The Mama Coach: Delivery Day
Congratulations on making it this far into your pregnancy! The road to delivery day looks very different for families on various walks of life. For some, pregnancy has been an enjoyable experience, while others will struggle physically and emotionally to make it to the finish line. Whichever path happens to be yours, I hope you have found joy in the thought of being able to hold your sweet baby shortly.
The anticipation leading up to delivery day can be overwhelming for many. Regardless if this is your first or fifth baby, your delivery can be unpredictable. As a Registered Nurse and Lactation Consultant, I have the privilege of being able to teach expecting parents’ prenatal preparation classes.
Many of the parents I work with happen to be a bit type A like myself and thrive on the ability to control factors in their lives. Birth is one of the few instances in life that regardless of how much preparation you do, the fruition of those plans are never guaranteed.
Because of the unpredictability of labour and delivery, I find it instrumentally important to find comfort in the aspects of your experience that you CAN control. As your day nears, you’ll want to begin to get your ducks in a row. If this is your first baby, you likely don’t know which ducks need lining up!
Things You Can Do Before Delivery Day
Pack your hospital bag. But don’t bring the whole nursery with you! When packing to go to the hospital, less is more. For baby, a few outfits (one in newborn, and one 0-3 month) is usually enough. A swaddle blanket or two, a hat, diapers and wipes are all you need.
For yourself, make sure you have comfy clothes (not pre-pregnancy size), a bathrobe, socks/slippers, a nursing bra, a tumbler for water, and your favourite pillow. You’ll want to remember to grab last minute items like your toiletries, electronics (cell phone and chargers, headphones, camera/batteries), and eyeglasses before you head out the door. Most stays in the hospital are short, and if you end up needing to stay longer, it usually is quite easy for your partner to run home to grab anything you may need.
Know when to go to the hospital. Be sure to ask your health care provider when YOU should go to the hospital. Every mom and baby are different, so it’s best to ask for guidelines specific to your circumstances. You should always go to the hospital any time that you experience significant bleeding (think similar to a period), or when you notice a decrease in baby’s movements.
Throughout the later stages of pregnancy, you’ll be asked by your provider to do “kick counts”. This simply means that you’ll want to ensure that you feel your baby move at least six times in two hours. Any time you worry that your baby’s movements have decreased substantially, or that you have not felt movement in two hours, it is best to head down to the hospital.
If you think you are in labour, you do not necessarily need to go to the hospital right away. As a general rule, healthy moms are encouraged to labour at home as long as possible. If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, then your healthcare provider will likely inform you of the 4-1-1 rule.
This means that you should come to the hospital when your contractions are four minutes apart, lasting approximately one minute for one hour. If you are having a hard time coping with labour or are concerned about yourself or your baby, you can always go down before meeting the 4-1-1 rule requirements. If your water breaks, it is best to go down to be assessed regardless of if you are contracting or not.
Knowing where to go once you arrive at the hospital is important too!
In Fort McMurray, all pregnant moms are required to check in at the Emergency Room triage before heading upstairs. Once you see a triage nurse and check in at the registration desk, you will be sent up to the NST Clinic for assessment.
Install your infant car seat. All infants are required to leave the hospital in a car seat. They aren’t always as user-friendly as they should be, so seek help ahead of time if you need it. Contact Safe Community Wood Buffalo or the HUB Family Resource Centre for more information on finding a car seat technician to help you ensure your little one is ready to come home safely. It is best to have the base installed ahead of time in your vehicle, but not necessary for you to bring your car seat up to the unit when you first arrive at the hospital.
Taking prenatal education classes are ALWAYS a good idea. They will help you and your partner feel knowledgeable, empowered, and confident about the delivery process are bringing your baby home. Our community is lucky to have many options available for prenatal education.
The Fort McMurray Doula Cooperative offers free birth preparation workshops, and Alberta Health Services has a prenatal class taught by a Registered Nurse that includes a hospital tour. If prenatal classes are proving tough to fit into your schedule, there are private options available in our community as well. Knowledge is power! If you don’t know your options when it comes to your labour and delivery, you won’t have any.
After you’ve taken a birth preparation class, you’ll feel empowered to create a birth plan that will help to communicate your wishes and preference to your healthcare team. Please keep in mind, birth plans are a great idea, but it is also essential to be flexible and open to navigating away from some of your preferences should it not be in the best interest of you or your baby.
As you near the finish line, it is best to keep in mind that due dates are estimates. Only about 3 per cent of women deliver on their actual due date. Instead, most will have their baby within two weeks before or after. Patience is hard to have when you’re uncomfortable and anxious to meet your baby, but trust me when I say that they will be worth the wait.
I wish you luck on this magical journey to parenthood. Please remember that our community is lucky to have a wide range of resources available to expecting and new parents, so build up your support network early.
Maddie Amyotte is a Registered Nurse in Fort McMurray and specializes in all things maternal/newborn and child health. She is also part of the Mama Coach team of Registered Nurses who are committed to making motherhood easier and over of the local Mama Coach. Learn more at themamacoach.ca and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.