Welcoming a new baby into the world is exciting, but a little scary, especially the part about going to the hospital. Hospitals are a bit intimidating, even if you aren’t there because you’re sick. The good news is once you know what to expect at the hospital before birth, it’s a little less frightening.
One way to make your life easier is to pre-register at the hospital you’ll be delivering at beforehand. That way you’ll have a fast track when the big moment arrives. When the time comes, you can head to the hospital and straight to a triage room rather than filling out forms. It’s a good idea to have a travel bag packed and ready to go. Doing this can help relieve some of the stress.
How will you know when the time is right? Your obstetrician will suggest that you head to the hospital when your contractions last 45 to 60 seconds, are regular, and occurring about 5 minutes apart. This pattern distinguishes them from false contractions that are typically irregular and don’t increase in intensity over time. Unlike false contractions, real contractions also don’t get better when you get up and walk around or change positions.
Once you arrive at the hospital, the nurses and other members of the team will do routine things like check your vital signs and get a urine sample. Expect lots of question about when your contractions started, how far apart they are, and whether you’ve felt your baby moving. They’ll also want to know if your water has broken. The staff will also question you about your medical history, whether you have allergies to medications and what medications you’re currently taking.
Then comes the important stuff. If an examination reveals you’re truly in labor, you’ll stay at the hospital in preparation for the new arrival will begin. After starting an intravenous line, I.V, the nurses will hook you up to a fetal heart rate monitor to your tummy to follow your baby’s heart rate. Get ready! It’s exciting when you hear the sounds of your baby’s heart coming from the monitor! You’ll also get regular checks to see how dilated and effaced your cervix is. If you think your water has broken, they’ll take a swab to see if it’s amniotic fluid. Then, by examining your tummy, the staff will try to determine the exact position of the baby.
Once your cervix is dilated to about 10 centimeters, the staff will urge you to push when you experience a contraction. Since childbirth can be painful, you may opt for epidural anesthesia. This is something to talk over with your obstetrician beforehand. There are disadvantages to having an epidural. For one, you can push or participate in the delivery as easily. Some women use natural means, like meditation, breathing or other methods to manage the pain.
Labor can take a long time, especially if it’s your first baby. Although it’s challenging, the final result will definitely be worth it.
NHS Choices. “What Happens During Labor and Birth”
What to Expect. “Pregnancy Labor and Delivery”