Heat can be used at any point in labor or even for comfort at the end of pregnancy. Common places to put heat sources would be:
- the back
- the pubic bone
- the neck
Sometimes you'll get chills in labor. Heat can help warm you in labor. Simply take your heating pad or rice sock and cuddle up with it, wherever it feels best. Remember to test the heat source with your hand. Sometimes you need to wrap it with a towel or two to make it more comfortable.
Heat is also great for helping you relax. This might be a specific location, like a tight muscle or it might be just used generically to help you relax. You need to figure out what works for you.
It is important to be very careful using any source of heat if you have an epidural. You should never put something heated on skin that is numb from an epidural, you may get a burn if you do that. It can also cause you to overheat, since an epidural changes how your body dissipates heat. The same warning goes for a mother with a fever in labor, heat may not be appropriate.
If you don't have access to a rick sock or heating pad, there are other choices for you:
- warm blanket (open or closed)
- hospital glove filled with warm water
- warm shower or tub
The Labor Progress Handbook. Simkin, P and Ancheta, R. Wiley-Blackwell; Third edition.