Call the Midwife........ But when??
"How will I know if I am really in labour?"
I would be richer than a Kardashian if I had a £1 for every time I have been asked this. My response is usually:
"Trust me, you'll know".
It is always tricky to know when to call the midwife and when to come in to the hospital. When you call us, we try and advise you of the best course of action without dragging you into the hospital. Midwives are famous for their early labour advice of "stay at home, take 2 paracetamol and have a warm bath". And i'm not kidding you. IT IS THE BEST ADVICE!!!
Now if you have any complications in your pregnancy and you begin to feel pains or your waters break then you are the women who should call the midwife! If you are having a normal low risk pregnancy with no complications and are full term (from 37 weeks and 5 days) then take read on and see what steps you can take to cope with early labour at home. (As always, this is my advice from my training and experience and is designed to educate you for birth but always chat to your own midwife or doctor to ensure the the advice is suitable for your pregnancy).
What is Early Labour?
Early labour is perhaps the longest and most irritating part of childbirth. It can go on for days, over a week even. Some signs of early labour are:
- Period type pain (lower back aching or lower abdomen, or both).
- Loss of mucous show (can be bloody or just like regular mucous).
- Pelvic pressure (you may feel baby moving down as it engages).
- Braxton Hicks (tightening of the tummy muscles but without pain).
- Contractions (Tightening of the tummy muscles, often originating in the back and radiating round to the front of the tummy accompanied by pain).
What can I do?
You know what I am going to say.....
- 2 Paracetamol and a warm bath!!!!!!
I recommend this to so many women and they refuse to take paracetamol. And honestly, I have no clue why...... It is safe to take in pregnancy, it can allow you to stay at home for longer, in your own environment, which is actually more conducive to early labour.
- Call your Doula
If you have a Doula, call her f
or support and guidance. Early labour is a mental battle. Completely. With the correct support you can get through this phase calmly until you being to enter established labour.
- Eat and Drink
Fuel your body. This is the biggest and toughest workout your body will ever endure. So feed it properly beforehand. If you elect to have an epidural, or you need certain medications is labour, you may be restricted to clear fluids. So eat when you can!
If you have practiced these techniques, now is the time to employ them. If it isn't something you have practiced, in a nutshell, i'll tell you what midwives have been telling people for years before hypnobirthing:
* Slow deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth from the start of the contraction to the end.
* Keep calm and remember that every contraction/backache you have is your cervix thinning, softening, opening to bring you closer to your baby.
* Repeat over and over that women are literally made to do this. We have kept the human race going well enough up until now by birthing babies as nature intended. You are no exception. You can do it!
Walk, float in the bath, use a birth ball, stretch, whatever and however you choose to move, just move! It will help you cope with the aches and pains, it encourages descent of your baby. Gravity is good!
When you have tried all this but you need that extra support from the midwife, call us and we will invite you in! We never turn people away but we will always aim to send you home in early labour. And this really is for your benefit. The longer you stay at home and labour in the early stages, the less chance you have of doctors meddling in what they needn't meddle with. And the greater chance of you achieving a normal delivery without many interventions......
We are always just a phone call away for any advice or query, that's our job. So don't hesitate to call in early labour (especially if you are worried about movements, broken waters, extreme pain or bleeding) but try the above steps and give yourself and your baby the best chance at a stress free start in labour.