The first stage of labour. The time when things FINALLY start happening. After months of waiting, the party is finally getting started, and you couldn’t be happier. Aside from the excitement, you’re probably also feeling a little anxious, nervous, uncertain, scared…basically, you’re freaking out because although you’re more than ready to meet your baby, you have no idea what to expect from labour.
Labour and giving birth is a crazy ride, but you CAN get through it without too much panic. Here’s how:
Before we give you the low-down, do you even know what the first stage of labour is?
We’re hoping you took that childbirth class because then you’ll know that early labour is the LONGEST yet the least intense stretch of labour. This is when your cervix moves from the posterior position to the anterior position and begins to soften and thin out. Your cervix is also getting ready to dilate, so early labour is when your cervix is dilated up to 4cm. anything over 4cm means you’re going into active labour.
What does it feel like?
The “pre-party” can feel like lower back pain, aching in your lower tummy, cramps (almost like period cramps or gas cramps), or light contractions. If you feel them, great. If not, that’s also normal.
Since this is the longest stretch of labour, you might be wondering what you should be doing while you’re waiting for the onset of active labour. Here’s a quick guide:
Rest and relax!
Don’t go on a long walk or do some laps in the pool when you start feeling contractions. It probably won’t speed up labour and might end up doing more harm than good. All you’re doing is wasting your energy on the easiest part of labour. Marathon runners never start a race with sprints. There’s no way they’d be able to finish the race if they did. They have a long way to go, and so do you!
Don’t think about what’s happening on the inside
You need to keep your mind off what’s happening inside of you and focus on other things to help pass the time. You might try watching a movie, getting your baby book ready, baking something, getting a massage, or getting your nails done. Now is the time to get t those last-minute preparations, anything that’ll help keep you distracted. Just be sure to rest and relax between your projects to conserve your energy for what comes next.
Eat and drink
It’s been shown that eating light snacks and drinking lots of water can help reduce the total length of labour by as much as 90 minutes. And in labour times, that’s A LOT. Reach for foods that’ll help sustain your energy levels, like carbs or a protein bar.
Don’t feel discouraged
Sometimes, labour lasts a lot longer than we hoped, but this shouldn’t discourage you. The last thing you want to do is panic because anxiety and stress can stall labour. This stage of labour is the ideal time to pace yourself and prepare in advance. Perhaps the most important take-home is that you have to listen to your body. take up different positions until you find something that feels comfortable. If you feel better by moving around, then do that. Eventually, things will pick up, and after following these tips, you’ll be ready for what’s to come.