What to Expect at the Maternity Unit/Ward131
Going into a maternity unit when you are in labour may be frightening, but attending prenatal classes and visiting the unit during pregnancy should help. Hospitals and maternity units all vary, so this is just a guide to what is likely to happen.
If it's your first pregnancy, you may feel unsure about when you should go to the hospital. The best thing to do is to call your hospital or unit for advice.
If your waters have broken, you'll probably be told to go in to be checked. If it is your first baby and you are having contractions but your waters have not broken, you may be told to wait. You'll probably be told to come in when your contractions are:
- about five minutes apart, and
- lasting about 60 seconds
If you don't live near your hospital you may need to come in before you get to this stage. Make sure you know the signs of labour and what happens.
Second babies often arrive more quickly than the first, so you may need to contact the hospital sooner.
Don’t forget to phone your obstetrician or his or her assistant before leaving home, and remember your notes. Talk to your doctor about the way things are done at your local hospital or unit and what you would like for your birth. If your wishes can’t be met, it’s important to understand why.
If you carry your own notes, take them to the unit's admissions desk. You will be taken to the labour ward, where a nurse will take you to your room and help you change into a hospital gown or a nightdress of your own. Choose an old one that is loose and preferably made of cotton because you’ll feel hot during labour and won’t want something tight.
Examination by the doctor
The doctor will ask you about what has been happening so far and will examine you. The doctor will:
- Take your pulse, temperature and blood pressure and check your urine.
- Feel your abdomen to check the baby’s position and record or listen to your baby’s heart.
- Probably do an internal examination to find out how much your cervix has opened (tell her if a contraction is coming so that she can wait until it has passed), and she will then be able to tell you how far your labour has progressed.
These checks will be repeated at intervals throughout your labour. Always ask about anything you want to know. If you and the baby's father have made a birth plan, show your doctor or nurse so that she knows your views about your labour and can help you to achieve them.
Many women find that they naturally empty their bowels before, or very early in, labour. Very occasionally, a suppository or enema may be suggested if you are constipated. Avoid eating heavy meals if you are in labour. Choose drinks and semisolids like soup instead.
Delivery rooms have become more homelike in recent years. Some high end hospitals in Bangladesh even have easy chairs, beanbags, mats and the like, so you can move about in labour and change position. Some have baths or showers. Talk to your doctor or nurse about this and write your wishes in your birth plan.
Bath or shower
Some maternity units may offer you a bath or shower. A warm bath can be soothing in the early stages of labour. In fact, some women like to spend much of their labour in the bath as a way of easing the pain.