What to Expect at the Hospital:
A Guide to Labor and Delivery
Photo by Brooke Mendenhall Photography
Wow! You have made it! The big day has arrived! I’m sure by now that you are ready to sleep without bathroom breaks, fit in to your old clothes, and regain control of your own body functions. Lucky for you the hard part is over, or is it? If you haven’t been in labor before, the first time can be a little scary. You don’t know what to expect. You’re anxious and a little scared. It is not as bad as most (if not all) of the stories you’ve heard. So, what first? You will have to check in to the hospital once you have confirmed you are in labor. Most hospitals require you to either check in at the Emergency Room or with General Admissions. Once that is completed, you will be moved to Labor and Delivery where you will be asked to change into a hospital gown. Your Labor and Delivery nurse will assess you and the baby to make sure that everything is progressing normally. During this time an IV will be started and a baby heartbeat monitor, a contraction monitor – lots of equipment. Now – you just wait.
68 | Oh BABY!
Important to know. Stages of Labor: FIRST STAGE The first stage really consists of three phases:
Early Phase: This phase typically lasts up to 12 hours although it’s usually considerably shorter for second and subsequent babies. As labor progresses, the contractions get longer and stronger. Active Phase: Often this phase lasts up to six hours, although it can be a lot shorter. You should be in the hospital or birth center by now or en route. Contractions are much more intense, last about 40 to 60 seconds, and are spaced 3 to 5 minutes apart. Breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and coaching are all important now. Pain relief is usually administered in this phase.