Giving birth to a newborn baby is just as exciting as it is frightening for many moms. After all, there is so much going on at one and throughout the entire process, almost every mom thinks the same thing: all she wants is to make sure her baby is safe, healthy, and in her arms. But before she can even get to that point, there are plenty of things that a first-time mom will most likely experience. Not every hospital is the same, just like there are no two birth experiences that are alike. That’s why moms are advised to be as prepared as possible before that first contraction hits.
Now, that’s not to say that a new mom will be left disturbed by what she sees in the labor and delivery room. But she might get a few side-eyes from the nursing staff for the Chick-Fil-A she keeps ordering in between her hospital meals.
With that being said, here are 20 things every new mama probably didn’t know prior to stepping inside the hospital. Sure, mama may have gotten the tour, took all the classes, and checked off all the boxes before leaving the house, but there are a few things that might end up surprising her. Take a look at our list below to see what we mean!
20 Don’t Expect Luxury
First and foremost, don’t expect your hospital stay to look like a Four Seasons vacation straight out of your IG feed. Because guess what: it’s not going to happen. A hospital is nothing like a luxury hotel and truth be told, it shouldn’t be one, either. You are not there to relax. You are there to give birth to a precious little baby who you will later on in life describe as the best accomplishment of your life. You are there to push until you can’t take it anymore, and then love that baby until your heart is completely full.
19 Don’t Expect Your Nurse To Babysit Your Other Kids
With the above being said, don’t expect your nurse to help you take social media pics of your newborn or your kids. Sure, a pic of the entire family is nice, but your nurse is not your personal or even a professional photographer. That’s not part of his or her official job description and it shouldn’t be, either. Nurses are there to help bring lives into this world and in some instances, save lives. They are busy. They are always on their feet. There are people in the hospital that truly need them. Do everyone a favor and ask the flower delivery guy to take your baby’s pics instead.
18 There’s A Hospital Birth Culture You Should Be Made Aware Of
Believe it or not, there’s a hospital birth culture that you should be made aware of, and well before your first contraction hits. In other words, prepare yourself for everything, including the unexpected. Know your rights. Know what you are allowed to bring in your hospital bag, and what you shouldn’t bring. Know what you are getting in to and what might happen, should things go wrong. Have an emergency contact ready for you at all times.
"Remember that you have rights as a patient and that you make decisions for you and your baby," points out Shelly Lopez-Gray, a certified registered nurse in Houston, and Adventures of a Labor Nurse blogger.
17 No One Wants To Smell Your Olive Garden Take Out Down The Hall
Here’s something else that a lot of hospital staff won’t tell you, but will expect you to know: you can’t and you shouldn’t eat anything several hours before you give birth. If you find yourself craving a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and fries, too bad. Plus, no one wants to smell your Olive Garden dinner down the hall at the hospital. Fox News writes “Once you’ve received meds or an epidural, you won’t be allowed to eat, since there’s a small chance you could aspirate food or liquid into your lungs if you have a cesarean section and need to be intubated.”
16 Don't Expect Any Hospital Amenities
After a mother and baby come home from the hospital, a lot of first-time parents are literally dumbfounded to find out that all of those hospital amenities weren’t really amenities.
As a matter of fact, many moms can’t believe that the Tylenol they requested from the nurses actually set them back $70 (before your insurance policy kicks in, that is). Hospitals aren’t facilities that are in the business to wine and dine you. Sure, you can kick your feet up and relax, but prepare to pay for it, too. And yes, those rates are sky-rocket high. Make sure you’ve read up on your insurance policy before making your hospital arrangements.
15 There’s A Delivery Mirror You Might Not Know About
Believe it or not, many hospital rooms come equipped with a delivery mirror so you can check out all of the action that is going on “down there” in real time. But if you don’t ask for one, you might not get it. Before your water breaks or your contractions come in full force, do a once over of your room or ask for a tour of the labor and delivery wing by one of your nurses. You’d be surprised to find out that there are some well-hidden amenities that no one tells you about. That’s not to say that every mom wants to see the action down there, but it’s nice to have options.
14 Your Nurses Would Like A Little Appreciation, Too
If there’s one thing that a lot of moms don’t realize during their hospital stay is that their nurse would like a little appreciation, too. After all, they will be there by your side from the beginning until the end. Even though doctors are the ones who get all of the credit, nurses sometimes work just as hard or even harder than your OB.
A mom named Kate told Motherly, “One thing I didn’t expect was how important the nurses were vs. my doctor during the labor and birth process. I loved my OB and she was super important during my whole pregnancy, but it was really the nurses who took care of me that got me through it.”
13 Hospitals Are No Place For Newborn Photo Sessions
While a lot of people like to and even prepare their child’s photo sessions before the birth of their baby, truth be told, hospitals are no place for a newborn photo session. It’s where babies are being born. It’s not a fashion studio, for crying out loud. No one is going to say this to you, but you would be better off taking those newborn portraits at a real, professional studio or in the comfort of your own home. However, it’s been noted that for legal reasons, you won’t be able to videotape the birth. But once the baby is born, video, picture, and Facetime should be okay.
12 Not All Dads Practice Proper Hygiene Near Newborn Babies
A lot of people have seen this, but unless you are a nurse that acts like a hygiene cop (and there are plenty of nurses that do), nothing is ever said. Someone needs to tell the dads or the mom’s partners to wash their hands and dress appropriately before coming to the hospital, too. Sure, everyone understands that dads work hard and that they don’t have the time to change their clothes from their workplace to the hospital but in all honesty, they should. You don’t want to smell like a warehouse during the first time you hold your baby in your arms. And please, practice proper hygiene too, dads.
11 Visiting Time Is Great, But Don’t Overstay
Yes, we know that everyone wants to see the newest addition to the family while you are still at the hospital. And while visiting a newborn baby is great, don’t overstay. Hospitals are one of the busiest places you’ll ever come across.
Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California says, “If you wish to have more than one person in the delivery room, be sure to ask the hospital how many people are allowed to attend. Depending on the size of the room and the unique circumstances of your delivery, it may end up being a collaborative decision made between you, your partner and the doctors and nurses.”
10 You Might Experience Cultural Differences
For a lot of moms, the first time they step into the hospital to give birth might be the first time they’ve stepped into a hospital in a long time. And yes, things have changed in recent years. Some moms should come prepared, otherwise, they might experience some cultural differences. Chaunie Brusie of Babble writes, “You do have a say in your labor and delivery. Whether you have your eye on that room with the whirlpool tub or the nurse who delivered your neighbor’s sister’s friend, you are entitled to the birth you want. But you have to let us know.”
9 Not All Hospital Policies Are The Same
While there are no two birth experiences that are alike, there are no two hospitals that are alike, too. You might want to brush up on your hospital’s policies before check-in time. "Battling hospital policy during labor would be a distressing use of energy that is needed to birth," says Jennifer Williams, a certified nurse-midwife who works in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "For peace of mind, try to work out those details before labor. Remember that no one can make you do anything you don't want to do and you're always entitled to ask why for any procedure or policy."
8 No One Is Trying To Ruin Your Birth Experience
For many women, emotions are quite high, especially when they are both to give birth. And while it might seem like a lot of things are going wrong at once, know this: no one is trying to ruin your birth experience. And do know that not everything will go as planned. You need to be prepared for the negatives, just like you are most likely preparing for the best. Thankfully, moms have options. Fox News wrote, “Moms are more satisfied with their birthing experiences. Some hospitals offer doulas on staff while at others, you will need to hire an independent doula."
7 Yes, The Nurses Are Judging Your Selfie Game
Because so many people come in and out of hospitals on a daily basis, nurses have seen it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. And yes, they have seen many moms come unprepared and other moms that come overly prepared – including their entire makeup station for their selfie games. And in some cases, they might be judging you. Parents Magazine writes, “If you find yourself assigned to a nurse you don't jibe with, you're under no obligation to keep him or her as part of your birth team. You deserve to have people you like and trust in the room when your baby is born.”
6 No One Cares About How You Look Without Your Makeup On
With the above being said, do know that no one is judging you without your make up on. They also aren’t judging you if you failed to bring your overnight hospital bag, or if you don’t have your child’s first onesie to put on before going home or if you are completely freaked out about breastfeeding. Simply put, nurses don’t care! Their number one priority is to make you feel comfortable and to help you every step of the way. The rest will come in due time. A lot of moms will admit that nurses truly are heroes because when the going gets tough, they are always there to save the day.
5 Know That Nurses Are Just As Important As Your OBGYN
We’ve said this before and we will say it again: know that your nurses are just as important as your OBGYN. Without them, the job can’t get done. Be mindful, be respectful, and most of all, don’t be rude to your nurse. But with that said, do give your doctor a ring when you feel like you are ready, because the program won’t go on without them! You most certainly don’t want your doctor to schedule his or her cross-ocean cruise at the same time that you are due to give birth. In case that does happen, make sure you have a backup plan.
4 You Might Get Contractions After Giving Birth
Once the baby is out, a lot of moms assume that their job is done. But that’s not always true. There’s a good chance that you might get contractions even after giving birth. Hey, no one ever said that life was fair, right? If you feel that sharp pain near your abdomen, don’t freak out, but definitely do let your doctor know.
Michelle Sullivan of Babble writes, “You’re also not supposed to breathe through contractions anymore. Instead, you hold your breath through them, and focus all your strength in getting that baby out of your body. You breathe when you’re not contracting.”
3 Sharing A Room With Another Mom Might Suck
We’ve said this before, and yes we will repeat it again: your hospital room is not a private hotel room (unless you request a private suite). There’s a strong possibility that you might share a room with another expectant mom. Be prepared, in case it happens. Michelle Sullivan of Babble also puts it this way, “I’m a modest person by nature, and often get teased by friends about being prudish for various things. When we were in triage, I even asked the nurse to leave the room while I went to the bathroom because, even though there was a door, I knew that sound carried through and I didn’t want her to hear me pee.”
2 Your Partner Is Going To See Everything
If your partner chooses to be in the labor and delivery room with you, you can bet your bottom dollar that he or she will probably see everything that will happen, as it happens. You can sure as heck forget about protecting your modesty, so be mindful of who you choose to allow inside your room with you. Hannah Murphy of Romper writes, “There's a good chance that everyone is going to want to be by your side when you have your baby. That sort of support is awesome but if you don't feel comfortable sitting spread-eagle in front of your in-laws, feel free to ask them to give you some privacy.”
1 You Might Not Be Able To Tell Your Baby Apart From The Other Newborns
A lot of mothers admit that seeing their baby for the first time does feel like true love. And then there are those that admit they can’t tell their own baby apart from the others in the hospital. Hey, no need to be guilty about that! Most bald babies look alike, don’t they? That’s why you have to be particularly mindful, especially when it comes to hospital security. You don’t want to end up breastfeeding the wrong tot. Fox News writes, “After your baby is born, a security bracelet will be placed on your newborn’s ankle to protect him, but ask about other security measures the hospital takes as well.”
Source: PopSugar, Babble, Scary Mommy, Mom.me, WebMD