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Top Tips to Keep Calm and Comfortable in Labour when Travelling to Hospital

Preparing for Your Hospital Birth Journey

While some expectant parents opt for home births, most of the parents I work with plan to give birth in one of the local hospitals or the Birth Centre in Edinburgh. This means that at some point during labour, the mother will need to transition from home to her chosen place of birth and will need to manage labour during this period.

It’s common for a labouring woman to experience strong contractions at home, where she feels safe, only to have them slow down or stop upon arriving at the hospital. This can leave her feeling uncertain.

Oxytocin, the hormone necessary for labour to progress, is produced when the body feels safe, relaxed, and loved. Despite giving birth in the 21st century, our bodies still operate on instinctive mammalian survival mode. The journey to the hospital, concerns about roadworks, or parking can impact how relaxed the mother feels. Often, it’s not until she’s settled in the hospital that contractions resume as her body feels secure enough to continue.

Think of labour hormones like a set of scales that need to be balanced in your favour. Here are some top tips to help you stay comfortable, relaxed, and in ‘the labour zone’ during your journey to the hospital:

Top Tip 1: Plan Your Route

Before birth, take a trip to your chosen place of birth. Note any roadworks and familiarise yourself with alternative routes. Time the journey to understand how long it will take and consider how this may vary at different times of the day.

Top Tip 2: Taxi Preparation

If you’re taking a taxi to the hospital, call several companies to understand their policies on transporting women in labour. Most are accommodating, but some may ask you to bring a towel or have other requirements.

Top Tip 3: Comfortable Seating

Many women in labour find it more comfortable to sit in the back of the car where there is more room to spread out and find a comfortable position while safely strapped in. You might consider placing a rolled-up towel under your bum to elevate your pelvis slightly. Also, have a towel on the back seat in case your waters break en route.

Top Tip 4: Hospital Parking

Upon arrival at the hospital, know where the car park or drop-off point is for the maternity ward. Often, there’s a separate short-stay car park. Check if you need to pay and display or take a ticket, and whether the machine accepts cash or card.

Top Tip 5: Comfort Measures in the Car

Consider using these comfort measures during the car journey:

  • TENS machine

  • Music or hypnobirthing tracks on headphones

  • Hot water bottle for lower back or upper thighs

  • Visualization and breathing techniques

  • Hand massages

  • Hypnobirthing anchors like relaxing scents

Top Tip 6: Calm Driving

Ensure the driver is focused on getting you to the hospital safely and remains calm. Now is not the time for a fast or bumpy ride, as this can be uncomfortable.

Top Tip 7: Handling Rapid Labours

Rapid labours (precipitous labours) are rare, especially for first-time births. If you feel the urge to push before leaving the house, stay where you are and do not attempt to travel to the hospital. Remain calm and have your birth partner call the labour ward or 999 for guidance. If you’re already in the car and feel the urge to push, have your partner pull over and call for help.

I hope these tips help make your hospital journey as comfortable and safe as possible. If you have any additional ideas, please comment below.

For more information on preparing for birth and early parenthood, consider joining me for an in-person antenatal course in Linlithgow, West Lothian.

In Person Antenatal Courses, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Online Birth Preparation Workshops


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