Heat and cold can help some women during labor. Heat can help the muscles relax, and both heat and cold can act as a nerve distractor because it provides a new sensation, which can reduce the perception of pain. Be careful to always check temperatures – anything that is too hot or too cold can cause burns or stress to the skin.
Options for applying heat include:
- store-bought heating pads
- gel packs that can be warmed in warm tap water
- rice socks (long socks loosely packed with uncooked rice that are microwaved next to a cup of water for one to three minutes)
- a washcloth warmed with warm water
- taking a warm bath or shower
Options for cold therapy include:
- store-bought cold packs
- ice in a plastic bag wrapped with a towel
- a washcloth cooled with cold water
If you have additional questions about hot or cold therapy, talk with your health care provider.