During the Early Stages of Labour a woman can expect to feel many physical and emotional changes. Here are some things to expect:
What is happening
As your labor becomes more active you may notice one or more of the following signs:
- In the beginning your contractions may feel like time-able menstrual like cramps
- You will likely have an increased amount of lower back discomfort.
- Contractions that are becoming longer, stronger and closer together. (In the early stage of labour contractions are often 30 down to 8 minutes apart)
- Contractions will also last around 15-45 seconds long.
- “Show” (vaginal discharge of thick mucous with pink or red tinge)
- Rupture of membranes may occur at any time.
- Loose bowel movements may continue. (Flu like symptoms to clean out your bowels to prepare for birth)
- You may fell excited and relieved that labor has begun and yet a bit nervous as to the unknown before you.
Helping yourself in Labor
- Try to keep your mind active and do not become preoccupied with labor.
- Continue to notice your baby’s movements.
- Count the number of contractions in 15 minutes once every hour.
- Continue your usual activity as long as possible.
- Sleep if at all possible
- Eat easily digested foods, mostly carbohydrates (toast, cereals, pasta). Avoid fatty foods.
- Drink generous amounts of fluid.
- Go for a walk, listen to music, watch a movie, use your relaxation skills.
- Have a warm bath if your membranes (bag of water) have not broken. You may have a shower (even if your membranes have broken)
How Your Partner Can Help
- Time the contractions. If there is no difference in how long the contractions are, how strong they are and how close together they are, stop timing the contractions and start again when you notice a difference.
- Encourage her to rest. It is important for you to stay rested as well.
- Encourage her to use her relaxation skills, and stay relaxed yourself. Join her in a walk if that is how she chooses to relax.
- Encourage her to eat a light diet, and don’t forget to eat yourself.
- Remind her to go to the bathroom every one to two hours.
- Be present and attentive.
- Use encouraging and supportive words.
Go to the hospital if any of the following occur
- There is a decrease or stop in your baby’s movements
- Bright red bleeding occurs (with or without pain)
- You feel rectal pressure
- Your membranes (bag of waters) breaks.
Remember that labour is different for EVERY WOMAN so these are based on averages. There is one thing that I feel pretty confident guaranteeing you; you will NOT have this baby without noticing. So during the early labour stage is the best time to ignore everything. Sleep, rest, distract any way you can so that you are not paying too much attention to your labour and your discomfort. When your body wants you to notice something different, you will. Often you will hear yourself say “that contraction was way stronger” or “That contraction seemed to come a lot closer together”. When you hear yourself saying these things, get partner to pick up the Contraction App and start timing a few more, chances are there is a difference and it is time for the next stage of labour.