It’s the final countdown until the big day. There are likely many thoughts looming in your head as you get closer to meeting your little one. Did I put an extra pair of socks in my hospital bag? Do I want to have an epidural? What if my water breaks while I’m out for date night? What if I deliver in the car on the way to the hospital? It is normal to experience a bit of panic as your due date approaches.
You are not alone!
One decision that can be hard to make is when to go to the hospital. The media bombards us with stories of women rushing to the hospital the moment when your water breaks. In reality, it is important to remember to slow down and count your contractions before making the ultimate call to head to the hospital. Labor takes a bit longer to progress than you might think. Latent labor, also known as early labor, can last anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. Most women prefer staying at home during latent labor where they are more comfortable. 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.
Here are some things many women use to distract and comfort themselves while waiting at home with contractions:
- Go on a leisurely walk around your neighborhood
- Cuddle with your furbabies
- Practice meditation
- Take a hot shower
- Sit on a bouncy workout ball
- Practice hip squeezes
- Binge watch your favorite show
- Put on your favorite playlist
- Call (not text!) a friend or family member to get some extra encouragement
- Take a nap (if your contractions aren’t too strong)
Arriving at the hospital during active labor sets you up for a birth experience where you’ll feel more in control. However you decide to manage your early labor, just remember that staying at home in a comfortable, familiar space can do wonders to calm your nerves.
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