Five Tips for Transitioning in Labor from Home to Birth Center or Hospital

  1. WellPregnancy Make sure you have your labor bag with you in the car (not the trunk) so you have access to your pillows, snacks, drinks, music, focal point, etc. Have a hot water bottle or ice pack handy. Since moving around and changing positions in labor makes labor easier, sitting seat belted into your seat during the car ride can be challenging.
  2. Eat something cold and sweet just prior to being admitted. This will help ensure that your baby is awake and active for the initial fetal monitoring, which can help you get off the monitor sooner. Continual monitoring increases the risk of interventions without improving outcome.
  3. Your labor support person can help you get back to doing what was working for you at home. Do you want to get back in the shower? Walk the halls? Rock on the birth ball? Slow dance? Finding your way back to these types of activities will enable you to relax, lower your adrenalin levels, and let your oxytocin levels get back to rising. It is common for labor to slow down when you come into the hospital, as finding your way, answering questions, and getting settled can pull you into your left brain. Adrenalin blocks oxytocin, the hormone that drives labor, so the sooner you can return to the labor rituals that were working at home, the sooner your contractions can pick back up again.
  4. Make your labor room home-like in the ways that are important to you. Playing music can help you find a rhythm, provide positive associations, and give you privacy. A special picture of your wedding, vacation, family, or pet can make an effective focal point. Smell is highly associated with memory. If you associate the smell of lavender essential oil with relaxation or the smell of a coconut scented sun tan lotion with a day at the beach, place a little on a cotton ball (not your skin). Some women find the scent of peppermint essential oil helps with nausea. Citrus smells such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit can be invigorating during pushing.
  5. Dim the lights in your labor room. Some families bring battery operated tea lights for this purpose. Melatonin, which we make in the dark, aids in raising oxytocin levels.

Julie Brill, CCCE, CLD, CAPPA Faculty teaches childbirth classes in the Boston area and trains doulas and childbirth educators in New England for CAPPA. Her doula anthology, Round the Circle: Doulas Share Their Experiences, is available at and at Amazon.