Oh, No! I Think I’m About to Give Birth on my Way to the Hospital

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Have you considered that perhaps you will give birth in a car, in a taxi, or in an ambulance? If you lived in the People’s Republic of China probably you would. In that country, rush hour has an entirely different meaning. Last month saw a national week long holiday in China, where more than 750 million individuals –double the population of the United States- left their homes during the so-called “Golden Week”. They might all leave at different times, but the problem occurred upon their return! Fifty lanes were whittled down to fewer than 20 around a toll, which left hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded in a desperate attempt to pass through. The massive traffic nightmare recalled memories of the now-legendary China National Highway 110 traffic jam in August 2010 for some. The jam kept thousands of vehicles at near standstill for more than 60 miles and lasted a whopping 9 days, causing many to abandon their cars altogether. We do not know how many babies were born at the side of the road, but probably enough to fill a nursery!

Here is my advice if you are thinking of calling an ambulance or a taxi to take you to the hospital. First, call your doctor, midwife, or hospital to alert them of the situation. Before you call the ambulance, bear in mind that ambulances are needed for life-threatening emergencies, and normal labor is not an emergency (during your pregnancy, it is important you discuss with your doctor the signs of normal labor and plan your transport to your chosen place for the birth). If you are in normal labor, ask your partner, a friend, relative, or neighbor to take you to the hospital. If that is not possible, call a taxi or use the app-based Uber or Lyft car services.

Call an ambulance if:

  • You are immediately about to give birth with a strong urge to push.
  • Fresh bleeding which is more than half a cup full (or two changes of pads).
  • Severe abdominal pain that continues and persists after a contraction.
  • The baby’s cord is noticeable.
  • Other medical emergencies, such as breathing difficulties or chest pain.
  • Any other condition that the doctor requests you to phone 911 for.

When an ambulance arrives and a decision is made to take you to hospital, it is important that you comply with the crew’s assessment of your condition so that your transfer can happen as quickly and safely as possible for you and your baby.

Here are some practical tips for packing if you need to rush to the hospital:

  • A picture ID (driver’s license or other ID), your insurance card, and any hospital paperwork you need
  • Your birth plan, if you have one
  • Your cell phone and charger
  • Eyeglasses, if you wear them. Even if you usually wear contact lenses, you may not want to deal with them while you’re in the hospital.
  • A bathrobe, a nightgown or two, slippers, and socks. Hospitals provide gowns and socks for you to use during labor and afterward, but some women prefer to wear their own. Choose a loose, comfortable gown that you don’t mind getting dirty. It should be either sleeveless or have short, loose sleeves so your blood pressure can be checked easily. Slippers and a robe may come in handy if you want to walk the halls during labor.
  • Whatever will help you relax. Here are some possibilities: your own pillow (use a patterned or colorful pillowcase so it doesn’t get mixed up with the hospital pillows), music and something to play it on, a picture of someone or something you love, anything else you find reassuring.
  • If you are going in someone else’s car, bring a towel you don’t care about and a trash bag. Put the trash bag down on your seat and then the towel. That way, if your water breaks on the way to the hospital, the car will remain clean (and the taxi driver will be thankful!).

 Please, share your story in the Comments section below.

Video about this topic:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZj2xY2TISg
Diego Wyszynski
Dr. Diego Wyszynski is the Founder and CEO of Pregistry. He is an expert on the effects of medications and vaccines in pregnancy and lactation and an accomplished writer, having published 3 books with Oxford University Press and more than 70 articles in medical journals. In 2017, he was selected a TEDMED Research Scholar. Diego attended the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

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