What to Expect at the Hospital

When You Arrive at the Hospital

You have a million questions about labor. How long will labor last? How bad is the pain going to be? Can I really do this? There is no way to know the answers to these questions in advance, but you can learn about certain procedures now, that will help you feel ready for what lies ahead.

One way to help prepare yourself is to understand the medical routines that may follow your admission to a hospital or birthing center. It's a good idea to tour the hospital/center before the birth to become more familiar with it and its practices.

When you get to there, you will probably follow steps similar to these:

  • Be admitted
  • Be taken to an examination room or your birthing room
  • A nurse will talk to you to evaluate which symptoms you're feeling
  • Sign consent forms and other routine documents
  • Give a copy of your birth plan to the nurses for your charts; in addition to the birth plan you have given your care provider
  • You'll be given an initial pelvic exam by a physician or nurse to determine how much your cervix has dilated and effaced
  • You may be hooked up to various monitors to ensure close monitoring of you and your unborn baby
  • An IV may be started to provide hydration if needed in the later stages of labor, and to allow access of medication intravenously if it's suddenly needed. An IV is necessary if epidural anesthesia is used.
  • Your care provider may discuss with you the possibility of rupturing your membranes if they have not already ruptured
  • You may be encouraged to rock in a chair, walk around with your labor coach, or possibly take a warm shower. Relaxation and communication with your labor coach, the medical staff, and your care provider is key so they can help make you as comfortable as possible.
  • The labor nurse and care provider will monitor you to note your progress and also will monitor baby's vital signs, but they may leave you alone with your coach. Don't be shy about calling for your nurses, or care provider if you want to talk with them about any part of this process.
  • You will be kept well hydrated during your labor and encouraged to urinate often. You may also have a catheter inserted to remove urine depending on your situation.
  • As labor progresses, your caregiver will discuss your what is happening with you, and any necessary interventions (should the need for them develop)

Before hand, discuss with your caregiver, and your labor coach your preferences regarding the use of pain medications, monitors and other interventions. Writing down your wishes in a birth plan is an excellent idea. Let your labor coach or doula remind the staff of your wishes referring them to your birth plan. Knowing what to expect from your caregiver and the hospital/center staff can help you prepare for what lies ahead. Congratulations soon you will have your new baby in your arms!

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