When you believe that something is starting to move along, give your doula and your midwife/doctor a call. Let them know what you are experiencing.
Are you having contractions?
How long are the contractions lasting?
How far apart are your contractions?
When did they start?
Did your water break?
Giving us as many details will give us the best idea on where you are at in your labor.
Try to labor at home on your own as much as possible.
Let this be your time to be intimate with your partner. Soon you will have a room full of people and it can feel like everyone is involved. Enjoy this time together before calling in your troops. Laboring at home as long as you tolerable can also decrease your chances of needing interventions. Some providers will put you on a time clock once you have arrived and may want to help you speed things along. You may also be sent home if you arrived "too early" and haven't progressed enough. Plus, you are going to be more comfortable in your own home. You have access to everything you need and all your personal comforts.
You don't need an audience.
Calling everyone into your labor before you really need the support, can make you have stage freight. Too many people watching can make you feel pressured to move this along faster than it is. This can lead to performance anxiety and can prolong your labor. Don't invite too many people. You won't need everyone assisting you and it can feel crowded. Once people start to run out of things to do, they may just end up sitting and waiting, which can also cause more pressure. Don't be afraid to send people home if it becomes too much. Only invite people who will be able to help you through this. Don't feel obligated to invite anyone who may add more stress or discomfort. You will want to get as far into your labor as possible before calling in your birth team, helping them reserve their strength for when you will need them the most.
Rest, eat, drink, repeat!
Exhaustion is labor's enemy number one. When labor begins, try and get as much sleep as you can. It sounds silly but your body will need it. Keep eating and drinking even though you may not have an appetite. Ignore the contractions until you can no longer ignore them. Pack snacks for labor like honey sticks and fruit for energy. So be mindful of what you eat! Foods that provide energy are key.
But, “When should I call?” is one of the most frequently asked questions I get as a doula. Typically, this question is asked around the timing of labor and when to take action. Here are a few scenarios you might find yourself in:
During Daytime Hours (8:00AM – 10:00PM)
Before 38 weeks I’m most reachable by email or text but please call in the case of any emergency. After 38 weeks we like to keep in close contact. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Please text or e-mail after each prenatal appointment to update me on your physical and emotional state.
If you think you are in labor or are experiencing contractions call as soon as you can. If you believe you are in labor but are not ready for me to come yet, we will want to keep in touch about every 4 hours to see how things are progressing and to offer suggestions. And if you are experiencing an emergency, please call your healthcare provider first and then inform me about any updates afterward.
During the Night (10:00PM – 8:00AM)
If you are able to handle the contractions easily, do your best to try and sleep or rest through them or between them if possible. This can be very helpful as you may not get the chance to rest until after the arrival of baby.
Please only call in the middle of the night when you are ready for me to come, are feeling anxious, or if you feel like something is urgent. If you are worried about anything at all, don’t hesitate to call. Though if the call is for non-urgent matters, it may be more useful for your doula to have a well-rested and uninterrupted sleep in order to better accompany you to your birth on the following day. Again, if you are experiencing an emergency, please call your healthcare provider first and then inform me about any updates afterward.
When I will join you
Laboring at home is a great way to begin your labor and delivery journey. When you are sure that you are in labor, please call me with any questions, concerns, or general phone support. I typically join clients when they feel like labor is picking up and are in active labor. This is when contractions have been 4-5 minutes apart, lasting about a minute, and have been this way for about an hour (also referred to as the 5-1-1 or 4-1-1 rule). However, sometimes the timing of contractions may not be a great indicator of when YOU feel that you need extra support and would like me there so feel free to let me know when that is the case. Depending on your needs, I will join in your home or at your birthing location.
While this doesn’t encompass every situation, it gives a good outline of the typical situations you’ll encounter and wonder if you should text or call! During prenatal we will discuss all of this and we can make specific arrangements then if necessary.
If you are unsure if you should get in contact, just send me a text or call! I am always interested in any updates or changes in your pregnancy!