What to Expect When You’re Expecting TODAY: Practical Advice from Your Labor and Delivery Nurses
You have some incredibly caring and experienced nurses working in the Labor and Delivery unit at Troy Beaumont Hospital. I caught up with some of them to pick their brains for advice for you laboring moms. They are eager to share their wisdom and experience with you.
Talking to them, it is so obvious that they love what they do. They are passionate about assisting and empowering women through deliveries and treasure witnessing those first few moments after birth when parents and their babies fall in love. They work hard with you for your successes and they share in all your celebrations and tears. Theirs is a calling more than a vocation.
So, what advice do these L & D nurses, the people most in the ‘trenches,’ offer you?
Whether you’ve gone into labor at home or are coming in for a scheduled induction or C-section, this is what they most want you to know. Not in any particular order of importance.
- It’s OK to ask questions. It’s encouraged!. Part of their job is making sure you understand everything that is happening and are confident in the plan. The L & D nurses work closely with the MD’s and midwives and the anesthesia team and they will address all of your concerns.
- Be confident that you are in good hands. These nurses have assisted many women in deliveries and are there to help you through yours, too. They’ve seen just about everything, so you can rely on their knowledge and support completely.
- They have seen just about everything….so no need to apologize or to be embarrassed about anything that happens in the delivery room. What is awkward or ‘gross’ or new to you is routine to them. They are in the business of helping women have babies, so vaginas and all the fluids and substances related to birth are as familiar to them as an arm or leg is to you.
- Enjoy the first hour after delivery for just quiet bonding time as parents and baby. It’s a wonderful time to start establishing your bond and, if you are breast feeding, to initiate nursing while the baby is still wide awake and alert. They recommend having other family members visit after this first hour, and then always on your terms. As you recover after delivery, you’re allowed to dictate which and how many visitors can come see you and the baby.
- Expect the best and be prepared for everything. Being flexible and open-minded will make your birth that much easier.
- Delivering a baby involves a lot of fluid. Expect to leak vaginally. A lot. It’s just part of the deal. Remember that your baby is floating in a sac of fluid inside your uterus. After your water breaks, there will be a LOT of amniotic fluid and blood coming out. And it won’t stop with just one gush. There will be leaking with our contractions for the duration. Do not be alarmed. No one has floated away yet. 🙂
- Bring your own pillows! We never seem to have enough and they will make your stay more comfortable, so bring a stack and please make sure they have colorful/patterned pillow cases on them (the hospital issue ones are white and we don’t want to accidentally mix yours up)
- Bring your baby book! We’ll put the baby’s footprint right in the pages while we’re doing the legal records and all that. But, no, sadly we cannot do the baby’s handprint since that tiny paw will then bunch up into a fist and go straight into his/her mouth for an inky sandwich.
- There will be some discomfort, probably even pain, involved in laboring and delivering. It won’t last forever and we definitely have ways to make it better, but it is part of the deal. When you’re talking cervical dilation and contractions, pain is often a very good sign! The nurses will help you evaluate and manage your pain and give you language to describe it. They’ll regularly ask you to rate your pain from 1 to 10. The pain scale reads something like 0/10 is like “floating in a happy bath of golden bubbles” and 10/10 is “you’re the witch from Wizard of Oz and the house just fell on you.” Where does your pain fall between those? We’ll adjust accordingly.
- Epidurals help a lot with the pain of labor but they won’t remove all sensation. You will definitely still feel pressure, especially right before you get to meet your baby, and you will experience your delivery.
- Just because your nephew’s grandmother’s cousin’s sister’s neighbor’s favorite teacher’s karate instructor had a difficult birth…or an unexpected C-section…or a whatever…does not mean you will. Your experience will be unique to you. And when it goes fantastically smoothly, then it is your job to share your birth story with anyone who will listen so that everyone YOU know has a wonderful story to recall when they’re in labor themselves.
- If you’re being induced- you will be started on certain medications that will help get you into full blown labor. The process varies depending on your situation, health history, etc. It’s a good idea to come in expecting induction to take 2 or 3 days. It’s certainly can. It may also take less than that…but if you come in anticipating a longer stay, you may be able to pace yourself and avoid discouragement or frustration. Also, they recommend only you and your partner/companion come in the first day. It may be a while before any “action” and you don’t need 20 people staring at you in anticipation or your grandfather questioning the ripeness of your cervix. (Am I right?) 🙂
- If you are scheduled for an induction or a C-section, anticipate that there might be some delays on our end, as there tend to be in thriving Labor and Delivery units like ours. We understand your excitement and anticipation and that it takes coordination (childcare, job, family help, etc) to be here on your date and time. We work hard to stay on schedule but there are times we are delayed and will ask for your patience and flexibility. Try as we might, babies don’t always come when we’re prepared for them, and the schedule of the day is somewhat at their mercy.
- If you are planning on breast feeding and when you examine your breasts you find that your nipples have the tendency to invert (poke back in to your breast instead of out), you will be much more successful getting your newborn to latch if you start wearing breast shells (something like this. There are a lot of options on the market) at about 36 weeks daily inside your bra. (I am planning on interviewing the lactation consultants soon for more tips like these for our expectant moms).
We at Oakland Macomb are so grateful for these dedicated and skilled nurses who take such excellent care of our patients. You are in capable hands and hearts with this crew. We appreciate all of their wisdom!
As always, if you have specific questions about your pregnancy, labor, or delivery, please contact your provider. And always feel free to ask your L & D nurse when you get here, too!