The overnight bag is by the door. The labour and childbirth book you are reading is open to "Labour." Your contractions are five minutes apart, and as you climb into the car, you know exactly what awaits you... and pigs can fly.
No matter how many books you've read or how many hours you've spent on pregnancy websites, labour is never going to play out the way you've planned. From the amount of gook you gush to the intensity of the love you feel, there is always something that comes as a complete surprise. Even so, to get a fairly comprehensive idea of what to expect, we spoke to many mother who relived their labour experience. A few pointers:
What to Take
The items you may need with you in hospital fall into three categories: clothes and other personal effects for yourself; clothes and nappies for the baby; your comfort aids for labour. It is advisable to carry comfortable clothing, rubber slippers, extra-large sanitary pads, towels and face cloths, maybe a light pullover as you may feel cold, a small mirror, minimum make-up to look fresh and a toothbrush. If there's anything else you need apart from these, your husband can always get it for you.
Put the cell phone on hold
Would you like your husband's cellular phone to ring while you are in labour? The answer would most definitely be in the negative. He may be conducting important business deals on the cell but at least for now, that can wait. You simply cannot handle delivery and business at the same time.
If you have shoulder length hair it could keep getting in your face during labour. Either you could try wearing a hair band or tie your hair back with a scrunchie. You need to be as comfortable as you can during this time.
Most hospitals advise against eating during labour in case there is an unexpected emergency which means you have to be anesthesised. So take glucose sweets to suck, and high energy isotonic drinks to help you maintain energy levels. Try to make sure there's enough for you to eat as you're likely to be ravenous after the birth and you'll want something to eat right away.
Many women find that the discomfort of labour can be alleviated with massage. Counter pressure can be provided by your partner using his hands. A small lamount of talcum powder or vegetable based massage oil will stop your skin from being dragged or pinched. A hot water bottle placed in the small of your back can act as a compress to soothe backache.
Get ready, get set, push!
What was taught to you in your prenatal class, about how to push effectively, will be a vague memory. When the time actually comes for you to push, the doctor and nurses are likely to concentrate on what was going on down there that they may not notice you blowing on a trumpet. A friend of mine ended up popping some capillaries in her face. Therefore don't push from your upper body. Focus on a point below your belly button and imagine that you're pushing from there.
Let music set the tone
You may think Celine Dion will ease some of the pain of labour, but listening to music afterward will truly help. Listen to whatever music you like at the hospital and let it play. When feeding the baby you are more likely to find music soothing. And later whenever you listen to the same music later on in life, you will be reminded of your newborn child. Isn't that a great thrill?
Keep hands free for hugs
In case you have an older child, it would be a good idea to put the baby in the crib and leave your hands free for hugs meant for the older child. Then hold his or her hand and take her to where the baby is. You may not want your child to feel as though she were being replaced when she comes to visit you and the baby in the hospital. Gentle handling at this time will stand you in good stead.