How will I know when to go to hospital? - AlphaBirth

How will I know when to go to the hospital?

You’ve been waiting for this day for nine months. Your hospital bag is packed, you’ve been having some interesting sensations for a couple of hours now and it’s finally time to use that contraction timer App you’ve had on your phone for ages. But now you’re wondering when it’s time to go to the hospital. Or more likely, your partner is nervously jigging up and down beside you wondering if it’s time!

Many women who have been using the GentleBirth program during their pregnancy are usually very calm and comfortable when early labour starts. They have been mentally rehearsing this day in their heads for weeks or months now, so their brains and therefore their bodies recognise the sensations of labour and are thinking “bring it on!”. They’re feeling excited and looking forward to meeting their baby.

Often you will hear women being encouraged to “stay at home as long as possible” and this is a great idea if you’re planning a natural birth or one with minimum intervention. But before the big day, trying to judge how long is “as long as possible” is a hard one! You might also hear first time mums being advised to wait until their surges are 4/5 mins apart lasting more than a minute for over an hour or more, before they head in but the reality can be quite different. Some women might experience regular, frequent surges early in their labour whereas at the other end of the scale, some women might have very intense surges that can be 10 minutes apart even though their cervix might be not far off reaching full dilation. Really every labour, every woman and every baby is different.

So what kind of guide is useful to help you know? Dads are always the first to ask this question in my workshops. Obviously they’re keen to make sure they make it in time and have been calculating in their heads the distance and time to the hospital with all the traffic permutations thrown in! There’s one simple answer and often it’s an unsatisfactory one when you hear it first – but it definitely comes into it’s own on the day. And it’s this:

YOU will know.

“What does that mean??” I hear you yell at the screen! It’s simple really. When you have been at home in your own private space, where you feel safe, uninhibited and comfortable, labour will progress nicely for you. Those feelings of privacy, safety and comfort really help to get that oxytocin flowing through your body and move your labour along for you. There will come a point during your labour when you just know that it’s time to go to the hospital. Maybe you might experience it as a change or shift in something you can’t quite put your finger on, or maybe you don’t feel so comfortable any more, or often you just have this desire to be somewhere you would feel more safe at that moment, like in the hospital surrounded by your caregivers. Trust your instincts, trust your body, trust your baby and trust yourself.

If you’re at home and you’re unsure about any little thing at all – whether you should stay or go, or even if you’d just like some reassurance about even the smallest thing – pick up the phone to your midwife or the labour ward. They’ll talk things through with you, make some suggestions and give you the information you need to make your next decision.

When you do make that trip to the hospital, many mums visualise themselves rocking up to admissions at 8cm and nearly ready to push and GentleBirth mums often have this experience. But sometimes you might not be as far along as you would have liked, but at least you have that reassurance now that everything is going well. If you have a little while to go yet,  you might like to consider maybe heading back home again for a nap or a bath to get yourself back into the zone. Or if you’re too far away for that journey, why not consider checking in to that nice hotel down the road for a few hours or heading out for a walk? Recreate that sense of calm, comfort and privacy for both of you and it won’t be long before you’re heading back into the hospital to welcome your baby!

You’ll learn more tips like this as well as plenty of ideas for your labour toolkit at one of my GentleBirth workshops. Take a look at upcoming dates here.

© Sylda Dwyer, AlphaBirth 2014.  Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the owner is strictly prohibited.