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Early/Latent Labor

The first part of the opening phase

Characterized by short 35/45/55 second contractions

Early Labor Strategy

What Does Early Labor Feel Like? 

The most helpful strategy that can be implemented in this part of labor is to ignore it. Go about your life. If it is breakfast time, eat breakfast. If it is lunch time, eat lunch. If it is dinner time, eat dinner. If you were going to go for a walk, take a nap, do those things. Don't stop your routine for early labor or alert your whole family and all of your friends. Early labor is skittish. It can be inhibited by too much adrenaline, which can drown out the labor hormones that you want to encourage to flow for maximum progress. Early labor also has many agendas. It might be that your body wants to open a little and take a break. It is also possible that your body is exercising. It is also common for the early labor contractions to have an agenda to move the baby into position, which can take many forms. The contractions may stop, start, be irregular, last for hours, days or even weeks.

 

Many labors begin with a straightforward pattern and contractions that present in a mild form. They may wake you up at night and pressure on your sacrum may feel nice for the duration of the contraction. Try to sleep on your left side with your leg wide open and lifted up over pillows and your shoulder slightly forward with your arm up and over pillows so that you have lots of room for your baby to engage and position correctly while also making a lot of room to take deep relaxing breathes to help soften your muscles and remove all resistance and tension from your body. The contractions may feel like a gentle hug or a tight squeeze. You may feel some pressure in your pelvis. Wearing the rebozo may help with these sensations and help to angle the baby into your pelvis by slightly lifting baby's head inward and over the pubic bone. These contractions may be noteworthy, but not take your breath away. You may be able to talk during them and between them fairly easily. Only tell essential people on your birth team and those who you feel comfortable with hearing from frequently, as a watched pot does not ever boil and a mom in labor usually doesn't progress well without privacy and intimacy. You may feel excited. Don't let this excitement take over, as it inhibits the labor hormones and may take too much energy from you.

Rest. hydrate. Go on walks.

Eat normal meals and plenty of small high protein foods in between meals. 

Take naps & try to sleep normal hours. 

 

Rest/Restore Energy

Many patterns begin at night, when the labor hormones often flow more freely and then stop once again each morning, going on like this for days/weeks. This is why it is important to cope well, sleep well, add in a nap if you need it or go to bed a little early, watch romantic or funny movies, take some leisure time to read a good book or pamper yourself in some other way. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea and having a warm bath can sometimes help with getting some sleep at night. Doing the Miles Circuit and other positioning techniques can help you work with your body to get your baby positioned well, so that your body is ready for active labor once the signal is sent.

 

One of the most common reasons for an epidural or for a homebirth to transfer is exhaustion, so rest, rest and rest some more.

Nourish yourself, hydrate, eat and ignore early labor.

Go about your life as normally as possible.

Timing and Variations

The contractions may come every 30 minutes or 20-25 minutes, and then move to every 15 minutes, then every 10 and eventually become closer, stronger and longer. There is a variation on early labor that signifies a positioning issue. This looks like active labor, with close 3-5 minute contractions that are short in sequence at around 35-45 seconds. This contraction pattern often indicates an acynclitic (tilted head) presentation, which can be corrected with the Belly Lift against the wall or with your partner's support, or with the Miles Circuit, or rebozo sifting. Doing the side-lying release during the months and weeks before, and during labor may help to open the ligaments and create even, balanced room for your baby to move down without resistance from inside your pelvis creating a tilt. Squatting, Tailor Sitting and Ball Sitting with a neutral pelvis, keeping the sit bones underneath you, is important preparation and also helps to make an open and even space.

Response When Variations Present

If you were to notice these short, close together, and often oddly intense contractions, they might confuse you and make you think that you are having active labor contractions. These contractions are often more intense that real active labor and can be identified by their short duration or 35-45/50 seconds. The body is potentially trying to jiggle your baby into a better angle for birth. Movement is your friend in labor and especially now.  If you keep your pelvis open, stretch, lift and sift, and dance, do the Miles Circuit, you will most likely be able to re-position your baby and avoid this going on for days and often ending with cesarean delivery, with failure to progress and acynclitic presentation written on the records. The sooner the mom begins working with her body to accomplish the task of moving her baby, the better, to help save her energy for the real active phase, which may begin right away after the correction is made or may begin later that day, or even a few days beyond. The most important distinction between the first and second part of the opening phase is the length of the actual contraction.

The contractions need to be 60 seconds or longer to have the power to open beyond the first 4-6 cm. 

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