Welcome back for part 2 of “Common labour mistakes”. This article is all about choices and how they affect your labour. Last time we talked about birth plans, but once you have a plan the choices that follow are very important.
Mistake 2: Your choices don’t align with your birth plan
People often have an idea of how they want their birth experience to go. This commonly involves things like no interventions or no pain medications. Then labour starts and unfortunately when there’s a decision to be made, they make decisions that are the complete opposite of what they said they wanted. For example, if you come to the hospital in early labour sometimes you will be given the option to stay and be admitted even though most people shouldn’t be admitted until they are in active labour. For a client wanting a low intervention birth with no pharmacological pain management this is not a good decision. Early labour admission often leads to artificial rupture of membranes (breaking the water), oxytocin augmentation (giving medication to make you have contractions) and epidural use. Some labours need all of these interventions, but many do not and making different decisions could have avoided them. So if you have a specific plan, consider how your decisions will affect that plan.
Mistake 3: Going to the hospital without calling first
It’s usually not advised to show up at the hospital without calling or paging first. Often this is more about wanting to control the situation, not about confusion regarding what to do in labour. Your midwife or OB will let you know where to call if you think you are in active labour. Showing up at the hospital after a few contractions usually results in a lot of wasted time. Often people think they are the exception and although their labour pattern does not fit the defined criteria for active labour, they think they are further along in the labour process than they actually are.
Birth professionals are very good at assessing labour by phone. If it sounds like you are still in early labour, you probably are. Take the advice of your maternity care provider and utilize the early labour coping techniques they recommend. Under normal circumstances you do not want to be admitted to the hospital in early labour (like we just discussed). In my experience, 99% of the time when people show up unannounced at the hospital for a labour assessment they are found to be in early labour and sent home.
You can avoid this by preparing for early labour and discussing the signs of active labour with your primary care provider. Having an understanding of the labour process allows you to feel more confident when going through it. Mentally prepare to cope with a portion of your labour at home and have a list of labour coping techniques to utilize. Lastly, discuss labour, when to page or call and hospital protocols with your midwife, doctor and/or prenatal educator during late pregnancy so you can be comfortable with the plan before labour starts.
It’s so important to understand the affects your choices have on labour. Prenatal preparation will help you make informed choices throughout the process and increase your chance of having a positive experience.
Check back for the third and final part of “Common Labour Mistakes.”
By: Althea Jones, Registered Midwife