Labor Signs to Plan Your Arrival at the Hospital or Birth Center
You have been contracting for several hours. How will you know what signs of labor to look for when you think you might be far enough along to leave home? When should call your care provider? Should your labor contractions be as close as five minutes apart? Are there other signs that can help you decide when to leave for the birth center or hospital?
Knowing the Stages of Labor Can Help You Be Prepared for Childbirth
If you have taken a childbirth preparation course, you will know the signs and stages of labor to guide you. Remember there are three phases of the first stage of labor, which include early and active labor and transition. Unless a care provider advises differently, in most cases mothers can spend most, if not all of their early phase of labor at home.
In early labor, your contractions will be anywhere from 20 to five minutes apart. These labor contractions tend to be around 30 seconds in length. The labor contractions are milder in intensity and in the beginning these contractions do not cause you to have to do any specific breathing exercises. Most women during this early phase of labor will be able to talk normally in between contractions.
Assess Mother’s Behavior and Ability to Communicate Along with Labor Contractions
In active labor, labor contractions progress to about three to five minutes apart, lasting for about one minute and they are much more intense. Most women are very uncomfortable and use numerous coping techniques for pain relief such as breathing exercises, relaxation, massage, heat and ice packs. During active labor, mothers begin to seek positions to find relief and will not be able to talk normally in between contractions. In most cases, waiting until active labor before you leave for the birth center or hospital is fine unless your care provider advises you to arrive earlier.
Your Labor Partner Can Time Contractions to Watch for Progress
When labor begins, your labor partner can time contractions by timing the duration of each contraction as well as how far apart they are. The distance apart labor contractions is measured from the beginning of the first contraction to the beginning of the next contraction.
Don’t forget that timing contractions is only one sign of labor to assess progress. Labor partners will also need to evaluate mother’s coping ability, how she describes the intensity of labor contractions and her demeanor to more accurately see if labor is progressing.
Discuss with Care Provider When You Should Arrive at Place of Birth
In most cases, it is fine to wait until contractions are three to five minutes apart, lasting for 60 seconds and they are intense before proceeding to the hospital or birth center. However, it is always recommended to talk with your care provider about your own situation since issues like how far you live from the hospital or birth center and individual health conditions may dictate that you leave sooner.