Sunday, April 07, 2013

Preparing for Labor and Delivery

Several years ago I typed up this document about what to pack for labor and delivery, and I have shared it with MANY friends who are having babies. Since Finnling #4 is coming soon (3-4 weeks to go!), I reviewed my packing list and decided to put it up here for all the world to see, and as a record for the future.

A disclosure: the information below is my opinion and advice on various aspects of labor and delivery, and my opinion ONLY. Everybody experiences pregnancy, labor and delivery differently, so what worked for me or happened to me may not work for you or happen to you.  I am passing along this information because it might help you at some point, or will at least give you a starting place from which to move forward. Don’t hesitate to call or email if you have any questions—and don’t feel ashamed about asking any questions!  It is helpful to have someone to talk to about these things :-)

  • I am not convinced that any one thing puts people into labor—and believe me, I tried it all: walking, raspberry tea (it is supposed to help stimulate uterine contractions), and yes, *even* sex.  I did not have any contractions or signs of labor until I woke up in the middle of the night with what I knew were real contractions.
  • It is hard to believe, but I think that you WILL JUST KNOW when you are having real contractions/labor contractions.  They wake you up out of a deep sleep, they do not go away with movement, they make you want to walk around, you cannot talk through them (and have to work on breathing through them), and they put immense pressure on your bladder and rectum (no offense, but when my contractions started, I went to the bathroom about once an hour!). **with my third baby I did go to the hospital with false labor, so I didn’t KNOW…but less than 24 hours later, I was back at the hospital in real labor!**
  • Realize that your water may not break before you go to the hospital—and if it does break, it may gush or it may trickle. The experience is different for different women.
  • If at all possible, EAT before you go to the hospital, because eating is limited at the hospital before he baby arrives. Stay hydrated if nothing else.
  • Take a long, hot shower—it will relax you and your body, helping you not fight the contractions, and making you feel better for what might be a ‘long haul.’
  • Relax and don’t fight against the contractions.  If you have a chance to read up on the Bradley Method, they have great suggestions for relaxing positions and exercises to help you through the contractions.  You can use these even if you do not buy into the entire Bradley Method (completely natural childbirth).
  • Trust your doctor and Labor and Delivery nurse.  Ask her any questions you have, and get her advice on anything you are unsure of.  She is there to help you and support you in any way she can—and you will LOVE HER for it!

What you don’t have to pack:
  • diapers
  • wipes
  • baby clothes other than an outfit to bring the baby home
  • baby blankets (they provide a receiving blanket or two)
  • sanitary pads
  • lots of underwear for you (the hospital has disposable underwear)
  • multiple pairs of pants for you
  • nursing pillow (unless you just want to have it, the nurses will assist you with helping the baby latch on using hospital pillows, etc)
  • bottles for the baby (unless you plan to bottle feed and want to use a particular bottle)
  • jewelry—you may have to take it off, and you don’t want to risk losing it
  • long distance calling card—cell phones are used all the time now J
  • pillows—hospital has plenty!

What you do want to pack:
  • hairband or clips to hold your hair back, if necessary
  • anything that helps you relax for delivery and afterward—an I Pod with your favorite music, a book, a scented lotion
  • change for the snack machines or a bag of snacks (especially for your hubby)
  • at least one nursing bra (a sleep bra is a must, and maybe another one to wear coming home)
  • nursing pads—during the first few days, I would recommend Lansinoh Brand Ultra Soft Nursing Pads (Babies R Us carries them). They are more expensive, but they are the softest, and when you start nursing, your breasts will appreciate the softness of those pads.  You will be able to move to other pads later.
  • Tums if you are prone to heartburn. I was not prone to it, but had acid reflux/heartburn during labor. They would not give me anything, but I could have taken the Tums if I had some with me L
  • camera, extra batteries, film or extra memory cards
  • cell phones and chargers
  • comfortable, loose tops or short nightgowns.  Look for something that buttons down or is big enough to pull up for nursing ease.  Pants/bottoms are not necessary—you will be bleeding enough after the delivery that you might mess up the bottoms anyway. A light-weight robe is nice—I used a short robe that I pulled on over a tank top, and that worked great
  • moisturizing body lotion—if you should have an epidural, your skin may itch as it wears off.  Lotion helps!
  • flip-flops for the shower
  • your favorite toiletries (i.e., scented shower gel from Bath and Body Works if you like that), your makeup, lotions and perfume—anything that will help refresh you and make you feel better
  • slippers or socks—the hospital floor can get cold!
  • know what pediatrician you plan to use—they will ask you this in labor and delivery
  • book or magazine (something light and fluffy) for you; book or magazine for your husband—you may need this during labor and delivery while you “wait” to dilate, or to help you relax at the end of the day when visitors and family have left
  • list of people to call with their phone numbers
  • sleep mask/ear plugs for you and/or your husband if that might help you sleep
  • outfit to bring the baby home
  • outfit for you to travel home—look for comfortable, loose fitting separates: you will not be able to fit back into your pre-pregnancy sizes immediately!  Though it is no fun to wear them after the baby comes, maternity pants may feel the most comfortable (or something with a drawstring waist)
  • Have someone fill your pain prescription as soon as you get home—taking the medication regularly will make a huge difference!  The day that you leave the hospital you will feel sore—it will be the first time you have moved around so much since the baby was born, so expect to be tired, sore and emotional.
  • Make sure your bathroom cabinet is stocked:
§  sanitary pads (NO TAMPONS)
§  soft toilet paper
§  moistened, unscented wipes *optional*(this sounds crazy, but Pampers makes a Sensitive Skin baby wipe that works great—you just cannot flush them)
§  Tucks Hemorrhoid pads *optional*--Tucks pads are cooling and calming
§  Pericolase medication (stool softener and gentle laxative)—helps keep you regular and prevents your bowel movements from being painful
§  Spray bottle (from hospital) for cleaning yourself
§  Dermaplast—also from hospital—topical numbing spray that is such a blessing when you are sore “down there”
  • Expect to cry a lot at first—know that every woman experiences this, and it is normal.  The baby blues last through the first couple of weeks and then things seem to stabilize—but they will suddenly pop back up at random times!  It’s normal to cry.
  • If you pay a co-pay for doctor’s visits (wellchecks), then, plan for an additional $100 (at least) in doctor’s co-pays.  Your baby will visit the doctor approx. 4 times in 2 months (though this varies by office): 72 hours after discharge from hospital, 2 weeks, 1 month and 2 months.  Each of these visits will cost you a co-pay (whatever your co-pay amount is).  If you do not plan for those fees, it can catch you off guard.

Above all, relax and enjoy this time.  Labor and delivery may be painful, but it is the most rewarding thing you will ever experience.  It is exciting!  Look forward with anticipation and joy, and know that your friends and family are praying for you, supporting you and ‘cheering you on’ during this wonderful time.

1 comment:

Mike and Molly Spivey said...

Thanks for including "expect to cry" - I forgot about that part with the boys. I did real well in the hospital but the minute we walked in our house I lost it and didn't stop crying until the next morning. Was caught off guard by that for sure! It was also harder for me b/c when I left my house that Sunday evening I didn't expect to be having a baby. Great post! Wish I saw it 3 weeks ago! :)