You’re right to want to be uber-prepared. It’s important to create a plan and a backup plan for getting to the hospital. Know that you definitely shouldn’t drive while in labor, so be sure you know who’s going to drive you there (and that they know the whole plan).
Seem straightforward? Well, it might not be. For example, what if you go into labor at work? Or your partner isn’t reachable? That’s why you need a Plan B. Enlist a VIP friend or family member and be sure they’re in on the plan too—they should always have their cell phone on and handy.
Once your plan’s in place, do a couple practice runs so you and your chauffeur know the route to the hospital—and at least one alternate one. “I advise my patients to take a tour of the hospital beforehand so that they know where the maternity ward entrance is and the best route,” says Elise Harper, MD, an ob-gyn at Health Central OBGYN in Frisco, Texas.
If you usually take public transportation, you should probably come up with another way to get to the hospital during labor. We recommend having a reputable car service on speed dial, instead of risking getting stuck on a train, or not being able to find a taxi at an off-peak time.
In the weeks leading up to your due date, be sure your car is in perfect working condition (take it in for a tune-up and oil change now!) and keep the gas tank full. You don’t want to risk any major hitches getting to the hospital.
You’ll also want to prepare all your labor and birth necessities. Pack your hospital bag and put it near your front door so you can easily grab it on the way out. Be sure to think of what you’ll need after delivery, even if that’s hard to imagine right now. “The common thing I see people forgetting is their cameras or that their camera battery isn’t charged,” says Harper.
When you do go into labor, make sure you leave for the hospital at the right time. You don’t want to go too early or too late: Go too early and you might not get admitted; go too late and you risk infection for baby or giving birth in your living room. So be in touch with your OB and update her on how your labor is progressing.
“I normally tell my patients to call if they have contractions five minutes apart for an hour—this is for a low-risk patient who lives pretty close,” says Harper. “If you’re a high-risk patient and there’s bleeding, you should get to the hospital quickly. You should also go if your water has broken, if you’re bleeding more than a period’s amount or if you’re concerned that baby’s not moving enough.” Talk to your doctor about the signs of labor and what you should do when.
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