Early labor is often a time when people panic. It's not that they are experiencing a lot of pain from contractions, it's simply that they don't know what they should be doing and work themselves up. They aren't ready to go to the hospital or birth center and they don't feel like they can carry on as they normally might because labor could pick up at any moment.
When a mom becomes anxious early on in her labor it really sets the tone. This can mean that labor may be longer or more painful because of the mother's inability to relax. With a few suggestions for comfort and relaxation, you can help influence how you feel and relax before you head off to your place of birth. So just how do you spend that time?
Finish packing your bag.
You've probably planned ahead and have packed most of the things in your bag that you intend to use at the hospital or birth center. But now is the time to sit back and quietly look over your check list and find any last minute items that may need to go into your bag, including your personal care items.
Don't laugh, baking is a great way to spend early labor. This is a fun labor project that can help you relax and go about normal activities. I'd suggest baking some cookies or brownies to take with you to the hospital. Can you imagine how happy the nurses will be to see you with a plate of goodies? Some couples also choose to make a birth day cake to eat after the baby is born.
Watch a movie.
Some couples find that they can wander off to the movies in early labor. Mom is not yet too uncomfortable and the contractions aren't that frequent. If you don't feel like you could handle going to the theater, rent or buy some movies to have tucked around the house for just this purpose. It's nice to snuggle on the couch or your bed and watch any movie you enjoy with your honey.
Fold baby clothes.
Folding is a nice activity because it is rhythmic and doesn't require a lot of attention. It also helps you focus on the new little one about to be born. Not to mention it's a great way to get a quick chore done.
Fill out the baby book.
Though be careful what you write about the birth. I've seen moms jinx themselves by writing a certain day or month. But you can fill out the pregnancy information or the family tree. Again it is a nice focusing technique that can leave you able to stop for contractions and employ comfort measures as needed. If you don't have a baby book or this doesn't appeal to you, try writing your baby a letter.
Getting to the hospital too early will mean that you aren't able to get as comfortable because you aren't in your own surrounding. Most women are much more comfortable in their own homes for as long as possible. So finding a way to stay home comfortably is your best bet to avoid going to the hospital too early and even being sent home. Remember, getting to the hospital too early can be a recipe for increased discomfort (emotional or physical) and intervention.