Homemade Comfort: Rice Heating Packs

A favorite “natural remedy”/comfort measure that we love to have around our house is a rice heating pack. We especially enjoy the ones with lavender mixed in with the rice, for a relaxing scent. They are perfect for treating sore muscles, cramps, or a headache. The authors of Birthing from Within recommend using them for labor pains, or the afterpains/muscle aches of postpartum.

The one we’ve had for several years had been thoroughly worn out, and I knew it was time to replace it. I decided to make a couple to have available as a comfort measure for birthing, as well as just to have on hand at home. I also made a “his & hers” set for a friend as a bridal shower gift this spring, as well as a small one for a friend to treat her mastitis pain this past fall.

My method for sewing the rice heating packs is similar to this one. However, before I fill the inner bag with rice/lavender, I sew “gussets” in it. (Stitch on alternate edges of the bag, in a straight line, up to about an inch away from the opposite end.) This prevents all the rice/lavender from quickly sagging to one end of the bag while you’re using it. and keeps it more evenly distributed.
For the outside cover, I sewed velcro on the open edge, so that it can be removed for washing. (Don’t put the inner bag with the rice/lavender into the wash, though!) You want to make sure to sew these with natural fabrics (no synthetics), to prevent a fire hazard while warming. I just use cotton quilting fabrics when sewing mine.
Typically, it is recommended to heat rice packs in the microwave for a couple minutes (checking about every 30 seconds, to prevent scorching). Since we don’t have a microwave, we just heat them gently in the oven, checking them often.
It’s a great alternative to a dose of ibuprofen, as well as a lovely relaxing scent! These are a safe alternative to a hot water bottle in bed (especially for little ones), and are especially comforting to snuggle up with on a chilly evening.

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