"You are not in labour...yet"
It can be so disheartening to hear this phrase from your healthcare professional when your body is giving you so many signs your baby is starting their journey to meet you, so let's break this down.
You may be experiencing tightenings and increased pressure as your cervix changes and your baby gets lower in the pelvis.
When you see the midwife, she will want to assess whether you are in the active phase of labour, which will indicate you're ready for regular monitoring of you and baby and admission to hospital/birth centre (if you're choosing to birth there). The active phase of labour is defined as frequent regular contractions AND cervical dilatation of at least 4 cm. Whilst you may not fit this definition as you may have hoped, this doesn't mean your body is lying to you and nothing is happening. In fact, a whole lot is happening inside you. The latent phase, or early labour, is an important part of the birthing process. A lot of changes happen in early labour! As you start to feel the first surges, your cervix is softening and thinning in front of baby's head, making room for him/her to come down. As your cervix changes it will also start opening. Your baby starts to move much lower.
Early labour can vary greatly in length, from a few hours to days in some cases and whilst you won't need to receive continuous midwifery care during this stage, your body is doing an amazing job getting ready for birth and you may feel the need for some support. So what can you do to manage this stage of labour?
* stay home and settle into your comfy environment to help your labour hormones flow naturally * take a bath or a shower * listen to your relaxations/MP3s to help your mind and body stay relaxed * watch something uplifting or a comedy that makes you laugh * go for a nice walk with your birthing partner * eat a nourishing meal/snacks and stay hydrated * naps! * enjoy the journey! Your baby is on his/her way, so cherish these moments of loving anticipation.