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How much "warning" (if any) of labour do most people get?

(29 Posts)
QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 10:43:26

Ok, I am in the process of booking a hospital (in London) that is two hours drive away from home. It is actually 200 yards from a house owned by the in-laws (which we can use) - so that helps matters.

But we would like to stay at home as long as possible (husband's business is here - whilst we are in London, he would look at a mixture of working remotely and commuting back to his office), but would be nice to get to London before labour starts properly...

I know that "every labour is different", but am I likely to get some warning? (water breaking, serious Braxton Hicks etc)


LIZS Fri 07-Aug-09 10:50:47

Possibly very little. A few niggles perhaps a few hours before. Personally a 2 hour drive once in labour would have been a nightmare even though my labours were pretty long. A 10 minute drive to the hospiatl was enough ! I would suggest you look more locally.

rubyslippers Fri 07-Aug-09 10:53:02

a 2 hour drive to a hospital whilst in labour would be a bad idea IMO

i had a 20 min drive and it was hell - sorry

i had 2 days of slow labour and then it all kicked off with contractions coming close together - baby wasn't born until 10 hours later but i wouldn#t have coped with 2 hours in a car

QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 10:57:29

No, anything local would be a last resort. So is a 2 hour drive during full labour...

Since we have a house that we can use 200 yards from the hospital that I am booking into, we have the option to move there as early as we like. But moving there early makes it more complicated for my husband's work. Ideally moving there a week before would be great.

If we got to the due date and nothing happened, then we would move there then. But I am well aware that babaies often arrive some weeks before they are due... I could move 3 weeks before the due date, but that seems like overkill...


rubyslippers Fri 07-Aug-09 11:02:21

have you spoken to your MW/medical team about a 2 hour drive whilst in labour?

TBH i would move a week or so before your due date

you will not manage with a 2 hour drive - what if something happens and you are stuck

you will be uncomfortable (At best) and in a lot of pain (at worst)

are your local hospitals so bad? wouldn't it be better to hire a doula to help support you there?

gingernutlover Fri 07-Aug-09 11:04:20

i think you have to be prepared to have the baby locally to be honest

either that or plan to move into the london house 2-3 weeks in advance of due date and hope it's early enough.

Have you got a friend or relative that could come and stay with you if it's difficult for you dh to move that early?

puddock Fri 07-Aug-09 11:04:33

QT if I were you I'd look at being in the nearby house from 37 weeks - even if just to save you the stress. My labour (at 39 weeks) wasn't unusually precipitate or rapid, but I still went to bed late one night confident I had weeks to wait, and was holding my son by the next morning. Everyone's different as you know, but I had no show, waters breaking, strong BH, nothing that really said "this is definitely it" until about five hours before his birth ... and by that point I was glad to be a short taxi ride from the birth centre!
Don't know if you're hoping for an active or low-intervention birth, but being closer by will also help you to stay at home throughout early labour, if that's something you want to try.

gingernutlover Fri 07-Aug-09 11:05:38

good point about advice of midwife - are they aware that you plan on a 2 hour drive whilst in labour?

my dd came nearly 3 weeks earlier and I have no warning at all

LIZS Fri 07-Aug-09 11:13:53

Will your ante/postnatal care be local or via the London hospital. When are you due ? If there are any complications you may be grateful to keep it all in one area nearer to home. If you have to stay in London for a while afterwards (you may not feel up to a 2 hour drive with a newborn) can your dh be spared from work that long and what about postnatal midwife visits ?

pushmepullyou Fri 07-Aug-09 11:26:23

I had over an hours drive to my hospital (nothing closer rather than through choice), which was actually OK. I woke up with period-type pains at about 2am, which gradually became 'laboury' over the next hour or so. I went in to hospital earlier than I would have done if I'd been 10 minutes down the road as I wasn't sure how things were going to progress. The difficulty is that you have no way of knowing how quickly things are going to happen until they're happening, so it's difficult to make concrete plans in advance.

Presumably if it is all extremely sudden and happening quickly you would be able to go to a closer hospital in an emergency? Might be an idea to familiarise yourself with the route to your local hospital etc just in case, and try to stay open minded to the possibility that you might have to 'bail out' and go somewhere closer.

QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 11:28:26

No, I really do not have the intention of waiting for proper labour to make the two hour drive (as stated above). ALthough I realise - with the best planning in the world - you cannot always foresee these things.

If moving to London 3 weeks before EDD is what it takes, then that is what we will do. Husband will have to juggle remote working and commuting for a few weeks... It isn't too bad, the house is pretty much in Central London (about 3 tube stops from the mainline station that will take him to work).

Yes, the hospitals in this area do seem THAT bad: so far I have found few people who have much good to say about them.

Ante/Post natal care can be shared with the community midwife back here at home. Some of the pre-natal (very routine stuff) I could take an easy and fast train by myself. Most of the post-natal care would make sense back here at home. Husband is COMPLETELY flexible in when he works (as long as he does work... so he can make up time on a weekend etc).

Yes we are looking for an active, low intevention birth. They have birthing pools and the option of a mobile epidural: all of that is beginning to appeal.

I think we will start looking at being there from 37 weeks. Baby is due end of Janaury or beginning of Feb.

If the baby is born prematurely, then we are in in different realms and what will happen, will happen and will happen where it will happen.


LIZS Fri 07-Aug-09 11:28:57

Just read you're 14 weeks. Have you discussed your evident anxieties about the local nhs hospitals with your mw or gp ? Perhaps arrange a tour of their facilities rather than relying on stats and hearsay. It is a complicated arrangement you are proposing and may ultimately add to the natural tension at the end of pg rather than create the positive experience you desire.

QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 11:32:34

Yes, the local full maternity hospital is 5 minutes walk from our house (although I wouldn't walk if in labour...). So we know the route well: it would be the back-up option. You cannot plan for everything and emergencies do happen.

We have signed up for the local NCT - I will ensure that we attend the hospital tour (just in case).

So that is our "bail out" option.

I will take advice and look to move to London VERY early then and will start to prepare myself and husband accordingly...


LIZS Fri 07-Aug-09 11:36:25

The routine tour won't be until much later though, so might be worth looking at it sooner to assess the options. Birthing pools, mobile epidurals may be available there and even if promoted more by the London hospital may not be available or appropriate for you.

QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 11:43:39

No, I haven't discussed my anxiety with my local MW: she is perfectly lovely, but pretty useless... Always in a fluster etc - she gives me more anxiety than she solves...

I would assume that discussing my perceived faults of the NHS and the local hospital with her would not be taken well. Although I am sure that she would reassure me.

Stats don't seem to say a lot, the reviews I have are from a mixture of places like here (so hearsay, true), but also close friends... (so not really "hearsay"). Yes, you can't really decide for yourself until you have given birth somewhere... and any two births in the same hospital (for the same person) could be very different. Ok, I am a coward, I would like to avoid living my own horror story just to be able to stand up and say "yes, local hospitals are truly awful"...

They are very "pro home birth" here (not something I want at all) and try to steer you in that direction. I can see the attraction compared with local hospitals, though. I think that the attitude to birth here is a mixture of "rose tinted glasses" (your baby will birth itself) and "grin, bare it, do as you are told and we will turf you out as quickly as possible". Few choices are actually offered: it is "you will get what you are given".


QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 11:46:30

I have a tour of the London hospital next week (to discuss options and birth plan etc) and will "book in" then.

The tour of the local hospital is not until late Nov/early Dec. If I deliver that early, then I doubt that choices/options will come into it much (and where I am will not be heavily on my mind). But I will need a revised birth plan (that the local hospital can support) for emergencies.


LIZS Fri 07-Aug-09 11:51:53

I'd be worried that you are putting huge expectations on the London hospital and may yet find the choices you think you have may not come off and feel cheated. Might be worth seeing the local unit sooner so you know what you are comparing next week.

You should also tell the mw of your plans anyway as they will otherwise expect to cater for you there and you may need to cross reference your notes later on. btw homebirths are very much a small minority of all births so although it may feel as if that is the "norm" in fact it is far from the reality.

QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 12:03:52

I am very happy with my choice in London: I do not need to compare it beyond what I already know (including visiting the local hospital - although not the maternity ward - myself).

Yes, I will tell the MW here. My care will be managed both in London and locally (my GP needs to know, etc). Things would need to be in place IF something - beyond planning - happened here and London was suddenly not an option.

Homebirths are increasingly encouraged here - I think partly because of the pressure on beds here. On another thread here, a local woman was saying that she was discharged 24 hours after a C Section here. Also, if you choose not to breastfeed (although my intention IS to breastfeed) you are thrown out within 24 hours too. They are quite vicious with regards to breastfeeding in this area. Doesn't seem very caring to me...

Apparently I am not that odd - increasingly women from outside of London are opting for hospitals in the capital (and finding ways to stay near the hospital in the weeks upto the birth).


usernametaken Fri 07-Aug-09 14:40:15

I had a 40min drive to the hospital with DD and it was quite scary. Being in labour is such an unknown experience, I had no idea if I was close to pushing or if I was in very early labour, it was something never experienced before. The drive was very uncomfortable and I'm glad now that we have moved closer to a different hospital.

Also, what are you going to do if you get 'false alarms' 2 hours to be told that the contractions are only Braxton Hicks...and then drive 2 hours home?

QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 15:21:02

No, because (as stated several times above) the in-laws own a house 200 ywards from the hospital in London (they live abroad, so rarely use the house - maybe 10 days a year).

The idea is to "move" to that house (in London, 200 yards from my hospital of choice) before labour starts. Have been talking to husband and we intend to move me at 37 weeks (3 weeks before I am due).

IF something (like waters broke or something where I thought that getting to London was a good possibility) happened before that (and - after consulting with the midwife - we decided to go to London anyway), then I would stay in London if it was a false alarm (at the in-laws place) and not return home. Hospital bags would be packed and ready for the car long before that.. if need be, husband can come home and get extra supplies for an unforeseen longer stay (since he will be coming home for work anyway).


bellasmama Fri 07-Aug-09 15:53:46

Dont worry you will be fine, I saw your other thread about J and L and you have made a wise choice to go private, your midwife at the hospital will be used to dealing with clients who live a distance from the hospital and will advise you.

QTPie Fri 07-Aug-09 23:10:10

Thanks bellasmama, I hope so.

Assuming the booking in appointment goes well next week (which I am sure it will), then my aim will be to give birth in J and L in London. That may seem insane to some, but it makes me happy.

BUT - thanks to the thoughts on this thread - I will be prepared:
- will keep my GP and local MW uptodate with my plans.
- will keep the local hospital (5 minutes from home) as my "emergency back-up hospital": if, for any reason, I cannot make it to London (like premature labour etc) then I will know the routine/drill to go there. Will manage my expectations that this may happen.
- We will plan and organise for me to be staying in London from week 37 - HOPEFULLY that will make it most probable that I will go into labour within 200 yards of my target hospital...
- I will be all prepared LONG before 37 weeks for a quick dash to London IF I have ANY inkling that labour is on the way (if it is safe and sensible to do so, if not then I have the local hospital as an alternative).
- Husband and I are all prepared for trips to london for pre-natal appointments and will also work with the local comminity midwife for most post-natal appointments.

Think that covers most of it...


LIZS Sat 08-Aug-09 09:42:21

You sound very organised, but definitely good to have a contingency (for emergencies, inclement weather preventing the travelling etc.) Do you have friends or family in London ? Just thinking that you could be there for up to 5 or 6 weeks waiting and in hospital, away from your familiar surroundings, and may want to make sure you aren't lonely or bored. Also you may want to think about how much stuff to have ready to take for the baby - car seat, somewhere to sleep, clothing etc - and any comfort and practical things for yourself. Personally I could n't wait to get home afterwards , back to my own things , get into a system, and relax but you may not feel ready to do so immediately you and the baby are discharged.

MrsHappy Sat 08-Aug-09 09:42:47

What are first labours like in your family? In mine they are always long drawn out affairs and the babies are always born after 40 weeks. Mine followed the pattern and I went into labour at 41+4 and had 10 hours of completely manageable contractions before things got at all interesting (baby not born for another 24 hours). A couple of hours in the car would have been fine (and in fact I would rather have been in the car than at the hospital where it was all internals and monitoring). As it was we live in London and I spent 45 mins stuck in traffic crawling the few miles to the hospital.

The only thing is that if you are having contractions your husband's driving might become a bit... jerky, which is a bit less fun!

There were no signs of impending labour beforehand and in fact a few days before the doctor couldn't even do a sweep. I had no BH, no show, nothing. Just woke up with contractions. In your shoes I guess if I had a show or something that would be the hint to set off!

Definitely speak to the MWs at J&L. They know what they are doing and will have had patients from a couple of hours away before. And if for some reason on the day there isn't time to get to the hospital you will at least have had the benefit of good ante-natal care from people you feel happy with.

QTPie Sat 08-Aug-09 11:33:36


Yes, the baby is due end of January, beginning of Feb... so bad weather COULD be an issue... We live in the centre of a city with good connections to the motorway which are normally (apart from very exceptional circumstances) kept open, but it could be an issue...

Yes, we will have to be COMPLETELY organised with baby stuff before that (definitely before Christmas). Probably not a bad thing - you never know when babies show up early anyway...

There is a good chance that the mother-in-law will decide to be in London if I am staying there. Her latest "home help" was trained as a MW (might be useful). My brother works in Central London and his family live in North London. I think that there are probably other people I could meet up with (if I am feeling like getting "out and about" at 37+ weeks). The hospital has pregnancy yoga classes (if I feel like those). I might try to find a nice swimming pool (again not sure I will want to by then, but you don't know - I am keeping active as long as possible). I will stock up on books and DVDs and will have wireless internet access. There are a number of parks around and good High Street within very easy walking distance.

Definitely plan to spend maybe 3/4 days in hospital and will take it from there. I think, like you, that we will be very keen to get home to some "peace and quiet" and be by ourselves at home. But I will take everything we need to London- so we have the choice to spend a few days there if we want.

I will ask around about labours in our family - I know that I was at least 40 weeks (41, I think). I can't think of any premature births in our family (apart from a set of twins, but that was a cousin of mine - twins don't run in my branch of the family).

Husband HATES seeing me in pain (he panics) - so him driving with my in labour would not bbe ideal. I will look at hypnobirthing to help manage contractions (in a car or not).

From talking to a couple of the MWs at J&L, they seem really lovely. I will talk to them and take there advice on preparation and organisation. Will keep my fingers crossed that things work out, but will be prepared for it not to.


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