Having a baby is such an exciting and hectic time. I can recall how crazy everything felt when I was having my son. I remember thinking “Why am I being given this medicine?” and “This isn’t what I was planning on doing..”. The truth is most labor and deliveries do not go according to plan. To make sure you are staying informed throughout labor I’ve come up with some great questions to ask your doctor and nurses.
1. Who can be in the room during active labor?
If you are planning to do a vaginal delivery then having a good “labor crew” is important even if you only choose one person. Some hospitals have rules limiting the number of people in the delivery room (especially during covid). Make sure you plan accordingly so you know who is allowed to come in the room.
What type of fetal monitor is used (internal/external)? Do you have to wear it the entire time?
I had an external fetal monitor for the majority of my delivery. It was not until I was around 7cm dilated, following my epidural, that I got the internal fetal monitor. The internal monitor is more constrictive (in my opinion). Although sometimes it is necessary to use that one, it is always nice to be able to move around freely with the external monitor. Just ask your doctor which monitor will be used and if you can opt for a different one. If you are laboring unmedicated, then you may just want to ask if you can wear an external one so that you are not required to stay in bed the entire time.
Are there props you can use during labor? (birthing ball, foam roller, birthing bar, etc.)
I loved having these labor props. I labored while bouncing on a yoga ball for hoursssss! Using the props and laboring in different positions can relieve some of the pressure and pain of labor.
Click Here for a link to Mama Natural Blog where they go more in depth about the benefits of using a birthing ball during labor.
Can you record or take pictures during delivery?
This is a big moment in your life that you may want to be documented. I love looking back on my pictures that my husband took during labor. They are so special to me and I’m grateful we were able to capture them. Some hospitals do have rules against filming/ photography during active labor so you should see if it is allowed beforehand.
Do your doctors/nurses know your birth plan? Will they honor your birth plan?
As you probably already know things don’t always go according to plan when you’re having a baby. Those little people have a mind of their own and when / how they decide to come is completely up to them. Having a birth plan can still be important. It sets an outline for your expectations for yourself and your labor and delivery (L&D) team. The hospital that I delivered my son asked about my birth plan and were willing to follow it, although it did seem that they were really hoping I’d just get an epidural to get it over with (another story for another day lol). If you have wishes that you would like to be executed during labor then make them known!
Can you have any food or drink during labor?
For some people labor can last a really long time and naturally you will get hungry. At my hospital once I was admitted I was not allowed to eat or drink anything other than ice chips until my son was born. Thankfully I had just eaten a big meal a few hours before my water broke so I was not hungry during labor, but not everyone can be that fortunate! See if you are allowed to have food/snacks in the delivery room. If so, bring snacks that aren’t too heavy and preferably something that can replenish lost water (like fruit).
Are there standard procedures immediately after birth? Can they be altered?
If you are wanting to do skin-to-skin immediately after birth, delay cutting the unbiblical cord, or have any other specific requests, then you should definitely ask this. Some hospitals immediately grab the baby from you to get them cleaned up once the unbiblical cord is cut. Once again make sure you state your birth and after birth plans!
Can you walk around during labor?
This ties into stating your birth plan. Obviously if you are getting a c-section or plan to get an epidural right away then you will not be able to move around during labor. If you are planning to have a non-medicated birth then you may want to ask this question. My hospital was completely fine with me walking around, doing stretches, using labor props and doing whatever else I needed to help relieve pain. I’m not sure if other hospitals are as open to this as mine was so it would be good for you to check!
What percentage of patients have non-medicated deliveries/vaginal deliveries/ C-sections?
This may not be a statistic that you completely interested in, but it was something I wanted to know. As someone who was really planning to have a non-medicated delivery I wanted to know how often this successfully happened at my hospital. I wanted a team of people around me who would support my decisions throughout labor and help me breathe and maneuver through each contraction.
If labor is not progressing quickly enough, how long do you labor before medical intervention/ induction?
I was given Pitocin/Oxytocin (a medicine used to induce contractions and speed up labor) because my contractions were far apart after my water broke. My nurses made it very clear to me that they wanted me to deliver the baby in under 24 hours because of risk of infection after my water broke. In total I was in labor for about 11 hours. The whole time I was at the hospital they were cranking up the Pitocin and I felt rushed. I wish I knew then what I know now so I could have taken my time and allowed my body to work it’s magic.
Some hospitals, similar to mine, may want to induce labor if you are not progressing in labor quickly. Just be sure to ask how long before medical intervention is required so you have a good idea on what to expect.
If you are a reading this and will be having a baby soon then I wish you the very best of luck! I hope this post was beneficial to you and that the delivery experience is everything you want it to be no matter what form of delivery you choose.
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