Questions From First Time Parents

Dear Readers,

These are the most common questions I get asked by first time parents. I hope you will find it helpful.

What if my water breaks before labor begins?

Many first time Moms ask me how I know when I am actually in labor. If your water breaks before contractions start you are one of the lucky ones! By your water breaking you are officially in labor. You may not feel contractions yet but you will sooner or later. Many woman experience Braxton- Hicks before their water breaks and think they are in labor but are not.

The uterine movements broke your bag of waters so sooner or later you will feel the contractions.

If you feel the contractions immediately after your water breaks then most likely you will go into active labor within five to seven hours.

How long will my labor last?

Do not pay attention to your friends and neighbors stories about their labor lasting for two days or thirty something hours. Do not let those stories scare you. Most first time laborers cannot tell the difference between early and active labor.

Studies have shown that on average the length of early and active labor can last from 11 to 16 hours.

As for myself I had a very slow labor pace with my daughter so my early labor was 19 hours and my active labor was 11 hours.

With my second child my early labor was only 5 hours and my active labor was 3 hours.

Some of my lucky friends had fast labors, sometimes start to finish in 4 hours!

What are signs of early labor?

Your contractions will usually start between three and ten minutes apart. You will feel discomfort, almost like a menstrual cramp and you might feel some back pain. The contractions will be regularly spaced and getting closer together for two hours.

Early labor might be quite painful. You will probably be able to maintain a conversation with another person. I remember when I was in early labor with my daughter. My husband and I thought that we had waited long enough so we called my doctor after a long painful and sleepless night. He asked my husband to put me on the phone. As soon as he heard my voice he said don’t come to the hospital and to call him back later when I felt that I couldn’t carry on a conversation anymore. At the time I felt so disappointed, but now when I look back I realized that he gave me very good advice.

As a first time mother I was so excited and I could not wait for the birth to begin. I paced around our apartment, I did the pelvic rock, I squatted and did all the moves that I had learned in my child birth class all night instead of resting and sleeping. The next day I was exhausted.  As the day went on I now had not eaten anything for almost 24 hours. Unfortunately, I waited too long to eat so by the time I tried to eat some bread, my contractions were so intense that I could not keep any food or drink down. It was not a good way to prepare for a long labor!

What are signs of active labor and how should I handle it?

When you find yourself no longer able to focus on anything, you will start to get annoyed when your husband asks you if you want ice chips or if you are hot or cold! You will find yourself breathing longer and deeper. For some reason our bodies naturally cope very well when it comes to dealing with pain. At first your instinct will be to hold your breath when the contractions begin but you will realize when you hold our breath the pain seems worse.

Your contractions feel more painful than menstrual cramps and back pain. It is very helpful if your husband can give you a massage a technique called hip squeezing. You should also change your position even though it may feel so painful that you don’t want to move.

Walking will also help and I found that water is a good pain reliever. If there is no bath tub in your hospital, you can get in the shower and let it stream on your back or your abdomen.

Also try alternating a cold wash cloth on your face and heat or cold compress on your lower back.

Having a doula in addition to your partner’s support can positively affect your birth experience. It is very hard for your partner to see you in pain. Your doula can gently remind you to breathe deeply and evenly, and use techniques to help you manage your pain and support you mentally.

References from Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel.


Some babies seem to need motion …

Dear Moms and Dads,

I was just on the phone with a friend. I called her to see how she and her new baby were doing. She informed me that everything went well with nursing, but she and her husband are totally exhausted because the baby did not want to be put down and sleep by himself.  That made me think about how babies like motion. Some babies seem to need motion in order to relax enough for sleep.  Here are some tips: • Use a sling or baby carrier and walk with your baby around the house until your baby’s really deep in sleep, or until his or her hands go limb. Then lie down with your baby in it, and then ease it off.  The sling becomes your baby blanket! • A birth ball is great for babies because they require constant motion during naps- You can get an inexpensive stand for the ball. Wear a sling and let you baby sleep in it as you sit on the ball and gently bounce while eating lunch or having a conversation on the phone with your friend. • Strollers are also great- I flashed back to myself about 11 years ago when my daughter wouldn’t nap until I walked her around the block in a stroller.  When we got back to our apartment, I continued to push her back and forth over the bump of the door way because she loved the gentle bumpy motion. When the weather was not so great, we couldn’t take a walk so I had to rock her to sleep either in a rocking chair or on a birth ball. It sounds crazy, but it worked with my kids and I hope it will work with yours! You all know that every baby is different, so you should not compare your baby to your friend’s baby.  If you think about it, it’s the same for adults. For instance, my husband can fall asleep anywhere, however, I have a harder time falling and stating asleep. If your baby loves motion, you just have to do what works. And remember, this is only temporary. Your baby will grow and change every day. Enjoy and relish this special time with your child!