When the time comes to give birth, most women like to have a strict plan to follow regarding how it will be carried out. Almost always, that plan involves a trip to the hospital, like 98% of American mothers choose to do. Sometimes not everything goes the way you had wanted it to, but within the bounds of a hospital you have the best care available to ensure you get through labor safely and as easily as possible.
If you do have a birthing plan to follow, or you are trying to make one now, one of the best things you can do is to take a tour of the hospital that you will likely be giving birth in. This is a great opportunity to ask as many questions as you like in order to get an idea of what your experience of labor will be like, and how the hospital works. You’ll be able to see the delivery rooms, as well as the boring stuff like parking. Otherwise, this article can help by running through what will happen on the day.
Normally, most pregnant women will arrive at the hospital in labor, after their water recently breaking. The shock and panic of this moment can be overwhelming for some, but you should try your best to stay calm on the journey, and let the hospital staff help when you arrive. Fortunately, they’ve been training for this moment for a long time, so they won’t be quite as panicked as you are.
Chances are, you will probably want to get to a labor and delivery room as soon as possible. For this reason, you should try to be prepared with any information you need before you arrive. All you should really need is your name and your insurance number, although if you have a hard copy of a birthing plan, it’s a good idea to bring that with you too.
If you have arrived for a scheduled induction or a c-section, you should be taken directly to a labor and delivery room. Otherwise, you’ll go to a triage room first. In the triage room, you’ll be checked to see if you are in labor and ready for delivery. While monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, a nurse will check to see how far dilated you are, and time your contractions.
If your contractions are still infrequent and you are not dilated enough, there is a chance you might need to go back home and return later. Otherwise, you’ll be taken into a labor and delivery room, where you’ll stay for most of the birth.
The Labor and Delivery Room
Once you’ve made it to the labor and delivery room, you will be preparing to give birth to your child. If you don’t require a c-section, you will stay here throughout the delivery of your baby. On the other hand, if you do have a c-section, you will be taken to an emergency room for the operation. Since this is the case, it’s a good idea to settle in and know your surroundings. You might be there quite a while.
If you have planned out your hospital trip in advance, you may have a few things given to you that were arranged beforehand. For example, some people arrange to have an exercise ball to roll around on in the lead up to giving birth. Others like a birthing pool for relief during contractions. These should be presented in the labor and delivery room if available.
To help keep you comfortable, it’s common to want to get to know the other people in the room with you. There is often a limit on family and friends, so if you have a large group of supporters, don’t be surprised if they are asked to leave. Also, your usual doctor may not be available at the time, and nurses could change shifts during your time in the room, so don’t be alarmed if there are new faces.
While you’re in this room, you will have a series of nurses checking on you and measuring your heart rate. This is to ensure that both you and the baby are fine while in labor. If you request an epidural, this will also be administered here. Before an epidural is administered, you should have a doctor talk you through the ins and outs of what it entails.
The nurses will also check how far dilated you are, and once you hit 10 cm, an obstetrician will come to deliver the baby. With any luck, this procedure will be over reasonably quickly, and then you will have a moment to meet your new child.
After the birth, the baby will be presented to you so that you can have an opportunity to say hello. You will be experiencing the immediate aftermath of giving birth, so your child will probably be placed on your chest. After all the panic, this is a moment to relax and enjoy sharing a connection with your child.
After this, you still have quite a lot of time to spend in the hospital, to ensure that both you and the baby are healthy and fully recovered. The first steps after the birth will be to run some tests with your child to check they are okay. Their weight will be measured, their footprints will be taken, and some usual tests will be carried out too, which should be discussed with you in advance.
The standard series of checks that nurses carry out on a baby follow the initialism APGAR. This involves checking the baby’s Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. Here, grimace refers to the baby’s reflexes which they judge through a facial reaction. Activity and respiration refer to the baby’s movements and breathing.
The third stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta, which will happen at some point after the birth of the child. Once this stage is over, it will be your turn to get checked up. They’ll be monitoring your heartbeat throughout the process, but they’ll also look to see if you have endured any physical damage such as tearing during the birth. If you have, a doctor will stitch you up now.
After all this is over, you will have a small amount of time to recover before you move to another room. This amount of time will depend on how busy the hospital is, as well as how the birth went and how you feel. During this time, you can have your friends and family come in and keep you company, giving them an opportunity to meet the child.
When your time comes, you will be moved into a recovery room, which will become our home for a couple of days. Here, you will get a bed to stay in, and you will be regularly checked on by nurses. You’ll be constantly provided with water and ice to keep you cool and hydrated through recovery. If you like, you can have your partner stay in this room with you. You can also choose to have your new baby boy or girl staying in the room in a bassinet if you wish.
Any other visitors will have to come during the appropriate hours, as you need to rest and recover fully before leaving the hospital. During this time, you can practice breastfeeding with the help of a lactation expert, and you can spend plenty of time bonding with your child. Once the doctors and nurses are happy that you have recovered fully, you will check out and welcome the baby to its new home.