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Labour Contractions - Managing The In-Between

Doula Kim Certified Doula, Childbirth Educator and Sleep Consultant

By Kimberley Fernandez - CLD, CCCE

Kimberley has been working with pregnant and new families in their birth and postpartum journey since 2006, and currently teaches liver virtual prenatal classes and is a virtual sleep consultant as well as offering virtual classes through her teaching portal "The Birthing Room"


Resting between contractions

There is so much out there on tips and techniques to manage your labour contractions. But labour is more than just your contractions. There is another part. The in between. The space between your contractions where you wait for the next one to come. In this article I'm going to talk about how manage that time.

Contractions in labour start, peak in intensity and then die away. Then after a few minutes they start, peak in intensity and die away. This the pattern you will be in until baby is born. The only two variables that change are the space between each contraction and the length of each contraction. As labour progresses, the contractions will get incrementally longer and the space between them will get incrementally shorter. For the contraction itself, you will be moving, breathing, making position changes etc.

But what do we do in the in between?

The first thing we do, as soon as the contraction is over is take a nice deep cleansing breath. During the contraction you have been breathing but your despite your best efforts, you may have tensed up a bit. Take a nice deep breath or two and let it out, relaxing the tension in your body.

Next, have a sip of water or juice, or a bite of food. Each contraction is going to use a lot of energy, so you will need some calories and energy to keep up with the rest of the contractions you have to work through. As labour progresses and becomes more intense, you may find solid food is making you nauseous, so consider drinking your energy.

Next, Rest! You don't need to talk, you don't need to support your support people, you don't have to worry if they are okay. You just need to rest. Lean against your partner, lay your head or whole body down, close your eyes and rest. Try not to dwell on the last contraction, that one is over and we don't need to worry about it again. Try also, not to anticipate the next one. You only need to rest between the contractions, take it one moment at a time.

Take this time also to evaluate your position. Between the contractions is when you want to move around, particularly in early labour, but also move into a more comfortable position to rest as mentioned above. Towards the end of active labour and into transition your time to evaluate and move will be significantly decreased and rest will be more difficult if you do have to move a lot but that's not uncommon before pushing begins.

And finally, speak up! If there is something bothering you, if you are feeling anything weird, if there are any concerns you have or need to do something different, say it. If you need to vent or cry and release some emotions, do it. Your partner and support person will be there to get you anything you need or listen to anything you have to say. They will be there for you and only you.

Remember, contractions are just one piece of the labour process. Resting and honouring your needs during the between is just as important as managing the contractions.

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