Labor and Delivery 101 – What you really need to know:

So the father to be is running around throwing bags into the car as his pregnant wife, in labor is screaming at the top of her lungs. They share a harrowing, death defying drive into the hospital, where she almost delivers her baby in the waiting area. She is rescued in the nick of time, and handed a perfect baby in a blue or pink blanket. So, we have all seen these scenes in popular movies, but patients ask what happens on Labor and Delivery, what’s it really like?
I am not going to lie; I have had crazy moments on labor and delivery. That is part of the fun; I have delivered babies in the hospital lobby, on the floor, in the bathroom, and even talked a father through a delivery on the phone.
What to pack; it’s simple.
Two outfits for baby, blankets, diapers, wipes. You will be given bottles and formula if you are bottle-feeding. If you are nursing, most hospitals have pumps and nursing gear. Bring pajamas for yourself, a change of clothing, a robe, toiletries, undergarment, nursing bras slippers (hospital floors are not the cleanest), an iPod for music is always nice. You have to have a car seat to be able to take baby home.
What happens?Once you are admitted, either in labor or for your induction, your nurse will come in and ask your medical history. You will then have labs drawn, your baby will be hooked up to a monitor, and usually IV fluids are started, most doctors and practitioners will not let you eat in labor, so your body must stay hydrated. Your doctor will stop in and assess your labor and your baby’s heart rate, which is usually monitored for at least the first 2 hours you are there. So if you are not scheduled for a C-section eat a light meal or snack before you go to the hospital!
Can I walk around; can I get into a tub, what’s a birthing ball?
Many practitioners are different, but if the tracing of the baby’s heart rate looks good, I let my patients walk around, shower, sleep, get into a tub. I tell my patients that this is their day and I am simply there to guide only if things get off course. I check my patient’s cervix a few times, to monitor their progress.
What about pain medications, do all doctors want their patients drugged?
No, I have patients that hypno birth, do the Bradley method, and go natural, have IV pain medicine only, and some that get epidurals. Everyone is different; Everyone’s pain experience is different. Many times patients will change their minds about medications and that is OK. I have patients that think they will need medicine and go natural and vice versa. I tell patients that at the end of the day all that matters is that mom and baby are both healthy and happy.
Who teaches me how to push?
Some of this comes naturally; you are going to use the same muscles you use to go to the bathroom. The baby’s head applies pressure, which can give you the sensation that you need to go to the bathroom. Your nurse and physician will guide you and talk you through the pushing!
Will I poop?
I get asked this question everyday. I say yes a lot of people do and its ok. The nursed and doctors on labor and delivery are immune to it. IT shows us you are using the right muscles!
Baby time
My favorite part of a delivery is placing that new little baby on mom’s belly and letting the dad cut that cord. A lot of new parents are surprised that little ones sometimes come out bruised, with crooked heads, and mashed noses. It’s all temporary and just from coming down the birth canal. In a couple of days, the babies look like the ones from the movies!

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