There are countless amounts of information out there detailing how to prepare for your baby but they don’t tell you everything you can expect once you get to the hospital. Below is a list of 10 things they don’t tell you about labor & delivery:
Also see what my labor and delivery experiences were like here.
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1. Monitors, IV/Fluids, Vitals & more
You will be hooked up to a contraction monitor and fetal heart rate monitor. These monitors are secured through a belly band and often need to be readjusted throughout labor. In addition, you will receive fluids through an IV and it’s likely your IV will remain in for several hours after giving birth. You will also have your blood drawn and vitals checked throughout labor and after delivery. This is rather obvious but it’s things you don’t really think about until the time comes.
2. You cannot eat anything
Once you arrive at the hospital you no longer can eat anything. However, you are allowed popsicles, jello, ice chips, and clear juice. Labor can last a long time so you WILL be hungry. Make sure to pack lots of snacks because you will want something quick once you can eat again. Also see “What you ACTUALLY need in your Hospital Bag.”
3. Epidural Shakes
If you get an epidural you may shake like you are shivering. It will come and go but it is not harmful to you or baby it is merely your body’s natural reaction to the epidural.
4. Nurses do the work
Let me just say this right off the bat – the nurses are amazing! They will guide you every step of the way and make sure your labor progresses smoothly. You will not see your doctor often. They might come and check to see how things are progressing but you won’t see them until you are pushing. You may even push for awhile without the doctor present. After delivery, the nurses will help you go to the bathroom, get anything you need and take the baby to the nursery so you can get some much needed sleep. I was quite surprised at how little I saw my doctor when I had my first baby.
5. Many people will see you naked
You’ll have nurses, techs, students, doctors, cleaning staff and more all coming and going throughout your labor and delivery. Even after delivery you may be mid getting up to go to the bathroom or in the middle of breastfeeding. It was an adjustment to having my breasts out but eventually you realize it is easier not to care how you look.
6. Bleeding after delivery
You will bleed A LOT after delivery and continue to do so for 4-5 weeks. For the first few hours after delivery the nurses will push on your stomach to get any clots out which can be uncomfortable. Additionally, you will go through multiple giant pads and have to wear large cotton underwear – which are so comfortable by the way. You can bring home any extras you may need so don’t be shy! You can also purchase similar ones like these.
7. Pain in the butt…literally
It’s likely your butt will hurt and it will be difficult to sit for awhile. If you didn’t already have hemorrhoids from pregnancy you can also get them from pushing but don’t worry these will clear up too. See “The Ultimate list of Postpartum Must Haves” for help with this.
8. You’ll breastfeed shortly after delivery
When I had my first I was caught off guard at how fast after delivery I was told to breastfeed – that is if you are choosing to do so no judgement here! I mean hey I had just went through 14 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing and now I have to attempt to breastfeed… Eventually I came to terms with the fact that everything would be very new and quite the learning experience.
9. Newborn Screens
I don’t remember my doctor or anyone mentioning the care that happens for a newborn after delivery. I was only told to select a pediatrician. Newborns will receive several blood tests, a hearing screen and a pediatrician will visit to make sure everything looks good.
10. Learn as you go
This is true whether you are having your first baby or your third. What might work for some babies won’t at all for others. Caring for a newborn is not easy but you will get the hang of it. The best thing you can do is go with the flow and enjoy those precious moments with your newborn.
I hope this list of 10 things they don’t tell you about labor and delivery will help you feel more prepared for what is to come. However, please note that hospitals have different procedures and every labor and delivery is different so you may not experience what is listed above but is meant to inform you of what you might expect from my own personal experiences.