How to Manage Early Signs of Labour: 4 Must-Do’s

As the birth of your baby gets closer and closer, are you finding yourself awake at night wondering how it will all play out? Your pendulum may be swinging from “I’ve got this”, to “How am I going to get through labour?” Please know that this is a normal feeling, and you can do this!

Labour is actually divided into two different stages: early and active. New research is telling us that women spend more time in the early stages of labour. Right now, early labour is defined as 0-4 cm dilated with active contractions whereas active labour is defined as 4 cm to 10 cm (or birth) with active contractions. The latter brings more pain management options, as this is usually when mamas are admitted into the birthing unit. Before this, in the early labour stage, most mamas are at home. What are the best ways to manage the early signs of labour?

1. Rest

You do not need to “walk” your baby out. Movement is important but don’t overdo it. You may be starting to contract but for now, you are managing just fine. This is not the time to walk 22 blocks or head to the mall for an all-day shopping event. Your contractions may only be 30 minutes apart so rest if you can! Pile the pillows and take that well-needed afternoon nap. Allow yourself to rest up for the active labour stage. Trust us, you’ll thank yourself for it afterwards. 

2. Eat

Depending on the policy of where you are set to give birth, you may or may not be able to eat in labour. Don’t starve yourself in the beginning or you will be hungry come the finish line! Birth expends a lot of energy, so gear up by eating small, nutritious snacks. A big burger will not sit well. When you are starting to contract, blood flow shifts from your stomach as more flows to your uterus, so digestion will slow even more than it has. If you eat a full meal, it may sit in your belly and make you uncomfortable till it digests or comes back up! Try a smoothie, granola bars, or your favorite sandwich to help fuel the beginnings of labour. 

3. Water

Water is your friend in labour! And of course, we mean drinking it, but also soaking in it! If you’re water has not broken (if you aren’t sure, go in and get checked!). Think about how heat feels with menstrual cramps- so much relief! It is the same way with early labour, your uterus is contracting and can cause discomfort in your lower back, and uterus. Heat will give you relief and soothe that crampy feeling. Try a warm bath with your favourite bubble bath, or a hot shower. If you have a removable shower head, it’s the jackpot! Ask your partner to spray the warm shower head low on your back and into your lower abdomen. So. Much. Relief. Stay there as long as it helps, just keep drinking water to stay hydrated. 

4. Rolling Pin

It may be collecting dust in your pantry, or maybe you’re the cinnamon bun queen, but labour brings new uses for your kitchen pin! Early labour can feel like intense menstrual cramps, but they come and go. When you feel one coming, support yourself on the couch and bend over, getting your partner or labour support person to start rolling your hips. Have him roll till the end of the contraction. This can provide so much relief in those beginning stages, and some mamas even pack it for the hospital!