Helping yourself in early labour


You can help your labour to carry on smoothly by avoiding stimulating the ‘rational’ part of your brain. You need peace, quiet and a feeling of safety to help you relax and so increase the levels of your own natural pain relievers – ‘endorphins’, as well as oxytocin (the hormone which stimulates contractions).  During labour, simple measures such as having privacy, quiet, being in a room with subdued lighting and feeling safe will allow your ‘rational’ brain to be less stimulated and can allow your body to help you to begin your labour. Listening to music you have chosen can also help.

Relaxation does not just mean relaxed muscles, but also having a calm mind and feeling confident that birth is a natural process that your body is strong enough to cope with. When your contractions become more painful, just closing your eyes and relaxing between them can help you rest and give you energy.

It is not possible to predict when active labour will begin. It could start within a couple of hours of the latent phase commencing, or in several days. So try to stay as relaxed as you can and distract yourself from focussing only on the contractions. 

Early labour advice

  • Stay calm
  • Move around and get into a comfortable position
  • Focus on something else; listen to music, for example
  • Try warm baths in a dimmed room
  • Eat and drink regularly to give you energy
  • Take simple pain killers such as paracetamol four-hourly (no more than eight in 24 hours)
  • Relax and close your eyes between contractions

Remember: Stay at home for as long as possible

If you are unsure whether your labour has started, chances are it hasn’t!  You can telephone Triage for advice 24 hours a day (01895 279054). Depending on your situation, you may be advised to stay at home or come in for a check-up. Don’t be too disappointed if we recommend that you go home again if your labour isn’t completely established.  Home is the best place to be in early labour.

We don’t want you to struggle alone at home.  We are happy to offer advice and support over the telephone.  However, you should ALWAYS call if any of the following happens:

  • You haven’t felt the baby move as much as usual
  • You have any fresh red blood loss
  • You think your waters have broken
  • You are having strong, regular, painful contractions at least every five minutes apart which are lasting about a minute
  • You are worried

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