So how do you know when to go to the hospital?
You've probably been told that you should labor at home as long as possible, especially if you have been planning to have a medication and intervention free birth. Your doctor may have given you a "cheat sheet" for knowing when to report to labor & delivery. South Calgary Primary Care Networks's Low Risk Maternity Clinic offers a handout, Managing Early Labor At Home, that advises their patients:
Each woman experiences labour a little differently. It is important to trust your body and go to the hospital whenever you feel most comfortable. The general rule of thumb is to head to the hospital:
• If you have a decreased fetal movement count
• When your contractions are five minutes apart, lasting 60 seconds, and you have had this activity for about an hour, or you cannot talk through your contractions
- your bag of waters is still intact
- your water has broken but the fluid is clear and you have not tested positive for group B strep
- your contractions are not yet consistant
- your contractions are more than 5 minutes apart
- and of course, your pregnancy is full term (37+ weeks)
What if your water breaks?
When to go to the Hospital
- your contractions are closer than five minutes apart for at least an hour and are taking your breath away
- you or your partner are no longer comfortable laboring at home
- your water has broken and the fluid is not clear (green or brown tinged)
- you are group B strep positive, go to the hospital or follow the instructions your doctor has provided
- you have been advised by your doctor to do so
You should call your doctor or go directly to labor & delivery if you experience:
- abdominal pain that is persistant and does not go away
- bright red bleeding
- a fever
- decreased fetal movement
- signs and symtoms of labor prior to 37 weeks
What to Expect at the Hospital
On the labour & delivery unit, the nurse will check your vital signs. The nurse may also place a monitor on your belly to measure your contractions and check your baby’s heart rate. The nurse or on-call doctor may want to perform a vaginal exam to see how many centimetres dilated you are and observe effacement. The information gathered will help them decide whether to admit you for the birth of your baby or if you can labor at home awhile longer.
Trust your body and trust yourself. You'll know when it's the right time for you to go to the hospital.