For many new moms (and sometimes even those of us who have been there before!) the process of labor and then delivery is often mysterious. We may worry about what happens. We may be unsure of what to expect. All of this is totally, and completely, normal. Labor is often different for every woman, and even every pregnancy. You may know some of the things to expect, but no matter what, it will be a unique experience.
When labor begins, it is almost like a snowball going downhill. Except at the end of the hill is your sweet bundle of joy baby boy or baby girl! There is quite a bit that goes on between the minute you realize you are in labor and your baby being born. But, no worries, because it is nothing you cannot prepare for, understand, and even look forward to!
They say that once you are in labor, you will know it. The contractions you experience are a feeling like no other. So rest assured that when the time comes, you will know it. Read on for some of the things that will happen immediately after you go into labor. Be prepared and be ready, because it is definitely an experience like no other!
15 The Contractions Will Only Worsen
It is true when they say the contractions experienced once labor has begun will make you realize right away that you are in actual labor. The contractions may feel like strong, intense cramps. And chances are, when you experience them, you will know exactly what we are talking about!
You will know your contractions are true labor contractions because they will not go away. Instead, they will only get more intense and be closer together. It will get to the point where you have trouble taking a breath in between each contraction. Your physician will likely tell you to time your contractions. This is important. You need to know how close together each contraction is as you head over to the hospital to have your baby!
14 Call Someone ASAP
If you think you are in labor, even if you are not near your due date, call your doctor, doula, midwife, SO as soon as possible. No matter time of day or night, there will be someone on call to speak with you regarding whether you are actually in labor or not. As you call, be honest and make sure you are timing your contractions so your doctor has the correct information and can make a proper determination of your labor condition.
Never hesitate to call your doctor or midwife. It is possible they will need to meet you at the hospital, so call as soon as you think you are in labor. They may inform you to wait until your contractions are closer together, or tell you to head over to the hospital delivery room pronto!
13 Grab Your Hospital Bag
As you make your way to the door, clutching your pregnant belly during a strong contraction, do not forget your hospital bag. We hope you have already packed one! If you are like any other pregnant woman, you have probably researched what to bring to the hospital or had loads of people tell you what you do or don't need when the time comes to have your baby.
If you never packed a hospital bag, throw together a few things you think you want or need, or just wing it. Everything you truly need, the hospital can provide. Plus, you can always send out a family member to retrieve any items or pick up some magazines to hold you over if labor is lasting awhile! In other words, there is no need to go crazy over your hospital bag.
12 Head To The Hospital
Of course one major thing that happens immediately after going into labor is of course heading to the hospital to have your baby - if you're having a hospital birth! This is an exciting time. But it may also be a painful and fearful time, too. Take a few breathes as you ride over to the hospital (try to not drive yourself!). It is usually wise to perform a “dry run” to the hospital or birthing center prior to your due date, so you know the best way to get there.
As you roll up to the hospital, you will feel a wave of all kinds of emotions. This is totally normal. Tell yourself you can do this! You likely have toured your hospital's maternity ward, so you may already know what to expect once you arrive. Maternity nurses are often very warm and wonderful, and will accommodate you to the best of their ability.
11 Time To Change Outfits
Once labor has begun, one of the very first things your nurse will have you do is change out of your street clothes. That is right, it will be time to put on that gorgeous hospital gown!
But trust us, once you are deep into labor and delivery, you will not care what the heck you are wearing. That weird sheet turned hospital outfit for every size and shape will not even be on your mind. Your mind will be on the pain, pushing, and baby. And once baby is born, you may not even bother taking that thing off- or you may change into a clean one, many women do. You will also be allowed to change into whatever clothing you may have brought with you, such as pajamas.
10 Meeting The Nurses
Once you are in labor and have arrived at the hospital, you will likely have a team of nurses. There may be one nurse in particular who will be with you for the duration of your lovely delivery, but you may meet a few in the hours you will likely have before it comes time to meet your baby.
Your nurses will ask you some questions, including whether or not you wish to have any pain medication, like an epidural. They will do their best to grant any wish you have (but sorry, no food!). The nurses that have you under their care are very capable. You will be seeing more of them than you will your doctor. And if need be, they are more than capable of delivering your baby!
9 Heart A Flutter
Once labor has begun and you have arrived at the hospital and are wearing that lovely gown, it will be time to lie in bed and get strapped to a contraption. Things will be on your belly so that your labor and everything else can easily be monitored by your nurse and doctor.
One thing that will be monitored is your baby's heart rate. This is important. Baby needs to maintain a regular, normal heartbeat. If baby's heartbeat becomes irregular, that could signal he is in fetal distress. Clearly, no one wants that to happen, which is why heart rate is monitored. Your contractions will also be monitored, and you can watch them come and go, too! Just get ready for that needle to go crazy when an intense contraction begins.
8 To Be Or Not To Be
Going into labor is not always like it is in the movies. Chances are, your water will not break on its own. There will not be this sudden moment where a gush of water is released. Only about 30% of pregnant women have their water break on its own, and rarely is it a gush, it often just comes out in a trickle or something a bit more. But, again, every woman experiences something different, even from one pregnancy to another.
It is okay if your water does not break on its own. The doctor will be able to do it. This is not the most pleasant thing to have done, of course, but it will certainly get the ball rolling! Once your water breaks, your labor will ramp up and your contractions are likely to get much more intense and close together. Delivery is right around the corner!
7 Lady Bits Become Public Property
One thing that is certain to happen once labor has started is having a cervical check. Your doctor will periodically check to see how much you have dilated. She will also be monitoring the time it takes you to dilate. Once your water breaks, you are more susceptible to infections, so you do not want to have to wait too long to dilate completely. Once you dilate 10 centimeters, get ready!
It is important to be aware that labor can last a while. For some women, they will go to the hospital, have a cervical check and contractions monitored, only to be told to go home. If your contractions are still far apart and you have barely dilated, there is always a chance the hospital will tell you to come back later.
6 Deciding On Pain Management
Labor may not seem too bad at first. Then those contractions get stronger, more intense, and so close together you can barely catch your breath. You may want some kind of pain medication, more specifically, an epidural. It is wise to discuss having an epidural prior to going into labor so you have some sort of plan (but, remember, plans can always change!).
Having an epidural will take away a big portion of your pain, but not all. You will still feel sensations and pressures. Epidurals can effect women differently too, some claim it barely does anything. There should be no stigma to you deciding how to manage your pain. It does not hurt to get an epidural to help you get through your contractions. Do what you want, and what works for you. Because baby will be coming out either way!
5 It Will Go On For Hours
Are you worried about having your baby in the car? On the side of the highway? Rest assured, it is rare for labor to progress that quickly, especially if it is your first baby. Many new moms can give themselves anxiety thinking about these scenarios that are so unlikely to happen. Labor can take time, sometimes a long time. Your nurses and doctors will continue to check on you periodically as your labor progresses, no matter how slowly that is.
Especially if it is your first baby, you could be in labor for hours. Like ten or more hours, even. It may take you awhile to dilate and be ready for delivery. This is normal. It sucks at the time, but once you have your baby and time moves on, you will chuckle when you say you were in labor for 24 hours!
4 No Food For You
Once labor has begun, grab a quick bite before you head to the hospital. Once you are in active labor and are all hooked up (and also have an epidural if you wish), you will not be allowed to eat anything. Your stomach can be grumbling away, but you will not be allowed to eat, unfortunately. But no need to worry, once delivery begins you will forget all about food!
You cannot have food in hospitals, but do not deny your partner a bite to eat, especially if you are in labor for a long time. Just make sure they eat away from you and that you can't smell anything! It would be nice, too, of course, if they could bring you back some ice chips and a magazine to distract you from your hungry belly.
3 Baby May Pass Meconium
When labor has started, one thing that doctors will become concerned about is if your baby is passing meconium while still in the womb. You may have heard about meconium. It is your baby's first bowel movement. Basically, it is poop! But it is different because it contains amniotic fluid, mucous, and other things specifically from being in the womb.
You do not want your baby to pass meconium while in the womb. They are in danger of swallowing it which can cause problems. It may make your baby go into fetal distress. This is why it is important to head over to the hospital immediately after labor has begun. You will likely not have any feeling or know that your baby has passed meconium. A doctor needs to examine you to determine that.
2 The Sensation To Push
As your labor progresses, which will vary for each and every pregnant woman, you will eventually get the sensation to push. It is as if your body knows it is time. Some women describe this feeling like no other. Like your body is in control now. Your doctor will check to see if you have completely dilated, but chances are, if you feel the need to push, it is time.
A female body is made to handle labor and delivery. Once you have the sensation to push, your body will give you signals, and don't worry, so will your doctor! In the delivery room, your nurse is also there is guide you along and keep you as comfortable as possible. Just remember, there is a wonderful light at the end of your tunnel (a baby!).
1 The First Meeting
When labor begins it is only a matter of time before you get to finally meet your baby. You have been carrying her around for nine long months. It seems like such as long time, too, until it is actually time to have the baby! Then you look back and you feel like it all passed in the blink of an eye.
Getting through labor and delivery can be difficult. It may be quite the process, or be easier than you thought. But once you go into labor, try to not panic. Know that there is time. Make your way to the hospital and remember to keep your eye on the prize. If you get nervous or things really hurt, remember it will all be worth it in the end when you have your brand new baby!
Source: What To Expect