So, uh, whats with the comb, guys?
Did you find a comb in your Birth Fair swag bag? Did you find one at your doctor or chiropractor’s office? Welcome — We’re thrilled that you want to learn more!
In many cultures around the world, laboring women will grip wooden combs to help them cope with the sensations of labor. We find that two plastic combs, like the one you’re holding, work just as well. The laboring mother can hold the combs as shown in the photo, and squeeze during a contraction — if it feels a little uncomfortable, you’re doing it right! The combs work on a few levels to provide relief and comfort:
BONAPACE METHOD — Creating pain or discomfort elsewhere on the body, which releases endorphins that decrease the perception of pain. Sterile Water injections and TENS units work on the same principle.
GATE CONTROL THEORY — The mind can only pay attention so many sensations at once. Pressure on the nerve pathways of the hand reach the brain faster, and crowd out the abdominal pain signals.
REFLEXOLOGY AND ACUPRESSURE — Meridians, or energy pathway, across the palm. Pressing on these pathways allows healing energy to flow. The points across the palm, at the base of the fingers, correlate to the uterus which may help labor progress.
PSYCHOLOGY — Because the laboring woman is in control of the the combs, she may feel less out of control of the sensations of labor.
BREASTFEEDING — Our friend Megan of Blue Ridge Breastfeeding reminded us how useful a comb is after birth, too! Dragging a comb down the breast can be an effective way to break up, or even prevent clogged ducts. These combs might be a little sharp for this practice, and we suggest one with wider and more blunt teeth.
We carry combs in our doula bags as one of many tools to help our clients through labor. If you’d like to learn more about how doula support makes birth a positive and empowering experience, CLICK HERE!
Hope we get to chat more, soon
Bergen + Julie