Hospitals exude anxiety. They make people nervous. And they can be confusing, to say the least. When mixed with medical jargon that often sounds like an entirely different language and complex procedures you can hardly believe, stepping foot inside the sterile white walls of a doctor’s office (or labor and delivery room) can feel completely foreign.
When preparing for childbirth, rules, regulations, and hundreds of where/when/why/and HOW? questions make up an array of knowledge akin to taking a college course in med school. And then after, with a precious newborn baby added to the mix, it can suddenly seem as though all the hard-work you’ve done pre-baby -- all the books you’ve read and preparation and advice you’ve gleaned -- seem to have gone in one ear and out the other.
Fret not. There are ways to combat the nerves that come with these 9 long months. Before every hospital visit, take a moment to connect and listen to your baby, making a list of all the questions you may have. Keep this list close because questions will come to you when you least expect as you’re navigating through your daily and nightly routines. This way, you’ll be armed with a roster of armor at your next appointment and won’t leave any question unasked.
When communicating with your medical team, it’s important to be as clear and honest as possible so they can determine how best to treat and diagnose your complex and individual conditions. Be your own advocate because no one knows you like YOU. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask. If there’s something you disagree with, tell. This is the time to gather all the information possible so you can feel informed and empowered to make the decisions and choices that are right for you, personally.
Here is a list of questions to ask your medical team that will better prepare you for your upcoming hospital stay…
Doctors, nurses, advocates, and social workers are all there to help navigate your experience and each have a different expertise that can help better your stay. In addition to your core team of various doctors and nurses, make sure to utilize other help like nurse advocates who can guide you along the learning curve, and hospital social workers that will aid with insurance and billing.
It’s smart to ask this question ahead of time, so you can inform loved ones of the particular hospital’s rules, as they are all different. This is also a good time to think about who you actually want to share your experience with because it’s going to be one of the most personal and intimate experiences of your life… so maybe it’s not for the hospital’s newest doctor-in-training or your third cousin by marriage, after all.
Depending on the hospital and the individual’s birth plan, there might be different guidelines. Some allow eating and drinking, while some recommend against it completely in case of complications and the (far out) possibility of needing anesthesia.
During labor you’ll be feeling very uncomfortable, so it’s important to do everything you can to try to mitigate this. Walking helps ease tight muscles and lower stress levels, so ask what parts of the hospital are conducive for a very pregnant lady to be strolling, as well as the best laboring positions for both standing, sitting, and lying down.
Because it lowers adrenaline and encourages endorphins, warm water soothes pain sensors and helps with relaxation, so noting whether or not there is a shower or bath available to use will be an effective method of pain relief.
Write down a birth plan and share it with your team. Do you want a natural birth or are you going to use an epidural? If it’s the latter, at what point should it be administered? What are your pain numbers? Are you a lightweight regarding medication? Have a team member walk you through all the options so you know what to expect -- and be honest with what you’re expecting so they know how best to handle your needs.
There are a number of general tests administered to newborns upon birth, so it’s important to educate yourself on which of those are absolutely required and necessary, and which can be opted out of. Discussing this beforehand will save you (and baby) some uncomfortable surprises.
Although it will vary by individual, ask for a general timeline of when it will be safe to leave the hospital, taking note of the protocol required. This will better help you -- and your partner and loved ones -- prepare for the baby’s homecoming. Soon it will be time to bring your new addition home to begin your shared lives together!