Last updated: February 25, 2020
Richard Honaker M.D.
Primary Care Physician
View Full Profile
Many first time mothers have lots of concerns when it comes to recognizing the signs of labor. Many worry they will go to the hospital with false labor and be sent home. Others fear they will leave for the hospital too late and not have time for medication or a physician present for their delivery.
It’s not only first-time mothers who can fail to recognize the signs of labor.
Cate woke up with a backache at 38 weeks pregnant. Although this was her third child, she had never experienced back labor with her first two deliveries. She got into the bathtub but found that she was unable to get back out.
“I didn’t know what was going on so I connected with Your Doctors Online. The doctors asked about my symptoms and advised me to call 911. I ended up delivering my daughter right there in the bathroom!”
Is it Safe to Have my Baby Outside of the Hospital?
Having a baby outside of the hospital increases your risk for perinatal death, but having your baby in a hospital increases your risk of cesarean section. It is important to know that these statistics are based on a study of planned births outside of a hospital setting. They are not considering unexpected births taking place outside of a hospital where conditions may not be sterile.
While giving birth in the backseat of your car is not ideal, new research suggests that the environment inside the womb is also not sterile.
The biggest risk factors are the risk of severe bleeding and infection after birth. Although less common, obstructed birth and high blood pressure can also pose a risk of maternal death.
Related: How Will I Know When Labor is Near?
What is the Risk I will Deliver my Baby Alone?
Being a third-time mother, Cate was more likely to have a faster birth than her first baby. As it was her third baby, most mothers would recognize the signs of labor. However, many factors went into Cate’s emergency labor. She had recently eaten at a restaurant and mistook labor pain for indigestion. She was also experiencing back labor for the first time and did not recognize the pain as contractions.
In addition, while first babies usually take their time coming into the world, your subsequent labors can get shorter and shorter. While you may have spent hours in early labor with previous pregnancies, it does not guarantee that your next labor will not be quicker.
Emergency unassisted births are not common. A recent study suggested about 4 in every 1000 births are emergency situations where the baby is delivered without medical assistance.
Will I Know When it is Time to go to the Hospital?
Many first time mothers may mistake braxton hicks for early labor. Braxton hicks are tightening of the uterus that do not cause the cervix to dilate. Braxton hicks contractions may feel like mild menstrual cramps. They may be uncomfortable, but they do not mean you are in labor.
The easy way to tell the difference between braxton hicks and actual contractions is that with braxton hicks laying down or taking a warm bath will make the contractions stop. With actual labor nothing will make the contractions stop.
Cate did not mistake labor for braxton hicks but rather indigestion and a back ache. If you are unsure of what you are experiencing, Your Doctors Online is able to connect you to an experienced and professional doctor day or night.
“Once I realized I was unable to get out of the bathtub I began to panic. I connected with Your Doctors Online and they listened to what was happening and recognized my symptoms as active labor. The doctor knew that I needed to call 911 because I was feeling the urge to push and wouldn’t have time to get to the hospital.”
Keep a Doctor in Your Pocket
Every pregnancy is different, so there is no one size fits all solution. It is important to connect with a healthcare professional when you are experiencing unusual symptoms.
Driving all the way to the hospital to face the possibility of being sent home is intimidating for an expecting parent. Your Doctors Online makes connecting with a doctor easy and accessible. Keeping the advice of a doctor in the palm of your hand can make the transition to parenthood easier.
So what are you waiting for? Your Doctors Online app is free to try. Skip the waiting room and put a doctor in your pocket today.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.
About Richard Honaker M.D.
8 Sex Positions During Pregnancy Offering Healthy Benefits
Not only is sex safe during pregnancy, it can also offer several health benefits for ...Read more
Everything a Doctor Wants you to Know About Your First Month of Pregnancy
Everything a doctor wants you to know about the first month of your pregnancy. ...Read more
5 Exercises to do in Pregnancy that Will Help with Labor
Labor is physically demanding. Training with our 5 exercises can help prepare your body. Everyone ...Read more