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Preparing for Labor and Delivery
Talk With Your Doctor or Healthcare Provider
What should I do if I think I’m in labor?
- Do I call the office or come to the hospital?
- What if it’s late at night or on the weekend?
- If my doctor is unavailable, who will deliver my baby?
What pain management options are available?
- What are the risks and benefits of each?
- How late into labor can I receive these medications?
- What natural pain management options are there?
What are your thoughts on episiotomies?
- When would I need one?
- What if I don’t want to have one?
- How often do you do them?
- Be aware that an episiotomy should never be done without a medical indication (routine episiotomy is now viewed as doing more harm than good)—this is the position of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and you should expect your provider to voice a similar position.
Are there any issues in my medical history or in my present pregnancy that may complicate delivery?
- If so, what are the issues?
- What can we do now to minimize any risks?
- What will you do during delivery to minimize any risks?
- What are the reasons I might need a Cesarean section?
- What happens if I pass my due date? Will I be induced? What does that entail?
- Should I create a birth plan?
- If I want to breastfeed, how soon can I get started? Will there be anyone available to help me and my baby learn to breastfeed?
- If I feed my baby formula, which one should I use? What supplies will I need? And how do I prepare the formula?
Take a Childbirth Preparation Class
The Lamaze Technique
The Bradley Method, or Husband-coached Birth
Visit the Pediatrician and Hospital or Birthing Center
- Ask your doctor and your friends for a referral to a pediatrician. Visit the open house for new patients. This is a good way to get to know and to choose a pediatrician. This pediatrician will see your baby within the first ten days of life.
Take a tour of the maternity ward or birthing center where you will give birth
- Ask about the rooms; including whether you will you have a private room? Can a family member stay over?
- Ask about policies, such as who can be present for the birth, visiting hours, and bringing in outside food and flowers
- Do a dry run. See how long it will take to drive from home to the hospital or birthing center. Determine the best route if there might be traffic or other delays.
Prepare Your Home
- If necessary, arrange for someone to help you the first couple of weeks at home
- Shop and prepare food for the first weeks back home, and collect take-out menus
Prepare a nursery for your baby, you’ll need:
- A crib or bassinet
- If you buy a used crib, make sure it meets the standards set by the National Safety Council
- A table or other sanitary place to change diapers
- Diaper bag packed with diapers, receiving blankets, change of clothes, plastic bag for soiled diapers, and baby wipes
- Diaper pail or garbage can
- Storage area for baby clothes and diapers
- If using cloth diapers, set up delivery; you’ll need 90 diapers for the first week
- If using disposable diapers, stock up; buy 350 for the first month
Stock up on clothes and accessories for the baby
- T-shirts or “onesies,” 5-10 sets
- Booties or socks, 3-5 pairs
- Hat, 1-2
- Sleepers, 5-7
- Receiving blankets, 5-7
- Fitted crib sheets, 3-4
- Soft wash cloths, 3-5
- Burp cloths or cloth diapers, 3-5
- Baby scissors or nail clippers
- Baby thermometer
- Mild soap, baby lotion, and baby powder
- Wash all clothes, bedding, towels, and wash cloths before using them with your baby
Be Ready for the Big Moment
- Always have the gas tank full
- Bring an infant car seat; you may not need to take this with you initially but you will need it to bring the baby home
- Bring your insurance card, birth plan, and any other useful health information
- Leave jewelry, cash, and other valuables at home
Pack these things for yourself
- Warm socks
- Hand lotion and lip balm
- Lollipops or hard candy; favorite snacks or juice
- Toiletries (dental care, contact lenses, deodorant, shampoo)
- Comb, brush, and elastics for long hair
- CD player and favorite relaxing music, books, magazines
- Several pairs of underwear, socks, and bras
- Pajamas, with button front if you plan to breastfeed (2 sets)
- Bathrobe and slippers
- Extra pillow, if you are partial to yours
- Loose-fitting outfit and shoes to wear home
- Pad and pencil, to write down questions for your medical team
- Telephone calling card and phone numbers (many hospitals do not allow cell phones)
- Camera or camcorder
Pack for your baby
- Name and contact information for your baby’s healthcare provider
- Outfit for baby’s photo and an outfit to wear home (a onesie and an outer garment)
- Mittens or extra pair of socks to cover baby’s nails (to avoid scratches on the face)
- One receiving blanket
- One outer blanket
- One hat and pair of booties
- If using cloth diapers, bring two diapers and Velcro diaper covers
- If the weather is cold, a heavy blanket, sweater, and hat
Your partner should pack a bag, too:
- Underwear and a change of comfortable clothes
- Pajamas, if staying overnight
- Books or magazines
- If you have children, designate someone to babysit while you’re in the hospital.
Try to Relax
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov
National Safety Council http://www.nsc.org
Pregnancy & Newborns Nemours Foundation http://kidshealth.org
Smart Moms, Healthy Babies University of Michigan Health System http://www.med.umich.edu
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org/index%5Fe.asp
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
Birthing classes. Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy%5Fnewborn/pregnancy/birth%5Fclass.html. Accessed August 8, 2005.
Labor, delivery, and postpartum period. Sutter Health website. Available at: http://www.sutterhealth.org/health/healthinfo/?A=C&hwid=tn9759#hwTop. Accessed August 8, 2005.
Stages of labor: labor and delivery checklist. Palo Alto Medical Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pamf.org/pregnancy/labor/stages.html. Accessed August 8, 2005.
What should I take to the hospital? University of Michigan Health System website. Available at: http://www.med.umich.edu/obgyn/smartmoms/labor/labor/hospital.htm. Accessed August 8, 2005.
What to pack for the labor room. Palo Alto Medical Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pamf.org/pregnancy/labor/pack.html. Accessed August 8, 2005.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 03/2014
- Update Date: 04/30/2014