Turns Out a Hair Comb Can Help You Manage Labor Pain

Grasping a regular plastic comb could be tremendously therapeutic, according to childbirth educators.

comb on top of woman in labor
Photo illustration by Sarina Finkelstein; Getty Images (2).

Whether your birth plan entails practicing deep breathing and visualization (a la HypnoBirthing), drugs, water therapy, or all of the above, it can put any mom's mind at ease to have a bevy of labor pain management tools at the ready. One you may not have heard of before that childbirth educators stand by: holding a plastic comb. Yes, really!

The women behind Fox Valley Birth and Baby, a company which offers birth photography and videography, doula and lactation services, and childbirth education classes, took to Facebook earlier this month to share an eyebrow-raising, intriguing tip.

"Did you know a comb can be used during labor?! And no, it's not for your hair," the post, written by photographer, videographer, and placenta specialist Mary Nieland, reads. "When gripped in your hands, a comb can help hit acupuncture points in your hands. It also plays into the gate control pain theory. This theory states that the brain can only focus on a select number of sensations. Because the nerve endings are closer on your hands they reach your brain faster. Helping your body forget about the contractions."

The post explained that the best way to hold it is by "having the comb hit at the base of the fingers (across the palm of your hand)."

Nieland also included a stunning shot of a mom practicing the trick.

mom holding comb

Since being shared on July 15, the post has wracked up 22K comments and 20K shares. Much of the feedback came from expectant moms who said they will now be including a comb in their hospital bag.

One commenter wrote, "WOW!! Wish I knew about this when I had my first son!! Due another little boy in October and a comb will definitely be packed." Another attested to the power of the approach, writing, "Yes! My doula have me little plastic hedgehog with sharp spikes to squeeze ... it was the most helpful thing during the whole labor!"

While the most effective pain relieving techniques are sure to look different for every mom, it's heartening to know something as simple and straightforward as a hair comb could make such a difference.

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