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15 Things I Had No Idea Would or Could Happen During Labor and Delivery

Catie is working on becoming a new mother. She is learning how to take care of the newest addition to her family and is not afraid to share.

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#1 Your Water Can Break at Any Time and With No Warning

The night my water broke, I had had a thirty-seven-week obstetrician appointment twelve hours prior. The doctor had found my cervix to be completely closed and my wall was "thick". I had been so excited that our baby was going to be fully cooked and it looked like we still had a couple of weeks until her arrival. Psyche!

I awoke around 2:00 AM later that night to a full bladder and a little bit of leakage. Nothing unusual. I felt as normal as one can feel at thirty-seven weeks and five days pregnant. I finished up my business and went to wash my hands. With the sudden realization that I was leaking A LOT, I got my tushy back onto the toilet just in time. The amount of fluid was not like the movies, but it wasn’t a little trickle either. It was like the equivalent of peeing. But I wasn’t peeing.

My husband woke up to me saying, “Are you kidding me?”.

“What?” was his response from our bed.

“I think my water just broke.” I started shaking a bit, I remember being sort of frozen.

What?!” Chris was there in an instant and he could hear the *tinkle* *tinkle*.

I just looked at him, hands shaking, and mind blown, “That’s not pee… And it’s not diarrhea…” Chris put his contacts in and started getting dressed. He gave me a hug and asked if I was alright. Besides the shock and shakiness, I felt completely fine.

I eventually tried to clean myself up enough to put some pants on so that we could leave for the hospital. I found that the amniotic fluid was green. This is not what I had read in the books, seen in the movies or been told about by my doctor so I was a little worried and curious. I also had not had a contraction or any Braxton hicks (I didn't have any Braxton hicks for the entire pregnancy), nothing. Later when we were at the hospital and I was describing what happened, my nurse explained to us that the green coloration was meconium. Our baby girl had had a bowel movement that had been expelled with the amniotic fluid. Not too big of a deal, but the medical team did monitor her closely during the actual birth for aspiration of the meconium which could lead to complications.

All was fine though!

#2 The Delivery Rooms are Freakin' Sweet!

There was so much space! Our delivery room included a full bathroom, a couch for my husband to sleep on, a really comfy chair and footrest, the hospital bed and all the baby stuff (like the baby warmer thing). Oh, and a tv.

When my niece and nephew were born, I recall my sister only being allowed to have two support people in the delivery room with her. I got to have as many as I wanted! I had my husband, my mom, my sister, and my niece. It was great to have so much support.

After delivery, we were moved to a postpartum room that was much smaller but had a full bed so Chris and I could sleep together for the rest of our stay at the hospital. This room also had a mini-fridge, a half bath, closet, and tv. There was a shared shower room between mine and two other mother’s rooms that was cleaned after every use. I didn’t end up needing to use this because of our discharge time.

#3 We Needed About 20% of What I Packed in Our Hospital Bag

I didn’t go hog wild in the first place either. I didn’t have any feminine products, the hospital supplies all of those for you. I used one dress that was perfect for sleeping and breastfeeding and stayed in it the whole time after delivery. We used the change of clothes that I packed for my husband, one of the two outfits I packed for the baby, toothbrushes, toothpaste, my hairbrush, and deodorant. We grabbed our phone chargers on the way out the door. Otherwise, we really didn’t need much. The one thing that I did not think to plan or pack for was snacks. I was served breakfast lunch and dinner by the hospital, but Chris was on his own. He had to leave the hospital and get fast food (which we normally don't eat and gets old FAST) or purchase out of the hospital cafeteria which typically isn’t what hospitals are known for.

The one thing that I definitely regretted not packing was hair conditioner.

#4 Showering/Bathing is Totally Allowed!

Ok, so I have this weird thing about my hair. I HATE having my picture taken if it isn’t down and clean. I was so relieved when the nurses asked if I wanted to take a shower. The hospital supplied hair and body wash, but no conditioner. There is something to bring in your hospital bag if you use it. Even once I had my intravenous catheter placed, I could still take a shower. The nurses will change the dressing if needed.

The warm water felt amazing on my back while I was having contractions. They have a stool in the tub so you can sit down too if you want. There are pull cords everywhere in the bathroom in case you need help. I didn't take a bath but I could have if I wanted, looking back now I probably would have really enjoyed that.

#5 I Had to Take My Normal Medications Directly from the Hospital Pharmacy

I had packed a week’s worth of my normal medications and prescriptions in our bag, but the nurses were required to get everything I was prescribed through the hospital’s pharmacy. Like everything, I am sure that there are multiple valid reasons for this, but I boiled it down to the medical staff just needing to know and log exactly what I was ingesting during my stay. I think even my meals were recorded. This wasn’t a big deal but because I had quickly gotten used to the nurses handing me my medications to take but we did miss an evening dose. I forgot, they forgot, the world will continue to turn. My medications depend on consistency, but an occasional discrepancy impacts me minimally. If you have medications that you take regularly set an alarm or create a checklist or something so that you remember to ask for your medications if you need to.

#6 They Let Me Eat!

The day before my water broke, Chris and I had actually gone to the courthouse to get our marriage license signed.

Side note: We had been common law married forever, but I thought that I had to get my name changed to have my husband’s last name on our daughter’s birth certificate which required a marriage certificate. The joke was on me, turns out they use your maiden name anyways.

We had a late lunch while we were out and about and while waiting to meet up with the judge that married us. We didn’t end up eating dinner. While on the way to the hospital, I realize this and just how hungry I am. I thought that I was going to starve through labor and would be grumpy the whole time.

Once we were admitted to the hospital and we knew that “this was it”, I asked if there was anyway were going to be able to eat, or if Chris could at least eat. The nurse ended up making bagels for us and we could eat as much as we wanted! They even brought Chris a sandwich! Once I had my epidural, I could only have clear fluids, but that included green jello. Which I vomited. Twice.

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#7 The Nursing Staff are Superheroes

Holy. Moly. The women that took care of me and my baby were incredible. They will seriously do anything in their power to make you more comfortable and make sure that you and your baby are well taken care of. They didn’t have to, but they took great care of the rest of my family as well. The doctor took great care of us too, but you only see the doctor a couple of times. The nurses monitor you and your baby constantly, continually check in with your comfort level and meet any of your needs.

The nurses are your advocates and liaison to your doctor. Treat them well and they will treat you well. When I asked for an epidural, I thought it would be at least half an hour before I would get to see the anesthesiologist. He was in my room in under ten minutes with my nurses right behind him. If my husband hadn’t been there to hold my hands during the epidural placement, I know that my nurses would have.

These ladies have seen a bazillion births and babies, but they were still so excited for me and to meet the baby. Words really can’t describe the medical staff at our birth center.

#8 The Contractions are Everything and Nothing Like You'd Think

The contractions increased in frequency and intensity after my doctor started me on Pitocin. I have read so many different descriptions, heard so many horror stories and other stories that described contractions as a breeze.

Mine were not a breeze.

At one brief point, I was alone in the delivery room and battling on. Without any distractions from my husband or the hospital staff, the contractions were even worse. It was like having the worse menstrual cramps of my entire life multiplied by 100. However, you do get a break between contractions, I got about a minute or a little more between mine. The break between was so satisfying, welcomed and worth it. I shared this description with my husband and nurse and the nurse almost started crying because my attitude was so positive. Apparently, that doesn’t happen a whole lot in labor and delivery.

I got an epidural once I couldn’t breathe through the contractions and I just wasn’t coping very well. It was amazing.

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#9 The Nurses Actually Arrive if You Hit Your Call Button

They don’t mess around in labor and delivery. I was fully prepared to wait the customary 10-15 minutes before a nurse arrived in our room. But I was very impressed that if I needed something, or a pump was alarming, I could count on our nurses to arrive promptly. It was so comforting to know that if we needed someone, we were taken seriously.

I wholeheartedly believe that we were also treated extra, extra special and had so much fun with the medical staff because of our positive attitudes, good senses of humor and realistic expectations. Chris and I had educated ourselves enough to know (vaguely) what was going on and when something wasn’t right. I also didn’t hit the call button every five seconds… or really complain much. If you are pleasant to your medical staff, they will go above and beyond their already exceptional level of care for you and your family.

#10 Epidurals are Wonderful but WEIRD

All of a sudden, you’re still in labor, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. The world was so peaceful and calm when my daughter entered it. I wasn’t under any stress and neither was my husband. I have no idea if the epidural was what did it, but my daughter didn’t cry when she arrived. She just looked around and was happy to finally be there. She did finally cry when she got her shots though.

I was able to converse with the people around me and enjoy the experience even more. It was so wild.

I did experience some side effects. Initially, I couldn’t move my legs very well. Chris and the medical staff had to rotate me side to side (epidurals work via gravity so if you were upside down, the top half of you would go numb, visa versa with left and right sides) and prop me up with pillows. At one point I was numb up to my armpits so they had to keep me slightly sitting up. Also, every time that I would get rotated onto my left side, my blood pressure would drop dangerously low and I would have to get ephedrine IV. Finally, immediately after the epidural was given to me, I vomited.

Even with the side effects, I would get an epidural again. It changed the entire game.

#11 Sutures for a Tear Really Suck

Even with an epidural, I was uncomfortable when the doctor was suturing me up. They obviously have to do a thorough, accurate and quick job but damn... That was the most uncomfortable part of delivery! It was a good thing that I had a newborn on my chest to distract me.

#12 I Did Not Poop

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about this. All the blogs, videos and research that I had scoured all said the same thing: it’s ok if you poop during delivery. And it totally is. It still isn’t a totally comfortable idea! I’ll admit that I didn’t even think about it during delivery and I didn’t even think to ask about it until hours afterward. If I did poop, my husband, mom, sister, niece and all of the medical staff lied to me and I am totally okay with that. Chris said that if I had pooped, there is like a bag/bucket underneath me to catch anything and everything.

#13 Hemorrhaging is a Thing

I was 50ml of blood away to be considered truly “hemorrhaging”. My doctor asked a nurse to give me a shot of Methylergonovine while he was suturing me after delivery. This medication works on smooth muscle, such as the uterus, to slow bleeding. That’s about all the science I know behind it. This was given to me intramuscularly in my left thigh. The needle goes deep, but I didn’t feel it and I was not sore afterward. Apparently, it did the trick, because here I am and I didn't hear anything else about blood loss.

#14 The Placenta Looks Like a Steak

It’s kind of gross and yet so interesting. The doctor showed us the placenta and the small space that our daughter had lived in for the past nine and a half months. It seriously looks like a beefsteak though. I have read some birth stories that claim the epidural does not prevent pain from the placenta being delivered. I could see how this could be construed if the delivery of the baby and expulsion of the placenta were spaced out lengthily causing the epidural to wear off. I didn’t even know my placenta had been delivered until the doctor told me later and was showing it to us.

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#15 Time Flies By

I labored for about nineteen hours, eight of which I had an epidural for. That sounds like a long time, and it is a long time. However, with the anticipation, excitement and so many things needing to be done in a certain order, at a certain point in labor, before I knew it, I had a daughter and we were walking to our post-partum room. Hugging the nurses goodbye after delivery was so sad! These women help you through the most wonderful and most vulnerable time in your life and then they can’t come home with you! It’s very disappointing.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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