Once you’ve established that you are experiencing real, regular contractions, you can head over to Labor and Delivery. Here is a basic outline of what you can expect when you arrive:
- A nurse will check your cervix for dilation, if your dilation progresses, you will be admitted to Labor and Delivery
- You will fill out all medical forms and answer health and previous delivery history questions, etc.
- You will be given a birthing gown to change into, start an IV of fluids, and fetal monitors will be placed on your belly to monitor your baby’s heart rate and your contractions. You will have your vitals and blood pressure checked.
- You may discuss your goals and preferences for delivery (your birth plan, method of pain relief, etc.).
- At this point you will likely not be able to eat anything and will be offered flavored ice chips.
- Pitocin IV will be administered.
- If your water has not broken naturally (this only occurs in 1 out of 10 women) your doctor will break your water for you. This is not painful.
- If you are planning to receive an epidural, it will be requested at this time, and a catheter will be placed beforehand.
- Labor and Delivery is a locked down unit. You and your partner will be given wristbands that are scanned whenever you enter or leave. Your baby will be given a matching band around his or her ankle after birth.
STAGES OF LABOR
On average, first time mothers will be in labor for 12-18 hours.
Repeat deliveries average 6-8 hours
Early: 0-3 cm. (Progress ½ to 1 cm/hr, can take 6 hours)
Active: 4-7 cm. 1 cm/hr (3 hrs)
Transition: 8-10 cm. (1-2 hrs)
Pushing (1-2 hrs)
Delivery of placenta (30 minutes)
AFTER BIRTH: A lot will happen in the first few minutes after birth. Here is a brief outline of what you can expect as you greet your baby for the first time:
- Cutting of cord: Someone, usually your partner, will cut your baby’s umbilical cord. A small clamp will be placed on the small part of the cord still attached to your baby. This is will dry up and fall off in a couple of weeks.
- Vitals: Your labor and delivery nurses will stimulate your baby, clear his or her air passageways with a bulb syringe and place him or her on your chest. Your baby will be given an APGAR score at this time, which is a way of measuring key indicators of your baby’s health.
- Skin to skin: Many women will hold their babies for the first time on their bare chest. This skin to skin contact stimulates bonding, and your baby’s instincts to nurse. During this time you may try to breastfeed your baby for the first time. After a period of time with you baby, his or her weight and length and measurements will be taken.
RECOVERY: Shortly after delivery you will be moved from the labor and delivery unit to a recovery room. You will likely stay for 1-3 days where you and your baby will be under observation and care by your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician. You will be given instructions for caring for your healing body, help with breastfeeding, and will be able to use this important time to rest and bond with your baby.