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How to Make It Through a Long Labor

6 ways to pace your way through labor.

How to Make It Through a Long Labor

Many women approach the months leading up to childbirth with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. And then, they hear all the horror stories of extremely long labors, particularly for first-timers, and things get pretty daunting. But how long is "long," exactly? The average length of birth for first-timers is 24 hours and more. And while everyone's labor is very different, the one thing that remains constant is that the mindset can make a huge difference. 24 hours can feel like 10 or it can feel like 48. So what are some things we can do to make the long hours of labor and delivery not feel like an eternity?

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Here are six tricks to help you stay in the flow so you can pace your way through labor:

1. Ignore your labor. We can’t stress enough the importance of ignoring your labor until it forces you to pay attention to it. Try not to focus on how long it’s been or how much longer it’s going to be. No need to rush to your birth place (unless there’s a medical reason), or call everyone you know. Instead, try to enjoy your birthday party! The more you can shift focus away from the “whens” and towards surrendering to the unknown, the more you can remind yourself that what you are feeling is normal. The more you can take one contraction at a time, the more you'll realize that they are happening for you (not to you) so you can meet your baby. Not only will it make your labor feel shorter, but it can actually make it go shorter!

2. Go the eff to sleep. Most labors begin in the middle of the night. We know when labor starts it's super exciting, so this is easier said than done, but please, please, please try to stay asleep. Since you don’t know how long labor will last, this is a good way to prevent against exhaustion! Even if you can't actually sleep, keep your eyes closed and the lights out, try to find a comfortable position (even if it’s not in bed), and rest between the contractions. Prepare ahead of time by finding some soothing music or meditation tracks you can listen to if you are having trouble remaining calm.

3. Forget about the numbers! We know once the contractions start, the impulse is to start timing them. But put those phones away! Until contractions are coming at a very regular pattern and frequently (which you will be able to tell without an app!), there is no point in timing them. It is not giving you any information. It is only making you focus more on “when is the next contraction starting?” or “when do we go to our birth place?” Wait until it is obvious contractions are frequent (every couple of minutes) and strong (you're not talking through them).

4. Make it a date! If you have a partner and this is your firstborn, this is the last time it will be just the two of you, so make it a date and enjoy each other’s company! If you’re single, well enjoy yourself and have some fun -- it’s a birthday party after all. For most first-timers, the early labor phase is what takes the longest. The good news is, this is typically when the contractions are the least intense, and you have the most break time in between. Plan ahead for some fun things you might like to do before the contractions get too intense. You can go on a walk, go out to dinner, watch movies or a favorite tv show, cook, bake a birthday cake, work on an art project, dance, and, of course, sleep and rest.

5. Do your thang! Eat, drink, pee, poo throughout your labor! Choose energy-rich foods like bone broths, eggs, oatmeals, and nut butters and have some snacks around for when you are no longer hungry but need some extra umph (like smoothies and granola bars). Make sure to stay extremely hydrated with electrolyte drinks like coconut water. Another favorite is to mix water with lemon juice, sea salt, and maple syrup. And don’t forget to clear out your system! The more you can get out, the more room for baby to come down!

6. Use those rest periods! Instead of thinking about moving from contraction to contraction, think about going from rest period to rest period. So when a contraction ends, instead of focusing on how uncomfortable it may have been and fearing when the next one will come, check in and ask yourself, “what am I feeling now?” There is a whole lot less sensation between the contractions than during them, so really use that time to rest and conserve energy. It will help you be ready to cope with the next contraction.

Happy Birth Day Party!

Photography courtesy of Abbie Martinsen Photo.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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