The big day. It is a little scary. But, as they say, with little bit of work here and there, you should be well prepared. We've already looked at what you can do to help you have a healthy and happy pregnancy. Now, let’s look at what you can do to get ready for the birth of your baby:
- Pre-register with hospital
- Attend educational courses
- Choose a pediatrician
- Finalize cord blood banking enrollment
- Obtain and install car seat
- Learn more about breastfeeding
- Discuss circumcision
Pre-register with the Hospital
In order to expedite your admission to the hospital, you will want to pre-register for your pregnancy. When you go into labor, you will be admitted directly to the maternity floor, without going through the admitting office.
Attend Educational Courses
There are educational courses on labor and delivery, breastfeeding, baby care and infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) available. Consider these classes especially if you are a first-time parent.
Choose a Pediatrician
You will need to decide on a doctor for your baby before you deliver. You will need to contact the doctor’s office prior to delivery to make sure they accept your insurance and are taking new patients.
Finalize Your Cord Blood Banking Enrollment
If you decide you want to store your baby’s cord blood, you will want to make sure you have chosen the best cord blood bank and completed the enrollment process. You also will want to take the collection kit from the bank with you to the hospital.
Obtain and Install a Car Seat
You must have a car seat installed in your vehicle before taking your baby home. By law, children must be in a federally approved, properly installed, crash-tested car seat for every car trip—beginning with the trip home from the hospital.
Learn More About Breastfeeding
Breast milk is nature's perfectly designed food for babies. Babies who are breastfed get fewer infections and are hospitalized less often. Mothers that breastfeed burn 500 calories a day, which can aid in the loss of extra weight and reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. After delivery, the nurses and a lactation specialist are normally there to help you learn how to breastfeed.
A circumcision is the removal of excess foreskin from the penis of baby boys. It may help reduce infections and penis cancer. Please let your provider know if you would like to schedule a circumcision.
It is advisable to have the hospital bag ready at 36 weeks with the following:
Packing checklist for hospital
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer, facelotion, some make-up for after delivery, etc.)
- Hairbrush, hair clips and hair bands
- 2–3 pairs of night gowns or PJs. Pajamas with front buttons are good for breast-feeding
- Favorite brand of maxi-pads, but the hospital will provide ones that are fine
- Lanolin cream for sore nipples
- Antibacterial hand gel. Have your guest use it or wash their hands before they hold your baby. (Advise them to stay away if sick.)
- 5 changes of underwear
- Nursing Bra (2)
- Going home outfit (could be a nice, comfy set or a workout outfit; keep in mind you will still have a tummy!)
- Infant car seat already in place and ready to go—No hospital will let you take the baby home without a properly installed carseat
- Paper/pen to keep a list of "thank you" notes for visitors who brought presents
- List of phone numbers and email addresses to call/email family members
- CD player with CDs (or iPod with player) of restful relaxing music to play in the delivery room
- Cellphone charger
- Glasses/contact lens
- Leave all your jewelry at home
- Diversions for labor: playing cards, magazines
- Favorite hand lotions or massage lotions for labor if desired
- Birthing ball if going all-natural or any natural birthing aid
- Your favorite pillow and blanket! Hospitals are usually cold
- Socks, slippers. Do not take shoes you need to tie
- If you are banking cord blood, don’t forget your kit. Do not store it in your car
Baby clothes/supplies checklist
- Onesies (2–3)
- Infant care kit
- Mittens and booties or socks
- Receiving blankets (2–3)
- Going home outfit
- Pacifier (optional)
- Outfit for hospital picture
The Big Day: Labor and Delivery
As labor begins, the cervix opens (dilates). The uterus, which contains muscle, contracts at regular intervals. When it contracts, the abdomen becomes hard. Between the contractions, the uterus relaxes and becomes soft. Up to the start of labor and during early labor, the baby will continue to move.
When you go into labor, you will want to call your doctor to discuss when it is time to go to the hospital. The doctor who performs the delivery may be one of the doctors in the practice you have been seeing but not necessarily your primary doctor. Your doctor will give you individual guidelines as to when to call. The guidelines will depend upon where you live and how fast your labor is expected to proceed. In general, however, call when your contractions have been five minutes apart for one hour, your water breaks, or you have vaginal bleeding that is more than spotting. If you lose your mucous plug (thick mucus discharge) you do NOT need to call. If you are more than three weeks before your due date and your water breaks or you have evidence of regular labor, call your doctor immediately.
When you arrive in triage and if you are banking your baby’s cord blood, make sure you inform them in labor and delivery.
Once you are admitted to the labor-and-delivery unit, you can expect the following:
- You'll receive an intravenous therapy (IV) or a heplock (a capped off IV).
- Your baby’s heart rate and your contractions will be monitored.
- Your bag of water will usually be broken if it has not already happened on its own.
- You may receive Pitocin if your contractions are not strong enough or frequent enough.
- You may receive pain medication if desired.
Scheduled Cesarean Section
If you and your provider have decided to schedule a c-section prior to labor, it is important to register at the hospital as soon as possible. You will be given a date and time for your delivery at your next office visit or receive a telephone call with this information from a triage nurse.
You may be required to go to the hospital the day before your scheduled c-section to have blood drawn if you are Rh negative, have placenta previa or have had a prior myomectomy. If you are unsure if this is necessary for you, please ask your doctor. Failure to complete this could result in your c-section getting delayed or canceled. The day of your c-section, do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours (no gum, hard candy or water). Plan to arrive at the triage unit two hours prior to your scheduled surgery time.
Episiotomy is an incision made in the muscular area between the vagina and the anus to enlarge the vaginal opening. Episiotomies are not routinely needed and many deliver without the need for any stitches. Sometimes doctors need to make a small incision at the vaginal opening to help deliver. They will make sure you are numb, if you don’t have an epidural, and will stitch the area after delivery. The stitches dissolve over time and do not need to be removed. They can also provide you with medicine to keep you comfortable after delivery. Vacuums and forceps may also be utilized to aid delivery and may be recommended if medically needed.
Anesthesia consultations are available for the patient and anesthesiologist to discuss the use of analgesia/anesthesia in labor and delivery.
How Long Will I Be in the Hospital After My Delivery?
If you have a normal, uncomplicated labor, delivery and postpartum course, you will usually go home between 24 and 48 hours after delivery. The hospital length of stay is often dictated by your insurance company. It is your responsibility to know the length of hospital coverage your insurance provides before you deliver. In the event of any complications, a longer stay may be indicated and your physician will discuss this with you at that time. Make sure you notify your insurance company of your admission to the hospital as soon as possible. Routine length of stay after a cesarean section is 3–4 days.