by Justine Deputy, RN, MSN
So you are in labor! Now what?
It is recommended mamas come in when they are in active labor. But before active labor you still experience contractions and need to navigate that time period. Contractions during early labor are milder, shorter, and further apart than what you will experience later on in labor. During this phase at home, here is what you can expect and some recommendations for how to cope with the labor.
The following is an excerpt from The Birth Center Client Manual
What is happening?
Contractions that may be felt as menstrual cramps, back ache, pelvic pressure, or tightening low down in the area of the pubic bone. Bloody show or mucousy blood noticed in about 90% of labors. Rupture of membranes or bag of waters happens at this time in about 10% of labors. Loose bowel movements.
Cervix completes effacement and dilatation begins. Contractions rhythmic, progressive and becoming established: 5-30 minutes apart last 30-45 seconds. Labor may be present for a long time with no apparent progress.
How might mom feel?
Excited, talkative, doubtful, and undecided. Mother and partner or support person(s) may share a sense of relief that labor is finally starting. Quieter and preoccupied during contractions but wants companionship and needs encouragement. May continue mild activity between contractions: walking, taking showers, etc.
More quiet and preoccupied during contractions but wants companionship and needs encouragement. May continue mild activity between contractions: walking, taking showers, etc.
What are some suggested comfort measures?
Early to bed; don’t get overtired. Continue mild activity; at night, sleep or rest quietly. During the day, mild diversionary activity (card-playing, reading). Go for walks or watch movies. Ignore labor as much as possible. Use relaxation techniques if needed. Mother should take only light refreshments. Partner or support person(s) should eat well. Touch base with TBC; the staff may have other comfort
Partner or support person(s) to reassure and help her to adjust to labor. Use as needed: effleurage, back-rub, cold compresses, ice chips, emotional support and encouragement. Start controlled breathing when needed, deep, slow, rhythmic. Make sure the mother is comfortable. If she is walking around, have her pause when a contraction begins and use a person, wall, or counter top for support. Use breathing through contraction if needed. Partner/support person(s) help mother with diversionary activity.