Waiting for Labor to Start? 25 Things You Can Do to Pass the Time and Stay Sane

As soon as you reach full term in your pregnancy (around 37 weeks), the last few days or weeks can seem to drag on for an eternity.

You’re so anxious to meet your new baby, but it’s starting to feel like you’ll be pregnant forever!

At this point, it’s so hard not to obsess over every tiny change in your body wondering if labor is starting, and you might even be tempted to help it along with some self-induction techniques you found on the Internet.

My dear mama friend, I want you to use these remaining moments to the fullest. Once that baby arrives, your life will never be the same. Instead of trying to rush the baby out, I’ve put together a list of 25 things you can do to stay sane and pass the time while waiting for labor to start.

25 Things to Try While While Waiting for Labor to Start

#1. Eat

Enjoy the luxury you currently have to eat at will. Once the baby comes, your meal times will revolve around a little person’s schedule rather than your own appetite. Besides that, you never know when labor will start, so it’s good to be prepared with a full stomach! You may not be allowed to eat once you’re admitted to the hospital.

Splurge and go to a restaurant with your hubby and maybe even invite close friends or family. Taking a baby to a restaurant can be really challenging, so just relish the adult time out because it will probably be a good while before you get the chance again.

#2. Savor the little things

Until I had a baby, I never realized what a convenience it was to brush my teeth, go to the bathroom, shower, or even just leave home whenever I felt like it. Having a baby is wonderful and amazing, but savor the little things you can do right now without juggling a baby. Once your baby arrives, you’ll start to realize just how much you took for granted.

#3. Write letters to your baby

If you’re having trouble focusing on anything that isn’t baby related, embrace the obsession and write sweet letters to your baby. If you’re not sure what to write, you can find lots of prompts online, or you can use a journal specially designed for the task.

My mother-in-law sent me this one, and it is so precious. I hope that it is something my daughter will treasure the rest of her life.

#4. Print or create posters that will encourage you during labor

No matter what kind of birth you’re planning, whether you want to labor unmedicated or with an epidural, it’s still grueling and you will still need encouragement. Find some quotes, scripture, images, or anything that inspires and motivates you and make posters for yourself.

You can get as creative and artsy as you want! You could write them out by hand and add your own illustrations, or you could use a free online tool like Canva to make printables.

#5. Double check your hospital bags

Since you’re so anxious for labor to start, you had better make sure you’re prepared for when it does! Take this opportunity to double check your hospital bags and make sure you have everything you need.

There were several things I couldn’t pack until it was actually time to go, so I made a list of everything we needed to grab at the last minute and kept it in a central location (and made sure my husband knew where it was, too!)

If you haven’t already packed your hospital bag, what are you even doing!? Hop to it!

#6. Talk to your partner about the birth you want and how he can support you

Waiting until you’re in labor at the hospital is the wrong time to talk with your partner for the first time about the birth you want and the expectations you have. You need to have a conversation in advance about your goals and how you think they can best support you.

You might find when you’re actually in labor that everything changes (you thought you’d want lots of physical contact, but it turns out you don’t want to be touched at ALL), but it will really help your partner if they have an idea of what you need going in.

#7. Get out of the house

The best way to pass the time waiting for labor to start is not to worry about when labor will start. Be smart and don’t stray too far from home/the hospital, but if you just sit in your living room bouncing on your birth ball, you will go crazy.

Get out and do some fun stuff! Or do errands. Anything to get out of the house and get your mind off of labor.

#8. Nest and clean

Again, you never know when labor will start, so you will want your house clean and ready to bring a baby home to. Don’t work too hard–you have a great excuse for lots of breaks, after all–but take some time every day to tidy up, or even do some deep cleaning. If you were to go into labor right now, what shape would your home be in when you got back?

#9. Wash baby’s textiles and make sure your comfiest clothes are clean

Along with nesting and cleaning, you’ll want to make sure all those cute little baby onesies, blankets, wash cloths, bath towels, and other textiles are washed and ready to go. Go through all of your baby shower gifts and shopping bags, cut the tags off of things, and put them through a load of laundry. Make sure the clothes you need for the first couple of weeks postpartum are clean, too.

#10. Walk, walk, walk

Walking can supposedly help move things along, and I can tell you it’s a way better pass time than sitting at home. My favorite place to walk (especially since it was blazing hot out) was Ikea. I also walked miles around the mall, and eventually any big department store close to home (even Home Depot).

Be careful not to wear yourself out, though, because when labor does start, you will need your energy and strength. In the end, it wasn’t walking that brought on labor for me. When my water broke, I was just lying on the couch about to text someone that there was no progress yet.

#11. Play board games with your spouse

Here’s another activity that won’t be easy to do once the baby comes (or at least once the baby starts sleeping less). Board games are not only a great way to pass the time and stay entertained, but also to engage with your partner for a little quality time together before your new family member joins you.

#12. Talk about the future

Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in planning for a baby’s birth and first few months that we almost forget there’s anything beyond their infancy. Have you taken the time to talk with your partner about your goals for your family? What kind of environment you want to raise children in? What kind of parenting styles and methods interest you? What kind of education and activities you want for your kids?

#13. Grocery shop for instant and easy prep meals

I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to feed myself that first week home once my husband returned to work (which was right away). Even with only a couple of stitches, it was very uncomfortable to stand for any amount of time to try and prepare food, not to mention the fact that my baby would not be put down.

Forget about postpartum weight loss until you can stand long enough to make a sandwich. It’s really okay! Your priority is getting something edible into your mouth so that you can rest and recover with your baby. Stock up on easy to prepare foods (like hot pockets and canned soups), and if you have room in your freezer, you could even prep some frozen meals yourself.

#14. Write thank you notes

I really wish I had done this before the baby arrived! For whatever dumb reason, I waited until after she was born to write my thank you cards, and I didn’t get all of them sent until she was six months old.

If you’re looking for some really good inexpensive thank you notes, I ordered this set from Amazon. They were great quality, durable cards with 6 different patterns in the set. I was genuinely impressed; I was expecting the typical flimsy cheap-y cards.

#15. Nap

Nap lots. Especially if you’re trying to walk the baby out. You need your rest because birthing a baby takes so. much. energy.

As much as you want to proactively help that baby get a move on, the baby will not come until its ready, so you need to be ready too. My labor started after a relaxed morning (the one day I didn’t walk), followed by a nap, and more relaxing.

Relaxing your body is more likely to help your labor start than being jittery and excited, or stressed. The hormones that you need for labor are released when you’re chill and happy.

#16. Go window shopping

Preferably not at a baby store, but if you really can’t help yourself, you could. I really liked window shopping at places like Ikea. There were tons of things to look at that I didn’t actually need to buy, so I had a great distraction.

#17. Date nights in

While getting out and doing things is a good distraction, you do need time at home to relax as well. It can’t always be go, go, go. Enjoy some date nights in.

You can use this as an opportunity to share some nice massages, and even practice some techniques for labor. (A great DIY tool is a few tennis balls in a sock.)

#18. Prep some padsicles (even if you think you don’t need to)

Before the baby was born, I had seen something called a padsicle for postpartum recovery. Most recipes were pretty much the same: pour witch hazel and aloe vera on a pad and freeze it. That sounded funky to me, so I didn’t think I’d need it.

Oh, baby. Padsicles were heavenly. Ice in the land down under might seem really strange or uncomfortable, but it feels soooo good after you give birth. If you’re still not sure, just prep a few. If you like them, it’ll be nice to have some already frozen so that you don’t have to wait for them to get cold.

Pro tip: Use pads without wings.

#19. Take final pics of the bump

By the end of my pregnancy, I wasn’t feeling very attractive, so I didn’t want to be in a lot of pictures. Now I wish I had more photos with the baby bump! It’s your last chance to capture this pregnancy. Don’t miss out!

#20. Prep your baby feeding station

If you’re going to be breastfeeding, you’ll want everything you need in arm’s reach. Make sure you have a comfy little nursing zone to keep your water, entertainment, snacks, phone charger, and any other tools you might want like a breast pump and Haakaa.

Here’s a list of my must-haves to survive breastfeeding complete with a free printable to help you get through every feeding.

If you plan to formula feed, get everything organized. If you have the space, you might want to have a dedicated kitchen cabinet or pantry shelf just for bottles, formula, and related paraphernalia.

#21. Play a baby name game (if you haven’t picked a name yet)

The morning of the day my water broke, my husband and I went to Panera to pass the time. We ended up finding an app (Babyname) where you swipe through baby names Tinder-style and it let’s you know when you and your partner match.

You could also just read through lists of baby names online and talk about what you like.

You can do this even if you’ve already picked a name! It never hurts to have backups, just in case the name you picked doesn’t feel quite right when you finally meet your baby.

#22. Get off of Pinterest

The last thing you need to be doing right now is testing out every self-induction method you find on Pinterest. Don’t be trying anything your midwife or doctor didn’t directly instruct you to do. Pinterest is also full of advice that you don’t need while waiting for your own labor to start. No quiz can predict how close you are to giving birth. You probably don’t need to be trying anything new. You just have to be patient and wait for Baby to arrive when he or she is ready.

Now I’m not saying you can’t find anything helpful on Pinterest, or that you shouldn’t use it. But if you’re obsessing over everything labor, deliver, and baby right now, you’ll make yourself crazy on Pinterest.

#23. Read positive birth stories

If you are going to hang out on the Internet, use it to read positive, encouraging birth stories that align with the type of birth you want to have. (If you haven’t already read our birth story, be sure to check it out!

#24. Pretend to house hunt

This is a fun game my husband and I like to play. We choose a budget and a specific locality, and we search through listing on property websites like Trulia or Zillow and talk about the houses we find. It’s fun to gasp and gawk over multi million dollar mansions, but we have even more fun “touring” fixer-uppers and discussing what we would change.

#25. Give your pets extra cuddles

If you have pets, be sure to give them as much extra love as they’ll tolerate because they’ll be super jealous of all the attention you give the new baby. They will also probably miss you a lot while you’re at the hospital giving birth. Our cat freaked out and thought we had abandoned her forever, even though my family was keeping her fed and cared for.

The Last Thing to Remember While Waiting for Labor to Start

When I was pregnant, I was sure my daughter would be early. So when she didn’t arrive at 37 weeks or 38 weeks or 39 weeks or even 40 weeks, she was already a month late in my mind. I was so impatient! I just wanted to meet her and hold her, and in my impatience, I didn’t maximize the little time I had left to myself.

Don’t go trying to kick your little bun out of its warm, cozy oven. The closer Baby comes the full forty, the better Baby will do on the outside. Even a single day can make a significant difference.

Trust your body and your baby to do what they need to do, and if you are concerned that something isn’t right, definitely don’t hesitate to consult your medical care provider.

Remember that this is the end of a season. Rather than trying to rush the next one, savor the last few days of the season you’re in.

Are you waiting for labor to start? What are you doing to pass the time? Tell me in the comments!

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