Nothing plays with your emotions like that of a high school romance than early labor. You get those first twinges of “hmmm…that felt different”, your belly feels a bit tight and you’re having what feel like period cramps. You then start to furiously Google every single thing your feeling.
Is cramping a sign of labor?
Is my stomach tightening a sign of labor?
Is back pain a sign of labor?
Is spotting a sign of labor?
Is moodiness a sign of labor?
Am I ever going into labor?
These new sensations are exciting! It’s a sign that your body is doing exactly what it needs to be doing when you’re full term. These sensations can also be confusing. Sometimes you’re not sure when a contraction started or when it stopped. Sometimes there’s one contraction just minutes after the other but then the next one is 15 minutes from the last. And then they completely stop. UGH. Just when you got your hopes up. Its even more frustrating if you’re “overdue” or this pattern has been going on for several days or even weeks.
Whether you want to call it early labor or prodromal labor, just don’t call it false labor. These are some real sensations that are doing real things to finally get that baby out of your baby, even if you’re not dilated yet. So how do you not go crazy?
Remember the acronym E.A.R.L.Y. when you’re in early labor.
Eat- Grab a light meal
If you have an appetite, satisfy it. Grab something energy packed like a green smoothie, salad with a protein, oatmeal, or peanut butter and honey toast. If it is really time, you’re going to need those energy stores for later. Don’t forget to wash it down with water or other electrolyte drink.
Active- Get moving
If you’re experiencing that burst of energy that can happen in early labor, get up and get moving. Grab your partner or enjoy some alone time with a walk in the park, do some last minute shopping for yourself or baby while you do a few laps around the mall, or continue nesting around your home with some more baby laundry or meal prep. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s something you can complete. If your body isn’t quite ready to complete this pregnancy, at least something got done from start to finish. But remember, when your body says it’s had enough, listen to it and get some rest.
Rest- Go to Sleep
If you’re not feeling that burst of energy that makes you want to do all the things, don’t! Instead get some rest. The relaxation that comes from a good nights sleep or nap can be just as effective at bringing on labor as getting moving if your body is ready. If you’re exhausted and having trouble getting rest because early labor contractions are keeping you up all night, talk to your provider about therapeutic rest.
Love- Bond with your partner or other children
Take these last days to bond with your partner or other children. Ask your partner for a massage, have a candlelit dinner, and enjoy these last days of life as it currently is together. If you have other children, spend some time with just them individually. Let them have an afternoon where they choose what to do and where to eat. Focus on them and remind them that even after baby is here and demanding a lot of attention, they’re still an important part of the family and you will always be there to give them the love they need.
Yourself- Treat yo’ self
Self care is as important now as it will be once your baby is here. Make sure you take some time to do something nice for yourself. Go to the salon and get your hair done or a mani pedi, read a book and enjoy the quiet time, or binge watch a new show while eating ice cream in bed, whatever you need to do to center yourself and feel re-energized.
I know it’s easy for me to feel like the cheerleader over here in the corner shouting all “This is normal!” “Just hang in there!” Because the reality of early labor is that it’s no walk in the park (I mean, sometimes it is what you do to get labor going). Believe me, I remember. That blog I linked above was written when I really was “overdue” after weeks of prodromal labor. Early labor takes an emotional and sometimes physical toll on our bodies. It’s important to acknowledge that you are doing hard things by just keepin’ on, keepin’ on.
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