The highly anticipated due date has finally arrived and her water has just broken, it’s baby time! She may be the super organized mother who has all of her bags and her husband’s bags packed and in the card, the car seat is installed and she’s counting how many cases of menstrual pads she’s stocked up on in the closet. On the contrary, her water may have broken and now she must find someone to come install the crib, the car seat and pack the bags while she hunches over in pain. Whatever type of woman she is, there are certain things that she can control and other things that she cannot, both in life and, most importantly, in the delivery room.
Once she arrives at the hospital and has been admitted into her labor and delivery room, it’s now become a sitting-duck game. The hours are long, the room smells like cleaning products and a lingering smells from a previous mother. She may be hungry, tired, cold or needs to use the washroom. It’s important for parents-to-be to be aware of what they can ask for from their midwives, nurses and doctors, but there are other things that they simply have no say over. However, just because she has no say in certain aspects of her labor and delivery, she may want to ask a nurse (in a calm and gentle manner) for the things she needs and wants. The nurses will always try their hardest to accommodate her in any way they possibly can.
If this is a mom's first time around, allow us to keep moms in the loop as to what they can ask for versus what they cannot ask for from the birthing staff.
20 Give me that jello NOW!
They say giving birth is like running a marathon. And, while I may have to agree that it’s physically exhausting, no amount of running in this world is equivalent to giving birth. However, this comparison is mostly to bring the light that you wouldn’t eat a plate of lasagna when you run a marathon, but you’d eat light things like jello. And that, my friends, is exactly what you get in the hospital, while you’re in active labor, and probably haven’t eaten since the day before.
While the jello snacks may be a terrible option to give to a woman who’s raging all her hormones, it does make for a light and fluffy snack when she’s trying to breathe through painful contractions.
In fact, according to Trimester Talks, the pain of natural childbirth is equivalent to breaking 20 bones at one time. That sounds like fun, we should celebrate with jello.
19 You Have to wait outside, Aunt Lucy
Most hospitals have a two-person rule for the labor and delivery room which explains the reason why most post birth images are of grandma with the baby and the husband with the baby. Where are the in-laws? Where is the colony of brothers and sisters you and your husband have? Where is Aunt Lucy that annoyed you with daily check-in phone calls and countless baby safety procedure emails she sent you? They’re all RIGHT OUTSIDE!
Here’s the deal, at the end of the, you and the father of your baby get to decide who enters the room and when. It is not up to the overbearing eager family (that truly mean well) to simply expect to be invited in. It’s important for the new parents to remember that this is a special moment between the three of them (mommy, daddy and baby) and everyone else is getting a gratitude invite in the name of family.
18 The pain isn’t that bad, the epidural can wait
Once you arrive at the hospital and you’ve been admitted into your labor and delivery room, the waiting game begins. The clock ticks slowly and you’re now becoming jealous of your best friend Carole who was only in labor for all of five hours. But, the mama bear in you kicks in and you’ll try to become strong especially in your time of complete vulnerability. At four centimeters and a wincing face at every two minutes, you’ll still say “oh, not yet, it’s not that bad.” At six centimeters and the inability to form words properly, you’ll continue to shake your head when your hubby asks if you’re ready for the epidural. Countless nurses will come in to see how you’re doing. They’ll also tell you “If you wait too long, it’ll be too late to get the epidural, honey.”
Well, listen here honey, she’s not ready for the epidural. Mama, you’re about to lose all control of your emotions and, most importantly, your bladder. Hold on tight to the ability to control your right to choose when you want the epidural. It’s the only say you’ll have for the next few days.
17 Can't control: It’s time to push (Girl, don’t try to hold that baby in)
While it’s easy to boss your partner around the delivery room through each contraction, or your in-laws by sending them downstairs to the overpriced cafeteria in order for you to catch a silent break (highly recommended,) controlling when it’s time to push is something that is way over your super powers, mama. In fact, when the nurses and midwives will come to check how you’re progressing and they will notice you’re at ten centimeters and ninety percent effaced, they will tell you to get into your birthing position and start pushing.
If you’ve become extremely frightened at this point of your labor, relax and breathe. It’s completely normal and not uncommon. However, there will be no way for your kegels to be strong enough to hold in a baby who’s ready to be born into this world. It’s time to meet the new love of your life, mama.
16 Scream or cry, laugh or isolate yourself - you’re allowed
Some mothers will laugh their way through labor (those are the ones with the extra strong epidurals,) and others will tune out their families patiently waiting the birth of what could be the first grandchild. These are nervous reactions and you’re completely allowed to feel scared or anxious. Though science explains that an expecting mother’s emotions and her hormones are intertwined. And, we all know her hormones are already extremely elevated.
In fact, according to a study by researchers Dixon, Skinner and Foureur’s study in 2013, they concluded that at the start of labor, women felt anticipation and excitement. After a few hours, as labor progressed, the women in the study felt at peace and calm. Next, the women felt as though they travelled to another time, followed by fear and finally ending in joy and euphoria post-birth. For those of you who have experienced giving birth - you know exactly what travelling to another time during contractions is like.
15 I’m sorry for what I said while I was in pain
Imagine stubbing your toe on the corner of the bed and the agony you feel for a few minutes afterwards (let’s remember, your toe didn’t break.) Now, let’s image that you broke a bone and multiply that pain by twenty. Ouch! This explains why some women yell, curse and practically become possessed during labor. Though some husbands, whose feelings were hurt during the birth of their newest addition, may think she has the ability to control what she just said- news flash: she couldn’t.
However, if she received an epidural (and a strong one at that), then what was said during the waiting period is completely in her control and you both have bigger fish to fry.
14 I’m sorry for what I said while I was medicated
The epidural is an extremely powerful liquid form of gold. It puts the entire lower half of the body into a deep, frozen state (both figuratively and literally, bring a blanket ladies,) and allows her to feel absolutely nothing. It’s total bliss. Of course, there are some occasions where the epidural wears off and you feel absolutely everything, now that’s a different topic.
However, there are some women who give birth and don’t remember anything they said before. For example, when I gave birth to my second child, I went on and on about how much I love brushing my teeth. Although this is a fact, I don’t remember telling anyone my personal hygiene routine.
13 Can't control: They will check you every hour (and if you’re in a teaching hospital, they will ALL check you)
No, this is something you can not control as much as you tell yourself “no one’s sticking their fingers up my lady bits.” It’s going to happen whether you like it or not, and more so if you’re at a teaching hospital. However, the only difference between a teaching hospital and standard hospital, you will be able to tell your doctor that you don’t want the interns to check you or to only allow a maximum amount of interns at a time. If you don’t lay the law down right away, you may have an entire classroom of interns slipping on their blue gloves and lining up for educational purposes.
Nonetheless, regardless of how many interns, nurses and doctors you have, they will come to check you every other hour at the beginning and increase their visits as time passes. According to HealthyDay.com, measuring your cervix is a way for the doctors to know when it’s time. Because, again, you can’t hold that baby in and when it’s time to come out, be aware… It’s time.
12 Pampers VS. Huggies (and every other brand in between)
In every pregnancy book and hospital pamphlets, they suggest bringing your own diapers and wipes. Nonetheless, when you arrive at the hospital, there’s always a Pampers diaper, ready and waiting, beside a soft knitted hat under the heating lamp. While I suggest always grabbing the free diapers that the hospital staff leaves for you, you may prefer using your own brand for various reasons (they’re organic or reusable, just to name a few.) While you’re waiting for the grand showtime, inform your nurse that you’d prefer that your baby be wrapped in the diapers you provided. This will be the one of the first things that touch your baby’s skin, after your precious skin-to-skin moment, of course.
While freebies are fresh on your mind, don’t forget to grab the free nasal aspirator, ready-to-use formula, and the fabulous mesh underwear that are louder than a baby’s diaper when you walk.
11 As long as the epidural hasn't happened, you can go for a walk or bounce on a ball
The nurse has just passed by to check how you’re progressing and she notices that you’ve been stuck at six centimeters for the last six hours. As long as you haven’t received the epidural yet, she will suggest getting up and walking around the hospital with your IV bag and the pole that squeaks down the hallway. She may also suggest bouncing on an exercise ball. These two mere suggestions are so the baby can turn into his or her’s proper birthing position and fall lower into the birth canal until he or she enters the world.
It’s important to remember that if you feel like walking or bouncing on a yoga ball, you should get to it during the early stages of labor in order to make labor happen faster, according to Very Well Family. Otherwise, you may not feel like walking with your hospital garment wide open when the contractions begin to get stronger, harder and more frequent.
10 Dad-to-be can stay with you as long as you want
Giving birth to your baby is a chemistry and connection like no other. This is why you (may) want to be with your significant other through the entire process -(However, you may not want him around you the entire time you’re in labor, because he looks ridiculous eating a Big Mac in front of his starving baby mama.)
If your man is the gentle squishy kind of guy, you’ll also be the one who can tell him when to leave by shouting “GET OUT NOW! IT’S HAPPENING.” It could be that you both spoke about him possibly fainting at the sight of birth. Fainting is a thing among fathers in delivery rooms and it happens often, in fact.
9 Can't control: This isn’t the movies, you cannot push on all 4’s
Although the movies portray women to be able to get in all kinds of different positions to evict their watermelon-sized baby, this is not the case in all hospitals. In fact, most hospitals will only allow you to deliver in the standard position: laying down with both feet in stirrups. There’s a multitude of reasons as to why that is, but most importantly, it’s so that doctors have a great front row seat of what’s really going on down there. It also allows for mom to stay put, without a leg sliding off the bed or losing her balance.
However, today women are now more educated about the birthing process and are requesting to be able to give birth in various positions. This is mostly accepted when there’s a midwife around or she is having a natural birth. Unfortunately, a lot of doctors are behind on the times and will only allow her to stay in the regular uncomfortable position. No one said giving birth was comfortable.
8 Food may be restricted, but guarantee I’m scoffing that Double Big Mac right after
The doctors, nurses, grandparents, aunts and sisters and the noisy neighbor down the road, will all tell you that once you give birth to your brand new bundle of your, your hunger will subside and all of your senses will be on the baby. Which may be true and all, emotionally wise, but you can bet your bottom dollar that once the new baby is passed off for his or her dad to coo over, you’ll be devouring the first thing you see.
Why, you may ask? That’s simply because after being in labor for what could be a very long time, you may not have had time to eat the lunch that you packed with a variety of snacks to choose from. Yes, the hospital will tell you to bring snacks to nibble on, but they mean basic snacks that can be easily digested. This is not a picnic and you may not have access to a refrigerator to store the extra food.
7 That beautiful magical epidural button
The contraction pain may have gone from a level-three pain to a level-nine pain within minutes. For those who will receive the epidural, the nurses with gently place your beautiful and magical red button that will allow you to control when to administer the next dose (with a five to ten minute delay, depending on how high they set your liquid to drip.) Regardless how much epidural gold they allow you to get at any given five to ten minutes, it still allows you to regulate and treat your own pain, without having to call on a nurse each time.
There are three types of epidurals that are available, however you must ask your nurse and anesthesiologist which pain medication you will be given. The “low dose” epidurals allow you (who wants that?!) and then there’s the standard epidural. While you may not be able to control every aspect of your labor and birthing experience, the fact that you can control the amount of pain your is, is a win.
6 The Electrician needs to come in and wheel up that overpriced TV
You paid for it, you want it. Trust me when I say, labor can be extremely long, especially when you get “stuck” at a certain centimeter for hours on end. Each hospital has a different policy in terms of TV’s, but for the most part, you have to cough some serious cash in order to get your 5 basic channels.
Collectively, patient women and anxious men sit around the hospital room, watching the clock tick by and running out of things to talk about in between each OUCHHHH!!! and “You better never do this to me again!” And, if you’re like the majority of women, you tend to get stuck overnight when the doctors have subsequently diminished their staff and the hallways are as quiet as the morgue downstairs. Actually, the morgue may be livelier then the maternity ward.
5 Can't control: No, you cannot request the cute doctor
It’s unfortunate, but requesting a specific doctor or nurse is a big no-no when you’re trying to make your birthing experience more fun. When you really think about it, do you want the cute doctor to see your unscaped garden down there anyways? No, you don’t. And even though you may not want anyone visiting your Nether regions, you would secretly prefer the doctor with the mega uni-brow.
It’s also important for parents-to-be to remember that you’re not the only patient who’s having a baby, that day, in your doctor’s calendar. There will be a stampede of women arriving with pain, complications, or with their waters already broken. The doctors are scheduled on a rotation basis and not a weekend/weekday schedule like we are. However, you can discuss with your doctor that you would like for him or her to be present during the delivery or be paged when it’s almost time.
4 Extra blankets, please!
The epidural, fatigue, pain and nerves will make you numb, frozen ice block, all at once, especially when you cannot move from your bed thanks to the catheter and epidural lodged in your back. Of course, the nurses will try to make you as comfortable as they possibly can but with their busy schedules, it’s hard for them to come check in on you as much as you think they should.
While packing your hospital bag, pack yourself and whoever’s staying in the room with you some extra blankets. In fact, Parks Slope Parents suggest bringing your own blanket to make the labor and birthing experience a little homier. This will give your room a sense of home and family, and will allow you to comfortably curl up when you’ll be completely exhausted. By having your own comforting blanket, this may help you to fall asleep through each contraction or at least to feel safe and secure.
3 The videographer may get in the way, but she better film every part of this delivery
Some expecting mothers will want to relive the joys of her birth over and over again, and also to show their future daughter or son the live-action movie of their birth when they’re older. It’s proper etiquette to advice the maternity ward, in advance, that you wish to have a photographer or videographer present so they’re aware there will be extra bodies in the delivery room, but they’re not just gawkers.
However, most soon-to-be parents are not aware that if an unexpected complication arises, the paid videographer and/or photographer will be asked to leave immediately, according to Parents.com. And, while the memory will last forever with the help of a birth video and the photographs that come with it, it’ll also leave a large hole in your pocket. Videographers are extremely expensive, and for those who do not get paid for their maternity leaves, this may be something to opt out of.
2 Yes, I would like contraception once the baby's out
Once your bouncing bundle of chubby cheeks arrives, the doctor will ask you if you’re interested in having contraception. According to the Foreign Policy Association, you can start using contraception up to three weeks after the birth of your baby, unlike popular myths that state you have to wait until your first menstrual cycle to begin. You will also get a long list of available contraceptives you will be able to choose from, such as the oral pill, a contraceptive implant or the contraception injection.
But, if you choose to breastfeed or to use a different form of contraception, you must wait six weeks in order to start your new contraception method. Although, after giving birth, you may not be thinking of contraception methods other than the very effective form: abstinence.
1 Can't control: Unplanned C-Sections are still real births!
A natural birth may have been in the plans, but unfortunately, circumstances happened where you’re now rushed in for an emergency C-section. This does not diminish your superhero abilities to create and give life to another human. You are still Wonder Woman, who carried a life from an egg to a completely formed baby, you will give him the birthing canal to the bright lights the world has to offer and you may also nourish him from your own body, and if not, you’re nourishing him regardless. In fact, you’ll have the permanent scar to prove it.
Yes, the C-Section may have been unplanned and unwanted, but it’s still a lifesource that you can capture on film or photographs.
References: motherrisingbirth.com, trimestertalk.com, popsugar.com, researchgate.net, babble.com, verywellfamily.com, thebump.com, americanpregnancy.org, parkslopeparents.com, babble.com, parents.com, fpa.org.uk, consumer.healthday.com, whattoexpect.com, kidshealth.org,