Pregnancy: When to Go to the Hospital

Symptoms of impending birth

When Minutes Count
With my second pregnancy, I decided that I was an expert. After all, my first baby had been born one year earlier so I felt as if I knew everything there was to know. Babies took time to be delivered, didn't they? When the contractions started, I calmly informed my husband that I was going to "get clean" for the baby (and the doctor), so I stepped into the shower, figuring I had hours to go before delivery. Within minutes, I was doubled over in pain. My husband screamed at me to get out of the shower, which I did post haste. We barely made it to the hospital before I delivered a baby boy (thankfully in a room). My husband missed the delivery – both he and the doctor were still in the process of walking in from the parking lot. Time from actual first contraction to delivery – 47 minutes. Moral of the story: Make sure it's a quickie – shower, that is.

Other Symptoms of Impending Birth
Besides the obvious contractions, you may feel increasing pain or pressure on the lower back, as well as the abdomen, as the baby moves down into the birth canal and into position. You might also think you need to have a bowel movement when you don't really have to go to the bathroom, or you could feel like pushing (don't go with that feeling quite yet).

Emotionally and mentally, you may feel distracted or distraught and unable to focus. You might be supersensitive emotionally and feel like crying a lot. You could also experience extreme fatigue, or the opposite, tons of energy. Swings of emotions can be attributed to many reasons. They could be caused by a lack of sleep, your diet not being as good as it is normally, stress, or even the fear of the unknown (for example, a first-time mother might be worried about the upcoming pain of labor and delivery).

You could act differently for any number of reasons or just from the daily problems of living. Most of the time, these feelings are quite normal. Usually, what helps is to have a good conversation with someone whom you trust and love who cares about you. Talk to that person and ask him/her to listen. A sympathetic ear goes a long way.

With questions specific to pain, you should talk to your physician or midwife so that your fears can be allayed. In modern obstetrics, the overwhelming majority of women will receive some form of anesthesia, so the pain of labor and delivery is much less intensified and not a cause for concern.

From a Mother Who Has Been There...
The worst time for me was always right before the baby came. I got tense, irritable, and asked my doctor nonstop when the baby was coming. I worried about everything from whether the house was clean to how I'd handle my in-laws to what to pack for the hospital. I worried about my body – would I be "fat" forever, would I still be attractive and normal after the baby was born, would my breasts sag, would I have stretch marks, etc. What I didn't do was stop to take a breath and calm down. I'd strongly advise that. Just an FYI – once the baby is born, all those pressures and tension are gone magically and instantly. It's a wonderful thing.

excerpted from:

Reproduced from Absolute Beginner's Guide to Pregnancy, by John Adams and Marta Justak, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing. Please visit Amazon to order your own copy.

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