511 – 411 – 311
If you go to the hospital childbirth classes…usually you will hear that you need to go to the hospital when your contractions are five minutes apart, lasting a full minute for at least an hour =511… If you do this you will usually be about 4-5 centimeters dilated and arriving just in time to get your epidural.
If you attend my classes… you will hear that you need to go to the hospital when your contractions are four minutes apart, lasting a full minute for at least an hour =411…If you do this you will be well established into labor and if you plan to go without medication you will not be at the hospital too early and yet not too late if you decided you wanted medication.
A midwife at my favorite practice recently told my client who desired a natural water birth… you should come to the hospital when your contractions are three minutes apart, lasting a full minute for at least an hour =311…If you do this you will be just in time to get in the tub and shortly push your baby out.
Now these are just estimates of course… it depends on what time of day you go into labor- at 4:30 pm on a weekday depending on where you live in relation to where the hospital is located (this is of course assuming you are not staying home to have your baby), you may need to go earlier… or go closer to the hospital to mingle- walk at a park, in the mall, go have soup at a nearby restaurant…etc. But one of the biggest mistakes someone makes in labor is going to the hospital too soon.
It also will be dependent on who your care provider is, whether you are GBS+ and if your water is broken.. although these variables are different depending on who your care provider is- doctors and midwives vary on their opinion of these factors all the time.
When you go too soon you set yourself up for interventions. You are usually much more comfortable in familiar settings- where you relax more and endorphins are able to kick in. When you go too soon your adrenalin kicks in and you slow your labor down. But some moms need to get to their birth location in order to nest and settle into labor.
You have to decide when to go- but keep in mind, it is rare for labors to kick in quickly without notice and to push a baby out with a sneeze… so your fear of having a baby in the car is usually unfounded and rare… but my advice to you is …listen to your body, trust your instinctive voice, don’t let fear dictate what you do…