No matter how many doctors’ visits you’ve had, videos you’ve watched or classes you’ve taken, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. Every pregnancy and delivery are different and it’s important to be prepared. The BirthPlace at Conway Medical Center is giving you a quick rundown of what you can expect.
How do I know when I’m in labor?
Certain signs signal that labor is starting or that you’re in labor. Not everyone experiences or notices all of them. They may include:
- Your water breaks: This is when your amniotic sac (the sac filled with fluid that surrounds your baby in your womb) breaks or leaks. You’ll experience a gush of liquid (amniotic fluid) or constant trickle out of your vagina. This experience occurs for only one in ten women.
- Your contractions get stronger and closer together: While your water may not break, you can’t ignore contractions. Labor contractions are strong, frequent and long lasting and will happen more regularly and frequently as you get closer to giving birth. When they are consistently five minutes apart, it’s time to call your doctor.
When to go to the hospital
Most hospitals recommend that you go to the labor and delivery ward when you’re experiencing regular contractions that are 5-10 minutes apart and last for 30-60 seconds. You may also want to go to the hospital if you have any of the following signs:
- Your water has broken
- You’re experiencing vaginal bleeding
- You have severe abdominal pain
- You have a fever
- You’re not feeling your baby move as much as usual
What happens when you arrive at the hospital
When you arrive at Conway Medical Center, you’ll check in at Patient Services and complete some paperwork. Pre-admission forms may be available from your doctor or midwife. These forms are not required, but completing them could save time once you get to the hospital.
You’ll be asked about your medical history, your pregnancy, and your labor symptoms. The nurse will also check your vital signs, listen to your baby’s heart rate, and perform a cervical exam.
If you’re in active labor, you’ll be admitted to a labor room. This is where you’ll spend the rest of your labor and give birth. Labor rooms typically have a bed, a chair for a guest, and monitoring equipment.
Once you’re in a labor room, your nurse will monitor your contractions and your baby’s heart rate. They will also provide you with support and pain relief as needed.
There are many different pain relief options available during labor, including medication, epidurals, and non-pharmacological methods such as massage and aromatherapy. You can discuss your pain relief options with your doctor or midwife before you give birth.
The birthing experience is a special one and wanting to share it with your family is only natural. At The BirthPlace at Conway Medical Center, you can have up to three support people with you while giving birth, however, the nurse responsible for your care may need to limit this number. Other friends and family members may stay in The BirthPlace waiting room. Visitation can vary from one facility to the next so make sure to ask about any limitations they may have so you can inform your friends and family before your arrival.
When it’s time to give birth, you’ll be positioned in a comfortable way in bed. Your nurses and your doctor or midwife will guide you through the pushing process.
You will be able to hold your baby skin-to-skin immediately after birth as long as you and your infant are medically stable. We encourage one hour of skin-to-skin bonding after birth.
Security is important at Conway Medical Center so as soon as your baby is born, identification bracelets will be placed on you and your infant and a security tag will be affixed to your baby’s ankle.
After giving birth
After giving birth, mothers who have had normal deliveries will spend two hours recovering in the labor and delivery suite. This will give you the opportunity to breastfeed and enjoy skin to skin time with your baby. If you had a vaginal delivery, you’ll be stitched up and be monitored for any complications.
Your baby’s weight will be obtained after completion of the “Golden Hour” to ensure bonding and breastfeeding kicks off to a great start. Following the assessment of your newborn by the nursery staff, a set of footprints will be obtained and placed on a complimentary souvenir sheet for you to keep.
After the recovery period, you will be transferred to your assigned room in The BirthPlace. You and your baby will typically stay in the hospital for 2-3 days after giving birth. This time is used to recover from childbirth and to learn how to care for your new baby. A lactation consultant or your nurse will be on hand to assist you with breastfeeding.
During your hospital stay, you and your baby will be “rooming-in” unless medically unstable or during times of newborn testing. Rooming-in promotes breastfeeding, bonding, and helps you to learn your newborn’s needs. Our nursing staff will assist you should you have any questions or concerns.
Tips for giving birth at a hospital
Giving birth at a hospital can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. Here are some tips to help you prepare for and manage your labor and delivery:
- Discuss your birth plan with your doctor or midwife before you give birth This will help to ensure that your wishes are respected during labor and childbirth.
- Bring a support person to the hospital with you This could be your partner, a friend, or a family member. They can provide you with emotional support and help you to make decisions during labor.
- Ask questions and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself You have a right to know what is happening and to participate in the decision-making process.
- Pack your bags Pack everything you and your baby will need for your hospital stay, including comfortable clothes, toiletries, snacks, and drinks. You may also want to pack a few things for your support person, such as a pillow, blanket, and snacks.
- Listen to your body Labor and delivery can be a long and unpredictable process. It’s important to listen to your body and do what feels right for you. If you need to change positions, take a break, or ask for help, don’t be afraid to do so.
- Relax and enjoy the experience Giving birth is a miracle, and it’s a time to celebrate.
Remember, every birth is different. There is no right or wrong way to give birth. The most important thing is to do what is right for you and your baby.
The Answers to All Your Questions
The BirthPlace at Conway Medical Center is committed to making your delivery experience as positive as possible. Learn more about how you can make your delivery smooth and stress-free with our hospital bag checklist or sign up for childbirth class or breastfeeding class at Conway Medical Center. If you want to discuss your delivery with an expert, request an appointment with an OB/GYN at CMC Women’s Health.