If you’ve ever sat through one of our final prenatal appointments, you may remember one thing we tend to stress: When in early labor, thou shalt not freak out and get all excited. Instead, ignore/distract/rest! (And yes, we mean it.)
So, let’s address a few things here. What’s early labor? That basically means that you are showing signs of labor (regular contractions, back pain, bleeding, diarrhea, restlessness, or any combinations of those things). However, you can be distracted, you can talk, walk normally, and basically still do everything you normally would - you just sort of have this labor thing happening in the background. It’s not uncomfortable yet, but it’s starting to get your attention and it’s not going away.
Second, why shouldn’t you freak out? Why not be excited? I mean, you’re about to have a baby! There aren’t many more freak-out-worthy and exciting events in life, especially if it’s a first baby. However, this is a good time to remember that you’re in it for the long haul. It may take several more hours (or, sorry mama, days) for your labor to really get going, then who knows how long after that until your baby is born. Those are the hours you need to save your energy and attention for.
So what we want our clients to do in early labor are these things:
- Call your healthcare provider! They may have particular recommendations for you based on their knowledge of your medical history, so please let them know what’s going on!
- Ignore your labor - keep “doing life” as normal. Go grocery shopping if you need to. Pick up your older kids from school. Eat supper. Shower. Don’t focus on labor yet, because the time to focus will come. Just do life.
- Distract yourself - go to the movies (it may be your last chance for a long time!). Go on a date with your partner* to your favorite restaurant. Put together nursery furniture. Prep some meals for your postpartum period. Let someone decorate your belly (hello, who wouldn’t want an exploding TARDIS to enjoy during labor?). Just try anything that will keep you from watching the clock.
- REST. Please, please rest. If you can sleep, do it. If you can lay on the couch and watch a movie, do it. Don’t put a lot of work into your early labor! No curb walking, no fancy breathing, no stomping. You need to save your energy.
*Speaking of partners: It might be important for YOU to remember to remind her to ignore/distract/rest. If she acts like she’s jumping headfirst into Labor Land, gently call her back so she can get out of her head.
We hope this info is helpful to any of you who might be approaching the final weeks of your pregnancy. If you’ve been there before, what were some of your favorite ways to ignore labor and distract yourself? What are some things you’ll definitely do next time? For me, it’ll be watching Empire Records, letting my toddlers Sharpie my tummy, and taking a nap. <3
Lots of love,