SafeMotherhood
safe motherhood

THE FIRST STAGE OF LABOUR

HOW TO COPE

When women are asked, after they have had their babies, which was the hardest part of labour, they nearly always say the first stage. You may feel at the mercy of the contractions and that your baby will never arrive.

Try hard to remember that

• every contraction brings you one nearer to the birth of your baby
• the stronger and longer the contractions, the more effective they are
• contractions send you messages about how to make yourself comfortable - the most comfortable position for you will be the one that is helping your baby negotiate your pelvis most easily.

Here are some of the things you may experience in early labour, with suggestions about how to cope:

• low back-ache/period-like pain
Get your birth partner to rub your lower back firmly in small circles. Put a hot water bottle wrapped in a soft towel in the small of your back. Rest in a comfortable position.

• sickness
Sip glasses of water often, and eat whatever you can

• restlessness
Just do light tasks; try to take some rest. Rest is very important so you can save energy for what lies ahead.

Take long, slow breaths, concentrating on the out-breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. (See Pain relief/breathing and visualisation).

During your early contractions take the opportunity to build your energy levels by eating carbohydrates. Try little hourly snacks of bread, pasta, rice, cereals, toast or bananas.