth hypnosis etc some will work for you and some might not it is not prescriptive must do list.

What do you think? What comfort measures worked for you in labour?

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