Your care on Labor and Delivery unit begins with admitting you to a private room. If you have a birth plan, please let the nurses know and review it. Most patients agree to IV fluids during labor; after all, it is a very labor-intensive workout and you need to be hydrated! If you'd rather not have IV fluids, you would still need IV access in case of emergency.
Those in favor of natural childbirth may be interested in attending various classes where pain control techniques are described (massage, breathing, meditation). Having a designated birth coach is usually helpful as well.
If you would like some pain control, but not an epidural, then options would include IV pain medications and/or pudendal block.
IV medications can be given until you are 8 cm (out of 10cm) dilated. After this point, no further IV medications can be given in order to avoid delivering a very "sleepy" baby.
Pudendal block is an injection performed by your OB doctor when you are ready to push. It helps with pain at your perineum, but does not help contraction pains.
Epidural anesthesia is safe and available to you when you are in active labor. You can talk to the anesthesiology provider in more detail about it when you are admitted. Epidurals are probably the most effective pain relief method available. While pain is relieved, you may still feel some pressure sensation.
It is our standard of care to monitor your baby and contractions during labor and induction of labor. We typically use external monitors to do so. If your membranes are ruptured and/or your doctor needs a more accurate assessment, internal monitors may be placed. Your blood pressure, pulse and temperature will also be monitored.
After a routine, uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you can stay for two days. After a cesarean delivery, you have three to four days. Please make sure that you have a car seat available upon discharge!