If you’re a soon-to-be momma heading to labor and delivery, you may be feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Even if you’ve given birth before, the experience can still be nerve-wracking.
So we decided to chat to Sarah Jennings, a labor and delivery nurse who has seen it all. Sarah has eight years of experience as a RN, and she’s here to (hopefully) help ease some of your fears.
Here’s what she had to say…
Labor Nurse Tips
No One Cares If You Didn’t Shave
As a labor and delivery nurse, I want to assure you that we really don’t care if you shave, trim, or wax down there before your delivery. It doesn’t matter to us whether you’ve groomed or haven’t touched anything down there in months.
We understand that you want to feel comfortable during your labor, and we want to support you in any way we can. If you choose to shave or trim, it’s best to ask your partner to help you, especially if you haven’t been able to see around your belly for months.
This can help prevent cuts or razor burns that can be itchy and uncomfortable during your recovery.
Please avoid getting waxed for the first time when you’re 9 months pregnant. There are lots of nerves down there that only get more sensitive as pregnancy progresses, and waxing can be quite painful.
During a c-section, we may need to shave the area before the procedure but don’t worry if you can’t remember whether you were supposed to shave or not. We’ve seen all kinds of pubic hair, and it doesn’t faze us at all.
You’ll Likely Poop… And Again NO ONE CARES
It’s natural to have concerns about pooping during labor, but the truth is that it’s a a really common occurrence that happens to most women during labor.
In fact, from experience, it’s estimated that around 50% of women will have a bowel movement at some point during labor. But don’t worry, it’s really not that big of a deal!
As your baby’s head moves down your vaginal canal, it compresses the rectum and moves anything in its way, including stool.
Pooping while you push is actually a great indicator that you are pushing well. It’s the same muscles to push as if you were having a bowel movement, so it’s just natural for it to happen that way.
If you’re concerned about pooping during labor, it’s important to remember that your labor nurse is discreet and won’t make a big deal out of it.
They will simply wipe it away with a clean wipe or towel. In fact, they will have already layered several chux pads and towels underneath you before you start pushing for this very purpose.
It’s likely going to happen and it’s an extremely natural part of childbirth.
Preventing Vaginal Tearing Is Hard
Many women are afraid of vaginal birth because of the possibility of tearing. Unfortunately, for many women, it is just part of the process.
You are pushing a large baby through a space that hasn’t fit anything that size before through it after all.
There are lots of ideas out there about how to prevent tearing during delivery, but the only one that has shown some merit is perineal massage.
Perineal massage involves applying pressure downward to your vaginal area in the weeks prior to your labor and delivery. If you can, try stretching this area for a few minutes each day during your third trimester.
It will hopefully help the perineal tissue become more elastic and willing to stretch leading up to the delivery, resulting in little to no tearing.
However, it is important to note that there is no guarantee that perineal massage will prevent vaginal tearing during childbirth.
The best advice we can give about tearing is to listen to your nurse and doctor during the pushing process.
Especially if you have an epidural, it can be very difficult to feel how your body is moving during the pushing process. Listen to their advice and coaching.
Especially at the end when the baby is crowning, your doctor may have you stop pushing to allow your tissues to stretch naturally. There may be a lot of uncomfortable pressure, but listen to those around you as best you can.
It is important to understand that in many cases, the woman may still tear to no fault of her own. And that’s okay! Tearing is not the end of the world, and your doctor will stitch you up right after delivery with dissolvable stitches. You should be good as new by your six-week appointment!
There Are No ‘Dumb’ Questions
As a parent-to-be, you may feel overwhelmed with the whole labor and delivery process. Do not worry, it is completely normal. You might have done all the preparation, but you might still have queries or concerns about the process.
Remember, there is no such thing as a silly question. Your labor and delivery nurse is there to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Your nurse is experienced in all aspects of labor and delivery and is ready to share their knowledge with you. Think of them as your “birth tour guide.”
Even if it is not your first time giving birth, things may have changed, or you may have forgotten some details. So, do not hesitate to ask questions.
Your nurse wants you to feel comfortable and informed throughout the process. If you are confused about anything or unsure of what is happening, do not hesitate to stop them and ask for clarification. They are there to help you in any way possible.
Even if you think your question is silly or trivial, remember that your nurse is there to help you. They will never think of you as a burden or a bother. So, do not hesitate to use the call light if you need to speak with them.
You’re Going To Be Uncomfortable
Let’s face it, labor is going to hurt. It doesn’t matter how many pain relief methods you use, it’s going to be uncomfortable.
Even if you opt for an epidural, there’s no guarantee that you won’t feel any pain. You’ll likely experience a lot of pressure and discomfort when you’re pushing your baby out. And if your baby comes faster than expected, it can be difficult to get your pain under control quickly.
Many women arrive at the hospital with the misconception that labor can be pain-free. Unfortunately, this is not the case. However, it’s important to remember that a pain-free labor is not the goal. With the right preparation, you can have a positive labor experience.
Before you arrive at the hospital, educate yourself on different pain control options. There are many options available, including pain medications, hypnosis, breathing techniques, water therapy, and more. Even if you plan on having an epidural, it’s important to have a plan in place for pain relief.
Creating a playlist of your favorite songs can be a simple yet effective way to help you relax and cope with the experience. Anything that helps make you comfortable and relaxed will help your mind cope with the experience.
It’s also important to have an open conversation with your nurse about your expectations for your labor.
Whether you plan on having an unmedicated birth or want an epidural as soon as possible, make sure your nurse knows about it. Your nurse can help you through the process and offer suggestions for other pain relief methods.
We’re Here FOR YOU
As a healthcare provider, I understand that the birthing process can be overwhelming and stressful. That is why I want you to know that I am here to support you every step of the way.
I view my patients as friends and I want you to feel comfortable with me as if we have known each other for a long time.
I am not just here to deliver your baby, but to be your advocate and supporter throughout the entire process.
If you have a birth plan, I will do everything in my power to make it happen. I want you to have a positive experience and will work to make that a reality. Your safety and the safety of your baby are my top priorities, but I also want you to have the most positive birth experience possible.
As your nurse, you are my only patient, and I will be there with you every step of the way. Your provider may have several patients in labor, but I will be there with you all day long.
If you need anything, do not hesitate to push the call light. I am here to support you and make this process as comfortable as possible.
I am not just your healthcare provider, I am your friend. If you need someone to talk to, laugh with, or even someone to help you get rid of unwanted guests, I am here for you. You can count on me to have your back and be there for you whenever you need it.
Have A Birth Plan, But Be Flexible
It’s great to have a birth plan, but the key is to stay flexible.
Childbirth is wonderfully unpredictable, and while we strive to follow your plan as closely as possible, sometimes adjustments are necessary for the safety and well-being of both you and your baby.
One thing I’ve learned is that labor rarely goes exactly as planned. You might envision a certain kind of delivery, but the situation can change quickly.
It could be a sudden need for a C-section, a change in pain management, or an unexpected turn in your baby’s position.
In these moments, it’s important to remember that these changes are not setbacks, but rather necessary steps to ensure the best outcome for you and your little one.
I always encourage my moms-to-be to discuss their birth plan with their healthcare team early and to understand the potential for variations.
We are here to support your choices and to provide the safest and most positive birthing experience possible.
Flexibility in your birth plan also means being open to suggestions from your healthcare team.
As professionals who have witnessed countless births, we bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. Trust that we have your best interests at heart.
Understand Your Putting Your Body Through A LOT, Even With An Epidural
If you choose to get an epidural, it’s important to remember that your body is still working hard to deliver your baby.
The epidural will help manage the pain, but your body is still contracting every 2-4 minutes with intense contractions. It’s important to keep your body fueled with calories to help it power through the grueling hours of labor.
If you’re planning an induction, make sure to eat before heading to the hospital. If you’re already in labor, try to snack on whatever you can until your nurse tells you to stop. Your body needs all the energy it can get to make it through the intense hours of labor.
It’s important to stay hydrated during labor, either through an IV or by drinking clear liquids. Many facilities allow clear liquids during active labor, which means you can consume calories through Jello, juice, broth, and other means.
While it may not seem like much, these calories can make a huge difference in your body’s ability to labor effectively.
It’s common to feel nauseated during labor, but it’s important to do the best you can to keep your body fueled. Eating small snacks throughout labor can help keep your energy levels up and make a difference in your body’s ability to deliver your baby.
Things Can Get Hectic, But You’ll Be Okay!
Even if you prepare for everything perfectly, emergencies can still happen. Labor is unpredictable, and things may change in the blink of an eye.
There are usually warnings ahead of time that an emergency may happen, but that isn’t always the case.
However, you should not be scared because labor and delivery units are the epitome of teamwork. If there is an issue, a lot of people will be running into your room very quickly to help.
The most important thing to remember during an emergency is to stay calm. Panic can make the situation worse, and it can be difficult for the healthcare team to do their job if you are in a state of distress. Try to breathe deeply and focus on what the healthcare team is telling you to do.
In case of an emergency, the healthcare team will take all necessary steps to ensure your safety and the safety of your baby. They are trained to handle emergencies and will work together to provide you with the best care possible.
It is important to know that emergencies happen, but it’s going to be ok. The healthcare team is there to help you and will do everything in their power to ensure your safety and the safety of your baby. Remember that every nurse always has your safety and the safety of your baby as their top priority.
During an emergency, the healthcare team may move quickly, and things may happen fast. They will try to explain everything as best as they can, but sometimes they may move faster than their mouths can explain.
If they can’t explain everything in the moment, they promise to talk through everything that happened when it calms down.