Nine months pregnant, you’re walking around at home thinking about all the things you need to clean, the food that should be cooked and frozen before the baby comes and then you feel something…. There’s a funny sensation in your lower back. Your heart speeds up while you think “Could that be something? Was that a contraction?” Now you’re paying more attention and ten minutes later it happens again. “Oh my goodness! This might be the start of labor! I’ll get to meet my baby soon!”
You’re all excited and want to tell everyone. You start texting, calling, yelling that labor has started, no they’re not braxton hicks, this is for reals. You notify your care provider and they say to contact them again when the contractions get closer together and stronger, then you’ll be able to come in. Hours later your contractions are 5-1-1, meaning they’re five minutes apart, one minute long, and have been this way for an hour. You care provider tells you to come in.
In a hospital setting, you’ll be seen to the triage and checked. Electronic fetal monitoring belt placed on your belly to confirm your labor, vaginal check to determine your dilation and effacement, etc. Yay! They confirm that you’re in labor and 4 centimeters dilated. Now what? We’ll you can go home or stay and get checked in. Most mamas are like “Why in the world would I go home?? I’m in labor.” Here’s why: You wish to limit the amount of trauma and drama to you and yours while birthing vaginally.
When you’re at home, with no care providers or ‘helpful’ nurses present, the medical interventions go out the window. There’s no Pitocin, no epidural, no foreceps or vacuum extraction, nothing! You are just at home, where you’re comfortable and relaxed, working with your body.
Following there’s a list of reasons to return home to labor:
- Like mentioned before: You avoid the cascade of interventions. With each intervention (including vaginal checks on your dialation) there’s an increase of risks such as infection, babies having to stay in the NICU, breastfeeding challenges, etc. Also if you’re not dialating a centimeter an hour you could be diagnosed with “failure to progress” and Pitocin will be used to augment your labor. Then your contractions will feel so intense that you’ll probably need an epidural or other pain meds in Early Labor (not even getting to active labor), and basically end up feeling out of control. That things are happening to you versus your body doing its job.
- Laboring at home will allow you and the baby to stay in-synch hormonally. Oxytocin is produced to cause contractions (Pitocin is a synthetic version), you feel some discomfort and then the hormone beta-endorphin is released to help ease the ‘painful’ feeling. Then more oxytocin is released and the cycle continues. This allows you to ‘get use to’ to intensity of you contractions and not overwhelm you. When Pitocin is introduced you go from handling a contraction at the intensity of 2 to being blown away at a contraction of 6. Your body doesn’t have time to react in the natural ways. Babywise- your baby can also be overwhelmed by the quick intensity of augmented contractions. They might not have the amount of time they need to move into the right position, react poorly to the amount of squeezing they’re experiencing, etc. Sometimes slower is better, and staying at home increases your chances of having a vaginal birth.
- The Sphincter law means that when you go to hospital in early labor or prior to labor instead of in active labor then your body instincts to keep baby in. This means labor slows way down or it could present as a stall at some point. This then causes the cascade, self-doubt, and the shift to having things done to you where as when at home you labor from within. You greatly increase your chance of c-section for “failure to progress” when you arrive in-hospital in early labor. Women dilate in unique ways almost never mimicking hospital protocol. When you arrive in early labor, are checked, then checked again and do not dilate within hospital protocol time-frames then you “failed to progress.”
- Your perception of labor is shorter. When you stay in your primal zone, you do open more efficiently. Also, because you let go of “time” you let go of your calculating “thinking” mind. Meaning the faster you can get into your own head and work with your body, the faster you dialate.
- You can enjoy the comforts of home. So as you walk about, lie on your side, get food and drink, listen to music, stay naked, stay on the toilet, go in the tub, you do so in a familiar place and you do so freely. There aren’t any nurses judging you or interrupting your concentration to ask you some stupid question that you personally don’t need to answer. You also aren’t hooked up to machines and are about to move into any position that feels comfortable.
- At home you can do intimate things with your partner to encourage active labor. You are home, use the privacy to your advantage. I.E. Nipple stimulation, making out, etc. Things that produce oxytocin will help your labor progress, and you may feel uncomfortable doing such things with an unlockable door.
- Unicorn Births are extremely rare in real life, you’re not going to sneeze your baby
out. Yes, there are exceptions but in reality it’s not going to happen, especially for a first time mama. Your body must have time to adjust and work it’s way through the process, and if your baby isn’t quite cooperating with their positioning then early labor is going to take a while. Be patient.
- Consider laboring at home until 3:1:1. You transfer to hospital when contractions last about 1 minutes or more and start every three minutes. And this has gone on for at least one hour. And when your gut says to go in, then go. In early labor you can talk through contractions. Then you may not be able to talk through them but in-between. Next all of your attention is on yourself and you can’t comprehend any other tasks- this is the time to go in.
Laboring at home has many benefits and as long as you pay attention to your body there aren’t many risks. If you’re a second time mama who had a fast labor with your first, you take it into consideration when making your decision. I know most don’t want to give birth in the car so follow your gut and you should be successful.