They say ‘timing is everything,’ and this is no less true in labor than other aspects of life. It does matter when you go to your birth location – you don’t want to be there too soon, and you probably don’t want to have your baby in the car!
So when exactly is the right time to go?
Please note: this advice should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider nor your intuition, if either conflicts with what we share below.
In our doula practice, we advise clients to labor at home for as long as possible and comfortable. We recommend this because we think the best course of action is to arrive at the hospital or birth center in active labor.
What’s the best way to determine that you’re in active labor?
As a general rule of thumb, the 4-1-1 rule works great. This means that you’re having regular contractions, four minutes apart, at least one minute long, for more than one hour.
First-time parents, try to resist the urge to jump in the car at the first sign of labor or pelvic pressure. Your doula will be at your home with you, helping with natural pain relief and comfort measures. While we don’t perform cervical exams (and never should), we are familiar with the signs of each phase of labor and can help make the decision about when to leave.
Why do we recommend laboring at home?
Because your body labors best when you are comfortable and relaxed… and your home is usually the place that is best suited to create a calm, soothing and private environment.