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Hand Fan – Tools of the Doula Trade

Why a hand fan? Labor is hard work! The uterus is a huge muscle that usually contracts for hours on end during labor and burn lots and lots of calories, like working out. That’s why it’s important for a mom to stay hydrated and nourished. It’s also important for birth companions to help a mom stay as comfortable as possible while she’s doing the hard work of giving birth.

As a doula I usually just throw a few things in my bag on my way to a birth, and the hand fan makes the cut every time. As moms enter transition (the phase just before pushing) they tend to become very warm. This is my favorite time to break out the fan.

hand fan for labor

For a birthing mom who’s sweating, grunting, and contracting every couple minutes, a cool breeze can really hit the spot. The hand fan is a very simple and compact tool that can be picked up for $5 at World Market. Some other ideas that can help a mom not feel overheated during birth:

  • Cold drinks and ice chips. Staying hydrated helps a mom’s uterus work more effectively and reduces pain. Water, juice, and diluted sports drinks can help her stay cool and supports her body in bringing the baby out.
  • Shedding layers of clothes. By the time a mom is pushing she has often stripped down to little or no clothing. It’s important to choose a birth space and an OB/GYN or midwife that a mom feels she can be her most raw, primal self in front of. One who will accept and even celebrate the signposts of labor progress, including loss of modesty.
  • A cold washcloth¬†on the forehead or the back of the neck can cool and soothe a mom who is working hard. It also mean by nature that someone will probably be bringing gentle, loving touch while holding that washcloth on her. That kind of touch helps promote oxytocin – the hormone that causes contractions, and endorphins – the body’s natural pain killers.

What helped you stay cool when you were in the throes of labor? 


Nikki Shaheed CCE(BFW) CD(DONA) is a doula and Birthing from Within mentor who serves families in San Antonio, TX with her beautiful family. Nikki’s passion is preventing, and helping parents heal from birth trauma.¬†

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