Here is what I’ve heard over the 22 years I’ve been teaching Bradley Method® childbirth classes, including my own experiences:
- Like very strong menstrual cramps times 20 if lying down, but only times 10 if standing up
- Downward pressure on the vagina and rectum that comes and goes
- Back pain – intense!
- A profound, emotional intensity involving the whole body and mind
- Not painful at all but deep, powerful energy in my body
- Painful but not something I couldn’t handle
- Painful but not related to suffering or agony
- It hurts but then the pain goes away and then it comes back and gets more intense over time but you always get a break even if for just a short time.
- When you’ve reached the end of your coping or tolerance of the pain, TAKE HEART, you have reached the end of first stage labor.
Remember that you know you are in labor when your contractions start to become longer, stronger and closer together. The BEST thing to do if you think you are in early labor is to ignore it and do any or all of these five things:
- Eat something nutritious, and high in protein, and easily digested.
- Drink water with electrolytes or “Labor-Ade”.
- Take a nice long walk.
- Then take a nice long warm bath. Use aromatherapy oils.
- Then take a nap. Sleep in early labor, even if it’s just a short nap. You’ll be so grateful for that early rest later. If you can’t sleep try a bath with some Epsom salts or magnesium oil to help you relax.
Ignore your labor as long as you can. It will get your attention, so don’t pay attention too soon!
Labor rarely lasts more than 24 hours. It usually begins gradually and builds over time. You’ll have a contraction, followed by a rest or break. Your contractions will become stronger. They will last longer, usually from 30 seconds minimum to 90 seconds maximum. They build like a wave and peak half way through and then begin to ease up and go away. They can begin 20-30 minutes apart and accelerate to 2-3 minutes apart.
Prepare for a good birth experience by taking a childbirth class that is at least 10 hours total, longer if possible. The more you practice relaxation during pregnancy, the less your contractions will hurt. Don’t just read and watch YouTube videos. You need a good childbirth educator, maybe a doula, and lot of practice. Go to my guided relaxations to help you prepare for labor and birth.