Labor and Delivery FAQ

Labor and Delivery FAQ: Before Labor Begins

What should I bring?

You'll want to pack for the delivery, mom, mom's support person and the baby.

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When do I choose a pediatrician?

The majority of pediatricians in our area require you set up an interview with them prior to your delivery.

You should have your pediatrician selected well in advance of your due date (by at least 34 weeks). Be sure to notify the pediatrician's office that you've selected the doctor as your pediatrician, as some doctors will not accept a new baby without prior registration.

For a list of area pediatricians, call the Parent/Child Community Educator at 706-475-5622.

For patients who will be using a pediatrician outside of the Athens area, there is a pediatric hospitalist who will see the baby in the hospital and discharge it to the care of the pediatrician the baby will be seeing after it goes home.

Will someone install my infant car seat?

The safest directions for car seat installation are those from the manufacturer.

It's important that you have a car seat properly installed in your vehicle before your baby is born. To schedule an appointment with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician at the Georgia State Patrol Post on Hwy 29 N, call 706-542-8660. You can also call Athens-Clarke County Police Department at 706-208-1718, Ext. 223 for assistance.

And please note that infants will not be allowed to be discharged if you do not have a car seat installed. We do not provide a car seat for you.

What type of classes do you offer for expecting parents?

Our prenatal programs are designed to prepare you for your baby's birthday and beyond!

Offerings include childbirth preparation, breastfeeding, infant CPR and sibling preparation. For information or to register, call 706-475-5622 or see our classes.

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Labor and Delivery FAQ: When Labor is Here

Where do I park?

Our guests are encouraged to park in the multi-leveled garage located on Prince Avenue in front of the Emergency Department.

Please enter through the Prince Tower and check in at the Emergency Department Registration Desk. The registration staff will get your hospital paperwork started and escort you quickly to Labor and Delivery.

What can I expect when I arrive in L&D?

After you have changed into a gown, the nurse will have you lie down in bed. She will ask you questions about your visit.

Typically, all patients admitted to Labor and Delivery will be placed on the fetal monitor or the Doppler will be used to assess the fetal heart beat.

The amount of time the fetal heart rate is monitored is determined by the reason you are admitted. The nurse will base your assessment on the reason you are here. She will assess your vital signs and she may do a vaginal exam to check your labor progress.

Can I have visitors?

Yes. Your family is encouraged to be with you; however, there are times during the admission process that the nurse will ask all visitors to step out of the room for your privacy.

Can I eat and drink?

This depends on the reason you are here. Once it is established you are in labor, it is not safe for you to have food that sits in your stomach. You will be allowed to have clear liquids, which includes apple juice, Gatorade, Coke, water, ice chips, etc. 

Please note, however, some practitioners prefer their patients to have only ice chips in labor.

Will I have an IV?

That also depends on the reason you are admitted.

Some diagnoses require extra hydration. Many women have nausea/vomiting in labor and cannot drink enough to keep up with their body's needs. You and your practitioner should discuss your individual needs.

What options do I have for position changes?

In most cases, it is safe for a mom to walk in her room or in the halls during labor. We also have birthing balls, a tub and shower and rocking chairs.

What if I am supposed to be on the fetal monitor, but I want to move around?

We have Avalon Cordless fetal monitors that can be worn while walking in the hall, sitting in the tub or rocking in a chair. These allow you the freedom to move while the nurses can still monitor your baby's heart rate.

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Labor and Delivery FAQ: Labor Discomforts

When can I have pain medicine?

When you are admitted, your nurse will assess your pain level. Based on the amount of pain you are feeling and your diagnosis, a plan will be made for how to control your pain.

Sometimes pain can be managed with warm compresses, position change or massage. Sometimes pain is managed with medication, or a combination of these things.

The most frequently used pain medications used in Labor and Delivery are Nubain and Stadol. These medications are ordered by the practitioner individually for each patient as needed. If pain medication is ordered, you will receive your medication promptly.

Tell me about an epidural.

There is an anesthesiologist in house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Upon admission, your nurse will ask you about your plans for pain control. If you are planning an epidural, you will need an IV. At the time you are ready for your epidural, the nurse will give you some extra IV fluids to prepare your body for the epidural medication. This takes about 20 minutes once your IV is infusing.

The RN will then notify the anesthesiologist that you are ready.

What is getting an epidural like?

Your nurse will be with you the whole time, and one family member will be able to stay with you during the epidural. Your family member will need to stay seated during the procedure.

You will sit on the edge of your bed. The anesthesiologist will position you so that your back is rounded out toward him to open up your epidural space. It is important for you to remain as still as possible while the anesthesiologist is placing your epidural. You will feel a sting for a few seconds as he numbs the area with Lidocaine.

Once the Lidocaine is in, you will be aware that there is something going on, but it will not feel sharp and should not hurt. The anesthesiologist will ask you questions while he is placing your epidural to make sure that you are safe and comfortable. Your vital signs will be assessed frequently during and following the epidural. When the procedure is done, your nurse will assist you back to a lying position.

How soon will it work?

Once your epidural is placed, it will take the medication about 10-20 minutes to be effective. The amount of medication will be adjusted as your labor progresses.

Epidurals generally provide a great amount of relief during labor. However, it is likely that you will continue to feel some pressure and even mild discomfort even with a well-working epidural. Your nurse and anesthesia personnel will work together to maximize your relief.

Can I get out of bed with an epidural?

No, you will not be able to get up and walk while you have your epidural. You will feel numb from your waist down.

Will my epidural wear off if I get it "too soon"?

No. An epidural is a continuous infusion - like an IV. If the bag of medication runs out before you deliver, the nurse will hang another bag. You will not need another epidural.

Can it be "too late" to get an epidural?

It does take some time for the medication to take effect, so if the delivery is very soon, the epidural may not be as effective as it would have been if it had been placed earlier.

Each patient's situation is unique. Your nurse and practitioner will help you decide what is best in your situation.

How will I go to the bathroom if I can't get out of bed?

You may have enough sensation to urinate in a bedpan, or your practitioner may order some type of catheter.

Remember, you will be numb, so a catheter after an epidural is much different than without an epidural. It is important for your bladder to remain empty so that your baby's head can descend into your pelvis.

When will the epidural wear off?

After your delivery, the nurse will remove the epidural catheter. It is held in place with a lot of tape, so removing the tape is usually the most uncomfortable part of removing the epidural catheter. The epidural catheter slips right out. You should get most of your sensation back in the next 1-2 hours.

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Labor and Delivery FAQ: During Delivery

Can someone take pictures during my delivery?

Yes. Still pictures are allowed.

Can my significant other cut the baby's umbilical cord?

In most cases, yes. There are no nerves in the cord. It will not hurt you or the baby.

Can I hold my baby right away?

Typically, yes. This is actually preferred. However, in some cases your baby may need some extra oxygen or stimulation to begin his transition from being in the uterus. All babies are assessed immediately following birth and the decision to hand them directly to mom or take them to the warmer beside your bed is made at that time. If your baby has special needs, we will take care of him at the baby station beside your labor bed right away and get him back in your arms as soon as possible.

Who will be in the room when I deliver?

Your practitioner, your nurse, a nurse designated to care for your baby, an OB tech and up to four family/friends that you designate. In certain circumstances, a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse and a respiratory therapist may also be present for delivery.

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Labor and Delivery FAQ: After Delivery

What happens right after delivery?

After you are delivered, your practitioner will assess you to make sure you do not need any stitches and that bleeding is stabilized. Your nurse will continue to monitor your vital signs and bleeding closely. She will clean you up and make you comfortable in bed so that you can enjoy your baby.

How will my baby be identified?

Before your baby goes to the nursery, two ID bands will be placed on the baby's ankles, one bracelet on mom's wrist and one "significant other" mom designates. The bracelets should not be removed until the baby is discharged to go home. The "significant other" bracelet cannot be shared and should remain on the person the mother designates until the baby is discharged.

I am planning to breastfeed. How soon can I start?

It is preferable that breastfeeding babies are fed within the first hour of birth. During this time, they are most alert. Your nurse will assist you.

When will my baby go to the nursery?

Within 90 minutes after your delivery, you will be transferred to a private room on the Mother-Baby Unit. Just before you are transferred, your baby will be taken to the nursery for observation and his admission assessment. Your significant other may accompany the baby to the nursery, and if you feel up to it, you can go, too.

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Labor and Delivery FAQ: Unsure?

Are there any reasons other than being in labor that I would come to the Labor and Delivery Unit?

Yes. Labor and Delivery takes care of all patients more than 20 weeks pregnant who have complications related to pregnancy.

Although most of our patients are seen for labor checks or because they think their water is broken, we also see patients with complications such as high blood pressure, kidney infections, nausea and vomiting and other discomforts of pregnancy.

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