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Pure Choice: Preparing for a Hospital Birth

7 min read | 16 August 2020

After that initial excitement of realising you are going to have a baby, it can be overwhelming to consider everything you need to do, to prepare for your new arrival.

Listen to episode two above or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify​

Epworth Maternity Midwife and Childbirth Educator, Frances Laing, recently shared some of the top tips for preparing for a hospital birth, on Purebaby’s Pure Parenthood Podcast. “As a midwife, I’m often asked for the top things you should be thinking about after you’ve found out you’re pregnant. So, I’ve put together checklist for you,” Frances said.

Your journey

  • Your pregnancy, birth and baby will be unique as will your ideas of how you would like to approach labour and birth. Have a think about what’s important to you and make a list

  • There are no stupid questions. Keep a note for your next doctor’s appointment or to ask your midwife. You can research online, but just make sure that you’re gathering your information from a trusted source. It’s all about making sure you’re fully informed about your options

  • Once you know what’s important to you, start the conversation early on with your health care provider. That way, if you find out that your priorities aren’t compatible, you have time to find a new carer who’s better aligned with your personal needs

  • Make sure you give a copy of your preferences and birth plan to your doctor or midwife and pack a couple of extra copies into your hospital bag. That way one can go on your file and you can have one in the room with you – if anyone needs to refer to it

Hospital Birth Packing List for Mum | Purebaby
Sometimes, a few things from home can make the process feel more comfortable and familiar:
  • If you have a favourite pillow or blanket, feel free to bring it with you

  • Comfortable clothes to labour in. Make sure they’re loose and easy to take off

  • Have a think about breastfeeding clothes, if you plan to breastfeed. Anything that has buttons or clips for easy access. You’ll be doing it a bit!

  • A favourite music playlist on your device that you find comforting and soothing.

  • If you like essential oils, you could use them as a massage relief or in an electric diffuser.

  • Snacks! You might be in labour for a while, so think about some snacks to bring in your labour bag for you and your support person to nibble on for energy. Muesli bars are a good option.

  • A camera or your phone to document those precious first moments - don’t forget your charger! 

Choosing a hospital

Hospitals all vary, and it’s important to start thinking about what is really important to you and your support person during your journey. Frances says, “if you’re planning an amazing holiday, you wouldn’t just go and book a hotel without checking first if they’ve got the essentials, like a private bathroom and internet connection, and it’s the same when you’re choosing a hospital.

You may like to consider the below when choosing a hospital:
  • Can my partner and/or support person stay in the post-natal ward? If so, is there extra charges?

  • Are the rooms shared or private?

  • How many support people are allowed in the birth suite?

  • Is there a birth pool or bath available if I choose to use during labour?

  • If you’re considering an epidural, is a patient controlled epidural available? Or, is it one that is connected to a machine?

  • If my baby requires extra care, is there an outreach program available?

  • Do you offer disposable wipes and nappies?

If you know you’re having a Caesarean section (C-section):

Having a Caesarean section (C-section) birth means there are a few other things to consider, and it can be helpful to think about some of the options before the big day. Frances says “it’s best to have open conversations with your care team, so you have a solid understanding of how it will unfold".

You might like to ask, does your doctor and the hospital support or help in:
  • A maternally assisted caesarean section: where the drapes are lowered for you to lift up your baby to your chest. This is all pre-planned so have the conversation early if you are interested in it.

  • Is your partner or support person able to come into theatre?

  • What happens if I have an emergency C-section and require a general anesthetic?

  • Is that first skin to skin contact in theatre or will it have to wait until the recovery room?

  • Is the first breastfeed in the recovery room?

  • Can we take photos or videos in theatre?

  • Can I wear nail polish and make up during the procedure?

Having a baby is an exciting time and starting to prepare yourself for hospital can help it feel less overwhelming. Epworth Maternity is here to help you every step of the way, on your own personal journey to parenthood.

Download the episode transcript here

This episode of Pure Parenthood also covers creating a birth plan for hospital.

This article was written by Epworth Maternity, in conjunction with episode 2 of Purebaby’s podcast, Pure Parenthood. To learn more about Epworth Maternity, visit their website for more information (link to Epworth website).

Frances Laing is a registered midwife and childbirth education coordinator at Epworth Freemason Hospital. Frances has 10 years of experience as a midwife and childbirth educator and is also a mother of two.

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