Warning, the title of this post should really be “Stop Worrying, We’ve Got It Covered: The 6 Things Labor and Delivery Nurses Wish You’d Let Go Of Before Labor Even Starts“. But to be honest, the length of that title makes me physically uncomfortable. Anyway, I want to talk to y’all about all those worries we have as pregnant women that really don’t need to be crowding up our worry space. We have enough stuff to cram in there. Let’s put some of the labor stuff to rest.
Labor and Delivery can be a scary place for new moms. Let’s be honest, it can be a scary place for veteran moms. We don’t exactly give birth every day. This time of our life when we bear children is most often short-lived and limited.
I can understand that in these fleeting moments, we want to make sure that everything is perfect, we are in control, and nothing is forgotten. I’ve read birth plans time and time again that list every possible option, every logical scenario, and every. single. desire that they can conjure up prior to their big day.
You are allowed to relax
Mama, take it from me, let some of it go. Let go of the things that don’t really matter. Let go of the things that can be taken care of by someone else. Just let go, girl. You have so much to think about, plenty to worry about, and enough on your mind already. Do yourself a favor and stop over-thinking about what kind of juice you’ll receive and allow your mind to rest. You’re going to need it.
I want you know, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, that there are things you can (and should) take off of your plate. You are going to be a new mom (or a new mom again) and there are going to be a million thoughts and feelings to sort through all at once. If you can catch a break on the small stuff, then do it.
Here are six things that I wish my patients knew they could stop worrying about during pregnancy and before labor. Some of these things will already be taken care of for you and others, you don’t need to concern yourself with ahead of time.
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1. Things that are automatic
Try not to worry about the things that are obvious. There are many things that will automatically be given to you without having to ask or place on your birth plan.
Every hospital is different, so you should always attend your labor and delivery tour or ask your provider during your clinic appointments, but for the most part, I think I can speak for most hospitals.
You’re going to get a private room in labor and delivery
Now, if you aren’t admitted yet, you might be in a triage location, shared with other women. But once you are admitted for any reason onto a labor and delivery unit, you’re going to have a single patient room. There is no need to request one, no need to worry, and no need to have nightmares about shared bathrooms. You can put your mind at ease, that your delivery room will be private for labor, pushing, and of course, the precious golden hour.
You’re going to be the first one to hold your baby
Apart from your provider actually catching the baby as he comes, no one is going to be scooping your babe up and holding him before you. In most cases (but not all), your baby is going to come out and land straight onto your belly/chest. You’re going to get these magical moments all to yourself as long as the health of you and your baby allow for it.
You will be rooming in
No longer are the times that nurses whisk the baby away to the nursery and leave you alone in your room. Maybe you’d wish that the nurses would take the baby for a while so you could get a couple glorious hours of shut-eye, but in general, the automatic way about things is that you, your partner, and your baby will be rooming in together for your entire stay in the hospital.
With the exception of the baby being taken from your for procedures such as circumcision, the newborn screening test, or the hearing test, your baby will have everything he needs right there in the room with you. Congratulations, mama, you’re stuck with him!
- Related Read: The Best Way To Make Your Birth Plan Your Reality
2. Things that only need to be asked for
I shudder at the thought that pregnant women everywhere are being told that they should write things down like “I would like ice chips” or “I prefer my IV to be in my left hand”. Oh you poor woman, who do you think is going to be taking care of you? Robots? You’re likely going to have a real, live nurse that will respond to your needs with a simple request.
Do your best not to sit at home worrying about things that can just be requested when you are in the room. It should be assumed that you will speak to your nurse a few times during your stay, wouldn’t you say? Save these things for those times.
There are a million things we can help you with
Ice chips, pillows, I can go on forever. If you find yourself worrying about little things that you should ask your nurse for, I have a great idea. Stop worrying and just ask when you get here. Yeah? Ok, I’m glad we’re on the same page. Unless you are terribly unlucky and you get a nurse who somehow got into this field without wanting to help people, your nurse will be happy to assist you.
Bottom line: don’t put things on your birth plan that can just be a quick request. It creates an unnecessarily long birth plan, it overshadows the things that really matter to you, and it prevents you from creating a relationship with your nurse. Not to mention that it crowds your mind with things that are low on the list of important things to think about.
- Related Read: 8 Things Your Labor and Delivery Nurse Wishes You Knew
3. Things that you are 100% in control of
I’ll bet it’s nice to hear that you’re going to have some control over your labor and birth, isn’t it? Hearing time and time again that labor has a mind of it’s own, you can’t control it, and you can’t plan it can be unnerving when you’re about to bring new life into the world.
Well, not to worry, mama, because although it is true that many things about giving birth is out of your hands (and everyone else’s), there are a few things that only you can do for yourself. You get to decide and you are in complete control.
Who is in the room with you
Good news! Your Aunt Sally will not be in the room with you if you don’t want her to be. You are in charge of communicating with your partner who you want to be there and who you don’t. If you don’t want someone to come to the hospital, tell them! (It’s a lot easier to tell them not to come than it is to tell them to leave).
The beautiful part of all this is that it really doesn’t have to be decided until the moment you are in the hospital. When I was pregnant with my son, I was unsure who I wanted to visit me while I was laboring. I was particularly unsure whether or not I wanted anyone but my husband in the room during delivery. Want to know when I figured it out? In the moment.
Stop stressing about who will be in the room and remember that it will be up to you and in the moment you will know what you want.
Who knows about your situation
Rest assured, the hospital staff isn’t announcing your presence. The only way that your friends and family are going to know where you are, what is happening, or how you and your baby is doing, is if you tell them. We have this little thing called HIPAA that prevents us from letting your family know anything without your permission.
Just like what I mentioned earlier about your visitors, you can decide who knows what when the time comes. Before labor begins, you have no idea what day, time, or situation you will give birth in. So, just wait and see how you feel about who knows what until there is something to know. You’re going to soon realize that the “before labor” you and the “during labor” you are going to have very different opinions on the matter.
Either way, it’s up to you and no one else really has any say or control in the matter. Woo-hoo!
To some of you, this seems like a weird thing to include here because you never thought about your pushing method. Others of you think that it’s weird to put here because you have been planning out your pushing method since first trimester.
Here’s the thing. You are the only one that can push your baby out. No one can do it for you. Say it with me “I am the only one that can push my baby out, no one can do it for me”. Do you know what this means? It means that you are 100% in control of the way that you push. No ifs ands or buts about it. If you have already decided that you want to push while being coached by your nurse, then that’s what you’ll do. If you decided that you want to push as your body commands, you go girl (as long as you don’t have an epidural that masks your body’s pushing response to labor).
What I’m trying to say is, don’t worry yourself about how to push. If you’ve never had a baby before, then it is impossible to plan this out. You really wont know until you get there how to push. You will figure it out when the time comes. Promise. If you have done this a time or two before, then you’re likely to do it again without a problem. No need to plan ahead of time. You’ve got this.
So check this off of your list and trust that you’ll make the right decision for yourself when the time comes.
Position and movements
Alright, alright, this one is not 100%. There are factors that work into the freedom you have here, for sure. But for the most part, as long as there aren’t reasons to worry about your position (such as baby not responding well to labor or being completely unable to monitor you), you are in control over your position and movements.
If you envision yourself squatting, sitting on a birthing ball, or standing in the shower, that’s g-r-r-reat but you don’t know how your body is going to feel until it happens. Stop, stop, stop trying to predict what labor and delivery is going to be like. Know your options, get advice from other people about what worked for them, and that’s about it. Decide what you like when you actually need to.
I brought my own birthing ball to the hospital when I went into labor. I really believed that I was going to want to labor on the ball as much as possible. You know, I heard that it really helped. Well, I effing hated it. Yep. HATED it. I would sit there on the ball between contractions and then as soon as one came, I would immediately stand up and pace the room. It’s the only way I could tolerate the pain. Unexpected? Yes. Did it matter? No.
A good time to decide what works for you is…when it’s working for you.
- Related Read: The Day I Became A Mother: Our Birth Story
4. Things that your coach can be in control of
Ah, yes, the coach. The supporter, the encourager, the person whose sole purpose in life at this moment is to make your labor and delivery easier. Make use of him!
Do you want your lights dimmed? Is the sound of the TV bothering you? Do you prefer the aroma in your room to be lavender and mint? Oh, dear husband! *snap snap*
Seriously, you don’t need permission to have a dim, quiet, spa-like room. That’s all you, boo. Make sure your husband knows your environment wishes ahead of time. Make sure he’s prepared to set up your defuser and turn on the music that you like. I really do feel like your husband needs his own personal “to-do list/birth plan” to make sure he makes sure all your labor and delivery hopes and dreams come true.
Texting, calling, and updating are all your coach’s responsibility. Labor and delivery is all about you. If your family and friends are making you feel like it’s more about them, maybe the communications should stop at that point. Your partner can update you when necessary.
Plus, have you ever tried to text and labor? I imagine it’s not terribly easy.
Let your coach know your wishes by 1.) talking to him about it and 2.) printing out a birth plan just for him as a little to-do list and then finally, 3.)forget about it.
These things are not for you to worry about while you give new life, mama. Delegate!
5. Things that are completely situational
The big IF is a dangerous thing to start thinking about when it comes to having babies. What if my baby goes to the NICU, what if I need a c-section, etc. There are SO MANY what-ifs in labor and delivery.
The stress of the things that might happen and trying to decide what to do in those cases is useless. Hear me out. I am a HUGE supporter of being informed and educated. I want you to know the possibilities. You should absolutely understands risks and benefits of certain things. Once you’ve done some research, your job is done until the time comes that you need to think more about it.
I would take a bet that most of the women you encounter that have had babies in the past would tell you that something happened that wasn’t planned or expected. Yeah, obviously. But what you need to remember is that expecting and planning EVERYTHING isn’t going to help. Your situation will be unique and you cannot plan for everything.
It’s ok (and good) to wait until something happens to make a decision about it. You wont know what is best for you and your baby until you can talk to your team and evaluate all of the moving parts that makes your labor and delivery special.
6. Things that can’t be changed
Lastly, stop worrying before you get to the hospital about things that are regulated by the hospital. Make sense? I’m talking about things like visiting policy, admission time, and medication options. Feel free to talk to your provider about what the policies are prior to your admission. This way you are fully aware of what to expect. Just try not to assume that your wishes will be granted if the hospital policy says differently than what you hope for.
Typically you aren’t going to have a say in when you get admitted, no matter how badly you want to be. If the visiting policy is 3 people but you have had your heart set on 6, it’s not likely they will change a policy for you. Just because you googled every labor medication in the books does not mean that you will be able to delegate what meds are given for pain, induction, etc. You will be 100% allowed to refuse medications, but you won’t be able to dictate which ones are offered in the first place.
This isn’t bad news! It’s good news! Hospital policies are put in place after research, studies, and experience to keep you safe and healthy. Chalk it up to one more thing that is already done for you. We’ve got it covered, girl. Now just sit back, relax, and start timing those contractions because YOU’RE HAVING A BABY! That’s what really matters, right, mama?
I want to hear about the things you worried about before you went into labor! If you are pregnant now, I want to hear what you find yourself worrying about. Tell me in the comments!
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