Delivering a baby is the biggest, most important, most intimidating thing you might ever do. If you’re a newbie at it (and even if you’re not) there are a few things you can do to help the day (or night) go more smoothly. And since I’m gearing up to have a third go at it in July, it’s good for me to go back over it. Here are some tips based on my personal experience with my two kiddos.
1. The Hospital Bag. This can be as important as you make it. Here’s my experience: I packed too much for EK. I packed too much for J. I’m considering not packing one this time. Ha! I’m kidding, but a little bit serious. I haven’t ever showered at the hospital (how much nicer is your shower at home, right?) so I haven’t used anything but the toothbrush, chapstick, and my glasses (I typically wear contacts) in the toiletries department. I wore a light robe, nursing tank, and stretchy shorts (think high school basketball shorts) when I got to my room. I used the hospital’s everything for the baby: diapers, wipes, nose sucker (what’s that thing even called, am I right?), blankets (with the exception of a muslin swaddle I brought), and hat. Everything is kinda covered in new baby fluids (read: pee, meconium, spit up, colostrum, etc.) so you don’t truly need an outfit until the “going home outfit” you picked out. Speaking of that outfit… if you’re like me and you have big babies, or if you don’t know what you’ll get because it’s your first, then pick one in newborn size and one in three month size. J couldn’t fit in most of his newborn clothes even though he was just hours old. Because hospital food is “eh” and nursing burns one million calories an hour, I packed a few non-perishable snacks (Luna bars/Larabars, crackers, etc) and bottles of water, my pillow, and my laptop. This is crucial because I want to stream Netflix while I’m not sleeping, am I right? And one last thing: pack an empty bag inside your bag so you can fill it up with hospital freebies like diapers, wipes, maxi pads, nose sucker, etc. They’ll give you more of all of those before you head out.
2. The car seat. I know, this seems like a no-brainer, but go ahead and install it in your car. That way, you don’t have to think about it when your water breaks. It won’t even be on the radar. And you don’t want to be reading the manual to figure out what LATCH is sitting in the hospital parking lot. (Side note: neither does your partner.)
3. Ask for all the drinks and ice you want while you’re in labor. For me, I was excited beyond belief by the perfectly crunchy pellet ice at my hospital, and the fact that I could drink Coca-Cola up until I started pushing. Someone (I’m sorry, dear nurses) would come by to… ahem… empty my bladder whenever I was feeling like I needed to go. And as dry as the hospital is, I was drinking a ton.
4. It’s gonna be messy. For me, it wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard it could be, but either way you and whoever else attends the actual birth will probably get sweaty at the very least. The lights are bright, the tension can be high, and at least one of you is working! You’re probably wearing a hospital gown, but bring a change of clothes for Daddy, too, because it could get a little messy. Especially if you’re like I was with your first, and you’re a little nervous to be there by yourself and you’d like him to stay with you.
5. Rest. Don’t try to do too much during your hospital stay. Keep to the bed as best you can, especially the first few hours. I know that after having J, I popped up, my adrenaline kicked in, and I wanted to go, go, go. But if you have an epidural, or if you have some tearing (It’s okay! I tore and I lived through it!) you’ll not want to overestimate yourself. The first three or four times you need to go to the bathroom, use someone (Dad, nurse, anyone!) to help you to and from the toilet. You may be a little lightheaded.
6. Make sure you actually need to go to the hospital in the first place. Always call your doctor before you head to the hospital. I’ve had several friends with “false” labor and “pre” labor who show up at the hospital and get sent home, or sent to the mall to walk, or whatever. Your contractions have to be pretty long and pretty close together before they’ll want to keep you, and even then if you aren’t dilated at all, they might still send you away. That being said, if your water breaks, GO!
7. Get on the same page with Daddy before you start labor. It’s always nice to know what he’s up for and what he isn’t. Some dads don’t want to see it all happen, and in the heat of the moment isn’t a good time to find out. Ask him beforehand whether he’d like to sit by your head and hold your hand, or if he’d like to be a more in-depth part of what’s going on. If he’s gonna hit the floor at the sight of blood, maybe holding your hand (or the waiting room, ha!) is the best place. Hubby and I didn’t talk about it before, but he ended up being a big part of my having a successful labor/delivery with EK, and so he was very involved again the second time. Bless him for not knowing how much of a part until the actual day. Give your Dad the choice and a heads up – just because it’s a nice thing to do.
8. Do those Kegels! It’s never too late. Any amount of Kegels is better than zero. I think it also helps you learn how to push. A cousin of mine told me that during her first child’s delivery, she pushed the wrong way for over an hour. Talk about a lot of effort and pain for no gain. Kegels help you familiarize yourself with the muscles you’ll be using to have the baby, in addition to their normal benefits (getting back to normal more quickly, etc).
Well, there are eight of my most helpful tips for preparing for your delivery! If you’re expecting, good luck with your pregnancy, labor and delivery! If you aren’t, log this for when you are – it might help you out! If you’ve been through it once, or twice, or many times, do you have anything to add?