As a woman who has known her share of freezing rooms and menstrual cramps, many a time a simple hot water bottle has been all the comfort I've needed to feel good and warm and loved. Hot water bottles are the bomb.
If memory serves me, the first time I was made aware of the potent joy a rubbery shell filled with boiling water could deliver was in the tiny village of Sandycroft, North Wales. It was my grandparents home, the parents of my Welsh mother and very old, small, steep and damp but not without its charms, most notably my grandparents, the garden and the fireplaces. We were visiting and staying with them on a Christmas trip from our new home of suburban Toronto in Canada. I was seven or eight years old and it was very cold that December in North Wales. Even though I lived in Canada now, also known as the Great White North and having especially brutally harsh winters, this cold in the UK was a different, more intrusive kind of cold. It was bitter and biting, a damp chill that got into my bones and wouldn't leave. I was constantly shivering. When I jumped into bed that first night I was quickly taken aback by something in the middle of the bed. I may have given a little shriek. It was a hot, sloshy lump sharing my bed that charmed me from the first touch. This was a new and most unexpected friend. My gran poked her head in the door. "I put a hot water bottle in a while ago for you. Is it nice?" I nodded and smiled. "Thank you" "Aw, you're welcome pet" she responded in her lilting voice. I smiled happily to myself as I soaked up it's heat on my back and my tummy. I then wriggled the little roaster down to my feet and let it rest and do what I had thought was impossible, and make those babies warm again. A hot water bottle huh? This is a valuable thing. This is awesome!
The next time I was deeply grateful for a hottie was when I was thirteen and experiencing menstrual cramps for the first time. It felt like an aggressive and angry animal was in my uterus, kicking and punching and kicking again. Oh my God! Do I seriously have to go through this torture once a month for the rest of my life? Life is cruel. I was miserable, lying in bed and cursing my fate as a woman.
Then my mom, bless her, came in with a hot water bottle, a cup of tea and the latest TigerBeat magazine with Sean Cassidy on the cover, the Bieber of another time. "Here you go love. A cuppa tea, a light read and some heat for your cramps. I remember how awful the first few periods were for me. Unbearable, or so I thought. But it passes," she said as she patted my arm.
Oh, that warmth on my womb was sweet relief. Thank you hottie. The cramps didn't disappear altogether but they receded and I drank that sweet tea and read that sugary pop culture and felt better.
Since then I keep my hottie close at hand for the first day or two of my period, just in case I need to snuggle in bed with a good book, a soothing tea and my hottie. My daughters each have their own trusted bottle (though the eldest seems to have outgrown terrible cramps for the time being and hers has lied unused for quite a while).
The standard hot water bottle is a rubber vessel with a stopper.
These tend to be extremely hot when first filled. To combat that you can get a cover for your bottle. If you're the crafty kind there are tons of ideas to knit or crochet. Here's a few:
Hotties are also excellent for anywhere you experience aches and pain; a sore back, glutes, shoulders, neck, arm, legs or feet or anywhere is soothed by the power of heat. They are also, like my first exposure to one, ideal for heating a cold bed for someone you love...even if (or maybe most especially if) that someone is you.
You only need to spend a few minutes boiling the water - a kettle works just fine for this and you can always make yourself a nice cup of tea to go with your soothing bottle - and you get an hour or more of rewarded comfort.
If you've never enjoyed the charm of a hot water bottle, do yourself a favour and try one; it could be your new best friend when Aunt Flo comes visiting or the cold has cast a chill deep in your bones.