When early labor begins, you’ll be feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. Particularly for the first baby, the length of early labor is unpredictable and may last hours or even days. Balancing rest and activity in early labor is important.
The Chicago Doulas has put together a list of ten ways you can pass the time in early labor.
- SLEEP: Yes, you heard us. Try to stay horizontal and sleep or rest frequently. If you’re able to lay down in bed comfortably, there is really no need to get up to time contractions or try to bring contractions closer together.
- HYDRATE: It’s easy to become dehydrated in pregnancy, and even easier in labor when you’re distracted by contractions. Slow, deep breathing through your mouth, while relaxing, may also make you extra thirsty.
- BRUNCH (or lunch or dinner): If your contractions are mild and far apart, go out to eat! Think of it as the last meal you and your partner or family will have together before you add one more to the bunch.
- BATH: Taking a bath or shower can be relaxing. An extra plus is that it may offer you the ability to test where you are in the labor process. Typically contractions will space out or stop when you get into the bath in early labor. The further labor has progressed, the more likely the chance that contractions will keep right on coming, even in the water.
- WALK: It seems everyone has heard this advice. While we agree that activity, including walking and position changes, can be helpful for labor progress, we want to remind you that walking probably won’t speed up early labor, so don’t go overboard trying to get things moving!
- YOGA or MEDITATION: Pull up a YouTube video for a short round of prenatal yoga or search Spotify for meditative music.
- TEA: Iced or hot, depending on the season, and your herb of choice. Some ideas: chamomile or lavender may be relaxing, peppermint can assist if you’re noticing some nausea, and red raspberry leaf is the traditional tea of the second and third trimester that may help to tone the uterus.
- MASSAGE: Call your favorite massage place and see if they can fit you in for an appointment. Or, have your partner give you one. Focus on the feet–there are points that may help to augment the labor process.
- NETFLIX: Binge watch a TV series of your choice. Not to worry if you don’t get too far in–you’ll have plenty of time while you’re snuggling your baby on the couch.
- BAKE: Make cookie dough and freeze it into balls for an easy and delicious postpartum snack. Be sure to cook up a dozen or so for your hospital stay.