When to make your way to hospital.
Without a doubt the most common question I get from new mums is: "How do I know when I'm ready to go to hospital?"
There are many signs and things we can look out for to determine how far progressed we are with birth, but please remember this: everyone is different!
No two births are the same, people birth at a different pace, with different coping mechanisms, some people even fool midwives into thinking they're in the latent stages of labour when they're actually ready to push.
Unfortunately, there is no magical answer for all here. That being said, there are lots of positive signs to look out for that indicate your labour is progressing nicely.
Firstly, I always recommend to my clients that when you first experience sensations or indications that your labour is starting call the maternity ward where you plan to give birth or your midwife if planning a home birth. It's good to put yourself on their radar that things may be happening.
I recommend you continue doing whatever it is you would normally do, if it's night time try to continue sleeping or at least relax with the help of MP3s. If it's day time, remain active, so long as you feel comfortable to do so.
For my births my husband had an app which he'd downloaded to time the surges. The app will not only monitor how frequent the surges are but how long they last.
This can help you gauge how progressed you are in labour. NHS guidelines recommend mothers to head to hospital when surges are regular, strong, every 5 minutes and at least 60 seconds. It's worth noting second babies tend to come more quickly. However, I know some women who have birthed their first babies incredibly quickly too.
I also know mothers who have talked through surges, smiling and relaxed, only to be found that they're 10 centimetres dilated and ready to give birth.
This tends to be more common among hypnobirthing mums which is why timing your surges and their frequency is more important than how "painful" or "intense" they are. Pain and intensity is purely subjective.
This being said, I appreciate it can still be difficult to judge. With my first, I went to hospital, and was sent back home again to progress further. It's important to know that this did not dishearten me. I continued to remain focused and positive, because I wanted the endorphins and oxytocin to continue fllowing throughout my body.
Hospital environments and bright lights can trigger adrenaline, which can increase our heart rate, breathing rate and can slow down birth.
That's why you'll hear experts advise mothers to stay at home for as long as possible. Your home comforts will help your birth progress steadily and positively.
Ultimately, trust your instincts and let them guide you. If you're still not sure call the midwives, they're available 24/7 and are there to support you.
And if there's one thing to remember, let it be this: always remain calm and relaxed. So calm and relaxed!