Pregnancy All-in-One For Dummies
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Moms-to-be and their partners have a lot of questions when they first discover they’re expecting. The first questions of many soon-to-be parents focus on big-picture issues: how the baby develops, how to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, and what to expect during each trimester. Yet even small comforts can mean a lot when you’re carrying another human being inside of you. This Cheat Sheet addresses a few of those, telling you what to expect when you’re admitted to the hospital, how you can avoid the nuisance of heartburn, and how to find time to work out after your little one is born.

What to expect when you're admitted to the hospital for delivery

Whether you’re in labor, being induced, or having a cesarean delivery, you need to be admitted to the hospital’s labor floor. If you preregistered earlier in your pregnancy (ask your practitioner about the process), your records are already on the labor floor when you arrive, and a hospital unit number is assigned to you. When you arrive at the hospital or birthing center, you go through an admission process and are assigned to a room.

You settle into your hospital room, following a fairly standard routine:

  • You change into a gown.

  • A nurse asks you questions about your pregnancy, your general health, your obstetrical history, and when you last ate. If you think water has broken or you’re leaking fluid, let your nurse know.

  • A nurse, midwife, resident, or other practitioner performs an internal exam to see how far along in labor you are.

  • Your contractions and the fetal heart rate are monitored.

  • A nurse may draw your blood and start an IV line in your arm (for delivering fluids and possibly medications).

  • You’re asked to sign a consent form for routine hospital care, delivery, and possibly cesarean section.

    You sign the consent form when you’re admitted in case you need an emergency cesarean during labor and you don’t have time to sign consent forms. Signing a consent form doesn’t mean you’re limiting your care options.

  • You may want to hand over any valuables you have with you to your partner or another family member (or simply leave them at home).

Most hospital rooms include some standard features, so the room you’re placed in probably includes all of the following:

  • A special bed: In a room used for both labor and delivery (also known as a birthing room), the bed is specially designed to come apart and be turned into a delivery table. Some hospitals have rooms where you labor, deliver, and even remain for your postpartum recovery. These rooms are called LDR (an acronym for labor, delivery, and recovery) rooms or LDRP rooms (the p stands for postpartum).

  • Doppler/stethoscope: Your practitioner or nurse uses these portable tools to listen periodically to the fetal heartbeat instead of using the continuous fetal monitor.

  • Fetal monitor: This machine has two attachments, one to monitor the baby’s heart rate and one to monitor your contractions. The fetal monitor generates a fetal heart tracing, which is a paper record of how the baby’s heart rate rises and falls in relation to your contractions.

  • Infant warmer: This device has a heat lamp to keep the newborn’s body temperature from dropping.

  • IV line: This tube is connected to a bag of saline (salt water) containing a glucose mixture to keep you properly hydrated. It also provides access for medications in case you need pain control or have an emergency.

  • Rocking chair or recliner: The extra chair is for your partner, your coach, or another family member.

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