by Liza Janda

I’m In Labor! Is It Time To Go To The Hospital Yet?

 Most first time parents go to the hospital way too soon during labor. So what’s the problem with going too soon?

  1. Labor slows down and lasts a lot longer,
  2. You increase your chances of more interventions, and then things just get complicated and
  3. You get all worn out!

Stay Home As Long As Possible

The earlier you arrive at the hospital, the greater the chances you will receive unnecessary medical interventions in labor. In most cases, unless you have a medical reason for going early, you and your baby are safer staying at home as long as you possibly can. If your labor is well established before you get in the car to go to the hospital in labor, you will progress further, your labor is less likely to slow down, and you are less likely to get interventions that introduce risks to your labor, birth, and your baby’s health and safety.

Even if you want an epidural in labor, it is still better to stay home longer.

If you want a natural birth, it is essential to stay home as long as you can. Chances are pretty good that the longer you stay home, the shorter your labor will be:

  1. First, ask your care provider if they have any specific instructions about when they want you to come to the hospital.
  2. If you have any medical conditions, you will want to the risks and the benefits of why they want you to come and when.


In general, most women can use a formula called The 411 Formula. But don’t get hung up on only paying attention to the contractions in this formula. Pay attention to the emotional signposts as well.  With regard to contractions, you will want to wait until your contractions are:

·      Four minutes apart or less.

·      Lasting one minute long or longer – up to 90 seconds.

·      For first time parents, try to stay home in labor with these 60-90 second long contractions 4 minutes apart for two hours.

·      For subsequent pregnancies, stay home on labor with this contraction pattern for one hour.

Emotional Signposts Can Tell You when To Go To The
Hospital or Birth Center

Mothers who are ready to leave for the hospital should be:

  1. Very serious
  2. Aren’t talking during contractions
  3. Are not speaking much or speaking in full sentences between contractions
  4. Are very focused only on their contractions and can’t be distracted
  5. They may be ritualistic, like walking up and down the hallway repetitively, or methodically repeating the same movements over and over.
  6. They may start to make deep groaning sounds
  7. They may appear to be acting irrationally, or disoriented, or even a bit confused

Put all of these formulas together during labor and you’ll know  when it’s time to leave for your birth place.  If the contraction pattern hasn’t gotten to this point, get in the tub or the shower and try to labor in the water for a while. You’ll be more comfortable and relaxed in the water.

Be patient. This is the beginning of the exciting and joyous adventure of labor and birth.  Try to enjoy this amazing experience. It is a day you will never forget and you’ll be meeting your new baby soon!