What You Need to Know about Preparing for Childbirth
Knowing what to expect when you are preparing for delivery day may make your birthing experience calmer and less uncertain. We spoke with Kisha Spears, childbirth educator, and Skipper White, Labor & Delivery manager, at Texas Health Alliance to help provide some answers to common questions to put your upcoming adventure in better perspective.
What can I bring from home to provide comfort and relaxation as I labor?
You may bring your own labor support tools, such as a birthing ball or peanut ball, a battery-operated massager, or unscented or lightly scented essential oils/lotions. There are some restrictions on what essential oils may be used, so please check with your hospital before bringing this item from home. A book, tablet and/or your own music can help you pass the time and feel more at ease until labor gets underway. Here’s a complete list of suggested items to pack for your hospital stay.
What shouldn’t I bring from home to use during labor?
You will want to leave any candles or gaming systems that require a TV at home. Any medication or vitamins you bring from home must be approved by the hospital pharmacy — and the process can take a while. It’s best to check with your provider as to whether you should bring your own medications, and be sure to get the hospital’s approval before you arrive.
What labor support tools does Texas Health offer?
Many of the Texas Health hospitals have birthing balls, labor bars, rocking chairs and some even have bathtubs or showers. Labor support tools may help you feel more comfortable and calm, ease the pain and stress of contractions, and promote the labor process. Please check with your specific hospital as to what is available before your arrival.
Will I be able to walk around as I labor?
If you have a low-risk pregnancy, you may be allowed to walk around during labor. This decision will be made based on your pregnancy risk factors and fetal well-being as determined during fetal monitoring. If you wish to walk in labor, and it is safe to do so, the nurse can ask your provider for approval.
How can my partner participate in the birth experience?
We recognize that your partner is your biggest fan and coach during labor and delivery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you still are able to have one support person on hand through your big event. The nursing staff will give that person options to participate based on your situation. These may include massage, helping with relaxation techniques, cutting the cord after delivery, and/or assisting with baby’s first bath, diapering and other infant care tasks.
What is a doula, and do I have to notify the hospital in advance if I plan to have a doula on hand for delivery?
Expectant parents often find the support of a doula to be helpful. Doulas are trained in providing emotional and physical support and helping women to carry out their birth plans. Doulas can be hired sometime during the pregnancy.
Per Texas Health’s latest visitor policy, in addition to your one support person, a doula is allowed during labor and delivery. You do not need to notify the hospital in advance if you plan to have a doula on hand for delivery, but please know you must test negative for COVID-19 before your doula will be allowed to be provide support at your bedside.
I’m having twins. What may be different during my delivery?
Having multiples may bring with it some additional challenges during the birth process, but specialist providers on the medical staff at many Texas Health hospitals are trained to handle the birth of multiples. Also available is the Prepared Childbirth for Multiples class exclusively for couples expecting twins, triplets or more to help you prepare. The series combines preparation for childbirth and aspects of breastfeeding to better equip moms expecting multiples.
What circumstances might require me to have a cesarean delivery rather than the birth I’ve prepared for?
We make every effort to avoid an unplanned cesarean delivery. In the event that there is an emergency with you or the baby that requires immediate medical intervention, we will prepare you immediately for a cesarean section. Reasons that may require a cesarean delivery include:
- Your labor does not progress despite our best efforts and interventions
- Baby is not positioned in a way that will allow us to safely deliver vaginally
- Baby shows signs that they are not tolerating labor or signs of distress
- Multiple gestations with unfavorable positions
Texas Health offers a childbirth class that reviews the reasons for cesarean birth, along with the process and care of mom that comes with a cesarean.
When do I have to make a decision about the use of an epidural? What other pain management options are available?
Texas Health will support your pain management choice, whether you plan to choose an epidural or your plan changes after admission. We realize women have different pain thresholds, so the epidural decision can be made at any point during labor. Even if you are nearing delivery, you may be safely positioned for epidural placement. If you find that you want additional pain management during your labor, the options available may include IV medication, hydrotherapy and other pain management options.
We also support natural childbirth methods that our patients choose. We encourage various positions, ambulation when appropriate, and the use of labor support tools. If you do not choose an epidural, your provider may administer a local anesthetic for your comfort at delivery (if necessary).
May I bring someone with me to childbirth classes?
All prenatal and childbirth classes are being held online at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage your partner to participate in the online learning with you, if desired. The rescheduling of in-person classes is being evaluated on an ongoing basis. If you have questions about a future class for which you have registered, please call 1-877-847-9355.
Still have questions?
For a comprehensive overview of what to expect during labor and birth, register for the online Prepared Childbirth class.
To learn more about your maternity experience at a specific Texas Health location, visit Women and Infant Services. And become a Texas Health Mom by joining the Facebook group dedicated to current and expecting moms!