During a quiet night on the labor and delivery floor, the phone at the nurses’ station rings, breaking me out of a sleepy reverie.
“Birth Center, this is Chaunie, how can I help you?” I answer. “Um, hi,” a hesitant voice responds. “I think I just lost my mucus plug and I was wondering what to do? Should I save it? Do you guys need to see it?” One of the best—and worst—parts of my job as a labor and delivery nurse is fielding the endless questions about pregnancy that an expectant mother can have. When it comes to pregnancy, labor and delivery, there are no easy answers. (Why does childbirth have to hurt so much? Why can’t guys feel labor pains? How many calories does giving birth burn?) I have, however, learned a thing or two that may help you — and your OB staff — along the way. So to simplify things a bit, here are my 10 tips for what NOT to do as you prepare for your baby’s birthday:
1. DON’T … BRING IN YOUR MUCUS PLUG
I know you may be tempted to whip out a plastic baggie and save that thing, but please don’t. I’m begging you. We congratulate you on losing it, we remind you that labor could still be days, even weeks away after losing it, but we do not, under any circumstances, want to see it. Especially in your Ziploc freezer bag.
2. DON’T … BRING ALL OF YOUR OTHER KIDS
It’s not that we don’t love kids — really, we do — but the labor and delivery environment is really not the best place to have them running around. Not to mention, sometimes stuff, well, splatters. So unless you want a traumatized kid on your hands, leave’em at home.
3. DON’T … COME IN RIGHT AFTER HAVING SEX
It’s a pretty well-known fact that sex can induce contractions. Unfortunately, they may not always last. So please do everyone a favor and wait an hour or so before you rush in with those “O”-induced contractions, okay?
4. DON’T … CALL EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY EVERY 10 MINUTES WITH AN UPDATE
This is especially troublesome if you haven’t even been admitted to the labor and delivery room yet. Please, let us determine if you are actually in labor before you call your great-grandma to drive in from Nantucket in the middle of the night
5. DON’T … DEMAND WE TAKE AWAY ALL OF YOUR PAIN OR YOU WILL CALL THE HEAD OF THE HOSPITAL
While I promise you that we will do everything in our power to ensure that you get the pain control that you choose, the truth is, we can’t guarantee you a 100% pain-free birth. Know that labor and delivery is different for every woman.
6. DON’T … CALL US AND ASK IF YOU ARE IN LABOR
The thing is, we can’t evaluate you over the phone. Nor do we want to, because it would be a liability. If you’re unsure or you have questions, ask to speak to your OB or midwife first — they can give you the answers that we can’t.
7. DON’T … DEMAND AN EPIDURAL THE SECOND YOU ARRIVE
I get it, I really do. I’ve had three kids myself. It hurts. Trust me when I say that we are working as fast as we can. We don’t want you to be in pain either!
8. DON’T … EXPECT TO STICK EXACTLY TO YOUR BIRTH PLAN
As a labor and delivery nurse, I am an advocate for you. You want a natural birth, music during labor and no medications? Fine with me. But I’m also an advocate for your baby, and sometimes, things don’t go according to plan.
9. DON’T … DECIDE EVERYTHING AHEAD OF TIME
Whether you are a first-time mom or a seasoned vet, every labor is different. What worked for you last time or what worked for your neighbor may not work for you this time. Listen to your body and go with the flow.
10. DON’T … SNEAK FOOD WHEN WE AREN’T LOOKING
Discouraging big meals during labor isn’t just something we do to be mean. A common symptom of labor is nausea and vomiting. And trust us, you’ll find that out later on — when you barf up that sandwich you thought I didn’t see.