A million things go through a woman's mind the moment she finds out she's pregnant. Not only does she have nine months to learn everything there is about newborns, but she also needs to learn about the changes her body is about to go through and how to make it easier on herself. And let's not forget her hormones are going crazy in the meantime, making pregnancy that much harder.
Among the bodily changes, baby-proofing, and mentally preparing for life as a mama, most moms seem to forget about the actual labor and delivery. Does giving birth make more sense for her in a hospital room or at home? And on that note, what does she need to do to prepare for such?
These days there are many moms who are choosing home births instead of hospital births simply because of comfort. Going into labor can be stressful for new moms, and the last thing they really want is to be in a cold, bright room filled with professionals they've never met before. Nevertheless, if a woman is on the fence between a home birth and a hospital birth, these are 15 uncomfortable moments mom needs to understand, along with five ways to make it better.
20 Brrr! Hey, Doc, Can A Gal Get Another Blanket?
One thing that most women forget about is that hospitals (especially delivery rooms) are cold! Granted, a woman isn't going to be complaining that she's cold while she's in labor, but she'll notice it more when she's recovering. According to Verywell Family, temperatures in hospitals are lower for multiple reasons. As the site says, "When wearing a sterile gown for a length of time, especially while standing under warm or lights, your [doctor] can become quite hot. The room is often kept cool to keep the surgeon and the staff more comfortable." It's also a great way for the body to regulate itself efficiently.
19 Speaking Of Doctors, Where Are They?
Following the prior entry, according to The Good Men Project, most new moms and dads are surprised to learn that they don't see much of the doctor until mom is close to pushing time. Sure, mom may have a great relationship with her doctor during all those prenatal appointments, but she may be surprised to learn that she won't see much of them on delivery day. In fact, she may have a different doctor entirely. One dad mentioned how stunned he was that his wife's doctor was in and out of the delivery room without even speaking to his wife. He would just pop in, talk to the nurses, and leave. As a new mom, this may be uncomfortable for her.
18 Zero Privacy
The act of privacy is completely different between a hospital delivery and a home delivery. At home, the only people in the house are people the mom knows and the midwife she has selected. It's private, it's personal, it seems to be more comfortable than the number of people in the hospital's delivery rooms. While in the hospital, there will be a number of different nurses popping in and out to do cervical and vital checks. Not to mention, the woman's doctor may differ than whom she's expecting. If this is a woman's first pregnancy, the number of faces she sees in the room may be uncomfortable.
17 Post-Epidural Life
Millions of moms have chosen epidurals to help them get through the pains of delivering a baby. Even if a mom is against epidurals, sometimes the pain is just too much for them to take. In any case, a mom may feel numb from the waist down after getting an epidural, but after the baby comes, there are side effects she may not be ready for. According to NHS, mom may have the shakes, itchy skin, a loss of bladder control, headache, and even feeling ill. Going through those kinds of effects after giving birth may be an annoyance to new moms, especially since they're trying to feel their best to take care of their new baby.
16 But Sometimes Epidurals Don't Take
Epidurals and pain meds during labor are extremely common, and quite frankly, beloved. Some moms even noted that after getting the epidural, they're relaxed enough to have a little nap before it's time to push. However, just because a woman gets an epidural doesn't mean it always works. A dad over at The Good Men Project explained that the nurse tried giving his wife an epidural and the needle wouldn't take. The needle apparently "just kept popping out." The new dad stated, "They stuck a giant needle in her back and went (bubble-pop noise), not once but twice." If a woman hasn't gone through birth before, this news can be extremely disheartening.
15 You're Numb For A C-Section, But You Still Feel Tugging
Depending on the woman, the child, and the pregnancy, a woman may need to endure a C-section to get the baby out safely. Whether that's her choice or not, a C-section is a major surgery and mom may feel more things than she thinks. While a woman shouldn't feel any severe pain, she will feel plenty of tugging, movement, numbness, and even shortness of breath, according to Verywell Family. The site explains moms will feel these kinds of sensations because the doctors (and the baby) are manipulating the organs to get the baby out safely. When it comes to shortness of breath, nurses will give mom some oxygen if she feels like there's a tightness in her chest.
14 Hello, Anyone There?
One thing that a few moms noticed is how little their OB-GYN talked to them throughout labor. The people keeping mom in the loop are typically the nurses or doulas (if a doula is hired). Doctors are typically very busy and probably won't be in the delivery room until mom is close to 10 centimeters dilated. Not really knowing what's going on with your body (or baby) and only hearing codewords may frighten a vulnerable mom. To change the atmosphere, mom can prepare for this by hiring a delivery coach or asking her nurses to keep her in the loop through the birth.
13 Captain Hook
One of the things that frightens moms the most are tools used and the sounds heard. There are tons of machines in the delivery room, all making their own noises and sounds. And when it comes to tools a doctor may need to get some additional help to labor successfully, a mom may become uncomfortable. According to What to Expect, there is "a long, plastic crochet needle" used sometimes that can intimidate any vulnerable mom. The site says "If your amniotic sac doesn't rupture on its own, your doctor may use this hook to break your water." Another part of this that can be uncomfortable is that the woman will feel a gush of water once it ruptures.
12 When The Baby's Stuck
When a woman is giving birth naturally, there are a few things doctors can do to get the baby out if they need a little extra help. Since babies bones aren't hard when they're born, doctors can use forceps around the baby's head to get them out quickly and safely. If forceps aren't in the picture, doctors may use a vacuum. As What to Expect says, "If your baby needs an assist through the birth canal, your doctor may try using this tool before opting for a C-section. A metal or plastic cup is secured around your little one's head, and then suction is applied to help pull her out."
11 Going To The Bathroom For The First Time
One thing that most people can agree on (parents or not) is that they love going to the bathroom in their own bathroom. When the bathroom is your own, you know exactly who's been in there, when it's been cleaned, where your favorite products are, and it's the place where your fuzzy bathrobe hangs. It's comfortable — it's your own space. Now, when you're going to the restroom for the first time after birth, things are bound to be uncomfortable. Not only is it physically hard to use your bladder and muscles after birth, but the bathroom is cold, bland, and not "yours." That's not cozy for any new mom.
10 Labor Can Last Days!
Most women going into labor will quickly realize that it's no easy process. It's also not always as quick as we see it in the movies. Labor can sometimes last days. I know for my mom, she was in labor for two days before I eventually popped out! According to BabyCenter, a mom's first time going through labor may be her longest. The site continues saying "Once your cervix has dilated to 10cm, it could take you an hour or two hours of pushing before your baby is born." This is why most doctors tell new moms not to come into the hospital until they're a certain amount of centimeters — to avoid days of pain in the hospital.
9 Those Awkward Gowns
Granted, a woman can wear anything that resembles a gown while in the hospital. She can even go sans clothing if she prefers. However, doing so may be easier (and more comfortable) when in your own home. After all, hospitals can be pretty cold and bare places; the last thing a woman really wants to do is wear a paper-thin gown. Parents explains, "Most people choose to wear the gown because it's easier, but you can wear your own clothes, if you prefer. Just make sure they're comfortable and can get dirty." If wearing a sports bra is more comfortable for mama, go for it!
8 No Flash Photography, Please!
At home, mom and dad can take as many pictures as they want. You could say it's a more relaxed atmosphere for mom, the midwife, and everyone else involved. Hospitals, on the other hand, aren't so forgiving. Depending on the hospital, flash photography isn't always accepted. Not only can the flash be harmful for the newborn but it may be overpowering and distracting for the doctors and nurses trying to get the baby out safely. If a mom has a birth photographer planned, she needs to ask the staff regarding hospital rules and if that's acceptable.
7 Grab The Shades
Not only are hospital rooms cold, but they're also bright. Doctors and nurses need the rooms brightly lit in order to do their job effectively. If a woman is giving birth while lying on her back (or getting a C-section, for that matter), she'll quickly notice how bright it can really by when she's only looking up at the ceiling. If a woman is having a home birth, however, the atmosphere is different. Moms can light candles and nightlights to make the area cozier. They can also have soft music playing to make them feel at ease. In comparison to the two, having a child at home seems to be more primal than the brightly lit delivery room.
6 Your Doctor May Not Even Be Present
As aforementioned, doctors pop in and out of the delivery room, which can frighten moms. Most new moms expect their doctors to be in the delivery room the entirety of the labor, but that's not always the case. Likewise, just because a woman chose a doctor she's comfortable with to deliver her baby, doesn't mean they're always going to be on duty. In fact, moms shouldn't get too attached to the OB-GYN they've been seeing throughout their pregnancy because there's no guarantee they'll be there. In comparison to a home birth though, a woman chooses her midwife herself, who will ultimately be the same person who'll delivery her baby.
And here are 5 things that can make it better...
5 Bring Your Own Pillow
Finally! We have approached what a mother can do to make her stay at the hospital even better! While some moms may be only thinking about her birth plan and what to dress the baby in when they leave the hospital, mom should also think about the things that'll make her more comfortable. Grabbing a few pillows from home can do wonders to make a woman in labor feel right at home. It's more comfortable for her, it fits her head just right, and it probably smells like home, which can make any mom feel more comfortable in the strangest of situations.
4 Don't Forget Shower Gear
It's pretty fantastic that most hospitals supply mom with things to make her feel comfortable and more at home. And while it's easier to use the things the hospital gives moms in the recovery room, bringing some things from home might make mom feel more at ease. Instead of using a dry shower bar from the nurse, mom can use her own soft smelling body wash and perfectly plush loofah to make her body feel more like itself. After all, is there anything more relaxing for mom than a warm shower with beautifully scented body lotions and oils? After all that pain and pushing, mom deserves a few minutes of sweetness.
3 Bring The Activities!
When a friend of mine gave birth to her first baby, one thing she asked me to bring was activities for her and her husband to play with while they waited. Playing cards took her mind off the pain before the baby came, and coloring or reading made the time past by while she was in the recovery room. New parents can even bring small touches of home to make their stay a tad more comfortable, like photo albums or an iPad to watch movies on. Ultimately, birth and the after birth can be stressful—both mentally and physically—on a woman, so playing games or reading while the baby sleeps can make all the difference.
Remember how we said that hospital rooms are chilly and bright? Not only should moms bring their own fuzzy or compression socks, but they should also bring their own slippers. Even if mom doesn't typically wear slippers at home, there's something about wearing plush slippers in the delivery room that gives mom a little more comfort. Plus, hospital floors are quite slippery, so wearing slippers with some comfort and traction can make things safer for mama, as well. And while hospitals aren't anywhere near the same aura as a spa, anything that makes mom can feel feminine and comforted is appreciated.
1 Your Favorite Snacks
Most moms understand that they can't eat solids while they're in labor, which can be hard if a mom was in labor for a long time. This is why most pregnant women in labor are seen eating ice chips or drinking clear liquids. However, once the baby is born, mom is free to eat what she likes (within reason if she's breastfeeding, of course). Instead of eating the questionable meals and snacks that hospitals sometimes gives moms, they should bring their own favorite snacks to keep in their hospital bag. This can include fruits, drinks, granola bars — anything she may crave that can keep her energy up after birth.
Sources: Mommyish, GQ, What to Expect, Parents, Cosmopolitan, Verywell Family.