For a lot of moms, the planning for baby's arrival begins with the first pink lines on a pregnancy test. But even with all the shopping, Googling, garnering advice from other moms, learning how to assemble all kinds of complex furniture (or, at least, it seems that way), and doing everything in their power to get "ready," most moms forget one important thing: the actual delivery.
Sure, there are birthing classes and books to read, but what about where they're going to deliver? For moms who either want or have no other option but to have a hospital birth, there's so much that's unknown.
And beyond administering tests and performing regular checkups on the mom and the baby, some doctors stay mum! Rather than freaking new moms out with all kinds of stories or admonitions about the hospital, docs just don't say anything.
This means that when it comes time for mom's trek to the hospital to give birth, she might be a bit miffed about the processes and procedures that might happen. Of course, moms who have been there before have some idea of what to expect.
Therefore, here are 20 things the doctors might not warn moms about, but which experienced moms have learned firsthand.
20 They Bill For Just About Everything…
That exam table cover she's sitting on? Yep, that'll be on the itemized bill. At least in the US, where insurance coverage is likely the biggest expense for a growing family, every little thing the doctors and nurses use winds up on an itemized list of expenses.
From the delivery itself (which can total thousands if not more) to the room and board fees, it's all on there. Of course, most families have insurance which pays most, if not all, of it, but it's still a frustrating thing to deal with when it comes in the mail. Especially if you're billed for something you never saw while in the hospital!
19 …Even The Things We Don’t Wind Up Using
When I had my first child, the nurses literally taped labels on the bathroom door to track what they gave me. Their notations included witch hazel pads for after the birth, a laxative pill that I never took, and even feminine products! Nice to know that the hospital is getting its money's worth per birth, at least. But it's true that even if you don't necessarily use the things they 'give' you, they still may charge.
After all, even though I didn't receive the Pitocin that leaked out (it wasn't properly secured in my IV!), someone had to pay for the floor's dose!
18 There Are Things Moms Can’t Say No To
Most birthing facilities are all about empowering moms these days — as they should be. But there are some things that are often overlooked as being "necessities" to hospitals. However, moms might not agree. For example, many hospitals mandate hearing tests on all newborns. Sure, we all want our babies to have good hearing, but it's usually something parents can have checked later on if they prioritize uninterrupted bonding time with their new babe in the first few hours.
The same goes for newborn heel pricks and other tests and recommended courses of action, treatment, or prevention. And in some cases, if parents refuse, the hospital can either deny care and discharge them, or contact the authorities if they have reason to believe there's a bigger issue at hand.
17 There Are No Guarantees On The Room You Get
It's nice that a lot of hospitals these days have practically become birth centers in their own right. It's not surprising to find a birthing tub in a hospital delivery room, for example, or an exercise ball to bounce on during contractions. The thing is, not all amenities are available at all times.
Some hospitals have a limited number of birth tub rooms, plus there are hospitals that will let mama labor in a tub, but they'll require that she gets back in bed for the baby to be born. What most doctors don't tell us is that it all depends on when we go into labor and what rooms and facilities are available.
16 You Get Whatever Doc Is On Duty
There are doctors, bless their hearts, who remain on-call for their patients no matter the time of day or if they had a vacation planned. But for the most part? A mom who goes into labor will get whatever professional is available at the time. Doctors (and midwives) usually have a set schedule of L&D rotations, so you might not get your favorite birth attendant after all.
Of course, this is something moms can always ask about beforehand, but it's not something doctors will willingly tell us. But sometimes, it is truly personal, and a birthing mama wants who she wants!
15 Nurses Have More Power Than We Think
No, we don't mean that they have the ability to push moms around — although some nurses take advantage of their "power" (and we don't like those types!). What we mean is that nurses are the ones who manage your moment-by-moment care. If there's an emergency situation, the nurses respond first. Plus, you'll see a whole lot more of them than you will your OB, even if they're on shift when you deliver.
Essentially, nurses have the power to care for you and the baby, help out with nursing, get you the necessary supplies, and even swipe a sandwich even though the cafeteria is already closed. In short, they're many a mama's savior post-delivery!
14 Hospitals Are Germier Than Home
Hospitals are known for being sanitary, right? We go there for surgery, expecting clean instruments and surfaces, and we birth our vulnerable babies there. But is it really as clean as we think? In short, the answer to that question is no, no they're not — at least according to an article by CBS News.
One writer reported that 65 percent of physicians admitted to not washing their lab coats in at least a week. Plus, one study by John Hopkins Hospital highlighted that 26 percent of hospital supply cabinets contained one particular dangerous bacterium (and other germs). Ew, right? And those yucky little stats were not in the birth center brochure.
13 Testing Isn’t 100 Percent
As much as hospitals help many mamas feel safer during (and after) childbirth, that doesn't mean everyone is in the clear. Even though hospitals perform many routine tests on babies and their mamas and provide monitoring nearly 24/7, there are some issues that don't show up on newborn testing panels or basic exams.
There's also the possibility that ultrasounds can be way wrong — about not only the baby's size but other things like potential medical conditions or anatomical anomalies. In short, just because you're in a hospital, it doesn't mean doctors can take care of whatever issue might come up — but they won't tell you if they're unsure of something.
12 Sometimes Dads Can’t Stay
One of the best things about welcoming your first child is having your partner by your side. And sometimes, it can feel reassuring when you're hunkered down in the hospital, just the three of you, learning about each other and figuring things out.
Unfortunately, some hospitals have visitor policies that don't allow dads to camp out overnight. Yes, it's really unfair, and yes, it does happen. Even more common is hospital policies that bar siblings (or anyone else) from staying over. It's a little more understandable that hospitals don't want toddlers having sleepovers, but it's still a bit of a bummer.
11 Some Meds Have Side Effects
A hospital is the safest place to be when you're taking meds, that's for sure. But it can also be a place that incites issues in the first place. And although there is a long list of potential side effects for all birth interventions—from breaking a mom's water to giving her an epidural—doctors usually gloss over them.
After all, it's so routine to most medical professionals that they don't consider sharing with mamas that the epidural might make them itchy or cause other reactions, or that a med can make her stool lose (so she'll want to pass on the laxatives post-delivery!).
10 It’s Up To The Doc When You Leave
In general, the rule of thumb is that a mom who has had a typical delivery stays in the hospital for 24 hours. A mama who has a C-section usually must stay two days, if not more, but ultimately, it's the doctor's decision. So if a mom is up and around after her C-section and she's feeling great, her doctor might release her early.
The thing is, it's up to each individual doctor as to when you get to leave. Plus, depending on when the doctor or midwife makes their rounds, you might be waiting for a while for the formalities—paperwork and whatnot—even though there's no medical reason you can't leave.
9 Leave Early, And You Might Run Into Issues…
The alternative to waiting on a doctor to sign you out is to sign out AMA —"against medical advice." Of course, no doctor is willingly going to tell a parent this, but it's true! Basically, signing out AMA means you won't hold the doctor or facility liable if something bad happens to you as a result.
But signing out AMA is sometimes a problem, especially when it comes to parents signing out their newborns. Most hospitals won't like it if a parent checks out early with their newborn, especially if they don't see eye-to-eye on treatment while the parents are in residence.
8 …Like Missing Paperwork And More
While feuding with doctors or staff is one reason some families like to check out early, maybe you're just feeling great post-delivery and want to go home! Even if your doctor is on board with you leaving early, or you opt for AMA, it's possible that ditching out early can cause other problems.
In some cases, insurance companies might refuse to pay your hospital bill since you didn't follow the 'standard' of care (a longer stay). But your doctor probably won't approach it from that angle. Plus, the hospital might not do their "important" stuff—like getting the baby's birth certificate information—until a specific timeframe after birth.
7 Baby Isn’t Under Your OB’s Care
Although many birth professionals can care for both moms and babies postpartum (my midwife could!), in many hospitals, the baby's doctor will be different than their mom's. This means that not only do you need two signatures to be able to bust out of the hospital early, but you also have another person to deal with when it comes to making decisions.
So to get the go-ahead to go home, you'll need whatever pediatrician is on duty to sign off on your departure. And even if you've hand-picked a pediatrician for your tot, whoever is on the clock when he or she is born is the person who will sign all the paperwork and make any necessary decisions.
6 Staying In Bed Isn’t Always The Best Method Of Laboring
It might be the way things are done these days, but that doesn't mean that lying down while giving birth is the best practice. Since ancient times, women have been laboring and delivering their babies more upright, and it seems like gravity does a decent job of helping things out!
Of course, many hospitals will outright ban moms from getting out of bed at all, even if it's just to use the bathroom. And sure, it's probably more convenient for doctors or midwives to check their patients when they're lying down, but it's not conducive to a quick or comfortable delivery.
5 Delivery May Depend On Other Factors
I was pretty surprised when I checked into the hospital in active labor only to be told I had to have an ultrasound before they would prep me for delivery. Why? The hospital I had chosen had a policy that moms with breech babies would not be able to labor 'naturally.' A breech baby at hospital registration meant an automatic C-section.
Imagine my nerves upon hearing that, when I'd never been told that by my doctor, midwife, or anyone else! Fortunately, I wound up getting the birth I wanted, but it's definitely worth reading the fine print (or bugging your doctor) to find out beforehand what the hospital's policies are about breech babies!
4 The Nursery Might Not Be Available
These days, most moms prefer to keep their babies in-room with them. We're no longer in the "olden days" when moms gave birth under twilight anesthesia and woke up to find out they were the mom of a bouncing baby girl! But that doesn't mean hospitals don't still offer nurseries for mamas to get a break.
However, some hospitals don't. Many hospitals no longer maintain nurseries at all for their newborns, even if they might have NICU services for babies who truly need it. Nope, in most cases, hospitals practically force moms to room-in with their babies, so if a mama doesn't want that, she'll need to do more than take her doctor's word for it about the postpartum accommodations.
3 Occasionally The Tests Aren’t Enough
One of the things that's most annoying about being in the hospital after having a baby is getting bugged about tests and stuff! After all, we just want to cuddle our newborns! But yes, many of the newborn exams and tests are helpful for checking on potentially harmful conditions.
That said, sometimes the tests get contaminated or materials are lost, and then the nurse comes knocking again with another doctor's order for more sample material, which means another prick or poke. Of course, doctors don't usually highlight that they might need multiple tries to obtain the test sample they need.
2 Meals Are According To Schedule
That whole being exhausted once you become a mom thing is no joke! Labor is definitely labor, so you'll likely be super tired after delivering your little bundle. You'll also likely be starving! But the thing about both of those conditions is that you're at the mercy of the hospital when it comes to getting some rest and getting a snack.
Meals are usually at set times, which can mess with your sleep since breakfast is often an early wakeup call. Plus, the food service might shut down after dinner, so if you have a hankering for a midnight snack, you'd better hope your hubby or your rockstar nurse have access to provisions!
1 Things Will Get Harder When You Go Home!
In comparison to lying in a hospital bed and having nurses bring the baby to you or having your partner deliver coffee, going home will be a bit more intimidating. Yes, you did just work really hard to bring a baby into the world, and yes, you deserve some FB scrolling and Starbucks time...
But at home, you'll have to fetch your own coffee and ice water, waddle to the bathroom and manage your mesh undies yourself, plus change your own sheets and juggle the baby while doing so. It's part of the reason why new moms are so stressed, right? But it's also the start of an amazing new life — once you get past the unexpected stuff that happens in the hospital, and beyond!