When you finally go into labor it will be an exciting time, knowing you are very close to meeting your baby. However, labor can last a long time. It can last many hours to even days. While preparing for labor, you may wonder what kinds of things can I do while I am in labor? How will I pass the time during labor?
How to Know You Are In Labor
First, let’s talk about how to know you are actually in labor. One of the uncertainties of labor, besides not knowing when it is coming, is how to know you are in labor and it is not a false alarm. Labor is one of those difficult things to describe to another person. It is hard to describe what labor feels like.
A question I had when I was pregnant and lots of new moms have is “How will I know when I am in labor? What does labor feel like?” Unfortunately, everyone’s labor experience is different. Labor is super painful for some and not that bad for others.
The best way I can describe early stages of labor to another woman is it feels similar to menstrual cramps. At first it feels like mild menstrual cramps and then as time goes on they become more intense and you are able to time the cramps.
Furthermore, there is a chance you may experience false labor. False labor is when you do go into labor, but then after a short while (few minutes to several hours) it stops. The contractions are irregular and you can’t time them out. I did not have false labor with my first baby, but my second decided to fool me 3 times with false labor before going into real labor.
20 Ways to Pass the Time While In Labor
Once labor is officially happening, here are 20 ideas to pass the time.
Time and Track Contractions
First, whether you are at home or the hospital, time and keep track of your contractions. You can do this with a contraction tracker. This is especially important at home because when you call the doctor to see if you should come in they’re going to ask how far apart your contractions are. At the hospital you don’t necessarily need to be on the clock like at home because the monitor they hook you up to tracks contractions. But, check with your nurse when you arrive at the hospital if you should track your contractions or not.
What to Do at Home to Pass the Time During Labor
So you are now in labor, but the contractions are not close enough together yet to go to the hospital – what on earth do you do?
Get Some Rest
The first answer is it depends on how painful your contractions are. In the early stages, if it is not too painful, get some rest! Take a nap and get some sleep because your body is about to go through a major event. Plus, very soon you will not be able to sleep much when the baby arrives. So rest as much as possible while you are in labor.
Eat a Snack or Small Meal
Eat something light and easy on your stomach like toast and a banana or an apple with peanut butter. It is important to eat something because when you go to the hospital, you are not allowed to eat anything until after you have the baby. Which could be a while. In addition, making something to eat and eating gives you something to do and helps take your mind off the contractions. Although eating something is good, do not eat too much.
Go for a Walk
Depending on what time of day it is and what the weather is like outside, if you can go for an outdoor walk that is best. However, walking inside on a treadmill or around your kitchen table all help keep you moving and keep your mind off the contractions. Some believe by walking it will make your baby come faster too.
Play a Game
Focusing your attention on something else is helpful to make the time pass. Other options are to play a video game, game on your phone, or some type of puzzle like sudoku, crossword, or word search. Also, play a game or cards with your partner.
Take a Bath or a Shower
Another relaxing thing to do while at home is to take a bath or a shower. In addition, the water can be soothing while you are in pain from the contractions.
Check Your Hospital Bags
Double check your hospital packing list and add any last minute items. Be sure to pack along things to keep you entertained at the hospital. For ideas on what to bring to the hospital for entertainment see the bullet point list below. Also check your baby’s packing list to make sure you have everything for the baby at the hospital.
Declutter, Clean & Organize the House
Go around and do a quick clean and tidy up of the house. Complete the Things to do before leaving for the hospital checklist. If you are able, or have your partner help complete the checklist before leaving for the hospital. This will ensure a smooth return home with your new baby.
Other Easy Ways to Pass the Time While in Labor
In addition, the following items can entertain you or help take your mind off labor and contractions without much effort:
- Watch your favorite tv show
- Watch your favorite movie
- If you have other child(ren) look at their baby book or photo album from when they were born
- Watch home movies or look at videos and photos on your phone
- Listen to your favorite song(s)
- Watch funny or interesting youtube videos
- Have your partner give you a massage
- Sit and roll around on the birthing ball
- Practice breathing
- ANYTHING else that will take your mind off of contractions, labor and pain
Note: take a tour of the hospital where you are delivering your baby a month or two before your due date. It is helpful to see so you can see the room space, what they offer, their tv/dvd/ set up situation, and what they provide so you know what to bring along. For more baby planning tips and free checklists click here.
How to Pass the Time During Labor at the Hospital
The hospital can be a bit more tricky to pass the time. You do not have as many resources and may be confined to your room or even the hospital bed. In addition to the list above of ways to entertain yourself during labor, here are more things to do at the hospital while you are awaiting the arrival of your baby.
Visit the Nursery
Look at other beautiful babies that just came into the world the same day that your baby will be born.
Walk Around the Hospital
Give yourself a self guided tour and check things out.
Make Up a Game to Play
For example, guess how many other rooms are occupied having babies and then check as you walk around. Look out the window and play I spy.
Final Thoughts on How to Pass the Time While in Labor
In the scheme of things labor is a short time, but while you are in labor it can seem to last forever. Time seems to move so slow when you are in pain and want to meet your new baby. Help pass the time during labor with these tasks and things to do.