I am planning and praying for the most unassisted birth possible at the hospital with only our midwife. She has told me to wait out my labor for as long as I can at home so the nurses won't pressure me into any medication if I come too early. My question is how long should I actually wait? I've heard everything from horror stories of women waiting TOO long and the babies dying before birth...to women waiting a few hours and only being in the hospital an hour before birth. What are your opinions on laboring at home before you leave for the hospital?
Laboring at Home
first of all, you want to keep feeling the baby moving. if the baby stops moving, go in immediately.
as long as all is well in that department, you should expect escalating levels of pain and contractions that get closer together. 2-3 minutes apart of take-year-breath-away contractions is a threshold point that should tell you it's getting pretty far along.
how far away will you have to drive? obviously have everything packed and ready to go and someone to take you to the hospital and someone else to care for any other children you may have.
for me, bloody show was a tell tale sign of being within an hour or two of delivery in both of my births.
for me, pain so bad that i was rethinking the value of the whole natural childbirth thing was also an indicator that this was the "real deal." (yes, it hurts that bad... and yes, i made it through.)
have you considered hiring a doula to help get you though the hard part (ie, transition) and provide moral support for you to stay true to your natural childbirth preference once you are in the hospital?
I would wait until contractions were painful, and go to the hospital grounds or a place within walking distance of them, and walk around and just hang out until I was about ready to push. Pushing can take hours, and by being that close, all you have to do is walk up to the L&D area when you are ready. And they have no time to get in your face, if that's a concern, but at the same time, if you are worried or have any issues or feel like something is wrong, poof, there is your hospital, no car drive! Just what I would do.
Faye's plan is good, weather permitting. My last birth (3rd baby) was at a hospital w/ only a midwife & I asked to go when I couldn't deal w/ my other children any more. (No, you can't sit in my lap, No, I can't read you a story right now, No, mommy needs to walk, etc.) We had a 45 min. drive, got there at 10:00 so I could get used to the space & settle in & baby was born around 3:00. Midwife was very surprised to see us so early, she expected us to show up an hour before the birth, but I like to be familiar w/ the space & not deal w/ paperwork during very hard labor.
Thank you so much for the advice! We are about 20-25 minutes away from our hospital. I love the idea of making our way out there and hanging out until I feel like the time is close. We did consider a doula, but they are few and far between close to us...so we decided just to rely on our 2 midwives (they are awesome and totally on board for a natural birth!) I will keep all the suggestions in mind - thanks again, ladies :)
Typically not making it to the hospital will NOT kill your baby, complications are rare without medical interventions going on and usually come with multiple warning signs. So if you were really too late you might end up pushing parked on the side of the road or having your baby unexpectedly in your house, still with everyone safe though.
Labor gets more intense the closer to the birth you get, first you get a contraction every few minutes but can go about normal life between them, then you need to focus and be alone and ride those waves of them. Closer to the time to push it can get very difficult for a while and you might be feeling out of control with strong contractions very close together, maybe doing double peaked stuff and other out of rhythm things that throw you off. Actually in my second labor I had that when I was like 5cm along and moving to serious active labor, most have it in the 7-10cm stage though. If you're at the signs of transition like that then it's time to be where you plan to birth. Then pushing starts, usually pretty involuntarily and often kinda gradually, your uterus starts to bear down, and you start to grunt instead of moan if you're making noise. That intensifies til you're really working on moving baby down, pushing hard. Generally you don't want to be traveling once that starts in earnest, just focusing on delivering the baby where ever you are. Usually takes many hours from first contractions (say 12-15 for a first time mom) to have the baby but the variation is huge, from a couple hours to a couple days.
Usually they say go to your birthplace when strong contractions are 3-5 minutes from the start of one to the start of the next, lasting a minute or more, and you're feeling seriously involved in the labor. To get to that point, I pretty much have to be somewhere familiar and alone besides my hubby attending any of my needs. I also have to be free to find comfortable positions, not sitting in the car, not out in public. At home or maybe at a very close and familiar friend's house, with my exercise ball to sit on, pillows to prop me up, food and drink, everything. If labor really only took a couple hours leaving home right away would make sense but often it can be 12, 18, 24, or more hours. My first was 38 hours but most of it was a lovely experience, we just focused on my comfort and stayed home until my water broke and the baby moved lower, though it turned out that was at 4cm and still 6 hours from delivery.
With my 1st I went to the hospital after having contractions for 7 hours. They got roughly 5 minutes apart and I thought for sure - "this is it!". Yeah, when I got there and was checked I was only 2 cm and stayed at the hospital another 12 hrs before my baby was born. But - I still declined all pain meds and interventions and we did fine. It was my first baby, I thought I was in real labor. Little did I know.
With my 2nd intense contractions started right after my water broke and were coming 2 min apart lasting 30-50 sec - right from the beginning. My son was born 4 hrs later (planned homebirth).
Now, with my sister and her 1st baby, she kept waiting and waiting until the contractions got more painful and closer together. She didn't think she was in active labor yet. She was wrong, and had the baby in the car on the way to the hospital!
I guess I'm telling these stories because every birth is different, some are long some are short, some are more painful than others. If this is your first baby you may not know the signs of when its time to go to the hospital. I thought I did and I was way early. But just know, no matter when you get to the hospital, you have the right and option to refuse anything! Stick to your guns, make sure your partner and midwife help you stick to your birth plan, and you'll do fine!
This is something I struggle with. When I was trying to come to terms with the possibility of a hospital birth this time, I kept telling myself I'd just labor at home as long as possible. But really, it's not that simple for me. My labors jump right into business (I'm always about 5cm dilated by the time I start contracting), and with DD2 my labor was only 4 hours. However, with DS- being huge with a giant head- although I was complete after only 3 hours, he didn't come OUT until 6 hours later. So....I have a difficult time judging when would be an appropriate time to go in, because like with DD2, she came out very quickly, with no noticeable transition, and I didn't feel like I was that far into the process yet. But with DS, by the time I thought he was coming, I was nly 1/3 of the way through the actual labor, and had I gone in then, I surely would have been sectioned...there's no way they would have given me those extra 6 hours of "no" progress after already being complete.
So I really struggle with this!!!