What to expect at your hospital deliveryClick here to view the full magazine article
As you contemplate the place you will deliver your baby, you will probably consider delivering in a hospital. Delivering at the hospital is the most common delivery location choice by mothers in the United States. Most first time moms don't know what to expect, so we interviewed Janet Frank, the public information consultant, from Utah Valley Medical Center and got tons of helpful tips and information when delivering at a hospital.
First, when you arrive at the hospital, you will be evaluated by a nurse. If you are far enough along in the delivery process, you will be admitted. Most hospitals consider you to be far enough along if you have broken your water, or are actively dilating. Most hospitals will have you use the same room for laboring and delivering, but some will have you move rooms just before delivering. If the labor and delivery room is all in one, like at the Utah Valley Medical Center, this room will be the room that you go through labor in. They will pull out all of their delivery equipment when the time comes.
During labor, the nurses typically check on you every so often making sure everything is alright. They also monitor your vitals and baby's vitals on a computer screen from their desk in the hall. You can expect them to monitor your progression every 20 minutes, depending on your progress. If you are being induced, or you are having any sort of complications your doctor will be more involved, otherwise, your doctor may check on you once if you are having a particularly long labor or if he needs to do any sort of procedure like breaking your water. Generally, he is only called during last phases of delivery.
In the event of an emergency C-Section, you can expect things to get crazy! The doctor will likely make the decision very quickly, and Mom will probably not have much time to prepare herself mentally. Remember, having a C-Section does not mean you did something wrong. It is just the best way to safely deliver your baby. More and more hospitals have operating rooms on the same floor as the labor and delivery rooms. This is to help save time when they need to get the baby out fast!
If your baby has problems during a vaginal delivery, forget your modesty because there will be a lot of medical staff in the room to help you and your baby. Everyone is there to help you and your baby (not to gawk). They may take the baby quickly to the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). While this sounds scary, it is simply a place where they have the staff and equipment to take the best care of your baby if there are any complications.
After a normal vaginal delivery, they will allow a few minutes for mom and baby to get acquainted before taking the baby to be bathed and checked more thoroughly. If you deliver with out getting an epidural, you may be able to go with baby to the nursery for this. If you had the epidural, you will not be able to walk until the medication wears off, so you will most likely be taken to your room while they check and bathe baby.
You can usually eat very soon after delivering your baby. This may be the best meal you have ever eaten! If the staff does not offer you a meal, ask for it. You will need your strength after all that hard work. If during your stay you get hungry, ask the nurses for a snack. Most hospitals also have a place open 24 hours a day where you can get something to eat. It is also very important to drink plenty of water.
One of the first things they will do to the baby after delivery is put an I.D. bracelet on the baby and on mom. They usually allow 1 other bracelet for dad or another person. These bracelets mean that you are the only people who can pick up the baby from the nursery. Many maternity wards are locked down completely. This means that in order for anyone to get into or out of the unit, they must be buzzed in by a nurse. While baby abductions from the hospital do not happen very often, it is still important to be safe! A lot of hospitals have a special badge for all staff who work in the maternity ward. This is so you know that the person taking your baby is truly a maternity ward nurse. Always check the badge of anyone taking the baby from your room.
At night, the nurse may ask you if you want your baby to sleep in your room or go to the nursery. This is a personal decision, but understand that you can change your mind at any time. If you want the baby to stay in your room after a midnight feeding, that is fine. Or if the baby is distracting you from sleep, you can always send him to the nursery in the middle of the night. If you are breastfeeding, the nurses will bring your baby to you when she is hungry. You may want your spouse or significant other to stay overnight with you in the hospital. Most hospitals allow this and are willing to help make his stay as comfortable as possible. Ask your nurse if they have inflatable air mattresses or pull out couches for your spouse to sleep on. Your spouse might be more comfortable if he brings his own pillow and blanket from home.
For a C-Section delivery, you will usually end up staying in the hospital for 96 hours after delivery (4 days). With a vaginal delivery, you can expect to stay 48 hours after delivery (2 days). When it is time to go home, do not hesitate to take everything out of the baby's cart home with you (except the blanket). The nurses will throw it away if you do not take it so if you want it take it. We recommend checking your insurance plan to see how long the insurance will cover you staying in the hospital after the birth.
You and your spouse may be wondering how you get billed for having your baby. A lot of this depends on your insurance. But you can expect to receive a bill or statement from each of the following: the hospital, doctor who delivers the baby, pediatrician who checks baby during stay, and anesthesiologist if you had an epidural. If your baby had to stay in the NICU, all the doctors who take care of your baby will be included in the hospital bill. If you need financial help, please visit http://www.babyyourbaby.org or call their toll free hotline at 1-800-826-9662.
On average, a vaginal delivery in Utah costs $4,489 and a cesarean delivery costs $7,650. This does not include the cost of taking care of the normal newborn. The average cost of this is $1,576. (Statistics taken from Utah Department of Health at http://health.utah.gov/myhealthcare/reports/2007/maternity/charges/normalNewborn.htm)
Delivering in the hospital does not have to be a scary experience. Call your hospital and ask to take the hospital tour. During this tour you can ask any of your questions about hospital policies. Hospital policies are different for each hospital so information in this article is generalized. Remember, the hospital staff is there to help you, so ask them for help with whatever you need.
Hospital packing list:
Pack well in advance (36 weeks along is a good rule of thumb) and put a sticky note on the top of your bag for last minute things. If you forget something, ask the hospital to see if they have one, or get a friend or relative to bring it to you from home.
For Mom During Labor and Delivery:
For Dad During Delivery:
For Mom Postpartum:
Return to August 2008 list of articles