Sure, in movies and TV shows, when a character goes into labor, it’s time for a mad dash across town to the hospital. But in the movie of your life, there’s often a span of time that can last as long as a day or two that doesn’t fit as neatly into the story arc, where contractions have started, but your water hasn’t broken, and you’re in labor, but it’s not quite time to make your way to the hospital. So what do you do with all that extra time? Though it may be tough to stay patient, this extra time can be a valuable resource for getting ready for the grand finale.
Make a list, check it twice
You may have packed your hospital bag last week, but one of the problems with packing “just the essentials” ahead of time is that those essentials may be important in the rest of your life, as well as your hospital visit. Once the countdown to the big moment has really begun, it’s a good idea to make sure anything you might have pulled out of an already packed bag, from your spare phone charger to your favorite pillow, goes back into the pile of things you’ll grab on your way out the door.
Once your water has broken, it won’t be safe to shower or bathe. This is because the amniotic sac is one of the main protections against infection, and since labor can take a while, especially if this is your first child, this time may be your last chance to freshen up for a while.
Eat, drink, and be merry
Though there has been a bit of a shift in attitude about eating during labor in recent years, many hospitals still don’t allow you to eat once you’ve checked in to give birth, and labor is tiring. You’ll need your strength, so now may be the best time to get your strength up by eating something hearty. On the other hand, if it looks like you may have a C-section, your healthcare provider will probably recommend that you avoid eating solid food during labor. Even if you’re not feeling peckish, or have a reason not to eat at this point, it’s still a good idea to drink a lot of water, to keep yourself and Baby hydrated as you wait for her entrance into the world.
Prepare the throne
The car seat is the first chair Baby is ever going to sit in, and it’s also her best protection in her first journey ever. Even if it’s already fully installed, it never hurts to check and make sure all the nuts and bolts are secure.
It’s not time to get down to the business of delivering a baby in earnest yet, but your body is still hard at work. Keeping track of the length of your contractions and the length of time between them will be a great help to your healthcare provider when he or she is trying to figure out how far along you are.
Once your water breaks, or when your contractions are about 60 seconds long with about 5 minutes in between them, the waiting period is over, and it’s time to contact your healthcare provider, or make that mad dash across town. You should talk to your healthcare provider about his or her opinion on when to head to the hospital or birthing center, just in case it differs.
Feeling good and ready to go?
Just to be sure you have everything you need…