How To Prepare For A Hospital Birth: 10 Things That Might Surprise You

The countdown has started. You’ve got your hospital bag packed and you *feel* ready. But here's the reality: whether this is your 1st baby or your 3rd, every birth story is different. It's impossible to know how events might unfold during your baby’s hospital birth.

And as it turns out, a hospital birth often means more interventions. According to Dr. Lauren Jansen at Midwestern State University, this means things like:

  • Induction
  • Epidural
  • C-section delivery

Sometimes, the interventions listed above are lifesaving. Other times, they can make labor more difficult and leave a momma feeling disappointed or even traumatized by her birth experience.

Having had one hospital birth and currently preparing for my second, I can say that even the most supportive hospitals have tools and protocols that sometimes make it harder to have a "natural" birth experience. If your requests are unorthodox, expect a little push back from the hospital staff.

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Here's what might happen during a hospital birth – along with some supportive tips.

1. You’re Told To Stay In Bed

You know the advice to only sleep on your side (preferably the left) during the second and third trimesters? Well, the rules and reasons are similar during labor.

Bed rest, or the recumbent position, works against your labor. This is because it can lead to:

  • Poor contractions
  • Slow dilation and effacement
  • Prolonged labor
  • Obstructed labor, or dystocia
  • Failure for baby to drop

Bed rest impacts a momma’s blood pressure – making it lower. And it can decrease the blood flow between your uterus and the placenta. With all of this going on, it’s no wonder that bed rest is linked to more pain and a higher risk of c-section deliveries.

Instead of laboring on your back and in a bed, freely move around. This allows you to find positions that make you most comfortable and reduces pain. Free movement also improves blood circulation between you and your baby. For example, in the knee-chest position the hips are higher than the shoulders. This can help position your baby for birth and reduce back pain.

Of course, don't forget to bring along your the birth ball  – it's notoriously good at reducing pain and getting baby to drop.

2. You Might Not Be Given A Choice About Electronic Fetal Monitoring

Electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) is standard care during a hospital birth. And it can be either intermittent – here and there – or it can be continuous.

Recall how free movement is good for both momma and baby? Well, continuous EFM restricts this movement. Restricted movement during labor and delivery and continuous monitoring can:

  1. Interfere with momma changing positions
  2. Interfere with baby’s rotation
  3. Increase momma’s anxiety, which can shunt blood away from the uterus
How To Prepare For A Hospital Birth: 10 Things you Need To Know | Click to download the FREE printable cheatsheet

3. You Forget (Or Are Denied) Food and Water

It might be unintentional or intentional, as some hospital advise against food and drink. Either way, limiting what you consume during labor does you no favors. It can lead to dehydration and increase your level stress.

Here are some simple snacks you can bring along with you to the hospital:

  • Dates and raspberry leaf tea – Some mommas swear by eating dates 4 weeks before labor because it can reduce laboring time. Same holds true for drinking red raspberry leaf tea during your second and third trimesters. These foods are good before labor and they’re wonderful during.
  • Nut butters – Nut butters are high in both protein and fat, which go far in sustaining your energy. They’re also pretty darn tasty when paired with the sweetness dates! Packets like these are easy enough to throw into your hospital bag.
  • Coconut water or coconut water kefir – Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes. During labor hydration is important. And when it comes to restoring your electrolyte balance, plain water (or ice chips) aren’t so amazing. Aim for a balance of minerals and sugar. And if you can, shop for something made by nature, like raw and organic coconut water. Coconut water kefir is fermented, so it isn’t sweet. But it is filled with minerals and wonderful probiotics that do good things for your immune system.

4. You May Get Several Vaginal Exams

In order to see how labor is progressing, you might have several vaginal exams. This is when a nurse or practitioner checks cervical dilation (opening) and effacement (thinning).

The problem with frequent vaginal exams is that they’re often inaccurate. One recent study compared the accuracy of a vaginal exam vs. the accuracy of ultrasound to check dilation. It found that typically, vaginal exams are less accurate than ultrasound – generally about 1 cm (or more) off.

Keep in mind too that how quickly – or slowly – you dilate does not necessary predict when your baby will be born. Effacement matters too.

Besides being somewhat unreliable, vaginal exams can increase the risk of infection. According to one report, seven or more vaginal exams during labor require a longer hospital stay because of antibiotic therapy. Newborns are also more likely to acquire a group B strep infection.

Instead of vaginal exams, you may want to gauge how your labor is progressing with the purple line – or bottom line. Birth Without Fear explains,

"This is a purple/dark line that shows up and extends well, to put it delicately, along your natal cleft. Or rather – your butt crack. The line starts at the anus and moves up the cleft. When it is all the way to the top, you are 10cm."

If this sounds a little hocus-pocus, a study published in 2010 confirms that most mommas have a growing “purple line” during labor.

How To Prepare For A Hospital Birth: 10 Things you Need To Know | Click to download the FREE printable cheatsheet

5. You Might Be Induced

A hospital birth means you’re surrounded by many ways to speed labor along, or induce labor.

Pitocin is the synthetic form of oxytocin and it’s often given after insertions for “cervical ripening.” With pitocin you're more likely to have sudden, painful contractions. This means:

  • You’re more likely to receive anesthesia for the pain
  • There’s a greater risk of hyperstimulation – where a single contraction lasts for 2 minutes or more
  • There’s an increased risk of fetal distress

Because of these risks, induction usually means that continuous electronic fetal monitoring (see #2 above) is required, which has its own set of problems. Babies whose mothers are given pitocin are also more likely to have lower Apgar scores.

6. Your Amniotic Sac May Be Intentionally Broken

During pregnancy, a fluid filled sac surrounds your baby. This sac protects your baby’s head during contraction. One way to induce labor is breaking this sac – otherwise known as an amniotomy.

However, it turns out that breaking the amniotic sac *may not* speed up labor and if anything, it increases the risk of c-section. Once it’s broken, there is mounting pressure to have your baby sooner rather than later. Breaking the amniotic sac also:

  • Increases the risk of infection
  • Increases the risk of prolapsed cord (the umbilical cord coming out before your baby)
  • Increases the risk of fetal injury

By the way, to help make your life a little easier, download the FREE cheatsheet below. It discusses 5 common hospital interventions and different options you have. 

7. You Could Be Given An Epidural

When laboring with my first son, I was determined to have a drug-free hospital birth. But with several hours of back labor behind me and hours more ahead of me, I eventually took the advice of my midwives and got an epidural.

From my experience, hospital staff will put the pressure on for pain relief. And without the right support, you might decide it’s your best option. However, an epidural isn’t without consequences. An epidural can:

  • Weaken contractions
  • Prolong the first stage of labor
  • Include pitocin (synthetic oxytocin, see #5 above)
  • Interfere with your baby’s instinct to breastfeed
  • Interfere with the production of breast milk

8. You May Receive A Catheter

If you get an epidural, chances are good you’ll also receive a catheter – a tube that runs into your bladder, helping to keep it empty during labor.

Like frequent vaginal exams, a catheter increases your risk of infection – meaning you may need antibiotics after delivery.

How To Prepare For A Hospital Birth: 10 Things you Need To Know | Click to download the FREE printable cheatsheet

9. You’re Probably Told To Push On Your Back

Once you are fully dilated to 10 centimeters, you may be told to lie on your back (if you’re not already there) and coached through pushing – push for 10 seconds, take a breath, and push again. This is called the closed glottis method.

But here’s what is important: Once a momma is fully dilated, there is a resting stage.

Contractions may become longer and feel more intense, but they are less frequent. This is a period of time when both momma and baby can naturally rest – even during a hospital birth. And taking this time for yourself also allows your baby to naturally drop.

Pushing on your back through counts of 10 – or the closed glottis method – can mean:

  • Your baby receives less oxygen
  • You feel more exhausted
  • The risk of perineal tear

Instead, wait to push until you feel a “laboring down” sensation and make sure you have the support to choose what position you push in. This includes:

  • Standing
  • Squatting
  • Sitting
  • Side-lying

10. You May End Up Giving Birth Via C-Section

With roughly 1 in 3 births given by c-section, it is now the “most common surgical procedure in the United States.”

And even though a c-section birth can saves lives, it’s associated with health risks for both momma and baby. C-section can mean:

  • A longer hospital stay
  • A longer recovery
  • Troubles breastfeeding

In addition to this, c-section exposes your baby to operating room microbes first – rather than the microbes living in momma’s birth canal. This first exposure to microbes is incredibly important. There’s now evidence that c-section increases your baby’s risk of:

  • Obesity
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Immune disorders

If c-section is necessary, there are some things you can do to protect your baby’s microbes.

  1. Ask about vaginal seeding, where a gauze is incubated in momma’s birth canal before the c-section – and your baby is swabbed within minutes after birth.
  2. Request that antibiotics are given after the umbilical cord has been clamped.

Trendy Baby Clothes + Accessories: Star Inspired

With the 4th of July on the horizon, I've been feeling patriotic. Stars have long been one of my favorite prints for the trendy baby. After all, I made an entire no-sew tent out of star printed fabric last Summer. With stars heavy on my mind this time of year, I've rounded up a dozen of my favorite star inspired clothes and accessories for our trendy toddlers and babies. 

Stylish Star Print Baby Toddler Clothes and Accessories | www.mommasociety.com

One: Star Adorned Dress + Bloomers | Stella McCartney $122 | This splurge-worthy dress is available for pre-sale (and already sold out in some sizes!). How perfect would this be for a 1st birthday party? For a more budget friendly option, this tulle star print skirt is equally adorable.

Two: Gold Star Headband | Etsy $9 | This handmade headband would make a great accessory for 4th of July festivities or it could be worn all year around on your trendy baby.

Three: Pink Star Leggings | Silly Souls $16 | Simple and comfy! These versatile leggings are perfect for little girl.

Four: Grey Star Print Storage Container | H&M $6 | One thing I've learned as a momma--you can never have too many storage containers! I love the gender neutral vibe of these star printed containers. Remember how everything I bought for Brody before he was born was gender neutral? Well, these containers would make a great addition to a nursery or playroom (and you can't beat the price!). 

Five: Black Jersey Shorts with Stars | H&M $6 | With our scorching temperatures in Arizona, pants are out of the question for the next 4 months. I'm a big fan of comfy, loose shorts and the trendy star print on this pair rocks.

Six: Organic Star Print One-Piece Pajamas | Gap $30 | My favorite pajamas Brody has ever had have been the organic cotton ones from Gap. The star print on this pair is adorable and the zip closure has these meeting all of my requirements for awesome baby pajamas. 

Seven: Star Print Water bottle | Swell $25 | I love Swell bottles. The aluminum exterior is great for keeping the contents inside slightly chilled (or warm). Rather than the standard large Swell bottles, this one has been condensed to a 9 ounce size--perfect for the littlest adventurer.

Eight: Grey Star Pillow | Land of Nod $24 | This star shaped pillow sets itself apart from the standard square or rectangular pillows. It's the perfect addition to the rocker in your nursery.

Nine: Star Print Buttoned Shirt | Old Navy $15 | I bought this shirt to save for Brody to wear on the 4th of July. Confession: I couldn't wait that long. He's been wearing this button-up non-stop over the past couple of weeks. I love the petite blue star print that is only noticeable close up. There's nothing cuter than a well-dressed toddler. 

Ten: Star Print Joggers | Kardashian Kids $27 | For the trendy baby: This pair of joggers is sure to be a hit. They are comfy, stylish, and easy to wear--the perfect combo for summer travel-wear.  

Eleven: Star Print Slippers | H&M $13 | These sweet star print slippers would make a perfect gift for a gender neutral baby shower. If these had been around a year ago, they would totally have been on Brody's baby feet.

Twelve: Aden + Anais Star Print Lovey | Amazon $18 | Remember how much we love lovey's at our house? This star printed puppy dog lovey gives me all sorts of heart eyes!

Related: Where and How I Shop For Baby boy Clothes

6 Things You Should Do Before You Get Pregnant (Free Printable List!)

When I became pregnant with Brody, I had no idea what an impact my pre-conception habits and diet could have on my pregnancy. As I started researching, I realized there is a TON of information out there. But what was really important? What would have the biggest impact on a healthy pregnancy and the birth I had hoped for? Now, as a childbirth educator, I realize there are many things you can do before you conceive to set yourself up for a healthy, happy pregnancy. Below, I've rounded up the top 6 on my list. 

6 Things You Should Do Before You Get Pregnant | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com

1. Adjust Your Diet

The foods you eat and things you put in your body before conception can have an impact on your ability to conceive and the health of your pregnancy. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, start making changes now. Right around the time I became pregnant with Brody, my husband and I were doing a month of Whole30 eating. It helped us break some of our not so healthy habits. Below are a couple of adjustments that may lead to a healthier baby and easier pregnancy.

  • Pass on the Fried Foods. Fried and greasy foods are known to be a common trigger for morning sickness. Eliminate these from your diet before you conceive. 
  • Abstain from Alcohol. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends women avoid alcohol when they are planning to become pregnant. With your baby's nervous system forming before your may even know you are expecting, try abstaining from alcohol while you are trying to conceive.
6 Things You Should Do Before You Get Pregnant | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com

2. Start Taking A Prenatal Vitamin

Besides eating your fix of leafy greens, taking a prenatal vitamin before conception is often recommended by OB/GYNs and midwives. New Chapter's Perfect Prenatal is one of my favorites. It not only includes folate, but also Vitamin D3 and iron--both of which are essential during pregnancy. This prenatal support includes a blend of organic herbs and fruits which are safety reviewed for pregnancy. Some prenatal vitamins require you to take them with a full stomach, but that is not the case for Perfect Prenatal, which can be taken on a empty stomach. With the nausea and lack of appetite that often accompany the first trimester, being able to take the vitamin without food is helpful.  Bonus: It can easily be ordered on Amazon. After pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, I still take a prenatal vitamin on a daily basis. 

6 Things You Should Do Before You Get Pregnant | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com

3. Get Moving

In healthy pregnancies, moderate exercise is often recommended for the momma-to-be. Exercise has many benefits during pregnancy. In the first trimester, when exhaustion weighs heavy, exercise can provide energy. The movements help with blood flow, which can reduce your chances of swelling. At your first prenatal visit, your care provider will often let you know that if you have been working out before conception, it is usually safe to continue your routine during pregnancy (although you might have to make adjustments for a few of the moves). If you are planning on becoming pregnant, start that workout routine now. Maybe it's a yoga class or maybe it's jogging--start making it a habit. During my pregnancy with Brody, I continued with our daily fitness bootcamp up until I was 8+ months pregnant. It helped me from gaining too much weight, it made transitioning back to a workout routine postpartum simple, and kept me from experiencing any swelling. 

6 Things You Should Do Before You Get Pregnant | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com

4. Start Researching Care Providers

The relationship you have with your care provider can really determine your birth experience. Start researching local midwives and OB/GYNs prior to becoming pregnant. Seek out referrals from local friends and start asking questions. Below is FREE printable list of questions you should ask the care providers you interview. The answers to these questions will give you an insight into the care providers philosophy on birth and how it aligns with what you envision your birth to be like.

5. Track Your Cycle

As you prepare for pregnancy, start tracking your menstrual cycle in the 3-4 months before you would like to conceive. There is a small window of opportunity to become pregnant each month and this time frame varies from woman to woman dependent on your cycle length and other factors. Kindara is a free app in the app store that is simple to use and can help you track your basal body temperature, your cycle, and your cervical mucus as your prepare for pregnancy. 

6. Visit Your Dentist

Did you know that pregnancy puts you at a increased risk for periodontal disease and gingivitis? Having your teeth and gums cleaned and checked before your become pregnant can identify problems that you may be able to treat prior to conception. Schedule an exam with your favorite dentist before the pregnancy hormones cause your gums to be painful or bleed. Some dentists will not do dental X-rays on you when you are pregnant, so if your due for X-rays be sure to squeeze them into your schedule as well.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR WEEKENDS

Thank-you Baskin-Robbins for sponsoring this post and our weekend picnic.

Confession: I live for the weekends. Weekdays are busy. Motherhood is busy. From sun up to sun down, we are left squeezing in naps, lunch time, work, swim lessons, workouts, cleaning and more. The days fly by in a blur and then the weekends appear. These magical weekends are where we have the opportunity to make new memories, to slow down, to be present. With the busyness of our day-to-day schedules and routines, here are a few of my favorite ways to make the most of Saturday and Sunday. 

Warm Ice Cream Sandwich | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com

Start A Tradition

Picnics have long been one of my husband and I's favorite traditions. Remember our first picnic with Brody? Or our infamous peanut butter picnic? Or Brody's picnic themed 1st birthday party? Yea, we like picnics! 

Every month we try to schedule in at least one family picnic. We mix up the locations and mix up the meals to keep it fun. This month, when our friends at Baskin-Robbins invited us to try their new Warm Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches, we made a picnic out of it. We grabbed a few of the delicious treats at Baskin-Robbins and headed next door to one of our favorite parks. I sat there under a tree sandwiched between my two favorite people, taste testing each other's ice cream sandwiches--these are the moments I'll treasure forever. 

Maybe your tradition is breakfast in bed on the weekends, or relaxing by the pool--whatever it may be, keep it going. Traditions often turn into some of our children's favorite memories of childhood. I always look forward to our picnics together.

Warm Ice Cream Sandwich | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com
Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Sandwiches | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms

Keep it Sacred

With so much time spent apart during the week, the weekends in our house mean just the three of us. No playdates, no all day plans sans the hubby and Brody, no mom's night outs. The weekends are sacred time for us together. We love getting out of the house and going on adventures. These adventures are just that much more special when we go on them together. We just hired a part-time nanny, so I am hoping we can squeeze a few more date nights into these sacred weekends.

Warm Ice Cream Sandwich | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com

Treat Yourself

We strive to eat fairly healthy during the week, but on the weekends, we treat ourselves! Perhaps we'll try out a new restaurant or maybe we'll go out for a post dinner treat. This weekend's Warm Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches were the perfect treats for our toasty temperatures. We had fun mixing and matching our favorite ice cream flavors with the tasty cookie options. Hint, Pistachio Almond ice cream sandwiched between two dark chocolate chunk cookies is amazing. Brody was a fan of the rainbow sprinkles (most of which adorned his bowtie, lips, and shirt afterwards). I would suggest adding a trip to Baskin-Robins to your plans next weekend to try one yourself. They're seriously that good. Our little weekend food splurges also give me a little break from cooking--a win win! 

Log Off

Putting my phone down. Logging off of my email. Limiting my time on social media. Choosing to be present. With the weekends going by far too quickly, I want to make the most of them. This is an area I still struggle with, but I am trying to be more cognizant of. When I have down time, I'm so programmed to reach for my phone or computer. I am trying hard to reach for a book or a magazine--anything but electronics. A little break from electronics is always refreshing.

Warm Ice Cream Sandwich | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com

Plan Ahead

To make my weeks go smoother, I reserve a little planning time on Sundays. This time is spent making my to-do list for the week, setting my goals, planning a few dinners, and putting away laundry. I try to lump the planning tasks together (usually reserved for Sunday evening post bedtime). This strategy prevents me from having to worry about completing the tasks the rest of the weekend because I know I have time allotted to finish them on Sundays. A clear head, a clean house, and a plan for the week ahead are the keys to having a productive week at our home. 

What are your favorite ways to spend your weekends? 

The Cutest Fruity Wardrobe Pieces for Summer

I've been soaking in wardrobe inspiration from the colorful Summer fruits at the farmers market. From sunny yellow lemons, to bright red strawberries--the sweetest fruits make for some of the cutest clothing prints. I'm drooling over these colorful bibs and the pineapple moccasins. Below are over a dozen of my other favorites!

Fruit Inspried Clothes for Baby + Toddler for Summer | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms | www.MommaSociety.com

One: Strawberry Print Dress | Genuine Kids $18 | The classic strawberry print and silhouette of this dress remind me of those timeless dresses that are passed on for generations.

Two: Watermelon Pajamas | Old Navy $14 | The soft green hue of these pajamas are giving me all sorts of heart eyes.

Three: Lemon Flutter Sleeve Swimsuit | Gap $24.95 | The flutter sleeves and sweet lemon print make this swimsuit too cute to pass up for the chic little beach babe.

Four: Orange Slice Bag | J.Crew $59 | A splurge worthy bag with the perfect amount of sparkle for any little girl!

Five: Pineapple Bow Tie | Etsy $6.50 | This sweet bow can be a bow tie for little boys or a hair bow for little girls.

Six: Watermelon Moccasins | Etsy $30 | How perfect would these moccasins be for a Summer BBQ.

Seven: Fruit Bib Set | Little Unicorn $20 (set of 3) | These muslin bibs have me drooling. 

Eight: Let's Go Bananas Sweatshirt | Gap $25 | Remember this post about Brody's wardrobe? Well, this sweatshirt fits the criteria for awesome typography.

Nine: Pineapple Swim Trunks | Target $6 | You probably saw me share these earlier this week with Brody's pineapple sunglasses, They are the perfect mix of preppy and cute.

Ten: Strawberry Romper | Rylee + Cru $46 | The unexpected muted colors for this strawberry printed romper have me drooling. Perfect for the little trendsetter. 

Eleven: Lemon Print Towel Set | Little Unicorn $35 | If we have another little one, this will be on my registry!

Twelve: Apple Onesie | Soft Gallery $32 | I love the fun neon color and abstract apple on this onesie.

Thirteen: Pineapple Moccasins | Etsy $25 | Brody needs these in his closet stat. 

Shop My Fruity Favorites