Early Labour is STILL labour!

I’ve spoken before about the words I’d love to ban using around birth and pregnancy (namely ‘allowed’ and ‘have to’), but this one always gets me!  ‘I’m sorry, you’re not in labour’. NOT IN LABOUR? How can a woman who’s having contractions ‘not’ be in labour? (You might have heard it called ‘false labour’ or ‘early labour’; but I’ll let you in on a secret. ITS ALL LABOUR!)


Relying on the construct of ‘Established labour’ is something we invented around the same time we stuck birth in hospitals for low risk women. (Some of the time it takes into account the strength, frequency and regularity of contractions, but mostly it relies on your cervix reaching a *magic number*. And the ‘magic’ number of cms your cervix needs to have opened to is 4.. but you don’t ‘hit 4cm’ and suddenly ‘feel’ like your in labour. For the majority of women you’ll have felt like your in labour much before then, for others you may well have only just noticed you’re in labour at all! 


Being told you’re ‘not in labour’ when you’ve been breathing through contractions all day isn’t going to do wonders for your emotions and hormones! So allow me to reframe it for you.


Every. Single. Sensation. That you you feel in late pregnancy, is going to get you one step closer to meeting your baby! Of course, your cervix needs to open, but there’s so much going on in there that we don’t take into account! 


Whilst your contractions may not be opening your cervix all of the time- they may be doing ANY of these things, all of which need to happen and will actually HELP labour overall. 


The sensations you’re feeling might be rotating your baby into the right position. 


They might be helping your baby engage into the pelvis or descend lower into the birth canal. 


They might be helping your body build up its supply of endorphins to protect you for the rest of labour.


They may be causing your cervix to soften, draw forwards or shorten (which all happen before it opens). 


We don’t necessarily know exactly what they’re working towards at each moment, but they ALL have a purpose and that purpose goes far and above simply causing your cervix to open! Every surges takes you closer to your baby!

So, do away with any emphasis on ‘numbers’, simply seek support when you need support. (That’s not to say that vaginal examinations can’t sometimes give us helpful information, or support the notion that labour will likely progress more quickly if you do in fact remain at home for as long as possible, but more on those in another post!) We just need to be gone with the ‘one size fits all’ approach, which isn’t going to help anyone!


To read more hints and tips for a positive birth experience read more here.

If you are interested in taking the next step to a positive birth, Positively Birthing Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Classes run throughout Surrey and SW London- areas including Surbiton, Esher, Teddington, Cobham, TwickenhamSt Margarets, Thames Ditton, Molesey, Richmond, Wimbledon, Kingston, Sunbury, Epsom, Ewell, and beyond. All bookings can be made here.