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An OBGYN Tells Us How to Prepare for Labor

By Lindsay Pinchuk

You have spent the past several months hoping and praying that everything is going well with your pregnancy and that you make it to full term. Then you hit 37 weeks, and all of your thoughts turn to when and how is this baby getting out of me?!
prep labor
In the third trimester I discuss selecting a pediatrician for when the baby is born. I suggest that you call the pediatrician you are interested in using and make sure they are accepting new patients and that they take the insurance you plan to use for your child. Some pediatricians offer prospective parent visits so that you can meet with them and see the office before the birth of your child. Some pediatricians see the newborns in the hospitals and some use a dedicated pediatric hospitalist group. If your pediatrician does not see the baby in the hospital you will want to call the office to schedule a visit shortly after the baby is discharged.
I recommend installing the car seat base around 36 weeks. If you are not sure how to do this, check to see if a local children’s hospital or fire station has a service to check it for you.  All babies should be in a rear facing 5-point harness car seat.  Many hospitals will have you bring the car seat to your room to place baby in the car seat when you are released from the hospital.
What should I bring to the hospital?
This is a question I get asked a lot! While you are on labor and delivery I personally recommend wearing the hospital issued gown. Things can get a bit messy…

  • Some women like to bring their own pillow or pillow case.
  • I do suggest slippers or flip flops for walking around in your hospital room.  Flip flops are nice because you can wear them in the shower as well.
  • Each hospital has their own policy about eating and drinking during labor. If there is a snack you want to bring I would check with your doctor ahead of time.
  • The fancy mesh underwear that people talk about for after delivery are real and AMAZING. If you have a vaginal delivery the post-partum ice pack will be your best friend. Some of my patients like to prepare ice packs for when they get home. Bags of frozen peas or corn work well too.
  • Unlike those reality TV celebs you will most likely not be back in your pre-pregnancy clothing immediately after you deliver. Bring comfortable clothing to wear after delivery. Sweat pants, PJs, leggings, whatever makes you happy.
  • If you are planning to breastfeed pack your nursing bra or tank and a zip up sweatshirt to go over it. If you are not planning to breastfeed bring a tight fitting sports bra to help with breast engorgement.
  • In terms of toiletries, plan to bring what you would normally bring for an overnight trip. For some women this is a toothbrush and toothpaste, for others it is a bag of soaps, lotions, and makeup. Whatever makes you feel most like you.
  • Plan to pack 1-2 outfits for the baby for when you go home, as well. The hospital usually provides blankets and a shirt while you are there. If you want to have the baby in more clothing at the hospital you can, but don’t forget the baby is usually swaddled up in a blanket.
  • You can also bring your own baby blanket. And if you want the hospital to do the baby’s footprints in your baby book, pack that too!
  • As for the dads, I usually recommend comfy clothing for them. Some people take this a bit too far, boxers alone are not OK for dads in the hospital! Sweats, athletic pants, shorts, all good. My husband still complains how cold it was in our post-partum room from when we had our daughter so you might want to throw in a sweatshirt for him too.
  • I tend to be a bit of a planner and list maker. After I had my bag packed I made a list of the things I was still using, but wanted to bring with us- camera, phone charger, camera charger, laptop, etc.

Talk to your doctor about when she or he would like you to call or go to the hospital. Doctors may use criteria for how far apart they would like the contractions to be or for how long prior to calling them or going to the hospital. This may also be different for each individual.
So, you are full term. The car seat is installed. Your bag is packed. Now what?
There is no tried and true way to to get yourself to go into labor. Go ahead – try walking, eating spicy foods, intercourse (as long as ok with your doctor), if it works for you great (but it may just be a fluke)
What you absolutely should do.
Go out to dinner! Sit down and read, take a bath. You are not going to be doing those things again for awhile.
Best of Luck!
Dr. Diane Rosen is an OB/GYN who practices in St. Louis, MO. Diane attended University of Michigan for her undergraduate studies where she met her husband.  After medical school Diane relocated to St. Louis and completed her residency in OB/GYN at Mercy Hospital St Louis. She currently is in private practice and also a faculty member for the Residency Program at Mercy Hospital. She manages to balance her busy work schedule, her family of 4, and her love of running.

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