When It's (not quite) Go Time: Early Labor Activities

When labor begins: 

We’ve all seen the scene in a movie or show: in shock, a pregnant person says “I think my water just broke” and the montage begins of a partner frantically packing bags, looking for car keys, and speeding to the hospital. 🏎

Hollywood would have us believe that it’s always a rush to get to the hospital, but the reality is, you typically have a lot of time in labor. Especially at the beginning.

Most labors begin with a phase often referred to as early or latent labor – when your uterus is contracting but the contractions are not strong enough, long enough, or close enough together to warrant going to the hospital since labors, especially first labors, can take a long time! 

What should you do when you’re in labor, but you’re not in labor ENOUGH to head to the hospital? Think of it like this: how can you best distract yourself, stay calm, and hang out? What would you do if you suddenly had a day with nothing going on?

You may do relaxing things like:

  • Going back to bed for a few more hours of sleep
  • Watching movies that make you laugh, reminisce, or generally just feel good
  • Taking a long bath

Do some physical self-care or pampering like:

  • A face scrub and mask
  • Shaving your legs
  • Give yourself (or go get) a mani-pedi

Or you might do some physical activity like:

  • Going for a walk
  • Doing yoga or gentle workout 

Maybe you would do some productive things around the house like:

  • Cleaning out the fridge
  • Rearranging your closet
  • Changing your sheets
  • Repotting your plants

Perhaps you’d plan your day around food and pass the time :

  • Baking cookies, muffins, or banana bread
  • Making a nourishing soup
  • Ordering your favorite takeout 

And if you live with a partner, maybe you’d connect by:

  • Cuddling on the couch
  • Playing a board game together
  • Giving each other foot rubs
  • Having some sexy time

We recommend moving through this list as a starting point for creating a literal list of what you might do to keep your mind off of contractions. Remember: a watched pot never boils! What specific movie will you watch? Choose it ahead of time. Which recipe do you want to use? Have all the ingredients on hand!

Preparing yourself for early labor can help you be prepared to stay home, coping with mild to medium contractions, before it's go-time! And of course, try and savor the last hours or days before your baby arrives, soaking in the anticipation and excitement of knowing that you’ll soon be meeting them. 

- By Ashley Brichter + Beth Hardy, Birthsmarter Educator and Owner of Heart Tones Birth 

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