Category: Labor & Delivery

What To Bring To The Hospital - Parenting and Babies

What To Bring To The Hospital

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What To Bring To The Hospital
When the big day comes and the new baby is ready to make a grand entrance, the last thing on your mind is packing a bag for the hospital. A friend with six children gave me some sound advice about packing for pregnancy, labor, and delivery. First: Pack way ahead of time and don’t wait until the last minute. Sometimes babies surprise you and come when you least expect it. Second: Pack two bags — one for things I might need during labor, and the other bag for after the baby comes. She said that having bags packed and ready to go waiting by the door would help give me peace of mind about the big day.

Bag for Labor & Delivery
• Birth Plan filled out
• Health Insurance Card
• Glasses (no contact lenses if possible)
• Hair accessories to tie hair in bun or ponytail
• Lip Moisturizer
• Items to Help You Relax – iPod or CD player for music, a cheerful book, lavender oil to massage lower back
• Video and Picture Camera. Charge the batteries!
• Towel & Washcloth – the hospital has them, but yours are more familiar
• Comfortable Clothes – if hospital gowns are not your style, bring a loose fitting gown (no pants) for comfort during delivery if the hospital allows it. No long sleeves, though. Nurses will need access to your arm to take blood pressure or insert an IV. Socks are a plus if your feet get cold.
• Lollipops on a stick or hard candies. Don’t forget a snack for your coach.
• Focal Point – Bring a picture of your favorite place or a loved one to focus on during labor

Post-Partum Bag
• Clean nightgown
• High fiber snacks
• Maternity Clothes – bring an old nursing bra and underwear because they will get stained even if you are wearing sanitary protection
• Sanitary Pads – the hospital provides these, but you can use the brand you prefer
• Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and body wash

Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks Contractions

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What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions can begin around six weeks of pregnancy, but most women don’t notice them that early. These are “practice contractions”–that is, they prepare the body for the act of labor and delivery without you actually being in labor. Usually, you won’t even notice them until after the middle of your pregnancy, and some women never really notice them at all. They get their name from John Braxton Hicks, an English doctor who first described them in 1872.

Typically, even if you do notice Braxton Hicks contractions, they’ll be infrequent, irregular, and typically painless. Most women, if they feel them at all, will notice a “tight” feeling in the uterus or that their belly feels harder than normal. As the pregnancy progresses, however, most women experience Braxton Hicks contractions more frequently. In the last few weeks, it can be difficult to distinguish these contractions from preterm labor, making it critical that you pay attention to your body and stay in regular contact with your doctor. You should never try to make this diagnosis yourself! If you’re still less than 37 weeks pregnant and you’re having more than four contractions in an hour — or you have any other signs of preterm labor (see below) — it’s important to contact your doctor or midwife immediately.

Later in your pregnancy, typically within a couple of weeks of your due date, your body is starting to seriously prepare to deliver your baby. Your cervix has begun to soften, or “ripen,” and Braxton Hicks contracts have increased in intensity and more common. In later pregnancy, these contractions may be more productive as they help thin out your cervix (or cause it to efface) and increase dilation (opening). This state is often referred to as pre-labor.

What do Braxton Hicks contractions feel like?
Contractions are generally described as a tightening or squeezing. Braxton Hicks contractions come at irregular intervals. Typically, they don’t hurt, but at times, they may feel very intense and even cause some pain.

How can I tell the difference between Braxton Hicks and true labor contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions can become very regular, especially in later pregnancy. If they are close together, you may wonder if this is true labor. Unlike true labor, however, Braxton Hicks contractions don’t get longer, stronger, and closer together, and they will eventually stop.

What can I do if my Braxton Hicks contractions are uncomfortable or painful?
If you’re within a few weeks of your due date, try these measures:
• Change your current position. If you’re lying down, get up and walk around. IF you’ve been moving a great deal, lie down, rest on your left side, and drink some water. If you’re in true labor, your contractions will continue no matter what.
• Take a warm bath or shower to help your body relax.
• Try drinking eight to sixteen ounces of water to make sure the contractions haven’t been caused by dehydration.
• Try relaxation exercises or slow, deep breathing. Practice your breathing and relaxation exercises learned in childbirth class. It won’t stop the contractions, but it can make it easier for you to manage the discomfort.

When should I call my doctor or midwife?
If your contractions become steadily stronger and you’ve having more than four per hour, and you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant, you should call your doctor or midwife. Other signs of preterm labor may include:
• Any change in vaginal discharge, especially if it’s mucousy or bloody.
• More pressure in the pelvic area (a feeling that your baby’s pushing down)
• Low back pain that comes and goes, or a sudden onset of lower back pain.

Once you’ve passed the 37-week mark, there’s no need to contact your doctor or midwife about contractions until they last around 60 seconds each and are less than five minutes apart for an hour or more. Of course, you should follow your provider’s instructions: if they want you to call sooner, especially if you have a previous history of fast labors, listen to their advice! You should also call if you have any bleeding or if your water breaks.

What Does Labor Really Feel Like?

What Does Labor Really Feel Like?

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Many first time parents spend hours researching every conceivable aspect of the pregnancy journey: what symptoms are normal, what can be expected each month, what is the baby developing at this time, and, most especially, what is labor and delivery like. Understandably, the things society has heard and learned about birth would be enough to inspire anxiety and worry if not downright panic in any mom-or-dad-to-be’s-mind. The truth is, however, that no medical book or person can really tell you what birth will feel like because that answer varies from person to person – sometimes a great deal.

Of course, it’s likely not anxiety-resolving and instead is more of a catch-22 for new moms to learn they’ll have to experience labor to know what they are in for. So, we did the next best thing by asking nearly 1,000 moms from the popular website BabyCenter to tell us about their labor experiences. While it’s impossible to know if your labor will match any one of the numerous responses, a description from those who have been there can help you become more mentally prepared. Here is a sampling of what those thousand moms said labor was like for them.

The Good

Some moms reported that the experience was not nearly as painful or awful as they had prepared themselves for it to be. Some of the responses on the good side of the spectrum included:

• Contractions felt like muscles spasms and weren’t actually very painful.
• Labor pain is irritating, but it’s not unbearable.
• Some moms didn’t even realize how close they were until almost fully dilated, instead, feeling more like they needed to go to the bathroom.
• For many moms, the epidural might not have blocked everything, but it did make a significant difference.
• Because of pregnancy preparation, labor was really positive and not painful.

The Bad

Other moms reported less positive memories of their labor pain, though did not remember it being worse than they had expected it to be.

• Many moms describe intense spasms that move from the top of the uterus down to the pubic area, becoming much more intense over time.
• Others described it as an awful ache which began in the back and radiated into the stomach area.
• Some said the contractions waxed and waned like menstrual pains do over several days, except it was every few minutes.
• Contractions were painful enough to need an epidural, but after it was in it was better.
• Menstrual cramps on steroids would be a good descriptor.

The Ugly

According to some moms, childbirth didn’t get its reputation lightly.

• It was an all-encompassing pain that didn’t end.
• I begged my hubby to throw me out of the car on the way to the hospital, it hurt so bad.
• Excruciating.
• It was something like being run over by a train.
• Quite a few moms mention being disappointed by epidurals that didn’t help as much as expected or didn’t work at all.
• Many moms thought the cramps felt like horrible Charley horses in the stomach instead of the legs.
• One common descriptor was a sense of feeling horrible gas and bloating pains, but worse.
• Often, moms described labor as the pain of the worst stomach bug they had ever had.
• It’s like getting punched in the back and the stomach simultaneously.

Other Common Sensations.

In addition to the variety of responses the moms gave about how bad labor pain was, they also supplied many common sensations to compare labor pain too that they felt were more accurate descriptors. The comparisons to stomach bugs and menstrual cramps were common.

Another common thread was the report that labor included a lot of skin and muscle tightening sensations. These moms felt as if their skin was too tight for their body or could literally feel the uterus muscles getting tighter each time there was a contraction. One mom described it as a sensation that her stomach was tightening into a painful ball, which was actually worse than the contractions. For some, it felt like someone was pulling all the skin and holding it taut, then releasing it. It also tended to feel as if someone was squeezing all of the air from them.

Many of the moms found labor pains to be stabbing rather than dull, like a knife being shoved into the stomach on a periodic basis or like the type of kick or punch that completely knocks the wind out of you – on a repeated basis. One mom even said, “It felt like I was being impaled on a hot fireplace poker.” Apparently, she wasn’t the only one, because many of the moms interviewed reported a definite burning sensation, especially during crowning. In fact, sometimes tearing even provided relief from the burn.

Moms also described having a lot of back labor, feeling as if the pain in the back was actually, for them, far worse than any pain in their stomach. Some described a desire to escape from their own spine because of the pain, while others described a feeling more of pressure, either on the back, stomach, or both, as opposed to pain. Generally, moms described this pressure as feeling like they “needed to have a massive poop,” at least when not trying to use proper decorum. There was a lot of pressure in varying degrees on all points of the groin and rectum across the spectrum. In fact, pressure and pain weren’t localized to one area as much as many of the moms had expected. One said, “It felt as though a 400-pound man was pressing down on each hip.” Others described pain in the upper thighs as well as the hips.

While labor is no trip to the beach, the description of labor pains ebbing and peaking like waves or rolling through the lower back and body like waves was a normal description by the interviewed moms. In addition, moms often felt like their body knew what to do better than their mind, so it felt as if the body was just taking over and handling things as the contractions continued. At this point, the moms often felt calmer than they had earlier in labor and were able to work with the pain they felt, transferring it into energy to push and even feeling pain when they tried to slow down or stop pushing. And, of course, feeling as it if was the most exhausting work they had ever done was common, too. After all, they don’t call it labor for no reason.

The Bottom Line

The good news is, even though the labor pain was particularly bad for some and any new mom could find herself among those ranks when labor begins, the consensus was pretty universal that everything the moms went through was worth it once they had their babies in their arms. Some described the pain as easier to handle because they knew it was with a purpose and others said even though it hurt, it also felt natural and like it was supposed to be that way and was okay. One mom sums it up well with the conclusion “Emotionally, it was amazing. Many people say the pain disappears once your child is in your arms, and they’re right!”