Early Labor? Don't Go to the Hospital!

Lauren Flynn Kelly

You're close to your due date and experiencing some sensations you haven't felt during pregnancy. These could include stabbing back pain, contractions that feel tighter than Braxton Hicks contractions and are increasing in frequency, or the "bloody show," that telltale tinge of blood in your discharge.

Whatever the signs may be, it looks like you're in early labor — that first stage that could last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours — and your doctor doesn't want to see you just yet. And you don't want to head to the hospital either for fear of the nurses wanting to rush your labor along unnaturally.

What do you do while you're waiting it out?

1. Find a distraction that won't overexert you. Personally, I finished writing thank-you notes from my baby shower and put away some of those cute clothes I knew my baby would soon be wearing. It helped me focus on something other than the contractions. I also caught up on my DVR list, but I wouldn't recommend watching Grey's Anatomy, where you're likely to see something crazy, like a baby who got decapitated in the womb.

2. Eat something light, such as jello, toast, or broth. You don't want to ingest anything too fibrous (and if you've done your research, you know why), but you will need energy for actual labor because in a lot of hospitals, you're not getting anything once you're there.

3. Bond with your partner. Although you may be in some discomfort, these are precious moments; it won't be just the two of you for a long, long time. Why not have some quiet cuddle time or a make-out session on the sofa? Whatever you do, take advantage of these remaining hours before the life-changing event.

4. Monitor fetal movements. While you're focused on timing your contractions, don't forget to note what's happening with baby, as your doctor will ask about this when you call.

5. Make a go-time checklist. Before you head to the hospital, you'll want to make sure everything's ready to go, whether it's packed bags (Dad needs one, too!), fed cats, appliances turned off ... and don't forget that car seat!

Do you have a plan for early labor?

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