Realizing you are going into labor is inherently exciting. While you might be tempted to send an SOS to your midwife or rush to the birth center, in early labor you may be better off laboring at home.
Early labor, when contractions are still irregular, short, and/or mild, often lasts between eight to 12 hours for first-time moms, and about five hours for those who have given birth before. During this time your body is working hard to progress to longer, stronger contractions. After you’ve called the birth center to let your midwife know you’re in early labor, use our self-care tips to take your mind off labor pains and prepare for the arrival of your baby.
When you first go into early labor, try to rest or sleep as much as you can. Don’t deplete your energy, especially if your labor begins at night. You’ll need to be revitalized and ready for active labor later on. Take a nap or meditate to calm your excitement and rest. Soothing music or nature sounds can be helpful to help initiate rest and settle your mind.
Relax & Release Tension
If you’re feeling antsy or uncomfortable, focus on relaxing and restorative activities. Ask your birth partner to run you a soothing bath or massage tender areas. Use a warm compress to melt away any tension. Aim for any activity that helps you let go of physical and mental stress. Consider trying deep breathing exercises to connect your breath with your body in early labor. Stretching and remedial or prenatal yoga poses can also help ease any discomfort you might be feeling and put you in a positive mindset.
Do What Makes You Happy
While you await the arrival of your baby, focus on distractive activities that bring you joy. Creative outlets, nonstrenuous activities, and hobbies can be great ways to help you stay positive and take your mind off labor. Consider painting, reading your favorite book, writing in a journal, preparing a fun recipe, or going for a walk in a park or garden. Talk with your significant other in advance and plan anything that you would enjoy, from eating at your favorite restaurant to getting a massage. Time will pass faster when you’re focused on an activity that you love – especially if you don’t normally get to do it.
Eat & Drink
It’s important to listen to your body’s needs in early labor. If you’re thirsty, drink! If you’re hungry, eat! Drink water or sip your favorite herbal tea to avoid dehydration. Have your favorite healthy meal or snacks on hand. Choose easily digestible foods that give you lasting energy, such as proteins and carbs. Rice, oatmeal, veggies, and eggs are all great options. At Baby+Company, we’re focused on your comfort and encourage nourishment while you labor. We even have kitchen areas where you can heat up food from home or make whatever you’re craving! Feel free to bring anything you like to the birth center, and don’t forget to pack extra for your significant other!
Pack & Prepare
If you find yourself feeling excited or restless, focus your emotions by preparing to welcome your baby into the world. Double check that you’ve packed everything you might need for the birth center, including baby’s first clothes, the clothes you want to labor in, a camera, and anything else you want to have with you for your delivery. Tidying or organizing your personal space may help distract and ease your mind, too. Make your home as comfortable as possible for when you and your newly expanded family arrive home.
While early labor can at times seem like a frustratingly slow process, your body is doing important work to prepare for the birth of your baby. Take the time to prepare yourself as you set the stage for bringing life into the world.