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Tips For Managing Early Labour At Home

Doula Kim

Early labour support

Early labour can be a time of excitement and you may also be a little nervous as well. Especially if it starts on it's own, its your body saying, 'okay, we're starting that marathon, now!' And you may feel a little unprepared for everything suddenly changing. So what can we do? To start, it's important to stay as calm as possible. (Ya right!) When you think things are gearing up or the contractions have started, before you start to panic, take a big breath and center yourself. Yes, crazy things are about to happen, but you've got this. And if you've prepared with a good prenatal class, even better! Here are some tips for managing early labour at home, before it's time to head to the hospital.

Yes, not panicking is the first one, but then, if things begin at night, and I know this will sound crazy, but try to go to sleep. If you can sleep through these contractions, do that, or if you can't sleep, at least try to rest. These early labour contractions tend to be sporadic (no pattern) and spaced further apart. They are also often not that intense. They will get more intense as time goes on, so trying to rest during the early stage can give you the energy, mentally and physically, to manage labour later on.

Go for a walk. Sometimes you just can't rest, and I get that, if you are full of nervous or excitable energy, try going for a short walk. The movement will help with your discomfort, help move baby down and get into a good position and pass the time so you aren't sitting there timing every single contraction. But keep in mind, you aren't hiking mount everest. You are moving a little and then resting a little. We don't want to waste all your energy in early labour so you have nothing left to give in later labour,

Have a hot bath or shower. Especially if things start at night, try to have a bath or a shower. This can possibly stop any practice labour but also, if it is true labour, it can speed it up which means a shorter early phase. Also, the warm water will help relieve tension in your body which will lower your discomfort levels, and help your body lower your stress hormones which can inhibit the labour hormone oxytocin.

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Watch TV or listen to music. I remember when I was in early labour with my first, sitting in my room, in a rocking chair watching a christmas episode of a program called Providence, rocking back and forth with each contraction. Now, however, I recommend what you should do, is watch something funny. Beyond the fact that a good funny show or movie is an excellent distraction, when you laugh your body will release endorphins which is a hormone that will act as a pain reliever and also lower stress hormones which, again, as mentioned above will allow the birthing hormone oxytocin to flow.

Music can also help to change your mood and make the environment you are in feel lighter and happier. Create some play lists for yourself in the final weeks of pregnancy. One should be upbeat and energizing, a little dancy. The next should be more calming and sedate but something that will envoke happy, loving memories.

Try not to time every contraction. It may feel like you need to time all the contractions you feel, however this can also make labour feel really long. It's best to find alternative activities, play a game, watch tv, go for a walk, make some food, take a nap, but try not to focus on every single contraction. I know that sounds easier said than done, but please try to do your best. When the contractions are short and sporadic, its best to limit the timing. As things progress, you will feel a pattern forming and the contractions will be intensifying. Then time a few and see what's happening. The contractions will begin to get longer and stronger and closer together.

Begin to work through your non-medical comfort measures.

  • Get your partner or doula to give you a back massage

  • Adopt various comforting positions that are upright and forward leaning

  • Use guided imagery or put on your hypnobirthing scripts

  • Focus on your birth breathing techniques

I hope these suggestions will help you feel more comfortable at home and allow you labour in peace before getting to the hospital. And always remember, when in doubt, just breathe!

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