How To Ease Contractions At Home

Planning for the First Stages of Labor

Your weeks may be filled with baby showers, planning the nursery and buying adorable outfits for your new arrival. But you’re also likely thinking about the big event—giving birth. You are likely going to spend the first part of your labor at home, so it’s a good idea to have some ideas in mind for easing the discomfort of your contractions.

Preparing for Labor

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What Exercises During Pregnancy Start Labor?

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Because labor and delivery are different for every woman and differ from one pregnancy to the next, it’s difficult to predict how yours will go. You can, however, do a few things to prepare yourself for labor. In consultation with your doctor, exercise during your pregnancy to keep your body strong and build endurance that may help you during labor. Childbirth classes or a midwife can help you develop techniques for dealing with pain, such as visualization, breathing exercises and massage. You can also begin thinking about whether you would like to use pain medication during your baby’s birth, and discuss these options with your doctor.

Easing Braxton Hicks

Some women experience Braxton Hicks contractions during their second or third trimester. These contractions occur when the uterine muscles tighten for about 30 seconds to two minutes at a time. Unlike true contractions, Braxton Hicks typically do not help the cervix dilate, although they may play a role in softening it. To identify if you are having Braxton Hicks or true contractions, note when they occur. Braxton Hicks do not occur at regular intervals and do not increase in frequency. They are more unpredictable than true contractions, and although they can be uncomfortable, they are not as painful. Also, unlike the contractions that precede delivery, Braxton Hicks contractions stop at some point.

To help ease the discomfort of Braxton Hicks, try different positions such as lying down or standing. A walk may even help. Soaking in a warm tub may be comforting, or drinking herbal tea or warm milk may help. Make sure you’re drinking enough water because Braxton Hicks can be brought on by dehydration.

Contractions During Early Labor

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How to Time Contractions

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Early labor is the very first stage of labor and may last approximately eight to 12 hours. During this time, the cervix dilates to about 3 centimeters. Typically, during early labor, contractions are mild and infrequent. They may last 30 to 45 seconds and occur anywhere from five to 30 minutes apart. Although it’s usually not necessary to go to the hospital at this point, there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort of your contractions. It’s important to try to relax. This can be easier said than done as you’re awaiting the arrival of your little one. Depending on how you’re feeling, you may be able to distract yourself by carrying on with some light activities at home such as cooking or organizing. Your partner or support person can also help you keep your mind off your contractions. Try playing cards or watching a movie together.

Early labor provides an opportunity for your partner or support person to practice timing your contractions. This is important so you can recognize when your contractions start to last longer and occur with less time in between each one. Stronger, more frequent contractions indicate that you’re moving into active labor. At this time, your cervix will dilate from 4 cm to 7 cm. At some point during this stage, you will likely go to the hospital. As the contractions intensify, you may need to start the breathing exercises and relaxation techniques you’ve learned. Going for a walk, having your support person massage your back and abdomen, or listening to music may also help ease the pain of the contractions.

Transition Phase and Delivery

During the final stage of labor, which is called the transition phase, your cervix will fully dilate to 10 cm. Contractions are longer, more frequent and more intense during this time. Although the transition phase is the most challenging phase, it’s also typically the shortest, lasting approximately 30 minutes to two hours. In addition to your support person, your health care provider will be there to guide you through your labor and delivery. There is no way to predict how much pain you will experience during delivery. However, you have a plan for coping with the pain, and in the end, you will be able to hold your precious little one in your arms.