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Working Moms-to-Be: Preparing for the Hospital

Find out in advance the items the hospital supplies and those you must provide. A hospital staff member or your childbirth educator should have the answers. Then make these preparations: What to Do If Labor Starts at Work
Most first labors last for many hours so there shouldn't be an immediate need for you to rush off to the hospital. Call your spouse and/or labor coach to pick you up from work and take you home where you'll be more comfortable while laboring. If you're not feeling well, find a quiet, private place to rest while a trusted coworker makes the call, informs your boss/supervisor about your situation, and perhaps even stays with you until your ride arrives. Of course, if you are beginning to deliver, or feel that you're experiencing a medical emergency (sudden bleeding, faintness, or excruciating pain), you should call your doctor, 911, or a private ambulance service immediately.

In the early stages of labor, contractions will last about thirty seconds, building up to ninety seconds or even longer at the end of the first stage. You may also feel the following:

How to Recognize True Labor: Questions and Answers
  1. Your "bag of waters" breaks—The bag of amniotic fluid that cradles your baby may rupture at any time during labor. It might be small dribbles of fluid or a sudden flood. Don't confuse this with small gushes of urine when you sneeze or cough.

    What should you do?
    Use a sanitary napkin (keep one handy at work and in your car) to catch the flow, and call your doctor, birth attendant, and/or labor coach. Alert your doctor, birth attendant, and/or labor coach that you're ready to go to the hospital because there is always a risk of infection even when contractions are not present.

  2. A "show" appears—Either before or during labor, you'll pass a plug of thick, blood-stained mucus. Labor pains may begin within forty-eight to seventy-two hours after its appearance.

    What should you do?
    Wait until regularly spaced pains begin in your abdomen or back (indicating a back labor), or your water breaks, before calling your doctor or midwife.

  3. Regular contractions begin—Labor pains feel like persistent bad menstrual cramps, a dull backache, or shooting pains in your legs. They should be stronger and more frequent as time passes and each one should last for at least forty-five seconds.

    What should you do?
    Ask a nearby coworker to help you time regular contractions (once every fifteen to twenty minutes) jotting down the time each one begins and ends. Follow your physicians directions for when to call him or her—probably when your contractions are ten minutes apart and last forty seconds or more. If you wont have time to go home first, or have your designated driver meet you at work because you're actively in labor, notify your boss that your labor has begun, and ask a close coworker to drive you directly to the hospital.

Strategies for Relieving Labor Discomfort on the Job
Depending on how much privacy you have, use the following techniques to help you stay relaxed until it's time to leave for the hospital:

© 2005 by Marla Schram Schwartz. Excerpted from The Working Woman's Baby Planner with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

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