It's happening, you're finally in labor! This is so exciting! Ok, let's get to work; I need to start breaking out all the positions I learned during my birthing class and get this baby out. They'll be here any time now!
Excitement is the most common emotion at the start of labor, but it can drive you to over-exert yourself too early during the process, leading to fatigue and frustration later down the road. Here are my top tips to help ease into labor, making the early stages feel more manageable and set you up for success later on.
Resting and sleep can do so much for you during the beginning of your birthing time. I tell all of my mamas and their partners to immediately hop into bed and try and sleep as long as possible.
When labor progresses, there will be a time when it's more difficult to relax between contractions, let alone sleep. Get the rest you can now to give you ample energy for later on.
As you sleep, your body relaxes, allowing your uterus and cervix all the energy it needs to keep opening. I advise mamas to sleep until they can't anymore. If you're worried about laying down, try sleeping upright in a cozy chair or with several pillows between your legs to keep gravity in your favor.
2. Eat & Drink
Much like sleep, keeping hydrated and fed gives you that all important energy you need to last through birth.
Have your partner remind you to drink a little bit after each contraction. Have several beverage options available, including ones with electrolytes like a sports drink or coconut water.
Eat simple, but complex foods to keep your energy up. Great examples are oatmeal with honey, toast with butter, rice and fruit. Try to avoid large meals that may sit wrong in your stomach later. Eat little bits as often as you can.
3. Take a Bath or Shower
Water therapy is an amazing comfort tool during all stages of labor. I encourage mamas to take a shower or bath earlier on to help them feel clean and refreshed for birth.
Baths are a wonderful tool to sink into and relax. Light some candles, sip on your drink and nibble on snacks while listening to soothing music. Use this time to rest and take care of yourself.
A shower is a great option if you need to feel fresh and rejuvenated. I recommend a quick shower for mamas when their waters have broken and they need a pick me up. Cleaning up in the shower is comforting and helps press the reset button for the next stage of labor.
4. Avoid Spreading the Word
You're excited, I know, but try and avoid telling too many people you're in labor. My typical advice is to keep this moment between only the people who will be present at your baby's birth.
Family and friends are going to be excited too, which may lead to extra checking in. Even if they don't reach out, you may now feel an obligation to let people know how things are going, or even feel stressed at how much time is passing during labor.
If updates are really necessary, pass your phone off to your doula to keep track of. You and your partner should be completely focused on birthing your baby and each other.
5. Have Plenty of Support
There is a lot to remember during birth, it's nice to have a professional with you from start to finish. A doula's job is to remember the things you can't and guide you on options that will help your birth be more comfortable and progress.
If you're concerned about remembering everything, being influenced by your care team, managing other family members or preventing a stressful environment, a doula would be an excellent tool for you.