AS a nurse who’s not only worked in hospitals for 20 years, but has also had 3 kids of my own in a hospital I am here to tell you the 5 things to avoid at the hospital to have a great birth. So, let’s get started. 🙂
First off, hello! I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I’m so glad you’re here, I hope I can give you some great tips today!
(Note: I have only worked in hospitals, and I do believe the hospital is the safest place to give birth, if you don’t agree this probably isn’t the post for you).
Ok, what should you avoid in labor and delivery:
I know, you’re saying — “But, Hilary — everyone has to stop by the admitting desk.” But, here are a couple of pro tips for you:
Hospital pre-admission is your friend — it will prevent you from having to stand around with Judy from admitting (hi Judy!) while she copies your insurance card and fills out 400 forms with you, or your partner. Just get all that stuff in ahead of time. Ask your provider about it, or call the hospital to see how to do ti.
Admitting can’t stop you (if you’re not scheduled) — admitting CAN stop you if you are scheduled (for an induction, an appointment or a C-section) but if you come in with some other concern, unscheduled, admitting should NOT stop you. That doesn’t mean that they can’t come to your room and then ask you the questions once we get you settled.
Admitting CAN ask a few basic questions, your name, date of birth and possibly address to make sure we can get you in your system because… charting. 🙂
Pro Tip: It is standard policy that we try to get you on a fetal monitor within 20 minutes of your arrival to make sure baby is OK, so most often you shouldn’t have to wait long in labor and delivery, and if you do please talk to someone.
Also, if you’re loving pro tips like these, come join me in here. I’ve got so many more for you!
Thinking You Have No Options
So often I hear the words “my doctor is making me” and I want to be super clear that NO doctor is making you do anything. Yes, they may make it seem like that is your only option, but I can guarantee that you have other options. This includes inductions, C-sections and more.
You may have a cloud in your brain that says your provider won’t take care of you if you refuse a particular plan of care, but that seems to be really unlikely in my experience. I think they’d get in pretty big trouble with their board if they dropped a patient late in pregnancy no really good reasons (aka, you threatening them, etc).
Pro Tip: Labor and delivery DOES have emergencies but you’ll have lots of staff around you and it will be really clear that something is wrong. You can ALWAYS ask your provider if it’s OK if you wait to make a choice after thinking it over. Most often it is, but they will also be clear if you are in a situation that can NOT wait (because those do happen).
This does not make you immune to poor outcomes if you decide to do something than they recommend. Just like if my flooring guy recommends tile because I have a pool, and I get hardwoods but they buckle because of the moisture — that’s my choice.
And yes, this can be hard to talk with providers but I have a provider communication bonus video in here that gives real life situations and words you can use to talk with your providers about your options (even when they seem like you don’t have any).
Staying in Bed
When you think hospital, you think someone in bed. I know I do.
But there’s no need to stay in the bed if you don’t have an order to do so (most often those come because of preeclampsia, preterm labor or an epidural). If you don’t have one of those get up and MOVE.
Some hospitals have external monitoring meaning it’s done via something like Bluetooth and you can move about the unit as you desire.
However, if corded monitors are your only option there are still ways to move around the bedside:
- Sit on the doctor’s stool by the monitor (this is a favorite of mine)
- Sway by the besides with your partner (think high school slow dances)
- Get on all 4’s around/in the bed to put less pressure on your back
Movement is SO important in labor, I think a lot of people ignore it because they figure they’ll be in bed — so I included labor movement cards in here to help remind you to MOVE (and that you have OPTIONS).
Ok, for YEARS hospitals haven’t allowed people to eat in labor, but studies are showing that isn’t really necessary.
A few thoughts:
If your provider only orders clear liquids, that is all your nurse can give you, so come prepared with some snacks you love (we talk about labor snacks in the nutrition bonus video in here). I just means she can’t provide you with hospital food — your choice is your choice.
If your provider orders no food, ask why. See if they’ll change the order, if there is a real reason that you can’t eat (do they really forsee an urgent c-section soon).
The studies really do show that some good sources of sugar along with protein and especially calcium can really give a boost to your uterus. So, a snack of some dried fruit, nuts and maybe a string cheese can be a BIG win!
There are times you shouldn’t be eating, but talk with your provider, and don’t just go in doing that because that’s what they normally order. I chatted with a good labor nurse friend of mine about that on this podcast:
There is a lot to be afraid of in the hospital. I get that.
But it is really easy for fear to build on itself when you just aren’t prepared.
And I REALLY mean that watching some videos on Titok or YouTube aren’t enough. You really need a class that goes from the beginning to the end and really shows you what’s going to happen when you are in labor.
The Online Prenatal Class for Couples is just that. It is the fun way to get prepared for your birth in just a few hours. Plus, it’s meant to do with your partner, and having a scared partner is almost as bad as being scared yourself. 🙂 So, come join me in there.
Or, if you’re not quite ready for the full class, check out my free prenatal class — It’s your first step towards being your own birth boss.