What’s with the comb?

What’s with the comb?

If you found one of these in your birth fair goodie bag you may be wondering just what combs have to do with birth and babies…


We find that two plastic combs, like the one in the photo, are a handy addition to any birth bag. The laboring person can hold the combs as shown above, 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 discomfort elsewhere on the body releases endorphins that may decrease the perception of labor pain.

GATE CONTROL OF PAIN THEORY — This theory says that the brain 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. Sterile Water injections and TENS units work on the same principle.

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 labor progress. While those in labor 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 tub, tugging on a rebozo, or clutching the bed clothes, using combs may be an efficient way to do so intentionally.

PSYCHOLOGY — Because the laboring person is in control of the the combs, they may feel less out of control of the sensations of labor. Being able to control the strength of the TENS unit may also have a similar benefit.

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.

While we find that combs can be JUST the right tool for some families, and work less well for others, they are a great low-tech, low-intervention, budget-friendly tool to try.

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!

(updated 4/15/18 to include inclusive language, correct an error and provide more links)


Community building one bite at a time

One of the very best ways to support a new family is to bring them a meal. The families who fed me and my mine after each baby arrived will always hold a very dear place in my heart.

A new family is generally glad to know that they are being thought of and pleased to receive any meal, but the best ones are easy to reheat, easy to eat, nourishing and warming. Bonus points for something that freezes well in case the family gets swamped with several meals at once. Sending food recyclable containers that don’t need to be returned with clearly labeled with the contents and date is a true boon for new, sleep deprived parents. Along with a simple side dish or two, toss in a few paper plates, maybe a family desert like fresh fruit and chocolate bar designated ONLY for MAMA, and it’s perfect.
Takethemameal.com and mealtrain.com have made the process so easy with directions to the family’s home, dietary limitations and preferences all in one place.

My favorite recipe is a lentil and sausage stew from my childhood. I often have requests for the recipe. It’s not complicated but it sure is tasty. If you ever see my name on a meal log, you can almost bet this is what I’ll be bringing!

Two Rivers Lentil and Sausage Stew:

Chop then saute in a large stock pot 1 med onion, 3 med carrots, 3 celery ribs in olive oil until tender. Add a few tsps of minced garlic when veggies are tender. Add 4 cups water/stock/broth, or more as needed, and 1 cup dry brown or green lentils, bring to a boil then simmer. Add a handful of chopped potatoes after about 15 minutes. When the lentils begin to soften add 2 peeled and chopped med sweet potatoes. When the lentils are tender add 2 cups of chopped sausages or kielbasi. At the very end add a few splashes Tamari/Braggs/Worcestershire sauce (I like all three) to taste and bring out that savory, satisfying umami. Serve with bread, or over rice or quinoa. This soup freezes well. Omit use water instead of broth, omit Worcestershire and replace sausages with meat-less options for a vegan soup.