Delivering a baby is the happiest possible reason to check into a hospital. Having said that, any visit to a hospital is a little nerve-wracking, and when it’s your first baby, the unknown can add to your jitters. But if you learn ahead of time what the usual hospital procedures are, you can feel confident that you are prepared. You’ll understand what’s happening, and why. You’ll be able to relax and focus on the joyous experience of giving birth to your first baby.
The Hollywood version of a hospital childbirth is that the panting mother is snatched up by nurses and whisked into the delivery room as soon as she arrives. But new Moms often come to the ER convinced they’re on the brink of giving birth, only to be told to go back home. Early labor can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, and it’s common to have a few false starts. Hey, you’re a first time Mom, you’ve never done this before — so don’t be surprised if it happens to you. Your healthcare providers will be watching for changes to the cervix, and the strength and timing of your contractions.
When you’re definitely in labor and arrive at the hospital, you can expect to be signed in and taken to a birthing suite, private room or shared room. You will be attended by nurses who will likely hook you up to a fluid IV and monitor your temperature and vital signs. They will also be monitoring the baby. If you want an epidural for pain, you can ask for one even in the early stages of labor, though it will numb your legs and make it difficult to walk. If you do not receive an epidural, you will probably be encouraged to get up and move around as much as you can to help the birth process along.
Delivering your first child usually takes longer than delivering later children; first-time labor can last for anywhere from 10 hours to more than a day, though every Mom’s experience is different.
When you move from early labor to active labor, your nurses will continue to monitor you closely. Your contractions will be harder and more frequent. However, your doctor may not arrive until late in the labor process. He will help you deliver your baby, and once the baby’s head is out, he will suction mucus out of the baby’s nose and mouth and help move the rest of your baby’s body out. He’ll then cut the umbilical cord and tie it off. Your baby will be cleaned, wrapped in a warm receiving blanket, and placed in your arms!
Delivering a baby is one of life’s greatest experiences. Don’t let a lack of information create unnecessary stress during your childbirth experience. Your hospital will almost certainly offer childbirth and other informative classes that will answer most, if not all of your questions, from the first labor pain, to taking your baby home.