Whatever a mom’s preference, it’s a good idea to have some activities handy to help the time pass by, Wideman says.
Labor can take longer than 18 hours for some first-time moms, Wideman says, and those who have epidurals can’t get out of bed.
Wideman recommends moms-to-be participate in birthing classes at Tidelands Health. The classes teach expecting parents the stages of labor, postpartum care, breastfeeding and what to expect during and after the hospital stay.
The class includes help on packing a labor bag. The hospital provides diapers, blankets, and wipes, but nurses recommend bringing favorite lotions, books and games to pass the time.
Gradually, by the time labor intensifies, even footloose moms-to-be will need all of their puff just to breathe through the contractions.
When labor starts, the hormone oxytocin is stimulated to cause contractions in the uterus. The contractions push the baby down into the birth canal, causing pressure on the cervix to help with dilation.
Every delivery is different, but a woman’s body typically tells her when it’s time to start pushing, Wideman says.