Women have been giving birth forever. Before the advent of hospitals and modern medicine. women gave birth at home, surrounded and assisted by other women. The messy, hard, and intense work of having a baby was something most women were intimately familiar with even before they had babies of their own. Then hospitals became a thing, doctors became mostly men, and childbirth became a secret thing.
This fundamental change in the way we handle childbirth, from a semi-public event to a very private one, has left women today with a lot of questions about how it all goes down. This is compounded by the overly complicated nature of most medical systems. Keeping childbirth a mystery really doesn’t do anyone any good. When women know what to expect, they are better prepared to handle any eventual outcome.
Hollywood has done nothing to counteract this bizarre image of childbirth that we have today. For many women, their only exposure to this important life event is on television, and it is often depicted in a way that is completely contrary to reality. The female character is often lying in bed, screaming, and surrounded by hot doctors. In no more than a few punches her bouncing bundle enters the world, miraculously clean and three-months-old. Is it any wonder that we have such a skewed perception of reality? One of the most striking differences between television birth and reality is that typically the doctor doesn’t even enter the room until the baby is practically out. The doctor is not nearly as involved in the actual work of childbirth as many may think.
Below we’ve compiled a list of 15 things a doctor will never help mom do, during and after labor.
15 Walk Her Through the Ins And Outs of L&D
For most of a woman’s time in the hospital, she will be attended to by the labor and delivery nurses, her doula, or her midwife. The doctor does not typically show up until the baby is on his way out, assuming that everything is progressing properly. And while women do see their doctor for their prenatal check-ups and appointments, one thing they will likely not see them for is birth classes. These classes will likely be led by a registered nurse or childbirth educator.
The same can be said for classes that deal exclusively with breastfeeding and tours of the maternity ward. These classes can be a great choice for first-time moms who are looking to gather as much information as they can before the big day. The teachers often cover things like different birthing positions, pain-management techniques, and they don’t shy away from telling it like it is. Even experienced mommas could probably benefit from a refresher course or a tour of the hospital, especially if they have moved since baby number one.
14 Take Samples And Check Vitals
When a laboring momma is admitted to the hospital there is a load of tedious paperwork that has to be done. There are also many routine tests, measurements, and readings that need to be taken. None of which actually requires the presence of the doctor. In all likelihood, the tests will all be taken care of by whichever nurse is available at the time of admission. And some hospitals and insurance providers even allow women to pre-register at their hospital or birthing center, to get some of the paperwork out of the way ahead of time.
All labor and delivery nurses are trained to recognize when the results of the various tests are not looking normal. If something does come back looking less-than-ideal, the nurse will likely speak to your doctor or the on-call physician to determine next steps. But, assuming everything is hunky-dory, mom can expect to only deal with her nurses at the beginning of her stay. This nurse will also help mom get settled in the room that she’ll be laboring in before the big moment.
13 Remind Her Partner To Take Breaks
Birth is exhausting. No one knows this more than moms. It is only natural during this special time that all of the attention is focused on mom and her needs. But it is important not to forget about the other person in the room!
The nurse, or doula, should mom have one, will likely take on the task of reminding mom’s partner to take a break once in a while. Go grab a sandwich and some water, take a walk, slip into the bathroom, or take a quick nap. Childbirth can last a really long time, and as long as mom’s okay with it, there’s nothing wrong with her partner resting for a bit. This is especially important for partners who want to be super involved in supporting mom. In fact, it could be beneficial to have one person not completely exhausted by the time baby arrives.
12 Coach Her Through Contractions
This is just one in the long list of reasons why nurses and doulas are so important. There’s no one else better equipped to coach mom through each intense contraction. They can offer advice on coping with the pain, different positions to try, and even exercises and breathing techniques to try and focus mom’s mind. Of course, if the contractions are too much, they can also provide advice on the medical pain-management options available.
11 Perform Routine Monitoring
During labor, both mom and baby will likely need to be monitored for signs of distress and complications. Much like the routine tests and measurements mentioned earlier, these things often do not require the presence of the doctor. Of course, this can change, especially if mom starts experiencing complications from the labor. But barring that, it is most likely a nurse who will be checking in to see how mom is progressing.
Depending on her situation, mom may be hooked up to fetal monitors and other contraptions designed to monitor her vitals and contractions. Her cervix will also need to be checked more regularly than anyone likes, to make sure that it is dilating on schedule. All of this will likely be handled by the nurse on duty. This is just one of the many reasons why we should all be nice to our nurses! They do more than anyone realizes.
10 Clean Up Any Embarrassing Accidents
Contrary to what we see depicted in television and movies, childbirth is a messy, messy business. All manner of disgusting things exit mom’s body during this time. From amniotic fluid and blood to urine and even fecal matter. Yes, the rumors are indeed true. Many women do actually poop on the table (or the floor) while birthing their baby.
There is, of course, a very natural reason for this. The baby puts a lot of pressure on mom’s insides as it works its way out, working any waste in there out with it. It sounds embarrassing as heck, but we really shouldn’t let it bother us. In fact, it’s a sign that the pushing action is being done correctly. And besides, the nurses and doctors are used to it, they see this s**t every day. The nurses in attendance will simply clean up any unsightly messes that mom makes as she goes about her business.
9 Kick Her Family Out Of The Room
While some women prefer to labor at the hospital or birthing center alone, or with just their partner or mother present, other women like to make the occasion a family affair. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Every woman should get to labor however she likes, even if it includes a throng of onlookers. But for some women, the growing throng outside the door can be an unwelcome event.
In these cases, it’s not unusual for a member of the medical staff to play referee. Mom and her partner are going to be too busy, or too nice, to tell the rest of the family to kindly go somewhere else. This responsibility will often fall to a nurse or the doula. In many cases, they don’t even mind. As it turns out, if your family is bugging you, they are probably annoying the nurses as well.
8 Suggest Alternate Birthing Positions
As we mentioned earlier, the doctor often doesn’t come in until the baby is just about to emerge. This is for a number of reasons. Doctors most certainly have more than one patient approaching their due date, a practice to keep up with, and families of their own to spend time with. For these reasons and many more, doctors are often not called in until mom is clearly very close to delivering.
This is just one of the reasons why having a doula can be so helpful. Doulas are women who are trained to support other women during childbirth. They will often have a whole slew of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to birth techniques and positions. Nurses too can often suggest new ways mom can position her body to try to relieve pressure on her back as she pushes that baby out.
7 Provide Advice On Breastfeeding
Of course, many nurses and doulas are also able to answer questions pertaining to breastfeeding. And it’s so important to ask for help in the beginning. Sure, humans have been nursing forever, but you haven’t been nursing forever. It’s okay to not know what to do. It’s been proven that women who receive breastfeeding support before they leave the hospital or birth center are more likely to stick with it after they leave. It should go without saying that it’s also perfectly fine to choose not to breastfeed – you do you!
6 Help Her Get To The Bathroom
Here’s something that we do not talk about very often. Standing up after having a baby is hard! It’s scary and, if mom got an epidural, she may not have full control of her legs, even though she thinks she does. As scary as it sounds, it is not uncommon for new mommas to faint or fall over the first time they try to stand up. After all, they just lost a whole lot of blood!
By the time mom feels like standing up for the first time, the doctor is likely gone. This is another situation in which nurses can be lifesavers. If they offer to help you stand up, or walk to the bathroom, do not refuse the assistance! Take all the help you can get to make sure you get to where you are trying to go, safely.
5 Help Clean Up The Mess
As we have mentioned many times before, childbirth is messy. There are a number of bodily fluids that get expelled during the process. On top of that, there is the general mess that people will make around the room as they tend to whatever needs tending. If there are a lot of family members going in and out of the room, that can make things even worse. And let’s not even get started on what the bathroom is likely to look like when all is said and done.
A mess like this requires an amazing cleaning team, and you can bet that the doctor will not be involved. There is, of course, a janitorial team, along with orderlies and nurses who will busy themselves with tidying the room after the baby has arrived. These people perhaps deserve more thanks than anyone else on mom’s birthing team. They are really doing a thankless task!
4 Show Her How to Swaddle
There are so many things that new moms and dads have to learn about taking care of their new baby. It is easy to see how so many find themselves to easily overwhelmed. Often, information on what they can expect is dispensed as mom is focused on delivering the placenta and bonding with her baby. Needless to say, this is not the optimal time for absorbing new information.
Of course, new parents can elect to take classes focused on taking care of newborns if a class happens to be offered in the area. In lieu of that, the next best option is often asking the nurses at the hospital for advice before being discharged. Labor and delivery nurses have a wealth of knowledge about taking care of new babies. Many of them are parents themselves, after all. So if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask!
3 Perform Abdominal Massage
The mere mention of abdominal massages may make any moms reading this post wince in pain. After the baby is born and the placenta is safely delivered, many new moms expect that the pain will dissipate pretty quickly. Not so, we’re afraid. This is because mom is now in for a special kind of torture called the abdominal massage.
This is an important thing that happens pretty frequently in the hours after giving birth. A nurse will come into the room and push down on mom’s stomach. This encourages the uterus to keep contracting and start returning to its normal size. And it doesn’t tickle. If mom isn’t prepared for what’s about to happen, she may be caught off guard by how painful it can be. As unpleasant as it is, this is an important part of mom’s immediate postpartum recovery, and like many aspects of childbirth, it will be overseen by a nurse.
2 Explain How To Care For Her Body Post-Baby
If there is one thing that mom needs to know before she leaves the hospital, it’s how to take care of her brand new post-baby body. If there is one thing people don’t really talk about after childbirth, it’s how mom can take care of her post-baby body. Do you see the problem here? In as much as society seems to keep the reality of childbirth secret, we seem to take an even more secretive approach when it comes to what happens to mom’s body afterward.
This problem is only compounded by all the images of celebrities and models “bouncing back” a week after painlessly birthing their third child. This is so unrealistic. We need to be more open and honest about what the postpartum period is really like. And this is where the nurses and those handy doulas come in. They are the ones who will take the time to explain to mom how to care for her healing body, which creams and sprays to use, and how to clean and dress any wounds she may have.
1 Make Sure She Gets Her New Family Picture
When people think of childbirth many picture mom, surrounded by her partner and a team of the best-looking doctors in the industry as she gracefully and neatly brings new life into the world. As we have seen today, this could not be further from the truth. When it’s all over though, the mess is cleaned up and mom is left with her new, perfect baby. And for many new parents, it is important to have the perfect picture to capture this moment.
These new baby pictures, visible all over Facebook, don’t happen by accident. No one looks that good after pushing a human out of their body. Want to take a guess at who makes mom look that good? Nurses, my dudes. Nurses. Some hospitals also employ photographers to make those first pictures even more professional, for a price of course.