Fear is a completely normal side effect of pregnancy. After all, you’re bringing a whole new life into the world. Many moms find the delivery room to be especially intimidating. The labor and delivery process often entails many procedures that are hard to pronounce, thus creating a sense of general uneasiness.
From concerns about birth plans to labor pain, many first-time parents play out the “what if” scenarios many times before entering the delivery room. So, what really goes on in there, and is it as scary as you’re imagining?
Use the Maternity Tour to Ask Important Questions
Booking a hospital or birthing center maternity tour can alleviate some pre-birth anxiety. The process generally lasts around 30 minutes to an hour. A hospital professional will walk you through the whole delivery process, from start to finish. You are likely to see the triage area, family waiting rooms, the delivery suite and a postpartum room. During your tour, the nurse or hospital educator will provide plenty of valuable information. If you are looking to create a birth plan, you might find solace asking about the various options while you’re there. You can pre-register after the tour if you like the facility.
Questions to ask during a maternity tour:
- Who can be in the room during the delivery? Is there a limit on the number of people?
- Can a spouse or partner stay in the room overnight?
- Can you hold your baby afterward for skin-to-skin after having a c-section?
- Which pain management options are available?
- Are there any services for high-risk pregnancies?
- Can the baby remain in the room instead of going to the nursery?
What to Do If Your Birth Plan Changes
Every delivery is unique. It’s always good to have a plan, but be prepared for changes. The best thing to do while executing a birth plan is to embrace the present. Understand that giving birth is a moment where your body will prepare to do an extraordinary thing, which might not look and feel like what you initially imagined.
Samantha Rauber, LPC, NCC, PMH-C, a mental health professional who specializes in prenatal care, says this about birth plans, “More often than not, the birth plan does not go the way we hope. Recognize that the birth plan is the wish list. Openly communicate your birth plan with your provider. Surround yourself with a team of people who want the same goals as you.”
Pooping on the Delivery Table
Pooping on the delivery table is a perfectly reasonable fear to have. After all, nobody imagines poop being part of a magical birth. Bowel movements happen when the cervix is fully dilated. Contrary to popular belief, this part of labor is incredibly common. It’s also a sign that a woman is pushing well. With all the craze going on inside your body and the delivery room, your chances of noticing bowel movements are low.
Labor Pains: What to Expect
Labor pain is a large concern for many first-time moms. If romantic comedies like Knocked Up have solidified your negative birth expectations, fear not! It’s painful, but it’s not as bad as the movies make it out to be. The pain of childbirth will feel unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, but it will not be constant. Contractions arrive in short intervals, allowing some time for you to anticipate the next set.
Epidurals are also known to decrease the pain in the lower part of the body, which can allow for a more comfortable delivery. The procedure takes around 10 minutes to place in the spine and around 15 minutes to work. Some women opt for epidurals for the benefit of a potentially painless delivery, while others have them as a medical necessity for their cesarean deliveries (c-sections). Talk to your doctor and see what makes sense for your delivery room experience.
There are natural coping techniques that can help you manage labor pain and contractions, including:
- Practicing rhythmic breathing
- Expressing your fears
- Utilizing imagery
- Remaining in a soothing environment
- Taking a warm bath or shower
“Prepare questions for your maternity tour–it’s the best place to ask them. Also, having your hospital bag ready to go will make things easier. Birth plans can change, and that’s okay! For me, the baby would not turn. She was breech, and only about four percent of babies are, so that scared me. After a failed external cephalic procedure, they had to schedule a c-section. If you end up having to do a c-section, you will likely be in the hospital for three to four days.” –Stephanie Rossano.
“You don’t have to give birth on your back. I was scared that I was going to be stuck in the bed and not be able to move or go anywhere–but you can. You can give birth in any safe position. Talk to your doctor about your concerns first. Midwives are seriously amazing, so get one if you can! Also, you can totally do it without an epidural, but you don’t have to. I chose to. And it’s just when you think you can’t take it anymore is when you’re in transition or ready to push. And once you start pushing, the contractions don’t hurt.” –Cara Martin