Unfortunately, there’s no sugarcoating it: labour is painful. Sure there are some mums out there who say it wasn’t that bad (and hopefully you’ll be one of them!) but chances are, for you, like most mums, the pain will be intense.
But just remember this: it is pain for a purpose.
Your body is doing what it was intended to do and what it needs to do to get your baby out. And most importantly, it will be over soon.
During those early stages of labour, often when you’re still at home there are a number of positions and tricks you can try to manage the pain and make yourself more comfortable.
1. Get up and walk around
A light walk outside or even just around the house can work wonders.
2. Lying in bed
If you are in bed or lying down try lying on your side, or sitting upright or even kneeling – just don’t lie flat on your back. Try and make sure your hips aren’t higher than your knees – you want to work with gravity to get your baby down into the best position for birth.
3. Leaning forward
Leaning forward on a wall, over a chair or kneeling over an exercise ball can be a good position to ride out those contractions, especially if you’re experiencing back pain.
4. Sitting on an exercise ball
Exercise balls can be great as they take the weight off your legs and allow you to rock, sway, bounce – whatever works for you! Just be careful not to lose your balance and fall off…
Slow dancing or swaying from side to side – use your partner or support person to hold on to.
6. Relax through the contractions and try not to tense up
Try and remember not to tense up when the contractions come on, but focus on working through it.
Breathing can be hugely effective when dealing with contractions, focus on your breathing either long and deep or short and fast, whatever works for you.
8. Hot or cold compresses
Some women find one or the other more effective, it’s personal preference, but often a warm compress on the lower back can work a treat.
9. Warm shower or bath
Further to that, a warm bath or shower may help ease some discomfort, just be sure to get someone to help you in and out.
Get your partner or support person to give you a gentle massage, rubbing the lower back during contractions can be soothing.
11. Lying on your side with knees up at your chest
Bringing your knees up (or one at a time) close to your chest can be comforting.
Gently lunging forward on one leg may provide some relief, just be careful not to spread your legs too far apart, and use your partner or a chair to hold on to for balance.
Ultimately, what works for everyone will be different, so listen to your body and try a range of different things to find what works best for you.
When you are in these early stages of labour make sure you don’t overdo it and get plenty of rest (and even sleep if possible). Try and eat some healthy foods that will give you long-lasting energy if you can manage it, and keep your fluids up. You’re going to need all the energy and help you can get when active labour starts (some of these tips may also be useful during active labour too).