I have a special feature to this post, a video of my sisters first labour at home, before she went into hospital. It features a day of activities, positions, locations, eating, drinking and laughing with family. Birth is normal.
Early labour can go on for quite awhile, especially for first time mums. But this can still occur in women having subsequent babies. Labouring at home is something not many people envision when they picture themselves in labour for the first time. Most envision being at a hospital, and that is often where many women go in early labour. Many return home afterwards discouraged that they didn’t get to stay, or the ones that stay spend a long day (and sometimes night as well) at the hospital.
Of course if there are complications hospital is a great place to be, but for many women doing a big chunk of labour at home can be very rewarding and beneficial.
Up until recently women always gave birth at home. I think how often we would hear women giving birth around the neighborhood if this still happened today. I remember knowing that a homebirth was going to take place in my suburb over the next week or so, and I thought how beautiful that a baby was being welcomed into our suburb, that we might get to hear the moan of labour, and the cry of a freshly born baby! We don’t all have the option of doing this, but you can enjoy home during labour!
Home offers may comforts, you can have a gourmet spread of delicious food and drink available for you and your support team to snack on. There is a comfy bed to rest on, maybe a pool to swim in? You can walk down to the park to help those contractions get more regular, and encourage baby to get into a good position. While your in early labour and managing well, you can get on with doing all your normal daily activities, hang out the washing, do a sneaky grocery run, go get your morning coffee from your favourite cafe. Best to wear a super pad in your knickers though.
Distraction can be a great way to pass time, to redirect your focus away from discomfort, and also to fill your mind with something other than “How far was that last contraction apart? Why hasn’t another one come? How long will this take?”. Keep busy, for as long as you can, with regular resting as well. Don’t feel like your home bound, you can go outside and do stuff. In birth suite you”ll most likely have plenty of time to feel stuck in one room.
Don’t just sit at home timing contraction, after contraction. You’ll know when they have changed, or become more regular, without timing. It is normal for early labour to go all day, or all night. You will know when things progress cause it will DEMAND your attention more and more. Many women feel much more relaxed at home, and being relaxed helps you to progress FASTER. Sometimes women arrive at the hospital and the contractions slow down, it can take some time for the woman to relax, in her new environment, for the contractions to pick up again. Women want to feel safe and be with familiar people when in labour. So a new enviroment, new faces asking questions, and feeling a little vulnerable, can take a toll on labour progress in the early stages.
I have a link to a video of my sisters first early labour at home. She really wanted to stay at home for as long as possible, to do labour in a normal, everyday environment that was comfortable and familiar for her. I started filming as soon as her contractions began early in the morning. They started approximately 10 mins apart and were mild, not lasting very long. They stayed this way for hours. We ate, talked, laughed, went to a cafe, and went outside to the garden. Sometimes the contractions picked up, sometimes they slowed down, it took until close to midday before they really developed a good strong pattern. You will notice that my sister is very chatty, eating lots, moving around lots at the beginning, but as we progress she goes into herself and is much more quieter and focused. It was difficult to decide when to go in to the hospital, it can be so tricky! For her (and its different for everyone) she felt ready to go in when contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart and she could no longer do anything else but labour. You will also notice that she listens to some hypnotherapy tracks as well, and that a technique worth looking into to help keep calm in labour.
When Heather arrived at hospital the midwives thought she wouldn’t be in ‘active labour” because she was quite calm, however on examination (to see if she could use the bath) she was 5cms. Which is fantastic for a first time mum, and they were thrilled at all her efforts and helped her into the bath. So yes, it took till approx 5pm that afternoon to be 5cms, this is normal. What is wonderful is that a normal healthy labour gets faster the further it progresses, so just because it took half a day to get to 5cms, does not mean it will take another half day to have a baby.
So you know how the birth ended, Heather birthed her baby in a kneeling position, just after 8pm that evening. She had planned on a water birth but decided in transition to get out of water haha so she “land” birthed instead!
I hope that you enjoy my amateur filming (not the best quality in full screen), and that this encourages pregnant women to trust their amazing bodies, to trust their unique labour, to trust that women know how to do this!
When envisioning your upcoming labour, perhaps take some time to think about how you could make your time at home enjoyable and comfortable!