Photo by Marina of Red Heart Photo
Photo by Marina of Red Heart Photo
I would really love to have my baby at a birth center — but the closest one is about an hour away from my house. Both my husband and I work full-time and I’m hoping to work until the baby is born. For parents who have chosen to give birth somewhere relatively far away: is going to appointments an hour away reasonable? What about going into labor and then driving an hour?

I love the idea of a home birth but my husband isn’t on board — he’d rather I was in a hospital with a midwife. He’s not completely sold on the birth center, but he knows I am… it just comes down to the feasibility. How far have some of you driven to get the prenatal care that makes you feel the most at ease? — Alex

Did you travel father away than you thought you would to give birth where you wanted? How did you feel about doing so?

Comments on How far would you drive to give birth?

  1. If you live in my hometown your choices are either an hour and and a half-ish drive to the nearest hospital with a maternity ward, or homebirth.

  2. Haha…I am sitting here laughing, because on my last birth (#3), we had to drive about 10 minutes to the hospital/birth center, and I hated EVERY. MINUTE. More power to ya, girl, if you decide to go that far to get the birth you want!

  3. I was lucky and had midwives at my house until later into my labour. The 5 minute car ride to the hospital was the worst part for me!

  4. Sounds like just another normal day for us Alaskan mama’s! Especially those who live in the Bush and have to be flown to the hospital when they are ready to have the baby.
    I’d say an hour is no big deal, you’d just have to adjust schedules so you can make the appointments, and watch the early labor signs closer so you can have enough driving time to get there.

  5. I know Offbeat Mama did a story once about a couple who had to travel for their home birth because it’s illegal in their home state of Alabama. I know it’s also illegal in South Dakota where my midwife is from, she strictly attends home births for women across four states, and I know she keeps a house across the border in Minnesota for her moms from SD. The laws in Nebraska, where I live, are spotty; you can have a home birth but it’s illegal to have a licensed medical professional present. My concern was HER travel time, not mine since I’d be staying home! She had to drive from SD to NE and that’s only if she wasn’t visiting a mother clear out in central NE or Minnesota. But it was my third pregnancy and my labors last at least six hours, plus he was born in September so we still had great weather. Even though I called her all the way out for a false alarm once, everything worked out amazingly well. I’m now pregnant again and hoping to have the same experience, but am a little concerned to be due at the end of November/beginning of December. There’s also finally a birth center here that opened up shortly after my last birth and I’ve considered it, just so I can experience every type of birth (I’ve had a medicated vaginal delivery in a hospital and a C-section in addition to a home birth), but it’s a good half hour to 45 minutes from where we live and I adored my midwife and don’t think I could beat the home birth experience!

  6. I drove 45 minutes to my birth center for every appointment (starting at 8 weeks and going to 41+4) as well as 45 minutes during labor (although it may have taken only 35 or 40 with the hubs speeding the whole way.) I loved my midwives and every minute of every drive was worth my time.
    The added “thrill” for us was the strong possibility of “beach traffic” – we live on a major highway, and the only route to and from the midwives is over a 3 lane bridge on the way home from the beach. Sunday nights, it can take hours to go a handful of miles. We had serious contingency plans in place with friends who lived closer to “the bridge.”
    Another thing to keep in mind – should you need to transfer (it does happen, even with the best laid plans) – how long of a drive is it to the hospital? Those 15 minutes can be torture after many hours in labor.

  7. my birth center was 20 minutes away with zero traffic, up to 45 mins with heavy city traffic. my labor (this is my first child) was very fast and the drive to the birth center was the worst part of it for me – i’ve already decided next time, i’m having a home birth, just to avoid having to drive! granted, we waited a little longer than we should have to leave home, and i was already pushing (/trying not to push!!!!!!!) by the time we were going to the car, but i was soooooo convinced i was going to deliver in the car. luckily, we got there in time, but there was a mad scramble once we arrived to get everything set up because i was fully dilated and that baby was on his way out already. if it had not been 5:00am and there had been traffic, i don’t know if we would have made it.

    but then, fast labors run in my family, so maybe if there’s no reason to suspect you will have a super speedy labor, and you aren’t in denial the whole time like i was about how far along you are, an hour might not be so bad 🙂

  8. My husband and I have been going an hour and a half away for my pregnancy checkups, and the hospital that my DR wants me to go to is also near there. It’s an hour away on a GOOD day, on a BAD day it can take more than two hours!

  9. Where I live, I am required by the law to evacuate to the nearest big town (about 5 hours drive) aprox 6 weeks before my due date.
    I can have all the checkups and scans done either here or another small town an hour away (for ultra sounds).
    Thanks Mr government, thats a great idea because I can totally afford 6 weeks of accomodation before I have a baby. I will be staying with friends an hour or more away from the hospital. My poor partner will have to make the 5 hour drive in ahurry when he gets ‘the call’ as we cant afford for him to take 6 weeks off work as well.

  10. I live an hour away from the hospital where I’d chosen to give birth. The appointments weren’t bad; went I went into second-stage labour in the morning, we had more than enough time to get to the hospital, get checked in and get settled.

    The last part of the car ride was a nightmare and being trapped in a car when my body was telling me to walk around was a little frightening — that really made some primal responses come to the fore! — but once we got to the hospital things evened out.

  11. My birth center is about 40 minutes from our home. It was close to work, so very convenient for appointments. Getting there in time for birth isn’t likely to be an issue, and your midwives will help you time it out.

    I did most of my labor and was starting transition in the car. I had been coping by standing and swaying through contractions. Sitting in the car was so painful that we actually turned around to go back and get my mom. She rubbed my back the whole way. I highly recommend having a support person and a driver available, just in case.

    Also, my husband was not initially on board with the birth center, but really changed his tune after our childbirth class there. And the birth was wonderful, so he’s totally sold now.

  12. My birth story is shared here on Offbeat Mama (Oregon water birth); we drove four hours each way to a city over the mountains to have consistent care with the same midwives. It was originally a planned three hours but we moved when I was seven months and an extra hour didn’t seem to be a big deal (we are used to driving).

    Things we took into consideration: I read my family’s baby books for labor history (mostly longer labors, including my own birth) and spoke with other women in our family who did natural birth (confirmed that most were longer labors). We planned a route where we would pass a hospital about every hour or so, just in case. We talked extensively with our midwives about being honest with us medically and confidently, not trying to make us “happy” with our ‘birth plans.’ I had a textbook perfect pregnancy with no medical issues. I did a lot of meditating and body awareness practice so I could tell when Braxton Hicks became real labor (worked very well for me, I was able to feel early labor and we left with plenty of time after conferring with midwives).

    Later on in pregnancy you will want to stay overnight if its anything more than an hour drive, it is just too difficult and taxing on your body to be in the car that long. If you DO take on this plan to do driving, start prenatal yoga now if you haven’t already and do research on proper body posture for pregnant women in vehicles. My son became posterior facing during labor, and I have always felt that it was because I was a) out of shape physically (as in didn’t do stretching and yoga every day even though I’m healthy) and b) the car ride and staying in one position too long.

    We never intended to use the local hospital because of all the horror stories. Towards the due date, the midwives gave us the birth kit to carry in our car and we had books showing visually what my husband needed to do if an emergency delivery without help was necessary. Blankets, food, gallons of water, extra clothes for everyone, carseat, and a general first aid kit too. Honestly the drive over was a piece of cake, the drive home was hardest, I had a second degree tear and we were stopping every half hour for me to walk/rest or to feed and change our meconium-exploding son! It didn’t help that my 33 hour total labor exhausted both my husband and me, but we did it. Next child we will plan on driving to a closer facility two hours away or homebirth.

  13. Another one living in a small town here. We have a local hospital but they don’t do L&D. I am going the midwife in a hospital route that is about an hour and a half away. The mountain pass can make it a little tricky but hopefully we’ll miss the early storms.
    So far I haven’t minded driving down for appointments but I’m also still very early. There are closer hospitals an hour away with no passes but it’s definitely worth it to me to drive to someone I trust.

  14. I live in Alaska and don’t care for the main birthing options in Anchorage. We found a great birthing center ~45 miles from here. We worked with some great midwives and they agreed that the one hour drive shouldn’t be a problem for the first child (after that, we probably should consider closer options). The birth went smoothly- feeling mild contractions at midnight, leaving around 3am to drive to the center, having a baby at 6am and home by noon. After that experience, my husband has agreed that he’d be open to a home birth for any future children we may have.

  15. I would love to go to the facility of my choice which is over an hour away. But….I live in Idaho, and my baby is due in the middle of winter. There’s a lot of risk of ice and snow, so I’m shelving that plan, just for road safety. An unassisted home birth is still on the table. I am not bonding with the midwives at the hospital and it’s looking like a better option than winter driving.

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