Here are some things we've learned since our labor process began:
Myth #1: Once contractions start, they'll progress consistently toward active labor.
We thought that once your contractions start, you've got maybe 24 hours before baby arrives. I have now been in "inactive labor" for almost 72 hours. Inactive labor, for me, has consisted of:
- contractions varying in length and severity, occurring anywhere from 3 minutes apart to 4 hours apart
- lack of sleep due to contractions at night and frequent urination (once an hour)
- diarrhea/overactive digestive system
Tip#1: If possible, treat your days of "inactive labor" like any other day. Don't get too excited with the onset of beginning contractions, you might be devastated to learn that you've still got days before delivery. If you notice your contractions aren't really stabilizing, or becoming consistent, or they aren't intensifying, don't waste your time on laboring activities! I spent hours walking, hoping it would stabilize the contractions. All it did was add to the swelling in my feet and make me exhausted. So today, I'm enjoying my time.
Myth #2: Contractions are easily measurable.
A coworker and I were recently discussing how hard it's been to measure the length of a contraction in early labor. Half of the time, I don't know if what I'm feeling is the beginning of a contraction or something else (like gas)! After having the honor of receiving them for almost 72 hours, I've been able to describe my contractions as such:
- a slight wave of nausea hits
- breathing becomes labored
- stomach muscles begin to tighten
- slight pain develops in back and gut at the peak
- gradual release of muscles and pain
I'm still in the "inactive" section of my labor, so I'll have to add more as we experience it...