Time goes very slowly when we’re focused on something that is uncomfortable or stressful. But when we’re doing something that makes us laugh, brings us pleasure, and engages our mind and our senses, it can race by.
Labor is often a long process (especially the first time) and the worst way for most women and their partners to spend it is in being hyper-focused the whole time on the labor itself. That’s true especially in early labor, when you still have the most strenuous, and stressful, hours ahead.
On TV, when a woman goes into labor, the couple usually run around excitedly for a bit getting ready to go to the hospital, and then off they go. In real life, though, you usually need to wait hours and hours before the hospital is even an option – so a plan to make those hours pass quickly and pleasantly can go a long way towards making the entire labor a positive experience.
Here are four things that can make early labor more pleasant and relaxing:
1. Get outside: Getting out into the sunshine (or starlight) is a great distraction, offering time to talk together and get a new perspective on the day. Plus it can help speed up labor.
2. Enjoy some good meals: In early labor, a breakfast, lunch or dinner at a favorite restaurant is a great way to feel pampered, take in some much-needed fuel, and spend some face-to-face time talking about the day ahead.
3. Watch something that makes you laugh: Whether it’s a new comedy that you’ve been dying to see, or a favorite you’ve watched many times, laughing will help all those labor hormones work better, distract you from your anxieties, and just help you rest and relax.
4. Breathing: As things heat up, the simple act of focusing on your breath and thinking about breathing – in for the baby, out for the discomfort – is an important distraction in the form of a job that you can do with each contraction.
You’ll find much more information on early labor and on how to be a great labor supporter in our book, Deliver! A concise guide to helping the woman you love through labor.
Also, check out our recommended resources for books and other information that you might find useful.