We are pretty familiar with Birth Plans, right? When it comes to what to do before it's time to head to the hospital, that's where an Early Labor Plan comes in.
One of the most powerful tools we have as humans is the ability to be distracted. Distraction is often thought of as a bad thing, but there are times in life when distraction is beneficial. For me, I can't say how many times I have been teaching a great group of future parents, only to realize, once class is over and the excitement dies down, that I have a monster headache! And in there somewhere at the edge of my consciousness, I knew I had a headache; I wasn't giving it attention, so it didn't bother me.
I heard once from a nurse I worked with that families, on average, go to the hospital 3 times before it is time to stay...I should clarify, 3 times before it is medically time for them to stay because they are actually in the phase of labor where the hospital will accept them. What often happens is the family, or the hospital, produce a (non-medical, or near-medical) reason to stay, which can mean interventions are now on the table to help things go faster. A secret about hospitals? They don't want people hanging around, not having babies, so the pressure to intervene is common. Check with your friends -- how many were sent back home when they were so sure it was the right time?
Enter: The Early Labor Plan. By utilizing distraction, we can stay home and labor longer, thus increasing our chances that it will be time to stay because labor is moving along at a more predictable pace. What kinds of things do people put on their ELPs? Here is a list from past clients:
The main idea is, this is a set task or list of activities that you are ready to move through before it is time to go to the hospital.
What's the advantage to having an ELP? Often when those first early labor signs occur, we are ready to jump into the car, or right to comfort measures and plans for birth -- but we aren't there yet. The mind is ready to labor, but the body doesn't need anything special. When we move through the things on our Birth Plan before it is time, we can set a psychological trap for later. You see, if you tried some of your comfort techniques before you really need them, when you do need them, you might feel like you already tried that. This can propel you through your coping measures more quickly, leaving you at a place where you may now consider options you wanted to avoid...not because labor is requiring it, but because our brains are moving to what seems the next logical step.
So, we calm and distract the mind, which gives the body time for labor to build. Don't worry that you might miss your window -- trust your body and its innate wisdom in this normal process to let you know when it needs your attention.
What will you put on your ELP? A favorite walk? Getting your toenails done? Finally beating that video game? Couple your ELP with your body's needs for food, hydration, and rest (remember the point of an ELP isn't to physically exhaust your body!), and soon enough, it WILL be time to move to the hospital and get one step closer to the birth of your baby.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)