I love being asked if I have any experience at Providence…over half of the births I have attended have been at that hospital. A good few of the nurses recognize me now (and smile when they see me–an important point.) I know exactly where they store the extra pillows, and where to grab pillowcases, towels to cover the birth ball, and washcloths. I have a favorite little stool that I like to grab if Mom wants to do a gentle lunge or scrunch down low. And I have happily watched their policies change over the past few years to be increasingly “mother-baby friendly.”
There are a few things that are nice to know in advance of labor, so you can be as well prepared as possible. Moving seamlessly through the system just is more pleasant while working with contractions than feeling confused, right? So here are a few of my tips:
If you’re lucky enough to go into labor during normal business hours, there is a valet service available for laboring families. If, however, you are like 98% of my clients, you will be showing up in the dead of night. Because the parking garage is several flights of stairs from the entrance to the maternity center, it’s a good idea to have someone drop you off at the front door, and then go park the car. This is where I try to meet my families, so I can either stay with my client while her husband parks the car, or I just park it for them myself while they get to the Labor and Delivery area.
Immediately upon entering, you will be asked to sign in at the front desk. Anyone going to the third floor, where the Labor and Delivery rooms are, will be asked to show photo ID and get a printed sticker. I do really appreciate these security policies, and make sure I’ve got my wallet handy as I walk in.
I have to admit, Providence’s triage policies are one of the few things that I wish they would change. Like most hospitals, their triage area is one large room, sectioned off by curtains, with narrow, uncomfortable beds and harsh fluorescent lighting. Besides the typical lack of ambiance, their triage process takes roughly an hour, and they only allow one support person to be with you. This means that, while your mom or husband or other loved one stays by your side, I get to sit on the glorified bench that they call a lounge and babysit your luggage, while doing my darndest to not annoy the admitting nurse. There have been two times when I was invited into triage to support my client, but on the whole they stick to their policy. It’s always worth a try to ask if your doula can accompany you! Otherwise, I am happy to spell out whoever is with you, trading places if they need a break while the nurses get their information in order.
While in triage, the nursing staff is pulling together a baseline of information: they need to record your contraction pattern, any amniotic fluid, your blood pressure, baby’s heartrate, and how much your cervix has already opened up. This will mean lots of lying back while the monitors record everything and possibly while the nurse puts in an I.V. port. While the hospital paperwork is getting taken care of, it’s important to know that you can still move about to be comfortable while you labor in triage. Lying on your side instead of your back, sitting up, standing by the bed and leaning over are all workable position changes to make yourself more comfortable. In addition, you can absolutely play some music, have a light snack, and keep yourself hydrated during this time.
(So….this post got really long, and now there’s a Part One and Part Two)