Five Minutes to the Hospital

Distance from an operating room during childbirth matters. If you give birth in a hospital, if there is an emergency you are literally down the hall from the operating room and can be having a stat c-section in minutes.

Families planning home births are often comforted by the fact "We live just five minutes from the hospital in case anything goes wrong!"

I want to ask you something - how long can you hold your breath? Can you hold it for five minutes? Try holding it for the next five minutes. Because every minute from the time something goes wrong at a home birth until you are at the hospital, in the operating room ready for an emergency c-section, your baby will be holding their breath. Do you think they can live through that? Do you think they can live through that without brain damage?

"Five minutes from the hospital" is not really five minutes from the hospital. Sure, on a normal day, once you are in your car you might be able to drive from your house to the hospital in five minutes. But this is not a normal day. You are in labor, in severe pain, and there is an emergency occurring. It could take five minutes - or more - just to get from whatever room you are in to the car. Then it could take another five minutes to drive to the hospital, if the traffic happens to be good and you don't hit any red lights. And even if you drive up to and park in front of the ER, it will probably take another couple minutes to make it out of the car, inside the ER, and explain the situation. They have to evaluate you themselves, and make the decision to do an emergency c-section. Then they have to prep your for surgery. All of that takes at least another twenty minutes. At this point, it's been at least forty minutes from the moment of decision to go to the hospital until you're going into surgery. Can you hold your breath for that long? Can your baby? Is that "five minutes away?"

And if you think this would all be significantly sped up if you call for an ambulance at the moment of decision - think again. First, the ambulance has to get to you. If you're lucky, it will be at your house in five minutes or less. They load you up - another five minutes. Drive to the hospital - another five minutes. Unloading you, hooking you up to monitors, getting the story and your history, checking the baby, prepping you for surgery - another twenty minutes. At the very best, from moment of decision to incision to save your baby is 35 minutes.

So remember, "living five minutes from the hospital" really means "living over thirty-five minutes away from an emergency c-section." And every minute counts when your baby is deprived of oxygen.

This is a good article from a nurse's points of view: When Minutes Matter in Nursing 
And this post is a good explanation of the same thing: Friday Fallacies - The Hospital is Just Minutes Away