A wet towel is a simple comfort measure that has been helpful in many births that I have attended.
Hormone surges alone are enough to cause hot flashes, let alone all the hard work a laboring mama is doing. The combination can make women very hot.
When I notice that mama is getting a little red in the face or starting to sweat, I pull out a washcloth. I either simply wet the washcloth in the sink or fill a pitcher or bucket with some cool water and ice, plus a little essential oil. My oils of choice for birth are peppermint and/or lavender.
If there’s no time to refresh the towel, a good way to keep it cool is to swing it around quickly in a helicopter motion. But be careful where you swing! Depending on how wet the towel is, you could fling water onto unsuspecting (and unappreciative) medical personnel, the baby’s dad, or medical equipment. Also, it’s wise to wait until the contraction or pressure wave is over to remove the towel or refresh it. Most mamas don’t want anything to change while they’re working through a contraction. (A good all-around tip to keep in mind!)