When should I go to the hospital?

As your due date approaches, it’s normal to wonder what your birth experience will look like. In fact, many women start to formulate their birth plan at this point of pregnancy in an attempt to ease some of their pre-birth jitters. It is really hard to know what labor will be like, especially for first time mothers. No matter what kind of childbirth experience you are planning for, labor and delivery is a journey.

For this reason, parents-to-be find a lot of comfort in taking measures to prepare for childbirth. A critical question is when to call the hospital about coming in. Some women feel that after 35 weeks, any little adjustment in their body can feel like the early onset of labor, and that it is nice to have a hard and fast way to decipher when to start thinking about going to the hospital. For this reason, many women use the Ovia’s contraction timer to track contractions as a guide to decide when to go to the hospitals. Doctors usually consider a true contraction to be one that you can’t talk through. The rule of thumb that women often use to determine when they are in active labor is called the 3-1-1 rule. This rule means that contractions are happening every 3 minutes, each lasts a full minute, and they have been going on for an hour. At that point, call your hospital or provider and they can talk you through next steps.

Women who arrive too soon to the hospital are often turned away and told to come back when their labor has progressed further. Rather than having to commute back and forth from the hospital, keep track of the progression of your contractions and call when the contractions fit the 3-1-1- rule. The main reason mothers-to-be want to go to the hospital prematurely is to be reassured that everything is ok. However, there is a downside to showing up too soon. Hospitals often need to prioritize the care of women in active labor and it may be necessary for you to wait. When you do get admitted, it is possible that you may end up receiving interventions to speed up your labor, that you do not need.  Women who delay their admission to the hospital until they reach active labor report higher satisfaction with their birth experience.

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