Pregnancy Guide

Anyone who has been through a pregnancy before knows that there are so many “If I had only known…” moments.

Click on your stage of pregnancy below to learn more. This is not the typical stuff that you’ll find most books…

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! You always thought this moment would be filled with excitement so why are you feeling so nervous? Anxiety is very common in the early stages of pregnancy whether your pregnancy was a complete surprise or planned for a while. The changes in your hormones cause your emotions to go into over-drive leaving you sometimes an emotional mess. It seems like everywhere you read, women are sharing stories about pregnancy loss and complications – how could you feel anything but anxiety? Let us help to reassure you.

Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy

We’ve all heard horror stories from friends and family members about the morning sickness, breast tenderness, and fatigue that commonly accompany pregnancy. However, it’s important to understand that not all women experience these symptoms. Not having any symptoms early in pregnancy is not a cause of concern. It’s also quite common for these symptoms to “disappear” overnight as the weeks progress – this is also very normal and is a sign that your body is doing exactly what it needs to do. If you are experiencing nausea or morning sickness, click here for some great tips on alleviating your symptoms! If you have questions, call your doctor for additional recommendations.

Pregnancy Loss

It is much more common for a pregnancy to progress normally than it is for a pregnancy to end in a miscarriage. We certainly understand that getting through the first trimester is on everyone’s mind the moment a positive pregnancy test occurs but it’s okay to relax. Understand that there is nothing that you can do to cause a miscarriage and there is nothing to do to prevent it. Bleeding is very common early in pregnancy and is often related to recent intercourse. If your bleeding is heavy and accompanied by pain, call your doctor.

Mood Changes

Many women experience mood changes early in pregnancy. These are often related to hormonal changes and sometimes mimic PMS symptoms. Let your partner know that this is normal and expected. You may start becoming teary eyed while watching a movie or feel like you react to things faster than you ordinarily would. Exercise can definitely help with moods by releasing endorphins so consider going for a daily walk with a friend.

If you are noticing that you are crying frequently, unable to experience happiness doing things that would ordinarily make you feel happy, having difficulty getting through your day or having feelings of harming yourself or someone else, contact a healthcare provider immediately.

Sharing the News

In today’s world of social media and technology, sharing the news of the pregnancy has become an event! Many women ask us when the right time to share the news is – there really isn’t an answer that’s right for everyone. We often recommend waiting at least until your first visit to tell the world (e.g. posting it to Facebook) but many families decide to share the news with their families or a few close friends immediately. Talk it over with your partner. Decide who you feel comfortable telling immediately and agree on a time that you will share publicly. It’s also a good idea to talk about when you plan to share this information with your employer. There is no obligation to tell your employer right away but if your job requires you to do something that is unsafe in pregnancy, having a discussion with human resources soon is a good idea.

First pregnancy visit!

Your first visit to your obstetrician is this week – how exciting! Although every practice is a little different, you should expect the following at your first visit:

  • Lab work – Many patients are surprised that a pregnancy test is not done. The home pregnancy tests are very accurate and there is no benefit in repeating it. We’ll check your blood to determine your blood type, screen for infections, offer genetic screening, and do a urine culture. Some insurance companies require you to use specific labs; check with your insurance carrier prior to your first visit so that you have this information.
  • Exam – A comprehensive examination is often performed to assure that you are healthy at the start of the pregnancy. Often, an internal exam is performed to assess the size of the uterus to confirm the approximate dating of your pregnancy.
  • Ultrasounds – are not routine early in pregnancy, typically the first ultrasound is performed around 12 weeks of pregnancy. Unless you are unsure about your last menstrual period or you have irregular menstrual cycles, ultrasounds are not routinely performed early in pregnancy. This can be hard for some families because “seeing is believing” but there is no medical benefit to an early ultrasound. It’s pretty amazing to wait until 12 weeks of pregnancy because at that time, you can see a profile of your baby!
  • Questions and answers – You have a lot of questions so write them down and bring them in. Providers understand that pregnancy is filled with uncertainties and no question is a silly question. Writing them down helps to make sure that you don’t forget anything while you’re here.

Although your baby’s heart is beating at 8 weeks, it is too small to pick up by listening with a fetal Doppler on your belly. The first time you will hear the heartbeat (and it’s an amazing sound) is at your 11-12 week visit. Sometimes babies do play a little hide-and-seek and we still can’t hear a heartbeat at 12 weeks but most of the time, we’ll pick it up! It’s a fun visit for both you and your partner to be at. If you both can’t be there, talk to your provider and they may let you record the sound on your phone to share!

To Screen or Not to Screen…

There are a lot of genetic tests that can be done during a pregnancy and it can be very confusing to determine what tests you think you should do. Here is a brief description of the most common tests during pregnancy:

Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Screen – Carrier screening is offered to all people who are planning a pregnancy or who are early in their pregnancy. Most carrier screening is offered based on the ethnicities of you and the father of the baby. This is because people of certain ethnicities are more likely to be carriers of certain disorders. Carrier screening is done through a blood test on a pregnant woman or the father of the baby. The results of a carrier screen do not change from pregnancy to pregnancy and therefore do not usually need to be repeated.

If both the mother and the father of a baby are carriers for the same genetic disorder, testing can be done prior to or during a pregnancy to determine if that particular pregnancy is affected (got both of the non-working copies). However, there are often no cures or treatments for these disorders.

Cystic Fibrosis is most common in the Caucasian population. Caucasians carry the gene at a rate of 1 in 30. Other ethnic groups carry the gene at a lower rate. The incidence of cystic fibrosis (the number of babies affected by the disease) is 1 in 2500 babies.

Prenatal screening for cystic fibrosis is not perfect. The screening tests for the 23-32 gene mutations most commonly associated with cystic fibrosis but there are likely genes that have not yet been identified. A negative screening test means only that the individual does not carry any of the cystic fibrosis mutations in the screening battery. A negative result reduces the likelihood, but does not eliminate, the possibility that the individual is a cystic fibrosis carrier.

Ultrascreen – The ultrascreen screen is a screening test determines a pregnancy’s risk for Down syndrome and trisomy 18. This screening test is performed between 12-13 weeks of pregnancy. At your appointment, you will have an ultrasound. An ultrasound measurement of the fluid at the back of a baby’s neck (nuchal translucency) is taken. After the ultrasound you will have blood drawn. Information about your pregnancy is then combined with the information from the ultrasound and the blood work to determine a result, which is available about one week after your appointment. This result will give you a specific risk for Down syndrome and trisomy 18 in the pregnancy. If these risks are higher than you are comfortable with, you will be immediately offered the option of proceeding to diagnostic testing to get a “yes or no” answer.

Things to think about when making this decision:

1. Why do you want to do the screening test?
2. How will the information you obtain influence your decisions?
3. How does your partner feel?
4. If you didn’t do the test, would not knowing make your nervous?
5. Consider the limitations of testing – most tests are not 100% accurate
6. Call your insurance to find out what your coverage should be – insurance coverage shouldn’t necessarily influence your decision but it’s always painful to get an expensive bill that you weren’t expecting so having this information is very helpful.
7. Is there any family history of this condition?

Whatever you decide to do on genetic screening tests, understand that this is your decision – don’t be influenced by friends or family members; make the decision that is right for your family.

Where’s my baby bump?

Starting to “show” is a really exciting time for most women. One of the common questions that many of our patients ask is when she will start to “show”. Most women start to have a baby bump around 15-16 weeks of pregnancy.

Prior to your bump showing up, you may feel self-conscious as your body starts to change. Your pants are feeling tight but you’re not quite big enough for maternity clothes. You have a small belly but no distinct bump. A belly band may help your pants feel more comfortable. For women who have a history of an eating disorder, this can be a very difficult time. Make sure if you’re feeling down, you reach out to a counselor or talk to your health care provider.

Wearing a shirt that has an empire waist will make you your bump appear bigger. Wearing a looser fitting shirt will hide your belly. Whether you want to show off your mini bump or hide the small belly is a personal decision. It’s important to remember that your body is doing exactly what it should be doing to grow a healthy baby. Embrace your small bump until you can start showing it off!


Feeling your baby move is one of the most special parts about pregnancy. It’s important to know that not all women feel their babies move at the same week of pregnancy. You may feel your baby move at 16 weeks in one pregnancy and at 22 weeks in another pregnancy.

There are a few things that may affect feeling your baby move. First, if your placenta is located on the belly side of your uterus, you may feel movement a little later. Although it’s very normal to have a placenta located on the belly side of your uterus, it provides a cushion effect in feeling movement. Don’t worry, as the baby gets bigger and makes larger movements, you’ll start feeling your little one. Secondly, most women feel the baby earlier when it’s not their first pregnancy. We think that this is mostly due to the fact that she knows what she’s looking for.

Wearing a shirt that has an empire waist will make you your bump appear bigger. Wearing a looser fitting shirt will hide your belly. Whether you want to show off your mini bump or hide the small belly is a personal decision. It’s important to remember that your body is doing exactly what it should be doing to grow a healthy baby. Embrace your small bump until you can start showing it off!

Partners are just as excited as moms-to-be about feeling the baby move. Unfortunately, it usually takes our partners longer to feel the baby move. It’s not uncommon that mom will think she’s feeling the baby moving when she places her hand on the outside of her belly when in reality, she’s feeling it on the inside and her brain is telling her hand she can feel it on the outside. Most partners will be able to feel the baby between 24-26 weeks.

Checking the fetal anatomy

Making sure that the major anatomical features are normal is perhaps one of the most important ultrasounds during the pregnancy. Although this is also the ultrasound that may also identify if you’re having a boy or a girl, keep in mind that the sole purpose for the ultrasound is to look at the baby’s major organs.

At the fetal anatomy survey, your 20 week ultrasound, the ultrasonographer will be looking at the heart, kidneys, brain, hands, feet, and growth of the baby. Having the ultrasound done at 19-20 weeks provides the optimal views of the baby and the uterus.

A transvaginal scan will also be performed to assess cervical length. A probe is inserted into the vagina to take these images. Shortened cervical length may increase the risk of preterm delivery. If your cervix is found to be shortened, your doctor may talk to you about vaginal progesterone.

We will provide you with pictures from your ultrasound to take home and share with friends and family.

What are we having? A boy or a girl?

Finding out what you’re having is an exciting time for most couples. Many families decide to find out during the pregnancy while others wait for the big surprise at delivery. Whatever you decide, it will be an exciting time.

If you plan to find out during the pregnancy, you will find out at your 20 week ultrasound. Although it’s rare, sometimes babies do not cooperate and the gender cannot be identified at this ultrasound. Ultrasonographers will make every attempt to see the baby’s gender but if it cannot be identified, you may be offered an additional ultrasound or you may decide to wait to find out until delivery. An ultrasound is not 100% accurate in identifying the gender of your baby.

In the last few years, families have become more creative with how they want to share the news. Some of our patients request that we put the gender in an envelope to open in private later while others want to know right away. Cake reveal parties, where a bakery colors the inside of the cake either blue or pink, have also become quite popular.

Your baby is probably moving much more now! You’ll likely find that your baby moves more at specific times during the day, commonly right after you have eaten. This is really normal.

Glucose testing

Testing for glucose intolerance is done at 28 weeks of pregnancy. Some women will develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Testing for this is extremely important.

You will be given a drink to consume and will have bloodwork one hour after you have finished the drink. Results will be available within 48-72 hours.

If your testing comes back abnormal, additional testing would be necessary.

Welcome to your third trimester! You’re in the final stage of your pregnancy -you must be getting excited!

Common complaints in the third trimester:

Back pain – Your baby bump is in full bloom at this point which can cause some lower back pain. You may want to try prenatal yoga to help stretch out the muscles. Sitting on an exercise ball will help to open up the pelvis – you may find that this is a comfortable way to sit at work. If your back pain is preventing you from sleeping well, talk to your provider about other recommendations.

Dizziness – Your plasma (the fluid surrounding your red blood cells) volume increases significantly between 26-28 weeks of pregnancy. It is not unusual to feel increased dizziness, hearth palpitations, or occasional shortness of breath. These symptoms are generally self-limited. Making slow positional changes will prevent you from feeling light-headed. If you were diagnosed with anemia, make sure that you’re taking iron supplementation as recommended.

Protecting yourself and your baby from whooping cough

When the source of whooping cough was identified, mothers were responsible for 30-40% of infant infections. Even if you recently had the Tdap (the whooping cough booster shot), it is now recommended that you get another vaccination during each pregnancy to provide some protective immunity to both to you and your baby.

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a very contagious disease that can cause serious illness in adults, children and infants. People with whooping cough make a “whooping” sound when they try to breathe. In newborns, pertussis can be a life-threatening illness. It can be prevented with a vaccine called the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine

How do people get whooping cough?

Whooping cough is caused by infection with a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. It usually spreads when a person who has the bacteria coughs or sneezes while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the whooping cough bacteria. Whooping cough is known to spread within households.

What can happen to infants who get whooping cough?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whooping cough is more severe for infants.

  • More than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get whooping cough will be hospitalized
  • About 1 in 5 infants with whooping cough gets pneumonia
  • Although rare, other complications may include seizures, brain disorder, and even death.
I am pregnant. Should I get a Tdap shot?

Yes. The Tdap vaccine is now recommended for all women during every pregnancy. You should receive it late in your second trimester (after 20 weeks of gestation) or third trimester of pregnancy. At Bedford Commons OB-GYN, we will give you the vaccine at 32 weeks of pregnancy. The Tdap vaccine is an effective and safe way to protect you and your baby from serious illness and complications of pertussis.

What else can I do to protect my baby against pertussis?

Getting your Tdap shot is the most important step in protecting yourself and your baby against whooping cough. It is also important to make sure all family members and caregivers are up to date with their vaccines and, if necessary, that they receive the Tdap vaccination at least 2 weeks before contact with your baby. This creates a safety “cocoon” of vaccinated caregivers around your baby. If you are unable to be vaccinated during your pregnancy, you will be offered the vaccination at the hospital after delivering your baby.

36 week Group B Strep Culture

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a common bacteria that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. This bacteria is normally found in about 25% of women and does not cause any harm to women.

During pregnancy, women are routinely tested for GBS at 36 weeks of pregnancy with a swab that is inserted into the vagina and rectum. If you test positive for GBS, you can potentially pass GBS to your baby during delivery. To prevent this, your doctor will recommend giving you antibiotics through IV during your labor and delivery. Antibiotics given prior to labor do not seem to be helpful but antibiotics given during labor greatly reduce the risk of your baby developing a GBS infection.

According to the CDC, if you have tested positive and are treated with antibiotics during labor, your chance of delivering a baby affected by GBS is 1 in 4000. If antibiotics are not given, the risk is 1 in 200. In serious cases, GBS can cause meningitis, sepsis, or pneumonia in the newborn.

Antibiotics and routine screening have greatly reduced the concern related to GBS. It’s important that you have the test done. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Preparing for Childbirth through Postpartum

Maternity Leave and Disability – In general, most employers consider pregnancy a normal process rather than an “illness” or “disability”. Therefore, employers provide “maternity Leave” coverage separate from standard medical disability coverage. The length and terms of this maternity leave whether paid or unpaid, should be determined by you with your individual employer prior to your expected date of delivery. Disability, on the other hand, implies the inability to work because of a disease process or condition and generally requires medical verification of that disease. Disability insurers usually require proof of the abnormal condition before paying these benefits. Whereas normal pregnancy and childbirth do not generally involve medical disability, occasionally complications arise that require some time out of work not previously anticipated. This period of time is generally determined by the physician and requires documentation of the abnormal condition and the need for recovery. If you have any questions regarding these issues, please discuss them in detail with your employer and/or your provider well ahead of time.

Anticipating Your Recovery – The first two weeks at home following the birth of your baby are generally the most difficult time for new families. Mothers are recovering from childbirth while learning to care for a newborn baby or reassuring older siblings that they are loved. Added to this stress is the sleep deprivation that invariably occurs, and physical and emotional exhaustion may ensue.

We recommend that you anticipate these potential difficulties prenatally, and make plans that will help you to meet your needs and those of your family. For instance, encourage your partner to request a “Paternity Leave” from employment, invite a supportive family member or friend to remain within the home to provide child care to older siblings and prepare meals, or hire a “mother’s helper’ to meet these needs.

Pediatrician – We recommend that during your third trimester of pregnancy you select and contact a pediatrician for your baby. If you have not registered with a pediatric practice by the time of birth or you use a pediatrician who does not see patients at the Elliot, an “on-call” pediatrician will provide the initial newborn care for your baby. If you use the “on-call” pediatrician be sure to contact your primary pediatrician to arrange the follow-up appointment.

Circumcision – Circumcision, the surgical removal of the penis foreskin, is a common practice in some cultures. There are differing views on the medical and social advisability of the procedure. A handout entitled “Circumcision”, provides an overview on the subject and is available in our office. If you choose to have your child circumcised, one of our obstetricians will perform the procedure while you and your baby are in the hospital.

When Labor Begins – The process of labor generally begins gradually and builds in intensity. The labor process is frequently accelerated after the first delivery. You should contact our office when you are having regular, uncomfortable contractions every 3 to 5 minutes for at least one hour, or your water breaks.

If you call during normal business hours, (Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) one of our RNs will speak with you and decide whether you should come to our office for evaluation or proceed directly to the hospital. If you call after hours, or on the weekend, our physician “on-call” will speak with you. We appreciate a call from you before you plan to leave for the hospital.

If there is something significant about your pregnancy (e.g. breech baby, previous fast labor, twins, planned cesarean section, traveling long distance), please inform the care provider with whom you speak.

Pain Medication in Labor – Pain relief during labor is, for the most part, a matter of individual choice. The physicians at Bedford Commons OB-GYN make every attempt to approach each labor as a unique and personal experience. We generally recommend that you become familiar with the most common forms of pain control so that your individual desires and the medical factors related to their use can be matched as closely as possible. Childbirth classes are extremely helpful in providing information about the medicinal and non-medicinal control of labor pains. In general, the physicians of Bedford Commons OB-GYN place each patient’s desires as their highest priority when it comes to pain relief. Occasionally, certain choices must be avoided and others preferred when certain clinical circumstances arise. We encourage everyone to be knowledgeable about pain relief as well as to be aware that many patients do well with no medication at all. Occasionally, epidurals are required due to medical reasons, even when they are not initially desired. We encourage you to discuss the issue of pain control early in your labor so that your desires are known to the physician and nursing staff. Staff will be available throughout your labor to advise you, as needed, with pain management.

Length of Hospital Stay – Most patients with uncomplicated vaginal delivery can expect to go home two days following their delivery. Following a C-Section, discharge from the hospital generally occurs on the third day after the procedure. In general, the medical need to remain hospitalized should be the determining factor.

Breastfeeding – We recommend that you consider breastfeeding your newborn baby. Human milk is the perfect food for infants and provides the baby with protection from infection. Many women find that they are able to lose weight more easily after childbirth if they breastfeed. There is no special nipple preparation needed for breastfeeding. If you believe that your nipples may be flat or inverted, discuss this with a care provider at a prenatal visit. A prenatal breastfeeding class is available through Nini Bambini (603-666-6464). Additionally, Elliot Hospital (603-663-4464) offers lactation consultant services for new mothers.

Breast Care – Breastfeeding mothers should allow their nipples to air-dry after nursing and rinse their nipples in the shower with warm water daily. Keeping the breast empty through frequent nursing or pumping and avoidance of cracked nipples will reduce the risk of mastitis. If fever or breast pain should develop, call our office.

If you wish to discourage breast milk production, wear a firm support bra 24 hours a day and avoid nipple stimulation. Should breast engorgement occur, apply ice packs to the breasts and underarms and use acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed; painful engorgement rapidly diminishes, though milk may be expressed from the nipples for some months after.

Bleeding – Vaginal bleeding or discharge normally continues for several weeks following childbirth as the lining of the uterus sheds and returns to normal. There will sometimes be clotting and some cramping pain. Avoid the use of tampons during this time. Your first period will usually occur within 12 weeks if you are formula feeding, but may not occur until much later if you are breast-feeding.

Care of Incisions or Tears – Cleanse the perineum with a water spray bottle after toileting and pat dry. Soaking the area in warm water (Sitz bath) can be very soothing. Stitches will gradually dissolve within a few weeks.

Women who have given birth by C-Section may shower or tub bathe. Wash the incisional area gently with soap and water and pat dry.

Physical Activity – You may resume your usual activities at your own discretion, keeping in mind that extra rest is important, particularly in the initial weeks following childbirth. We ask you to refrain from driving until you are no longer sore, you can move your legs quickly without hesitation, and you are not too tired. Light exercises acceptable. Intercourse may be resumed after vaginal bleeding stops, be sure to use contraception (see below).

Vitamins and Medications – You should continue the use of the prenatal vitamin or a multivitamin for several months or until you stop breast feeding. If you are experiencing mild pain or discomfort, Advil or Tylenol can be taken. It is important to try to avoid constipation. You may utilize Metamucil, Colace, or Milk of Magnesia as necessary. Hemmorrhoids sometimes develop and can generally be treated with Preparation H, Anusol, Tucks or other similar preparations. If you have been using extra iron during pregnancy, continue to use the iron until the bottle is completed.

Birth Control – It is important to use a birth control method when you resume intercourse if you wish to prevent pregnancy. It is possible to become pregnant before periods begin again or while breastfeeding. We will be happy to discuss your contraceptive needs with you at any time.

Postpartum Depression – Postpartum depression is a real illness that affects 2 in every 10 women after the birth of a child. Symptoms include frequent crying, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, anxiety/panic attacks, feeling of anger or irritability, loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed, feeling unable to cope, feelings of guilt and worthlessness or fear of harming the baby or yourself. If you should develop any of these symptoms, please call our office immediately.

Other resources include:
  • Elliot Hospital Postpartum Emotional Support Group: (603) 663-8929
  • Elliot New Moms Group – meets Wednesdays from 10am-12am: (603) 663-5897
  • Postpartum Support International Warmline: 1-800-944-4PPD
  • Suicide Hotline 24/7: 1-800-273-TALK

Staying In Touch With Our Office – We request that you contact our office soon after your discharge from the hospital to schedule your postpartum visit. A member of our nursing staff will also contact you within the first few weeks to see how you are doing and to answer any questions that you have.

If any of the following problems develop after you return home, please call our office:
  • Heavy bleeding (one maxi pad per hour)
  • Severe pain or cramping
  • Fever over 101 that lasts for longer than 2 hours
  • Pus or unusual drainage from the C-Section
  • Problems that you need help in resolving (e.g. prolonged down moods/depression)
When you can’t remember specific instructions, the bottom line for the first 6 weeks is:
  • If you are tired – rest!
  • If an activity is too uncomfortable – stop!
When Labor Begins

The process of labor generally begins gradually and builds in intensity. The labor process is frequently accelerated after the first delivery. You should contact our office when you are having regular, uncomfortable contractions every 3 to 5 minutes for at least one hour, or your water breaks.

If you call during normal business hours, (Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) one of our RNs will speak with you and decide whether you should come to our office for evaluation or proceed directly to the hospital. If you call after hours, or on the weekend, our physician “on-call” will speak with you. We appreciate a call from you before you plan to leave for the hospital.

If there is something significant about your pregnancy (e.g. breech baby, previous fast labor, twins, planned cesarean section, traveling long distance), please inform the care provider with whom you speak.

It’s my due date and I still haven’t had my baby!!! What now?!?

Especially if it’s your first pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to make it to your due date and still be pregnant. We encourage our patients to think of it more as a “due month” versus a due date. A full term pregnancy is considered to be delivery between 37-41 weeks. The due date is just an estimate. Estimate or not, most women feel disappointed when their due date has come or gone. Try to relax and understand that your baby will come when he or she is ready. You may feel ready to stop working which is something that you can discuss with your employer. Some women find that continuing work helps to keep them distracted from waiting for the baby. Whatever you decide, understand that it’s safe for you to continue working if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy.

If your baby hasn’t arrived by one week after your due date, your doctor will start to talk to you about induction. Induction means using measures to help start the process of labor. Usually, induction is a two day process. On the first day, you will be given a medication to help soften the cervix. After several hours of monitoring, you will most likely go home. On the second day of induction, you will be given a medication called Pitocin. Pitocin causes the uterus to start to cramp and contract. Once Pitocin has been started, you will stay at the hospital until the baby arrives.

What to bring

You were probably given a list in your childbirth education classes detailing what to pack for the hospital. This is a great starting point and may help you think of some ideas but here are some things that you may not think about that may be helpful to have!

1. Flip flops – Slippers are great for wearing after you have the baby but you may want to consider flip flops to wear during the labor process if you plan to be up and moving around. Not to be graphic but you may be leaking fluid during labor that you might not want as a souvenir on your favorite slippers.
2. Nursing pillow – Hopefully someone has told you by now that nursing takes practice by both you and your baby. If you’re planning to nurse, having as much help as possible in the first few days is critical for your success. Having a nursing pillow with you at the hospital will help prop your baby up appropriately and will help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
3. Shampoo and conditioner – When I delivered my little one, I thought about the hospital in the same way that I think about a hotel (what was I thinking!?!) Although the hospital offered shampoo, it was an all-in-one shampoo, conditioner, and body wash – not the best for when I was trying to look my best for our first family photos. It was nice to have my own bath products! Call the hospital to find out if they have hair dryers in the rooms.
4. Eye mask – You can’t stop the nurses from coming in to check your blood pressure and your baby in the middle of the night but you can cover your eyes to help minimize the disruption.
5. Headband – When labor started, you decided to take a shower so you could “look your best” when you had your baby. 27 hours later (hopefully not quite this long), you are tired, hot, sweaty, and still waiting for baby. Having a headband to push your hair out of your face will make you feel more comfortable.
6. Netflix – You’re probably thinking, “Why do I need Netflix?” Labor is a long process and having something to do will help take your mind off the discomfort. As entertaining as daytime and late night television programs are, it’s nice to have something to watch that keeps your attention and isn’t filled with infomercials. Many hospitals have DVDs that you can borrow if you don’t have Netflix.
7. Snacks – Graham crackers and saltines can get a little boring after a while. Bring some of your favorite snacks and bring some for your partner too!
8. Shirts and pajamas with a button down – After labor, you will be all too excited to bid farewell to your hospital johnnie. With friends and family members visiting, it’s nice to be in somewhat normal clothes. Think about packing some shirts and pajamas with a button down top if you’re planning to nurse. It makes it much easier in the middle of the night to just unbutton and feed your baby. Nursing covers are great and I promise that you’ll use them once you and your baby get more comfortable with nursing but in the beginning, easy access will make it much easier for you to nurse your baby.
The additional information links provided on this website are for general educational and reference purposes only - please do not use them to try and diagnose or treat any medical or health condition. We do not guarantee that the information is complete, and it may contain inaccuracies even though we try to make sure it is accurate. This information is not intended as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, products, or course of action. You should always seek the advice of your physician or medical professional when you have specific medical conditions or questions.