Six Things I’d Do Differently During Labor and Delivery (and some things I wouldn’t)

On this day last year, I was induced to give birth to my first child.

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year…it went by super fast.  As I usually do, I’ve been looking back on my experiences a year ago and have been having all the feelings.

I plan to eventually have another kid, and that makes me think of what I might like to do differently with the second labor and delivery.  And even as I write that previous sentence, I realize how pointless it would be to count on my wishes coming true, because for all I know, my second labor will be totally different because that’s how the universe works.

But, for the hell of it, here are some things I’d do differently, followed by some things I did that were totally right for me.

Things I’d do differently whilst expelling a baby from my body

  1. Advocate more fiercely against being induced

We have Kaiser Oregon insurance, and for some reason they have a guideline to push induction at 41 weeks.  I know plenty of other midwives/doctors/facilities who won’t induce until 42 weeks.  Either way, I don’t like feeling pushed to force my body into doing something it clearly isn’t ready to do.  Next time, I plan to bring this topic up sooner with my midwife and advocate for as natural a process as possible.

2. Ask my midwife when she plans to go on a frickin vacation

My midwife went on vacation the very week I was due, and then I had to have the induction discussion with a midwife I had just met.  It sucked.  Medical people – please tell your pregnant patients well in advance when you’re planning a vacation.  Grr.

3. Bring (even more of) my own crap to the hospital for delivery

Our Kaiser hospital claimed to be a “breastfeeding friendly” hospital.  What that really translated to was, “We won’t provide you with simple things like breastfeeding pillows, and the things we do provide, we’ll judge you for not bringing your own.”

I’ll start with the breastfeeding pillow.  I had one, but I left it at home.  My hospital only provided those thin, plasticy hospital pillows, and I had to stack 6-8 pillows around me in order to get my kid in the right position to even try latching.  It was awkward and very inconvenient.

Since my boy had trouble latching, they asked if I had brought my breast pump.  I said no.  They gave me one, but it came with a glare.

Next time, I am bringing all my own stuff.

4. Do everything I can to minimize interruptions and distractions

Nurses and doctors and photographers and clowns and dancing bears were coming in and out of my room juuust about every 30 minutes.  Are you frickin kidding me?!  There is no way anyone can get any sleep or try to breastfeed with that parade of crazy.  This hospital claimed to offer “collaborative care” for my baby and me, meaning that the baby’s doctor and my doctor would work together as a team.  Well you know what?  That never happened.  It didn’t help to have my doc come and take my vitals and then my baby’s doc came to take his vitals 20 minutes later.  After this happened to us many times, my husband and I finally had to actually yell at a nurse to get her to leave.  And my husband doesn’t yell.  We were pissed.

Next time, we plan to tell everyone straight up to take our vitals at the same time and to minimize visits.  And we’re bringing paper and tape and a pen to make signs to put on our door telling the photographer to stay the hell away.  And you too, dancing bears!

5.  Advocate to switch nurses if one isn’t meeting our needs

There was one nurse who came in juuuust after I was finished trying to get my boy to latch.  And by try, I mean that we spent 20 minutes wrestling with my boob and his mouth and he was having none of it.  I put him down so we could both sleep and we’d try again later.  Enter nurse, and she insisted that it was time to nurse.  I told her we’d just tried.  Like, just.  She didn’t believe me.  She brought my baby to me and insisted that she watch while I try to get him to latch in front of her.

Looking back, I should have asked for a new nurse right then.  If I have to do it over again, I hope I have the ladyballs to do it (ask for a new nurse), because she made me feel like crap and she sucks at her job.  At the very least, I’d have my husband go to the nurses’ desk and request a new nurse.  Passive-aggressive advocating is better than no advocating at all.

6. Advocate for leaving the hospital sooner

My boy was having trouble breastfeeding, and so it took us a bit longer to figure out a feeding plan that would work for us.  I am thankful that things didn’t turn out worse, because had my boy lost any more weight they would have discharged me and kept him and I would have been very worried and peeved.  Buuut, I still feel like they took their sweet time getting us ready to go.

We were in the hospital postpartum for 2 days, but when you tack that onto being induced and laboring in the hospital for 2 full days prior, it felt like a looong time.  We were tired and cranky.  I wanted my own bed and my own shower.  Next time, I am going to be packing my bags much sooner as long as we’re all good and healthy.


Now, I know I’ve just done a bit of bitching, but overall I am satisfied and have made peace with my experience.

Hell, there were even some things we did really well that I’ll totally do again:

  1. Brought my own pillow

Cannot emphasize this enough.

2. Brought my own snacks

Because you can’t always (or ever) count on hospital food.

3. Brought my own DVDs

Our hospital room had a DVD player, and I think watching Ryan Gosling helped to move labor along.  Seriously.

4. Made a labor playlist

Music really helps to calm me down, and although it didn’t magically end up taking the pain away, it definitely helped.  Perhaps Led Zeppelin will work for you, too.

5. Yell at people who aren’t meeting my needs

This includes husbands.  Sometimes, you just need to take your pain out on others.  It’s not healthy, but it’s like giving birth: you don’t always get what you want.


14 responses

  1. Having JUST been through this with my daughter… I think she would agree with Every. Single. One. However, here in Israel, advocating for things means very little, and most of those things are outside your control. VERY different. In the end, you both got beautiful boys… and while I certainly believe in advocating, that is a great end game. Personally, after my first ended in an unnecessary c-section (and it really was unnecessary)… I pushed very hard for VBAC for my next two–– and “won.” So, advocating is not a wasted art. Happy birthday to you as well, M! xox

  2. I was also induced and it was a nightmare. I had some nasty nurses too. I get bad flashbacks of that time. I love my daughter but I never want to be pregnant again.

  3. Wow, that is some birth experience you had. Learning what you want differently is just as important as what you want the same. May I also suggest having a doula or birth advocate there for you? And I recommend one that you hour, not one who works for the hospital. Also take the name and phone number of an IBCLE out LA Leche League Leader with you to call after your baby is born.

    It is great that you are talking about an this now. Processing what happened before is really important to all of us, no matter what sent right and what needs to be adjusted. Sometimes there is a lot of pain around our birth stories that is hard to process, taking about it until it is less loaded is great in my opinion. Good luck, I’m routing for you!

  4. Was there really a roaming photographer barging in on you? I caught the snark on the circus acts but I could actually totally see some photographer wandering around and selling keychains theme park style. I’ve had a couple moms I know comment on how frequently they were disturbed by hospital staff post partum! Unbelievable! I can’t understand why they wouldn’t have systems in place to cause the least amount of disruption and stress for mom and baby.

    • L&D units often have a newborn photographer who is allowed to go room to room offering their services. It was actually on our to-do list (not mandatory, of course) to complete before discharge. If you don’t want the photog to come by, make sure everyone knows! They are relentless and annoying.

      We were disturbed SO MUCH, which doesn’t make sense if they really want us to focus on breastfeeding as much as they say. I’m now wondering if part of our problem getting such a late start with BF was partially caused by the disruptive atmosphere in the hospital. Especially since now, he’s still a horrible eater when he’s distracted.

      Next time, we’ll put our own system in place. Signs on our door!!

  5. Sorry to hear you had some miserable experiences. Maybe you have the option of a different hospital next time? I don’t blame you for being sour on it. Being provided a breast pump shouldn’t come with a glare!

    • Thanks.
      Urg. It’s the closest hospital to us, and depending on the time of day, I’d rather not labor in rush hour traffic longer than I have to.
      And yeah, you’d think breastfeeding friendly would mean they’d be more…friendly. New nurse please.

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