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The Birth & the Hospital

Your big day is finally here! With so much to do and so little time to do them, we’ve put together some helpful checklists, must-haves and quintessential essentials to make your trip to and from the hospital as smooth as possible.


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5 Truths about Labor You May Not Have Heard

Hee-hee-hee…huh? You’ve seen the birth class video and practiced your breathing, but there are still some things about labor that might surprise you (in a good sort of way). Moms deliver the real deal.

  1. The best patient advocate is you.

    "The person administering my epidural just wasn’t getting it right," recalls mom of one Elizabeth Deveney-Frazier of Cohasset, Massachusetts. "I could feel the needle, feel the pressure—all the things they say you aren’t supposed to feel. I spoke up and requested someone else. You can’t worry about being that patient when it’s your well being and your baby’s."
  2. You can’t control your baby’s arrival, so relax!

    "I had this long list of things to get done right up to my due date, and I had it in my mind that I would finish," recalls Marie Alfonso, a mom of one in Brooklyn, New York. "Then my water broke during a staff meeting, which wasn’t part of the plan!" Try to have tasks finished up well before your due date. The more well-rested you are when you go into labor, the better.
  3. Labor: the toughest job you’ll ever...sleep through.

    Contrary to what you may have seen in the movies, labor isn’t all agony, all the time. "After my epidural, I had a completely pain-free labor," says Marina Daly, a mom of one from Tampa, Florida. "The entire process was 10 hours long and I spent it napping and watching the Food Network. The nurses actually had to wake me up when it was time to push."
  4. You can always change your mind—and meds.

    "Both my mother and mother-in-law told me natural childbirth was a beautiful thing, so I gave it a try," says Lorra Brown, a mom of two from Ringwood, New Jersey. "At first I worked through the pain with breathing and relaxation techniques, but hours later, I went for the epidural."
  5. Bonding can happen anytime.

    "After I had a c-section, I couldn’t hold my baby right off and was worried I’d missed my chance to connect with him," says Lynn Whitlock, a mother of two from Minneapolis, Minnesota. "A few hours later the nurses brought him to me, and there was that click. The delay didn’t matter—it was still a great moment."


How to Pack a Family Hospital Bag

There are plenty of checklists and articles that can help you determine what essentials you should pack for your hospital stay, but odds are you won’t be hanging out in your birthing room alone. Packing a family hospital bag that helps keep your partner and the rest of the clan happy and organized can go a long way in making you more comfortable. 


  • Labor support supplies
    Planning ahead is a great way to be sure that your partner has all the right tools on hand to support you. If a massage is on your wish list, pack up your preferred oils. Would you like a handheld misting fan or water spray bottle to help you cool off during labor? Put it in the family bag so that your partner knows where to go when it's time. 
  • Change of clothes
    Your husband might not have a chance to shower or he just may not want to leave your side. Either way, he’ll definitely need a decent clean shirt so that he can look presentable in all those pics that will be posted and shared on social media.
  • Empty duffel bag
    You’re going to need somewhere to stash all the gifts, samples and supplies that will be coming your way. Put your partner in charge of making sure it all goes to the right place by having a dedicated swag bag on hand. This will make it faster and easier to pack everything up when it’s time to head home.
  • Push present
    Of course your partner wants to show you tons of love and support, so don't feel bad about asking him for any “presents” (hint, hint) that he might want to have on hand at the hospital. This little nudge will serve as a handy shopping reminder. Just remember, you can pack the present—but no peeking!


  • Art supplies
    Let them get creative with paper, crayons, colored pencils and mini canvases. Siblings can write a letter to baby, make a festive welcome home poster or whip up little works of art to decorate the nursery. A few thoughtful supplies is all you need to make it happen.
  • Reading material
    Surprise the brothers or sisters with a brand-new graphic novel, an activity book or the latest issue of a fun magazine for kids. You’ll keep them engaged without having to worry about digital devices getting lost or broken. 
  • Snacks
    Stash a few of their favorite munchies in the bag to avoid multiple trips to the vending machine or cafeteria. The last thing you want is to have your hubs and kids out making a snack run when baby arrives—it could happen! 


You can’t overlook the newest member of your family. Most essential items baby needs will likely be provided by your hospital or birthing center, but you should ask specific questions to be sure. And while the most important thing that your baby will need is you, here are a few items you might want to consider packing for your little one’s trip home.

  • A warm outfit
  • Receiving blanket 
  • Hat
  • Booties or socks
  • A coat or snowsuit (if there’s a chance of cold weather)

Image: Getty


What Makes A Delivery Go Well

See why these women’s birth days went so right—and pick from their tips to help make your own labor less...laborious.

Tune out. 

"When I delivered my twins, I brought an iPod loaded with my favorite songs, everything from indie rock to Johnny Cash hymns. Best decision ever. It was like bringing my best friends into the delivery room to comfort me like only they knew how."

—Angela V., mom of four, Los Angeles, CA

Take a breather—lots of them.

"I took prenatal yoga, and that allowed me to have a very successful delivery. I was skeptical at first but through relaxing and deep breathing I was able to work my way through each contraction without letting the pain make my body too tense to do its job. Using these techniques, I had three labors that were drug- and intervention-free."
—Jackie K., mom of three, Olivia, Minnesota

Cool off quick.

"Ask for an ice pack to put in your underwear immediately after delivery to reduce swelling and pain. I didn’t get to use this technique myself because I had a C-section, but I have prescribed it to thousands of patients, and it helps!"
—Dr. Jennifer Gunter, M.D., author of The Preemie Primer

Hit the shower.

"I tell everyone I know to take a warm shower during labor. I’ve done it myself through three natural deliveries. It helps you to relax and feels wonderful."

—Katie B., mom of three, Clarksville, Tennessee

Sit up.

"After I had an epidural, my nurses adjusted the bed so I was sitting completely upright with my legs down on a little stool. The nurses explained that this would allow gravity to help with the labor. I went from six centimeters to ‘We can see the head’ in about an hour and a half. I guess mom was right when she told me to sit up straight!"
—Mindy A., mom of two, New Orleans, Louisiana

Get to know the team.

"The practice I attended made sure to introduce me to everyone on the staff through the course of my pregnancy, down to the nurses. When I arrived for my delivery, the on-call nurse was one that I’d already met. That made it so much easier and more comforting. If your doctor’s office doesn’t do these meet and greets, ask them to."
—Darneisha C., mom of one, Washington D.C.


What's in your birth bag?

When prepping for the hospital, some people tend to pack like they're moving to another country. Other people might only bring along their husbands. Either of those extremes is probably not the best idea, so, with that in mind, here are a couple of checklists you might enjoy. Take a look — there might be something we've thought of that could be useful for your big trip.

So — what do you want in your Birth Bag?

The basics: you've probably already thought of these, but...

  • Admission forms/papers
  • Baby name book
  • Camera and/or video camera
  • Film and tapes
  • Cash
  • Phone/phone card
  • Charger for your phone (don't forget this one)
  • Gift for a sibling
  • Health insurance card
  • Pregnancy/birth reference book
  • Birth plan (if you have one)

Additional items to consider for labor:

  • Birth ball
  • Facecloth from home (maybe with a distinct color or pattern, so it doesn't wind up in the hospital laundry)
  • Hot water bottle
  • Lollipops and hard candy (for dry mouth)
  • Lotion and/or powder (for massage)
  • Massage/aromatherapy oils
  • Tennis balls (for back massage)
  • Watch or stopwatch (with a second hand for timing contractions)

Additional items to consider for the comforts of home:

  • Books/magazines
  • Small cooler with drinks and snacks
  • CD/audio player
  • CDs
  • Extra pillow (maybe with a colored pillowcase, so it doesn't get into hospital laundry)

Additional items to consider for your partner:

  • Change of clothes
  • Snacks
  • Reading material

Additional items to consider for after the baby arrives:

  • Address book
  • Baby book
  • Thank you cards/notes
  • Large bag to bring home gifts and hospital supplies
  • Phone number list

Additional items to consider for clothing:

  • Bathrobe
  • Loose, comfortable outfits
  • Nightgown
  • Nursing bras
  • Nursing pads
  • Slippers
  • Thick socks
  • Underwear

Additional items to consider for personal care:

  • Barrettes/hairbands (ponytail holder)
  • Body soap
  • Brush/comb
  • Contact lens case/lens supplies
  • Dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Earplugs
  • Eyeshade
  • Facial soap
  • Glasses
  • Lip balm/ChapStick
  • Lotion
  • Makeup/cosmetics
  • Maxi-pads
  • Mouthwash/breath mints
  • Prescription medications you're taking
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste

Additional items to consider for the baby:

  • Approved car seat
  • Diapers for the trip home
  • Going-home outfit
  • Hat/cap
  • Receiving blankets


Packing For The Hospital: What To Take

Don’t leave home without these little essentials that can make a big difference.

  • I’m glad I remembered to bring:
    "Magazines," says Tia Secor, a mom of one in Salt Lake City, Utah. "I was induced but was in labor for 14 hours, most of it with an epidural. The reading material was great to have in between visits from family members."
  • I wish I’d remembered to bring:
    "A hair elastic. I didn't pack anything to keep the hair out of my face during labor, which is funny because I keep hair clips and elastics everywhere at home. Must have been pregnancy brain!"

  • I’m glad I remembered to bring:
    "My fluffy bathrobe," says Tracey Blackman, a mom of one in Hartford, Connecticut. "Being in my own robe at the hospital was comforting. And it was nice to look decent with family popping in and taking pictures."
  • I wish I’d remembered to bring:
    "Slippers. The hospital socks they give you with the little nubby things are so scratchy, they twist all around on your feet, and are just blah!"

  • I’m glad I remembered to bring:
    "My pedicured toes!" says Lisa Bedford, a mom of two in Phoenix, Arizona. "With my first, I’d look at my toes while I was pushing and thinking, ‘Wow, I hope no one notices my feet.’"

  • I wish I’d remembered to bring:
    "Dried fruit, a tasty way to get my digestive system to start moving again."
  • I’m glad I remembered to bring:
    "Extremely large underwear. Huge!" says Stephanie Callaway-Sifuentes, a mom of one in Dallas, Texas. "After you give birth you have to wear a gigantic pad, and the hospital’s mesh undies aren’t that fabulous."

  • I wish I’d remembered to bring:
    "A sleeping mask, or even a scarf to wrap over my eyes. They tell you to rest once you have the epidural, but all the flashing lights and activity keep you awake."

  • I’m glad I remembered to bring:
    "Wet wipes," says Lauren Mackiel Gory, a mom of two in Little Falls, New Jersey. "I was very sensitive after giving birth, and wipes were way better than toilet paper."

  • I wish I’d remembered to bring:
    "My favorite lotion. The hospital soaps and sheets are on the rough side and it can get chilly, both of which dry skin."

  • I’m glad I remembered to bring:
    "A pair of comfy pants to go home in," says Desiree Wolfe, a mom of one in Las Vegas, Nevada. "You’re larger than you think you’ll be when you leave the hospital, but I felt fine in soft, elastic-waist pants."

  • I wish I'd remembered to bring: 
    "An iPod. It would have been a way to deflect family who dropped by to chitchat. I love them, but it was like, Look, I’m in labor here!"

Getty: Images

Mom with newborn

6 Things That Happen Right after You Give Birth

You studied and probably even memorized passages from that famous book about what to expect during pregnancy. You could host seminars about what the baby is experiencing inside the bump, but your knowledge stops right at the moment you feel the first contractions. Everything after that remains a mystery. What happens after labor? Luckily, you don't have to wonder anymore because we are going to tell you what to expect right after you welcome your baby into the world.

  1. Giving birth is exhausting. Whether you are having a C-section or a vaginal delivery, labor is hard and will leave you feeling extremely tired. Those first hours after you give birth are crucial for you and you should rest. I'm not going to lie; you are probably going to feel completely lost, nervous and scared to be alone with your baby. Nothing prepares you for the emotional roller coaster ride that is motherhood. 

  2. You have to wait to hold your baby: Pediatricians are on standby waiting to examine the baby and make sure everything is all right. It usually takes a couple of minutes and your partner can steal glances and give you the thumbs up. The nurse will clean the baby and then you'll be able to hold your newborn for the first time.

  3. Breast or bottle feeding: Regardless of your choice you should put the baby to your breast so she can drink colostrum. It comes right after giving birth and before the onset of milk and is full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that fight disease and create antibodies.

  4. Nursery vs. your room: Most Ob-Gyns advise you to leave your baby in the nursery overnight so you can sleep and recover. You can ask the nurse to bring you the baby when she is hungry. You probably won't have enough milk because it takes hours for the milk supply to fill the breast. You should talk to a lactation consultant beforehand to learn everything you can about breastfeeding.

  5. Keep moving: Nurses will encourage you to walk round only hours after you give birth. The easier way to do it is pushing your baby's bassinet around the room and down the hallway, if that is allowed.

  6. Ready for home: After the two-day hospital stay, you'll be ready to go home unless you have any kind of health issue. The pediatrician will examine your baby again; perform a blood test to screen for several metabolic disorders. You will fill out your baby's birth certificate form and you'll be discharged only if you have a car seat to put your baby in if you're traveling by car, which we assume you will!

This article was written by Milena Prinzi from Mamas Latinas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Image: Getty

Newborn Yawning

When Are The Most Babies Born?

When I was a labor and delivery nurse, there were two times of the day that I swear the most babies were born:

Shift change. 

It has never failed. For exhausted nurses coming off of a night shift or for nurses who have been laboring all day with a mother, hoping to be there for the moment of birth, I would pretty much put my money on their saying that babies decide to wait until the stroke of 7:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. to make their grand debut. 

Left to nature, most mothers go into labor at night, perhaps a throwback to our primitive days, when a laboring mother would be safer from predators at night. Other primates, for example, usually give birth at night and only have longer labors that last into the day if there is a problem. 

Now, however, reports show that there is one common time for babies across the country to be born. 

Drumroll, please …

The majority of babies are born in the morning, the CDC reports. In the United States, births tend to occur in predictable daylight, waking hours, thanks to the rise in c-sections and inductions that allow doctors to schedule births in a more timely fashion. 

For instance, it was common practice at the hospital I worked at for some doctors to bring a first-time mother in, whose labor would generally take longer than a mom who already had given birth before, to start her induction at night. That way, she could wait for her labor to really get started while resting on and off at night and then hopefully have her baby sometime the next day while the doctor was already at the hospital doing rounds. And c-sections would usually start first thing in the morning — to get those births checked off the doctors’ lists before they saw patients in the office. 

Just to show how startling the disparity in time is, the study also found that out-of-hospital births typically occurred very early in the morning — after 1 a.m. or later. Some other interesting facts from the latest CDC data on birth include:

  • Births on Saturday and Sunday were more likely to occur in the late evening and early morning hours than births Monday through Friday.
  • There are fewer c-sections late at night or very early in the morning. The true emergency c-sections don’t follow a 9-5 schedule, now do they?
  • Births that weren’t induced were more likely to occur early in the morning.
  • The biggest peak for Monday-Friday births occurred around 9 in the morning and noon. Lunch break, anyone?

What time was your baby born?

 This article was written by EverydayFamily from Everyday Family and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Image: Getty


Cervical Dilation From 1 10: Are You Ready for Delivery?

When you're pregnant, a whole new part of the English language opens up. Suddenly you're obsessed with placentas, trimesters, and sussing out whether you should go with a sonogram or an amniocentesis to determine baby's gender. And then you hit the ninth month of your pregnancy, and a new term pops up: cervical dilation.

It refers to the opening of the cervix, the part of the body that separates the uterus from the vagina, and according to Dr. Robert Atlas, an OB/GYN at Mercy Medical Center in Maryland, dilating is part of the body's way of getting ready for delivery.

"As you get closer to term, the body knows to start contracting and opening of the cervix begins," he explains.

Moms have the option of whether or not they allow their practitioner to check whether or not you're dilating -- a process done by putting the hand up the vagina and feeling the cervix to determine whether it has begun to open.

If you allow it, your doctor or midwife will describe a dilated cervix with a series of numbers.

But what do those numbers mean? Dr. Atlas breaks dilation down -- from 0 to 10 centimeters:


Your cervix is closed. This is how it will stay for most of your pregnancy as the cervix separates the uterus from the vaginal opening and protects the baby from infection, Dr. Atlas explains.

1 centimeter dilated

Start packing that hospital bag, you're on your way to labor land! Doctors measure dilation in centimeters, and 1 centimeter is a "good sign," says Dr. Atlas. It means your body is getting ready for delivery. It doesn't, however, mean that you're going to deliver immediately.

A mom can walk around for weeks at 1 centimeter dilated, Dr. Atlas says, or she can go from 0 centimeters dilated to having a baby in a day. "Every patient is different," he explains. "And if this your first pregnancy, it takes longer to go through the early stages of labor."

Up to 5 centimeters with contractions

Put contractions and dilation under 5 centimeters together, and you've got what's called "latent labor" or "early labor." That means your uterus is readying for delivery, but again, Dr. Atlas says, when you'll deliver really depends.

He relates the story of one mom who began contracting every 3 minutes when she was just 33 weeks pregnant. She continued like that for weeks before actually giving birth!

The good news is contractions at this stage are typically mild to moderate (think Braxton Hicks), and your body is doing something. Typically your cervix is not only opening but softening and lengthening, making it easier for baby to make the trip from your uterus to your vagina and out into the world.

5 to 6 centimeters

The doctor will see you now! This is the point when "active labor" begins, and typically your dilation will be much quicker after you hit the 5 to 6 centimeter point. Contractions will also likely pick up and become more painful as the cervix works its way toward full opening.

10 centimeters

Considered fully open, this is the point when moms are considered "ready to push" by OB/GYNs. You may also hear your practitioner say you're "fully effaced," which means the cervix has also elongated to let baby out into the world.

At the end of the day, dilation numbers are good for Moms to know, but Dr. Atlas warns mothers not to get too caught up on finding out how dilated they are or aren't.

"You may have lots of contracting and not dilate. You may NOT have a lot of contractions and be dilating," he says. "Certainly people can go from closed to delivery in a short amount of time!"

Did you start dilating well before delivery? How long did it take?

Image: Getty


Mom-Approved Hospital Bag Checklist


What to Pack for Dad

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