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What happens when you go in the hospital to have a baby

Updated on December 28, 2010

The first one since my own

Getting to be an Expert at this!

Having just come home from the Hospital after witnessing the birth of my Grandson. Also after having delivered 5 of my own children and being present at the birth of 3 other Grandchildren I can say with a fair amount of certainty, that I am fast becoming an expert on child birth. Not many people are allowed these kinds of opportunities, I feel very fortunate.

What I am about to divulge is for what would be termed a ’normal’ pregnancy and delivery and also Cesarean or C-section delivery. If you have special needs you will know this before you even go.

When it is time to go; unless you live miles and miles away, and have been otherwise directed by your Doctor, if your pains/contraction are at 3 minute intervals then it would be time to leave for the hospital. Getting there any earlier is just going to frustrate you and your partner. So remain calm, do some walking and breathing (in through the nose, out through the mouth) and wait until those pains are 3 minutes apart.

How to time them

When you time your contractions and they are 3 minutes apart, lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to 1 ½ minutes and they are consistent then you know you are in labor. Consistent means; they become relatively the same, not coming 3 minutes then the next one 10 minutes then 8 minutes and so on. They need to be regular for them to do any good.

Time the contraction (using stopwatch, cell phone or clock with a minute hand) when it begins, and for how long it lasts. It will come in a 'wave', starting not hard, slight pressure, small amount of pain, getting stronger or more painful, then begin to subside. There will be a tightening across the top of your uterus/abdomen during this process, which at times can be felt from the outside.

If they aren’t ‘regular’ and it is still too early for your delivery, try drinking water, at times being dehydrated will cause Braxton Hicks contractions which will do you no good, other than be in pain.

What happens during labor is the cervix thins and opens to allow for passage of the baby. If your contractions aren’t regular this process will not happen. Try relaxing, putting your feet up to see if they either get regular or go away.

Above all RELAX!

When you get to the hospital you will be greeted by the receptionist who will ask your name and give you a bracelet so everyone who looks at it will know who you are. You may be offered a wheelchair to be taken to the birthing area. If you are in a great deal of pain you may choose this option.

Once in the birthing area you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and may be asked to give a urine sample, this is to determine if you have a urinary tract infection causing to you experience labor pains. This may happen particularly if you are a few weeks from your due date.

When you are in your gown your Nurse may put a set of monitor’s on your belly, one is for the baby’s heart rate and the other is for monitoring the contractions. If you are experiencing back labor the contractions may not appear of the monitor. You may be given a ‘button’ to push to mark the contractions. This is to help them determine if you are in true labor.

The Nurse may then do an examination of you. This is not pleasant but IS necessary. They will put on a glove and using some form of lubrication check your cervix. This is done with their hand, and can be painful, at the very least uncomfortable. What they will be checking for is to see if your cervix has thinned and if you are beginning to dilate. In order for the baby to pass through, the cervix should be dilated to 10 centimeters.

If you are dilated less than 3 centimeters and your ’water’ (amniotic fluid) hasn’t broken, they may send you home to walk. Walking is supposed to keep your mind off your pain, and help you to relax. Relaxation is the key to having a swift delivery. If you can relax as much as possible it will allow the body to do what it needs to 'open' up so the baby can pass through.

IV's are not all bad!

If you are truly in Labor the Nurse may then give you an IV.  This is a needle that is inserted usually in the hand (possibly elsewhere) to administer fluids.  It is also used for inserting other medications.  The body loses a lot of fluid during labor and delivery, this may be necessary for your health as well as your baby’s health.

If you are in a great deal of pain (they will ask you on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the worst) your level of pain) they may give you something to help relax you a bit.  One of the types of medication is Stadol, it will help relax you so you can dilate.  It doesn’t relieve all the pain but it does make it a bit more tolerable, it ’takes the edge off’ of the pain.

Relaxing may be difficult but it is the key to a smooth delivery.
   Try focusing on something during a contraction.  If you have a birthing partner having them massage your feet or calves helps.  Sometimes it may seem irritating but during the contraction if you focus on something else, it will help you through.

Dilating to 8

Your Nurse will not stay with you the entire time, they have things to do, people to call such as your Doctor. They also have other patients to tend to, as important as you feel you and your baby are, there are others in need too. Your Doctor may not be on duty when you go in, try not to get upset at this. It happens. This is why having a birthing partner to help you is nice.

If it appears that you will be having a normal delivery you may be allowed ice chips to chew on. As the pressure increases during labor your uterus pushes up against your stomach and can cause vomiting. This is why you are not allowed anything to eat or drink during labor.

If you need to have an emergency C-section fluids or food will not be tolerated well by the body. NO SNEAKING DRINKS!! It is very important that you follow this.

When you dilate to 8 (this is determined through checking as explained previously) they will begin preparing for the birth, possibly moving you to a delivery room (depending on your hospital.

If you choose an Epidural

You may be draped with sterilized cloths at this time and your feet may be put in stirrups, which keep your legs out of the way.  At this time your birthing partner may have to change into ‘scrubs’ and should remain by your head, out of the way of those working around you.

If you have opted for an Epidural this will be done by a Anesthesiologist.  You will be asked to sit on the edge of the bed in a curled position while a needle is inserted in your lower back.  Medicine will then be dispensed this way to numb your lower half.  Remember, you are in labor so this will not be easy, you will be instructed to NOT move.

You will have to remain in the hospital a little longer if you choose this option.  Most deliveries that do not use this are out within 24 hours (provided everything is OK) it will take an extra day with this.  This is to make sure that all is well with you and there are no lasting effects of the medicine.

Don't stop now!

Eventually you will feel a sensation that causes you to want to push.  The best way to describe this is the sensation of having a bowel movement, only bigger.  Your Nurse may tell you it isn’t time yet and may want you to breathe through it, this is done ‘In through the nose - Out through the mouth‘.   The reason is possibly the cervix hasn’t thinned enough and needs a bit more time, a few more contractions.  If you try to push too soon it could cause swelling and a little rougher delivery.

When it’s time to push.  They will ask you to take a big breath and begin pushing, counting to 10.  Then relax.  Then again the same.  At some point they may ask you to hold it, to either hold the push or not push.  They might be adjusting the baby’s head at this point. 

If you have opted for the Epidural, the sensation will be different.  You may get more tired and want to push less.  This is where your partner can come in handy.  He or she will need to make you a bit angry, to 'push' that baby out!  When the baby is in the birth canal and his/her head is almost out this is a dangerous time for the baby.  It can't just sit in there waiting until you feel like pushing, now is not the time to stop!  If your partner can get behind you a bit and help you, then this will help a lot.

There will be a burning sensation as the baby begins to come out, this will go away.  Once the baby’s head is out the Doctor may clear the baby’s nose and mouth, then tell you to give one more good push.  This will clear the shoulders.  Voila` your baby will be out. 

They will do the necessary things like cutting the cord and such.  Shortly after this you will ‘deliver’ the after birth.  It will come upon you like another pushing sensation but is much easier.  Generally all that is needed is one push.

Enjoy your baby!

Once your baby is born, one of the Nurses will clean him/her up they may weigh and measure him.  He will be kept under a warmer and a cap put on his head to keep in his warmth.  The Doctor will be working on you at this time.  To make things easier for you, if you should keep an eye on what’s going on with your baby you won’t concentrate so hard on what the Doctor is doing.  You may need a stitch or two.

When the Doctor has finished cleaning you up, you will be reunited with your baby and have a chance to cuddle.  If you will be breast feeding your Nurse may give you a hand and show you how.  From time to time your Nurse will check your vaginal area to make sure there isn’t too much bleeding or clotting.  They know what to look for, you will have to trust them on this.


If you should need a C-section, you Doctor will notify you within minutes of his examination. It could be for various reasons. Breach (meaning anything but the head coming out first), face first (the baby’s head is turned wrong and refuses to turn right) or any reason that your Doctor determines necessary.

Do not argue with him on this, it is for your benefit as well as the baby. If this should happen you will have to sign some forms. Your Doctor will tell you why it needs to happen. They don’t just cut people open for no good reason.

You will be given a catheter, it will be inserted so you don’t wet the bed. This is because during a C-Section delivery you will be numb from the waist down and won’t feel the urge to urinate. You don’t want to pee on the baby do you? They will also measure the amount you go after the baby is born. As a Nurse once told me after the birth of my last daughter “Peeing indicates life, if you pee you‘re alive”.

You may also be shaved during this time, it is called 'prep' for operating.

No peeking under the drape!

You will be taken to an operating room and prepared for your surgery. Your birthing partner may be allowed in depending on Hospital policy. If this is the case your partner will be expected to sit at your head. You will be draped with a cloth so you cannot see what is happening. The reason for this is some people faint at the site of blood and they don’t need another patient.

Once the baby has been taken out of your body he/she will be taken care of by the Nurses in the room. He will have his cord clipped and an ’APGAR’ score taken. This is done at birth, the 1st minute and 5 minutes later. He may be given oxygen, his nose and mouth will be cleaned out. His body will be wiped down and he will be wrapped in warm blankets. You may get to see him for a minute or two before he is taken to the nursery. At this time your birthing partner may be allowed to go with the child.

Take LOTS of pictures!

If cameras are allowed, lots of pictures can be taken of the blessed event. You will be taken care of by your Physician at this time. It may take a little while, have no fear your baby will be well taken care of.

Some hospitals are now opting for alarms to be put on the baby. This is for their protection as well as yours. The baby will not be allowed beyond certain points on the floor, if this should happen alarms will go off and there will be a search for your baby.

Once your finished in the operating room you may be wheeled by the nursery to see your baby. Then if all is well you and your baby will be taken to your room. The Nurse may check your incision from time to time to make sure there is no excess bleeding.

A Little R & R is all you need

Now is the time to relax and enjoy your baby. If at any time you have questions feel free to ask them. They are there to help you and want you to ask.

Right now you have help with the Nurses and Doctors, let them help you as much as possible. Rest as much as you can because once you are home, the FUN begins!!


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    • Greensmith8979 profile image

      Greensmith8979 5 years ago

      A century old charitable superspeciality hospital offering a wide range of services and treatments.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

      I think that some folks tend to 'over think' stuff and in the process do worry, so normal? Yeppers!! Preparation is a good thing and to me that is what you are doing,preparing your mind for the eventuality of having children.

      I can say that for you to want to be financially stable to have a child is a good thing, not many think ahead for that. Too many have had and are having babies that feel resentful afterwards at having 'missed out' on the fun part of life. For me when I became a parent I just changed my ideas of 'fun' to fit my lifestyle, so I have never felt resentful of missing anything!

      Of course there are many concerns/worries when preparing for a child. Getting pregnant and going through child birth is the easiest part of all! It's the afterwards that become difficult.

      Good Luck to you and when the time is right, you will know.

    • profile image

      Amanda ❤ 5 years ago

      I'm not even trying to get pregnant, yet. I'm not financially stable for a child... Sometimes I think I'm not ready, mentally. But I've been around kids my whole life changing diapers since I was about 4. Haha. But no matter how old I was getting, mom would still always be there telling me how to do it right! So if i ever did get pregnant, I think I wouls do a great job!

      Anyway, I'm just randomly talking... But like I said, I'm not even trying, yet. I'm just terrified of everything that will happen, when the time comes!!!

      Is this normal to worry? Especially for me, a 22 year old? I mean, my 22 year old friend already has 2 babies, one will be 3 this year & i think the other just had a 1st bday. While I have a 21 year old cousin with a baby that just turned 2. I am feeling kind of left out... But at the same time I feel like I should also take this time to achieve anything I want and be successful for when I do have a baby.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

      Sometimes the 'wee ones' just aren't quite ready to face the world yet. I am sure that when the time comes the baby will decide to make his/her way on outta the oven. My last one was due April 28th, she arrived May 13th. I was due the next day to have my labor induced. She is still the shy one...

      Relax, put your feet up read a good book and try not to worry. All in good time, all in good time. It took my 3rd one (out of 5) to make me realize that being pregnant and ready to have your baby is kind of like sitting in a traffic jam, 'nothin's gonna happen until it happens'.

      Your body has a job to do, and worry on your part will prevent it from doing what it has to do. Something about the brain and the nervous system etc... If the biggest part of your brain is doing the worrying the other part that controls when the baby comes isn't allowed to do its job.

      If you've taken your birthing classes and have practiced your breathing techniques now would be a good time to practice. Sit as comfortable as you can, close your eyes, begin to feel yourself relax and breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Keep doing this until you feel the tension leave your body.

      Every time you begin to feel the worry set in take a 'breather' and do this. It will help your body prepare for the baby's birth.

      Try drinking a warm cup of herbal tea as well (caffeine free) unless you prefer warm milk. It helps to relax the body.

      We live in a 'hurry-hurry' world so of course it is difficult to learn to relax, but taking a little 'me time' doing what it is that you like to do can help relieve tension as well. For me doing things that I like to do is relaxing like sewing, crocheting, reading or doing crafts. Doing those things helps me focus on 'the doing' and less on what is not happening.

      I hope this helps and the BEST of luck to you in your delivery!! So glad you stopped by!!

    • profile image

      Lisa Elliott 5 years ago

      Iam a week over due, gettin bit scared & nervous it's hard to control the 2!!!!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you!! So glad you enjoyed.

    • johncimble profile image

      johncimble 6 years ago from Bangkok

      What an amazing hub vote up :)

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Oh you are most welcome!! I'm so glad you found it. It is so hard when you go into the hospital and have them explain it ONLY when they are doing it (whatever 'it' is they are doing) then they walk out not telling you anything. They just have reports to make etc. and people to talk to getting things ready for the baby to be born, without meaning to, sort of forgetting the patient...

      Not everyone is as patient as I am and get upset. I've seen it firsthand (patients getting rude) I think more than anything it's because they don't know what is going on, or what to expect.

      Blessings on your new baby!! I hope your birthing experience is a very pleasant one!! Remember RELAXATION is the key to a smooth birth!!

    • Megan Mahajan profile image

      Megan Mahajan 6 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful hub!! I think all any of us first time mom's want is exactly what you've shared- straight forward information without all the sugar coating to make us feel better. I'm expecting my first in a month and a half and this was wonderful to read.

      Thanks again!!

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      I feel like a circus leader most days because of what you're describing, but it isn't too far off from my waitressing days. When I was waitressing, I had to "coordinate" people--managers, hungry people, cooks, hostesses--nursing is very similar. If I had a baby tomorrow I'd take as much 'doctor' out of it as possible and go the midwife route, assuming I didn't have medical complications. I called a doctor just recently for a patient who was about to deliver, (this particular doc gets super pissed when he misses a delivery--the money), and he was playing golf and told me what hole he was on. I do not play golf, nor do I know what holes are what, but I had to bite my little Christian tongue to not say, 'let me tell you about what hole I AM on!" Sigh...and they say there's a nursing shortage?? Go figure.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      @ skye2day - LOL, my grandson was born 10/18/10, and he is a doll! Of course his 1 yr old sister don't much care for him, she keeps taking his binkie away (she don't use one) so she is just being a stinker.

      I do have to say that my oldest daughter felt much better after her second son was born than her first. She had the epidural with the first.... Second was natural.

      @ ahostagesituation - Why Thank you! I feel bad for the Nurses... they get it from both sides. The patients wanting to see the Dr. NOW and the Dr. telling the Nurse to make the patient comfy they'll roll out of bed in an hour or two...

      My daughter experienced a tiff between 2 Dr's this time. Her Dr. (Dr. D) got there at 6:45 to take over his shift, the 'on call' Dr. wanted to head the surgery... Yeah, that didn't go over too well with Dr. D. He said he'd do the job, my guess is because the 'on call' Dr. didn't bother even showing up, let her sit in labor (they knew she wasn't going to have him natural). Dr. D. is one of those Dr's that don't see a reason to let someone sit in pain....

      The 'on call' Dr. didn't want to roll out of bed at 3:30 am... LOL Poor Nurses... At least we didn't get grumpy.

      The folks that came in at 6:30 were... hmmm what is the word... demanding. Yep, that's it. Demanding that the Dr. make her go into labor, NOW.. Cause they had things to do... OMG!! some folks!!

      Thank you both for stopping by and commenting.

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      Sweetsusieg, I love reading this from the perspective of the other side. You did a really good job. And an OB nurse, since I read more "your nurse" than "your doctor" in this article I see you really did hit the nail on the head.

    • skye2day profile image

      skye2day 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Hi I chuckle at a few of the male comments. Cute. I just saw my grandson born. 9-29-2010 An awesome miracle. You hit the head on the nose in your writing. Very good. In fact were you writing about my daughter?? (JK)

      It is allot different these days. The mothers can get all numbed up. I do not know of a hospital that does not do that. That is truly a miracle.TO BE NUMB WASTE DOWN

      I just missed the timing. I took some drugs and screamed allot. It was worth every minute of misery. Love n HUGS

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Actually Dave I have looked into it, there are courses I could take to get a certificate. The fees can actually be paid by some insurance companies as well.

      After my grandson was born in January and the delivery went so absolutely smooth, with no epidural (I talked her out of it during labor) I went looking for more babies to deliver. LOL

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Sweetsusieg: It sounds to me like you might qualify as a midwife. A noble profession.

      Brother Dave.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      My husband would agree with you 100%, the worlds population would have died out long ago if it were up to men to be the bearers of those little darlings.

      But I can share this with you.... For a large percentage of women around 99%, the pain of child birth (the actual memory of the pain) is forgotten the moment they hold the child in their arms. I remember saying when I was in labor with my second child "Oh... now I remember what this felt like." The Doctors marvel at this wonder.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting (my husband and I had quite the giggle at your comment)

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      OK, I admit, I am a man and I will never experience the joy, and pain of childbirth. However, to "relax" while having a baby to me would be like having a water melon existing from where the sun "don't" shine and trying to relax...! God in his infinite wisdom made women special. As much pain and discomfort as childbirth is, women will do it again. If I got hit in the "wrong place," I would never allow the same place to be exposed again... Yet women look forward to the birthing process... It is a miracle...

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Well, you could always do what I did... Not let Dad know Mom was going in to have the baby... *thinking* "Is that bad???" BWHAHAHAHA evil me... hehehe Heck he was there during the conception... He already had the fun part.. ewwww, did I just say that out loud?

    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Congratulations!!! All three of my kids were delivered emergency C-Section which was a great sorrow for my sister who only wanted to be in the delivery room. Every pregnancy she claimed her spot of holding one of my legs and each time I was wheeled into surgery. I guess Baby's Father trumps Baby's Mother's Sister!!! lol

      You are very fortunate and Congratulations again!!!!!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      I bet it does Steve!! LOL Thanks for stopping by!

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Oh my, I'm glad I'm a father!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Wendi! It's fun and hard isn't it? I have another one that I begun to write, I'm not allowed to post it (the person it is about doesn't want it published) where I almost cried... Someday maybe she'll let me...

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!

    • Wendi M profile image

      Wendi M 7 years ago from New Hampshire

      What a great hub. I just finished watching my 3rd granddaughter being born on Wednesday. This hub brought that happy day back to life.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      I tried to make it as plain and clear as possible, not sugar coating anything. No point in doing that, they really need to know the truth.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Bless all the young girls who read this. What great encouragement and straight up advice and info! Great Hub!