What to Expect and What NOT to Do!
Are you wondering what early labor might be like? Do you feel unsure of what to expect from your body? What if you don’t realize you’re in labor? When I was pregnant with my first baby, I would have given anything to have someone lay this out for me in realistic terms.
In this post, I’m going to give it to you straight. I’m going to tell you all about what early labor is like. Next, I’ll tell you all about what to do to support your birth to have the best experience possible. Also, you’ll learn about what NOT to do to ensure you’re in great shape for the birth of your dreams.
Early labor is the LONGEST part of labor!
Firstly, this is the time of labor where your body is starting to prepare to birth your baby. Contractions are manageable and becoming more regular and intensifying.
In this time, lots of amazing physical, chemical, and emotional changes are happening.
- Your cervix is thinning and dilating to prepare for birth.
- Your uterus is contracting and your baby is descending and moving.
- Oxytocin (love hormone) & endorphin (pain relief) levels are starting to increase and your brain waves are starting to slow.
- You’re beginning to emotionally prepare for the birth experience and seek comfort in a calm, supportive, and nurturing environment
Secondly, your early labor phase could last anywhere from a few hours to a day or more. Sometimes, it seems like it’s never going to end. I promise you, at some point things will intensify and roll right into active labor. The KEY is to stay as strong and rested as possible for when your labor finally does intensify to the next level.
During this time, you can support your labor by:
- RESTING! Sleep and rest when you can. Be prepared to run the marathon of birth.
- Eat & drink well. Your uterus is a muscular organ, so let’s feed it like one.
- RELAX – practice your relaxation strategies. Take a bath. Practice breathing. Listen to birth affirmations.
- Massage – Intimacy – Loving Touch
- Create a calm & peaceful environment: quiet sounds, slow and gentle movements, music, nurturing touch, comforting & supportive people, aromatherapy
IGNORE IT until you can’t ignore it any longer.
During this time, it’s best to avoid:
- Getting anxious/tense/fearful
- Trying hard to “make labor start”
- Strenuous/tiring activity
- Rushing to your birth place before active labor starts
- Surrounding yourself with the wrong people
- Focusing too much on timing contractions
If you are finding yourself in a very long and exhausting early labor phase, it’s important to consider seeking out support. Firstly, this is highly individual. In last week’s webinar, a participant asked me what I felt qualifies as a “too long” early labor phase. I don’t think there’s one answer. “Too long” is when you really feel like you can’t continue like this, you can’t rest or sleep anymore, and you feel like you need support. Secondly, communicating with your support team will help you stay strong and confident no matter what.
If your early labor feels extra long, then consider the following:
- Chiropractic adjustment
- Discuss support strategies with your provider and doula
- Take a gentle walk (change the energy)
- Take a nap in bed with pillows
- Belly wrapping, tuck and lift between contractions – check out spinning babies!
It’s important to understand that your body is working to get ready for labor to kick in. This is also true even if it feels like nothing is happening. Labor progresses in many individual ways. Know that your early labor WILL turn into active labor, and you’ll be strong, powerful, and ready for the next phase.
Like what you learned? Is this really resonating with you? I’m holding a free webinar on January 27th at 7pm. In this webinar, I’m going to give you 5 TOTALLY DOABLE tips for a healthy pregnancy and birth. I’m going to share my expert tips to help you achieve your goal of a healthy pregnancy and a confident birth. No fancy supplements or workout routines required! Space is limited, so sign up today!
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