Talk to the Hand!
Right partners – you may already know the classic “talk to the hand”scenario, but in labor it takes on a whole new meaning and you need to know how to respond – so listen up!!
This is the answer to “when should we go to hospital”
When your partner goes into active labor (which comes after early labor – do’t worry, you’ll learn more about this later) she’ll start “going within”. So even if you were laughing and joking in early labor, as her contractions 9surges) become closer together and more intense, she’ll need more mental energy and focus to manage the intensity.
It’s around this time that she’ll start needing to use deep breathing techniques and your role her is to PACE her. In other words, you set the pace for her breathing. If she’s experiencing an intense sensation she may unconsciously hold her breath or go into shallow panic breathing. Neither of these are helpful.
Even if her eyes are closed, and in fact that’s probably your cue, then start slow deep breathing, making sure you breath loud enough for her to hear you. Within a few breaths she will automatically synch her breathing pattern to yours and you’ll notice an immediate change in her response – her body will soften and relax and she’ll manage much better.
In other words, without even saying a word, you’ve impacted her ability to cope better and release tension and resistance!! You’re also sending a powerful and reassuring message that you’re aware of what’s happening – you noticed her having a contraction and you responded.
This is called synchronised breathing and it will probably be your most powerful partner tool (you can thank me later)
Anyway, as labor continues to ramp up in intensity, she will become less and less engaged with you and the outside world and more and more inwardly focused. She definitely WON’T want to speak during a contraction and if you do make the mistake of asking her something you’ll get the hand.
It’s around about this time that you’ll be wondering if you should go to the hospital – use the image as your reminder.
If she’s having 1 contraction every 5 minutes (or less) and each contraction lasts for at least 1 minute AND that’s been happening for at least an hour AND you’re talking to the hand – its probably time to go.
Don’t make the decision for her – she’ll probably let you know when she’s ready but be prepared. Be open to having a discussion about it BETWEEN contractions and remember you still have plenty of time.
But the Talk to the Hand is a great gauge for where you’re at and also a reminder that you need to be there fully present because this is it!