After up to 42 long, long weeks of pregnancy it’s fair to say that most of us Mums-to-be want the birthing process to be over and done with relatively quickly. Unfortunately, statistics suggest that as a first time Mum you can expect your labour to be anywhere from 12-18 hours. However, no woman, no pregnancy and no baby ever conformed to the text book so regardless of which number baby you’re about to have you could find yourself having a precipitate labour (anything under 2 hours) or a long one (anything over 14 hours, my first was 31 hours!).
No one knows how they are going to cope when they are in labour, even if they have done it before, so it can be very hard to prepare for it. That said, there are some things that can help everyone, especially those who find themselves having contractions for longer than they had hoped.
Stop looking at the clock!
At some point you are likely to ask yourself “how long have I been doing this?”, quickly followed by “how much longer can this go on for?”. They’re valid questions, but they’re not helpful – so stop clock watching.
Knowing you have already been contracting for 10 hours is not going to help you stay focussed on the here and now. It’s likely to make you feel tired, dejected and impatient. It might be a good idea to have all the clocks removed from the room and find something else to focus on instead. Maybe get your partner to try and distract you, just like Robbie Williams did for wife Ayda.
Stay home as long as possible
There is no doubt you will be more comfortable at home than you will in a strange, clinical environment. Time will pass much quicker at home where you can watch TV, play computer games, lie down, have a bath or even go for a wander around the block than it will in a hospital corridor or on a ward.
Only go in to hospital when you feel that your contractions are building up and getting closer together, or you simply cannot cope with the pain any longer.
Listen to your body
Despite what the movies will have us believe labour does not always start with the breaking of waters, followed by a beautiful bouncing baby moments later. Labour can take a variety of turns, and especially with longer labours you may find that there are moments of relative calm, where your contractions tail off, and other moments where it all gets a lot more intense.
Pay attention to what your body is doing – when the contractions are milder use the opportunity to rest, sleep, eat or drink. You will need to be as rested as possible and conserve your energy for when things do pick up pace. Which they could do, at any minute.
One of the hardest things to do when faced with a long labour is staying positive. Remind yourself that you’ve already waited this long to meet you baby, a few more hours is not the end of the world. Try to make the most of what time you have left just you and your partner, or with your other children, before this little hurricane of tiny human-ness enters your lives. It can be hard when you are in pain, but do all you can to relax and enjoy this time before it all changes again.
Did you have a long labour?
What did you do to help pass the time?