As a doula, this is by far the most common question I am asked by my clients. It's right up there with questions like: How can I cope with the pain? and What are some ways my partner can support me?
When should we go to the hospital (or birth center)?
First, you hear all the stories and advice.
Your best friend who went in to the hospital, found out she was only 2cm dilated, and got sent home.
Or your husband's cousin who got to the hospital, labor stalled, and it took forever (and Pitocin) to get it going again.
Or your co-worker who arrived just as the baby was crowning and ended up delivering in the parking lot. You have most likely received well-meaning advice to "stay home as long as possible" or "get to the hospital where you can finally just let go". It seems everyone has a different opinion about when YOU should go based on their own personal experience.
You may have given this some though already. (Or not, that's ok, too!) You think you probably don't want to go too early and run the risk of getting sent home or having your labor stall. And I'm sure you also don't want to to stay home so long that you worry about delivering the baby in the bathtub! You want to know where the sweet spot is... and how you will know when it is time.
But here's the thing: birth is mysterious. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.
It is completely understandable, for first time parents to ask this question. You read books, talk to friends and family, take childbirth classes in order to make sense of a major life event which you have no context for. You may be piecing together bits and pieces of others' stories in order to make it more clear to you. In a world where information can be found at our fingertips with just a click or a swipe, we are being trained to look outside of ourselves for answers to some very important questions. We look for ways to control a very uncontrollable event.
Did I mention that birth is mysterious?
So, what's a new parent to do? Here are three things to consider when deciding when to head to your birth place.
Check in with your Doctor or Midwife
More than likely your care provider has their own policy of when they recommend you come in. Often they use the 5-1-1 rule: Contractions are FIVE minutes apart, lasting for ONE minute, and they've been that way for ONE hour. This can be a good rule of thumb, but it doesn't fit every mother, every birth, or every circumstance. It can be especially confusing for first-time moms who do not have a frame of reference for what normally progressing labor feels like. This is a good question to ask your birth attendant during a prenatal appointment. Then, when your labor begins, it is a good idea to let your them know so they have a heads- up and they can advise you from there.
Check in with your partner
It has been my experience that most partners are eager to get to the birth place. They are supportive of laboring at home, but there is often a threshold that, when crossed, they feel more comfortable at the hospital/birth center. This is VERY understandable. If you are a new dad, familiarize yourself with what a laboring woman may look and sound like as she gets into active labor. Take a childbirth class to learn ways you can help her cope with the sensations and intensity of labor. Take care of yourself by doing what you need to do prenatally to be comfortable with your loved one moving into active labor.
Finally, and most importantly:
Check in with yourself
The thing is, this is YOUR story. Leaving the comfort of your own home and making your way to your chosen place of birth is part of the woven tapestry of your birth. It must play out in it's own time. Gathering information from your care provider and chatting with your partner about their comfort level before labor begins can help to guide you. This is where you check in with your gut; with your instinct. Make sure you are not checking in from a place of fear, but from a place of curiosity and a loving, warrior spirit. Listen deeply. Connect with your baby. You will know.
As with any decision to be made during childbirth, you do your very best. You might get there too early; and you might get there in the nick of time; heck, you might not even make it. But you do your best. In the words of Virginia Bobro, co-author of the new Birthing from Within book, Ancient Map for Modern Birth: "Get information. Tune into your intuition. Make your best guess. Act. Keep moving forward".
In the comments let us know: How did you know when it was time to go?
The intent behind Humble Beginnings Birth Services is to walk with you on your path to parenthood; to be there when you have questions, when you need encouragement, or when you need a shoulder to cry on. I have met some wonderful women who share the same heart as I do for supporting new and expecting moms. These gals are so special I want you to know about them too! If you are drawn to working with me, I know for sure you will love knowing and working with them!
What are some of the benefits of taking placenta capsules?
There are several major benefits to taking placenta pills postpartum. First, hormonally, we’re at an all-time high right after the baby is born. Once the placenta comes out, we’re at an all-time low. Placenta capsules can replenish and restore balance to hormone levels. They can improve milk production and lessen the time of postpartum bleeding. Another benefit, which is bigger than people realize, is the iron and protein that placenta pills can put back into your body. Many people take iron supplements after pregnancy because they’re anemic from losing blood. Your placenta has the perfect amount of iron for your body which can aid in recovery.
Once a new mom decides she wants to encapsulate her placenta and contacts you, what happens next?
I send all new clients an intake form asking for information such as due date, birth location and contact person. New parents sign a liability waiver and send me the results of their blood work (HIV and Hep B) from their care provider. (Since I am working with placentas and blood, I need to protect myself.) Once I have this and a 50% deposit, we wait for the baby to arrive! I also have an instruction sheet about how to keep the placenta fresh, what to do before delivery, after delivery, and contact info. Parents are responsible for getting the placenta to me. Due to life with five kids, this works best for me, however, occasionally, I can arrange for a pick-up.
What are the different options they have for their placenta?
How did you get started encapsulating placentas?
When I was pregnant with my 3rd baby I had been a doula for a couple of years. I decided I needed to experience everything out there my clients were experiencing and came across Placenta Encapsulation. Then, it was not nearly as popular as it is now. I remember reading about it and being so grossed out. I couldn’t even believe it! There is no way people are ingesting their placenta in pill form. In true Misty fashion, I said, “I’m gonna do it I need to see what this is all about. I’m pregnant and I have a placenta, so let’s do it!” After the birth, when I started taking my placenta pills, I felt amazing, I felt like I had so much energy and I didn’t feel so crazy. I used to get pretty bad headaches postpartum due to the hormonal depletion. The pills helped to take them away. I felt good about using a “natural remedy” and not some over-the-counter medicine. After my experience, I started recommending it to all my clients. I soon realized I was referring out something I could easily offer to them myself. I went through a training course... and here I am!
What do you say to the moms and dads who think it just plain gross to eat a placenta?
I tell them my story and how it affected me. I did if for my next two pregnancies as well. I also tell them that when they get it back it just looks like a vitamin. It looks like any other pill. If you know you can swallow a pill, you can do a placenta pill. I offer Berry Pills for those who have a hard time swallowing them. You can’t see what’s inside, and they have a berry flavor going down. I really want everyone to do it, so I make it easy for them!
You are a mom of 5 and you've been working with new moms for many years. What is one nugget of wisdom or piece of advice you would give to someone who is just beginning their parenting journey?
If you need to make friends with new people for this new season in your life, give yourself the space to do so. Once you have your first baby, you may find your old friends in a different place. Some will stick around and others will drift away. But don’t be afraid to make new friends with the other mom at the park with an 8 month old. You both may look like death, but these are the friends that can turn out to be really good ones. So my advice is to make friends with people in the same season as you.
Misty (Divine) Rauscher, owner of Divine Doula, is a certified labor doula in Denver, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Englewood and other surrounding suburbs in Colorado, with knowledge in the Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing and natural childbirth. You can find our more about her services at Divine Doula.
What is your experience with placenta encapsulation? Did you do it? Would you recommend it to others? Or, no thanks, it's not for me? I'd love to hear what you think!