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On the Day: What To Do When Labor Starts

By Lisa H

Last updated on 10 May 2024

Wondering what to do when the day has finally come and you suspect that labor has started?

Doula Julia Zehavi shares her tips and tricks with us:

When to go to your chosen place of birth

When you feel that you have light contractions around your guessed due date, try to stay calm and go for a walk/ relax or bake a cake or have a bath. 

Once you are more certain that labor has truly started, call your preferred hospital and ask for their capacity. Most midwives won’t ask more questions, as they don’t usually have time to support on the phone. If they seem to have capacity, consider when to go in.

When you decide to go, you call the hospital again and tell them that you are on your way and ask them if they still have capacity.

How to go to your chosen place of birth

If everything seems confirmed, take a taxi or your car and go to the hospital.

If your water broke, make sure you put a thick pad in your underwear, so the midwife can see the color of the water and the car seat stays dry.

You can also call an ambulance or so-called Krankentransport. However, when you are in labor, you will prefer sitting freely in a car seat and not buckled up as you would be in an ambulance or Krankentransport.

(If you have a Beleghebamme or have chosen to give birth at a birthing center, your midwife will be available to talk you through next steps.)

What to do if your preferred hospital doesn’t have capacity?

In this case, please have some numbers of other hospitals prepared. If you are lucky, the hospital will tell you where to go, but it’s more likely that you need to call other hospitals yourself.

Also arriving with an ambulance won’t help. The ambulance will most likely take you to the closest hospital and not necessarily to the one you registered at. As for the Krankentransport, they will take you to the preferred hospital but won’t request anything for you as they are not connected to the central switchboard of the ambulances.    

(Again, Julia recommends going by taxi if you don't have a car as you will be much more comfortable during labor.)

Once you get to the hospital

Once you get to the hospital, a midwife will welcome you and take you in a pre-labour room for monitoring and to examine you. In most hospitals, a doctor will also join to make an ultrasound exam. 

If you are still at the beginning of your birth, they may suggest either going back home or for a walk. If your water broke already, it is unlikely they will send you back home.

If you are already progressing in labor and/or experiencing big challenges with the contractions, they may transfer you to the labor room right away. There you will also be monitored at all times. 

At the hospital, you will be taken care of by the midwives and doctors on staff that day and can choose to stay for a couple of nights after having an uncomplicated birth. Or you may decide to have an outpatient birth (ambulante Geburt in German), which means that you leave 2-3 hours after giving birth.

Once back home, you will be talken care of by your midwife, if you have one, who will visit regularly to check on you and the baby.

All the best and happy bonding!

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