It's at the end of your pregnancy, and you're convinced you're [finally] in labor. After calling your care provider, laboring at home, and making the trek into your hospital, you're ready to check in and birth your baby! Upon arriving at your place of birth, there are a few things to know that can make your transition go more smoothly.
Know Where to Enter and Park
If you are arriving in labor during the overnight hours, your hospital may require you to enter through a different entrance, separate from “Labor and Delivery.” This is part of the information you'll receive during a hospital tour. If you are unable to take a tour, take a few minutes during your pregnancy to call your hospital or check their website for parking and entrance information. Most hospitals also have a drop-off location, where you can temporarily park in front of the doors and enter directly without a long walk.
You May Have to Wait for a Room
Many hospitals have what is referred to as “triage,” a temporary room in which you are assessed to determine if you should be admitted to stay. Depending on where you are in labor, you may go directly to a room without triage, or if your hospital is particularly full when you go into labor, you may stay longer in triage.
Upon arriving into a hospital room (whether triage or a labor and delivery room), one of the first procedures nurses perform is electronic fetal monitoring (EFM), typically for 20 minutes. This monitoring strip will record baby's heart rate and the frequency and duration of your contractions. Being monitored does require you to be attached to a machine, but it does not mean you have to lie on your back in bed (a position that is generally very uncomfortable for labor). Ask your nurse or doula to help you get into a comfortable position, like sitting on a ball, standing and leaning, or on all fours in the bed, and then remain in that position for the time needed on the monitor. You can also ask if your hospital has a wireless, or “telemetry,” monitoring unit. After your monitoring is complete, ask to come off of the monitors to allow for increased freedom of movement.
Yes, even if you registered in advance of your arrival and even if you are in the throes of labor, you will still be required to sign multiple forms upon being admitted into the hospital.
Your Birth Plan
If no one asks for it, be sure to mention upon being admitted that you have a birth plan. If it's not in your file already, be prepared and bring a copy (or 2) with you. This is a great job to task your partner or birth support person.
Make Yourself at Home
If you've never stayed in a hospital room before, it can feel unfamiliar. Once you're in your room, unpack the things you'll need, set up your music, and find out where extra linens, pillows, and vomit basins/bags are kept. Be sure to also find out the location of the nearest water and ice station.
Is there something you wish you would have known about arriving at the hospital during labor? Share in the comments!