What You Need to Know About a Hospital Delivery
The thought of going into labor can be scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. But by taking the time to learn as much as you can about labor before you get to Delivery Day, you can significantly decrease your anxiety. Instead, you’ll be able to focus your energy on delivering your baby, not worrying about the scary unknown.
Why Deliver at a Hospital?
The vast majority of women decide to deliver their babies in a hospital setting, rather than at home or in a birthing center. By doing so, they are ensuring the best possible care for their newborns — especially if something were to go wrong during delivery.
Even if you have an uneventful pregnancy and are not at high risk for complications during delivery, something unforeseen could happen. Frequently, babies stop progressing down the birth canal. Sometimes, emergency situations develop with either mom or baby. By delivering at a hospital, you’re choosing to be surrounded by experienced physicians and highly trained nursing staff who have access to advanced technology and surgical procedures that could save your child’s live — or yours.
In the event your baby needs special care, as more than 10 percent of babies do, a Level III neonatal intensive care unit (at our Indianapolis hospital) or a special care nursery (at our Mooresville hospital) and its expert medical team are easily, quickly accessible.
What to Expect in the Hospital
What can you expect when you get to the hospital? All Labor & Delivery patients go directly to the labor and delivery unit to be checked into a room. You’ll change into a hospital gown (or one you have brought from home), and a doctor or nurse will examine you to determine how your labor is progressing. You will either be admitted at this point or told to return home until you are in active labor.
Once admitted, you will be placed in a labor and delivery suite, where you will remain until after your baby is born — through the labor, delivery and recovery periods. After your initial recovery, you will be moved to a private postpartum room, where you will remain until you are discharged. (At our Mooresville hospital, however, you will be in one room for your entire stay – through the labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum).
Your nurse will attach a fetal monitor to your belly to monitor your baby’s heartbeat and your contractions. If you wish to walk or use birthing tools (like the shower or a birthing ball) while laboring, you will be allowed to move freely if at all possible.
Unless your baby becomes distressed or your labor stops progressing, you will likely labor at your body’s natural pace. If intervention becomes necessary, your physician may choose to manually break your bag of waters (amniotic sac) or use a drug called Pitocin to augment labor.
You are encouraged to decide ahead of time who you want to be in the room with you during labor and delivery. Many women choose to have only their partners, while others choose a close friend or close relative. The choice is yours. So that your health care team can move freely as needed to care for you and your baby, you may be limited to the number of people who can stay in the room. When you arrive at the hospital, ask your labor and delivery nurse if there is a limit.
When it comes time to push, your physician or nurses will likely position you on your back, simply because that is the most common position for laboring. They might ask you to change positions if there are signs of fetal distress or your labor stalls. You are always free to choose a different position — such as squatting, propping yourself up on your hands and knees, or sitting — if you would like. Just let your care team know your preferences.
If complications arise during labor, your physician may need to use medical interventions to ensure the safety of your baby. These will be only used if your physician believes it is necessary for the safety of your child. Interventions could include using forceps or vacuum to pull the baby through the birth canal or performing an emergency C-section. If the latter becomes necessary, you will most likely be awake for the procedure. In rare cases, general anesthesia may be required.
When Your Baby Arrives
After your baby is born, he or she will be placed on your chest, allowing you to bond with your baby. This is called skin to skin. If you prefer to have your baby bathed before being handed to you, just let your labor and delivery nurse know before you begin actively laboring. You may also prefer to delay the bath until an hour after delivery, allowing you to meet, bond with and even nurse your child first.
Unless your baby needs special medical care, he or she will remain in the same room with you throughout much of your stay in the hospital. Many tests and doctor examinations can be performed at your bedside, and by having the baby “room in” with you as much as possible, you are encouraging an immediate bond between mom and baby.