Early Labour: the Surprising Things You Can Do

The early stages of labour can last between 8 and 12 hours, with contractions generally low in intensity and spaced a good deal apart. In short, it’s nothing like the speedy drama of the movies—so…grab a coffee, grab the hoover, or go shopping. Here’s what real-life mums did when the pangs first hit.

Closeup of a Pregnant Belly

Clean house

The nesting instinct can hit in the final hours—literally. Mum Sarah P tells madeformums: “[With my] first I just cleaned the house.”

Debbie H recalls “cleaning with the first born until my waters broke!”

Go shopping

The soothing power of retail therapy can extend to early labour, apparently. Nabbing some last minute groceries, window browsing…even furniture shopping can be slotted in to your birth plan: Says Lesley R: “Decided to walk over to Homebase and bought a sofa,” she says.

Catch a film

It’s unlikely you’ll enjoy the pleasure of sitting through a movie from start to finish ever again, so best grab the moment while you can—says Sarah P: “I had promised my other 2 I’d take them to see Jurassic World 2 but went in to labour, decided to go anyway with contractions 2 minutes apart.

“Made it through the film and home, with plenty of time to spare – had her 2hrs later.”

Get Out

Before you become ensconced in the birthing centre or labour ward, you may want to get some fresh air and open space.

Vonnie123 on the madeformums forum comments: “Had a cramp every 10 minutes lasting 1 min throughout the morning. Carried on as normal – fed ducks with my son.”


Rest up, mama-to-be. You might be surprised to hear you can sleep during labour, but plenty mums have managed the feat. Debbie H says: “[With my] 2nd born I was asleep, woke in labour, arrived at hospital and [the baby] was born within 40 mins! Perfect!”

Via madeformums