It can be overwhelming when labor first starts. Trying to figure out if you're really in labor, how long it will last, when to go to the hospital or call your midwife, there will be so many thoughts swirling in your head around this time. Here is some of the things I suggest to mums during the early labor phase to you stay calm, rested and to keep labor progressing nicely:
It may seem like the last thing you want to do but walking and movement on an exercise ball is one of the most proven way to keep labor chugging along. It stimulates the hormones that conduct labor contractions, as well as helping to dilate the cervix and get baby's head engaged. Curb walking is a great way to create space and movement in the pelvis, walking along the curb alternating up and down. Another great way is to do circles on an exercise ball, drawing big circles with your hips clockwise and then counter-clockwise. It's recommended to exercise throughout pregnancy, this is beneficial in the long run as your birth will be much more manageable. Even cleaning your house can be a good way to get some movement in your body and distract- vacuuming, dusting, cleaning windows, and you'll have a clean house for when baby arrives!
2. Rest and Digest
I always suggest that mums (and their partners) get as much rest and sleep as possible in the early labor phase, sometimes early labor can last as long as 3 days. It is important to stay hydrated and fueled before contractions get more intense- sipping on water and electrolytes, eating bites of toast will help ensure you'll have enough energy in the long run. It's always good to plan ahead, one thing I recommend to have on hand for labor is a water bottle with a straw for easy sipping throughout.
As crazy as it may seem to someone starting labor for the first time, the best thing you can do is ignore early labor until you can't anymore. Because once you can't ignore it anymore, its likely that you're entering active labor and will be heading to the hospital. Distractions are key, when preparing for your birth make a list of things you can do in early labor that will help distract you. If it's night time try to sleep and in the daytime just go about your normal day. House cleaning, cooking, baking, walking, Netflix or reading, whatever will keep your mind off the discomfort of early labor.
Of course, always consult your care provider if you suspect something is wrong or your contractions are intense to the point of not being able to talk through them- this is a good indicator that your transitioning into active labor.
Wherever you are, whatever your birth plan or situation, I hope you feel empowered and educated to have the birth that you want, that you deserve. If you have questions or want to learn more about how to prepare for your birth you are always welcome to contact us!