I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking forward to something, it seems like every minute lasts an hour. Or a day. Or more. Add pain into the mix, and time slows to a crawl. This has never been more true than during my pregnancies. Specifically the last few weeks.
You see, I with each of my babies, I had what some call “false labor”. But me, I’ve never cared for that term. It feels like an insult!
“So you’re telling me, this isn’t labor? But it HURTS! It feels like labor to me! I’m contracting! A lot! I’ve lost my plug! And my appetite! And my PATIENCE!!!”
Ok. So… obviously I’m still a little salty.
Some folks call it pre-labor, or prodromal labor. I like “extended labor”, but it all amounts to the same thing. Baby isn’t coming yet, and it feels like you’re in labor. Ouch. So what do you do now?
First of all, check in with your care provider. Now, that being said, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already done that. You may even have been checked for dilation or labor pattern and been sent home. And they’ve said things along the lines of “rest as much as you can” or “eat nourishing meals” or “take a bath” or “go for a walk”.
Now I’m here to tell you, those are all great suggestions. And if you can, you should try them! However, if you’ve already worn a path in the yard, nothing sounds good to eat, you’re turning into a mermaid, and trying to sleep feels like an exercise in torture and futility, here’s my list of recommendations:
- Cry. I’m not kidding. Just cry. This is hard. It’s ok to let it out and whine. To your husband, your doctor, your midwife, your doula, your mom, your best friend, whoever feels like a safe place to land, just let it all out. Scream if you need to! Repeat as needed!
- Bake a delicious dessert. Like the one you’d make your best friend in college if she got dumped. Think, a big pan of brownies full of chocolate chunks. Or your grandma’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Something that involves measuring and stirring and time. Distraction is totally key at this point! Plus you get a delicious treat when you’re done, and if you don’t feel like eating it, you can take it to the hospital for the nurses or share it with your birth team!
- TV time. Binge that show you’ve been meaning to watch! Pay close attention to every detail! Get lost in the story. Or try choosing a comedy! Laughter is AMAZING for moving things along. Bounce on your birth ball as you watch. Or circle the room slowly. Or lay on your side. Side-lying is excellent for active rest, just make sure you place a pillow or 2 between your knees! Side note: If you’ve already got a toddler or preschooler or both, an extended labor can be especially difficult. Because mama is there, but mama is in pain. Mama has no patience. But they don’t understand! They want mama NOW! So lean into the screen time. NO SHAME. Daniel Tiger is your best friend!
- If you can, nap whenever you feel like you’re able. For me, overnight was when things really ramped up, and I felt like I went days without sleep. If you can grab a cat nap with minimal interruptions from contractions, DO IT! If you’ve got other kiddos, see if you can get family, or a babysitter, or trusted friend to hang with them long enough for you to grab a few zzzzzz. If this isn’t possible, make sure you’re at least spending a little time during the day resting, as an extended labor can be extremely exhausting. If you’re trying to make/force things progress the whole time, you’ll get worn out quick!
- Last but not least, if you are trying to move things along, there are great resources for support. A chiropractic adjustment can get you aligned and ready. A massage can help you relax. Acupuncture has lots of benefits. Reiki is fabulous for balancing your energy. Dance! Spinning Babies (https://www.spinningbabies.com/pregnancy-birth/labor/) has lots of great movements and exercises that may help get things into a good pattern. If you have a doula, she may also have great suggestions for movements and positions you can try.
That all being said, you are AMAZING. If you’re in extended labor right now, I’m talking to you. You need to know that you are a ROCKSTAR. You are strong. You are powerful. You are incredible. You CAN do this! You ARE doing this! You will meet your baby soon, and all the waiting and the exhaustion will be worth it. This waiting will end. This pain will end. I know it’s hard to believe right now. Believe me, I thought I’d never meet my babies! I thought I’d be in labor forever! But I wasn’t. And I did it. And you can too! You can do this! Just a little while longer, and your baby will be in your arms!