Whilst some expectant parents choose to give birth at home, the majority of parents I work with plan to give birth in one of the local hospitals or the Birth Centre in Edinburgh. That means, at some point during labour, mum will have to make the transition from home to her chosen place to give birth and has to find ways to cope with labour during that period.
It is common for a labouring woman to be contracting well at home (where they tend to feel safe) but by the time they reach hospital their contractions may well have slowed down or even stopped which can leave them feeling a bit of a fraud.
Women need to make lots of the hormone oxytocin for their labour to progress and their body only does that when it feels safe, relaxed, loved and so on.
Whilst we are giving birth in the 21st century, our bodies are still very much tuned to instinctive mammalian survival mode. That journey along the M8, the City Bypass or going through the Clyde Tunnel and concerns about roadworks or parking can certainly impact how relaxed mum feels and often it isn’t until they are safely at hospital and settled into their labour room that contractions build again as the body takes a ‘deep breath’ and realises it is ok to let go again
Try to imagine labour hormones like a set of scales, the scales need to be balanced in your favour.
So, how can you keep yourself comfortable, relaxed and in ‘the labour zone’ as you make that journey. Here’s some top tips you might find helpful .....
Top Tip 1
Before birth, take a trip to your place of birth. Make a note of any roadworks and familiarise yourself with alternative routes in case you can not use your usual route on the day. Time the journey to give you an idea of how long you will be travelling for and consider how that many vary at different times of day.
Top Tip 2
If you are having to take a taxi to hospital, ring round a few companies and familiarise yourself with their policy on carrying women in labour. Most are great, but some do like you to bring a towel to put on the seat or have other requirements.
Top Tip 3
Women in labour often find it is more comfortable to sit in the back of the car. There is more room spread out and find comfortable positions whilst still being safely strapped in. Some women like to put something like a rolled up towel under their bum to elevate their pelvis slightly. You might also want to make sure you have a towel on the back seat just in case your waters break on route.
Top Tip 4
Once you arrive at hospital, make sure you know where the carpark or drop-off point is for the maternity ward as often they have a separate short-stay carpark. Will you need to pay and display or take a ticket for later and if so does the machine need cash or card.
Top Tip 5
Think about what comfort measure you can use in the car:
Music or hypnobirthing tracks on headphones
Hot water bottle for the lower back or upper thighs
Practicing visualisations / breathing techniques
Hypnobirthing anchors like smells you associate with being relaxed / happy
Top Tip 6
Make sure the person driving is concentrating on getting you there safely. They need to remain calm. Now is not the time to pretend to be Lewis Hamilton! A bumpy journey can be less than comfortable.
Top Tip 7
Rapid labours do happen (called precipitous labours) but they are rare, especially for first babies. If you feel the urge to push before you leave the house then stay where you are and do not attempt to get to hospital. It is important that you do not panic! Get your birth partner to call labour ward or 999 who will keep them on the phone whilst they issue instructions and guidance and telephone for an ambulance to attend your house. If you are already in your car and feel an urge to push then get your partner to pull over, stop the car and call labour ward or 999 for guidance. For more information about an unplanned home birth
I hope this has been helpful in giving you ideas on ways you can help to make your hospital journey as comfortable and safe as possible. If you have any other ideas then please comment below.
If you want to learn more about preparing for birth and early parenthood then why not join me and others for an in person antenatal course in Livingston, West Lothian
If you have any questions about this blog or ways I can help you prepare for birth then please get in touch
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