your birthing journey has begun. either your waters have released or the surges of contractions are tightening your uterus to prepare for birth. for a first time mother, the early stages of giving labor can last for hours, even up to a day. it is ideal to stay at home as long as possible, even if you are planning on heading to the hospital for delivery.
when a woman begins labor, a primitive process is invoked. a surge of hormones releases, and we women enter a primal state of being. this state of being wants us to nest, ideally somewhere warm, dark, comfortable and safe. it is in this comfort zone that our path fully unfolds, and in safety the cervix will begin to efface and dilate, thin and open up naturally.
this does not mean that you can't accomplish all of this in a hospital, which is generally a bright, unknown, loud and busy space. however, it does mean that you must create this space in your birthing location. and that is one of the reasons that laboring at home for as long as possible benefits a birthing mother. many physicians and midwives will say that it is safe to stay at home until contractions are coming regularly for an hour or two every three to four minutes, (however the general recommendation is every four to five minutes for an hour). this of course applies to a first time mother, as subsequent children tend to travel down the birth canal much faster.
so what to do in the comfort of your home? if it's late at night and you haven't slept, rest is key. even though you are excited to meet your little one, you will need much strength and energy for the latter stages, so breathing in some lavender oil, taking a warm shower and climbing into bed with gentle meditative music is comforting. if it's midday, and you are ready to get the show on the road, going outside with your partner, doula or a friend for a hour long walk will steadily increase the rate of your surges. some women like to stick close to home and begin nesting. . .they clean house, bake cookies or even a birthday cake for their newborn. other women like to squeeze in one last date with their partner and head to the movies or a restaurant.
the most important thing you can do is continue to breathe, long and deep. long relaxing breaths will keep you present with your body, your heart rate relaxed and your baby comfortable. it's easy to begin to feel overwhelmed as labor begins. . .you know there is no turning back. instead of focusing on the whole process, take each surge one at a time, each breath one at a time. enjoy the journey, even the hard parts where you begin to waver. find celebration in all of the moments, for you are truly invoking life!