5 Ways Labour Pain is Different than Broken-Bone Pain

Some people compare labour pain to that of breaking bones. Besides scaring pregnant people, that’s not an accurate comparison. On the other hand, some women share stories of pain-free birth. Here are 5 ways the sensations felt in labour are different than “broken-bone pain”.

  1. Broken-bone pain is unrelenting and doesn’t go away without strong pain meds; labour pain comes and goes in a rhythmical manner. In fact, throughout labour, much more time is spent in the rest between contractions. Even in advanced labour, most contractions last between 60-75 seconds but can sometimes get to 90 seconds. Then there’s a rest before the next once. In active labour that rest will generally be between 1-3 minutes. In earlier labour that rest will be up to 10 minutes. There is no rest with broken-bone pain. It’s constant.
  2. Broken-bone pain is all encompassing, resulting in the release of stress hormones and injury responses in our body. Labour pain is accompanied by powerful pain-killing hormones such as endorphins. The female body is equipped for labour with strong, naturally occurring hormones that are released as labour progresses. The effect of these hormones has been compared to morphine by physiologists. (However those hormones are not as concentrated and isolated like morphine. Still, that’s a powerful comparison!) Stress makes pain worse.
  3. Broken bones are a terrible injury; labour is a normal human process.
  4. Broken bones are due to an accident; labour is a known and sometimes planned event. Therefore we can prepare for the intensity of labour. There are many helpful tools and strategies for comfort measures that can be done by the labouring person or their birth companions. We teach many of these in our How to Ease Labour Pain Class.
  5. Doulas! Birth doulas can make a significant difference in how labour is experienced and felt. There’s ample research showing the benefits of doula support through birth, including shorter labours, half the rate of Caesareans, significantly fewer requests for epidurals. To my knowledge, there’s no such thing as “broken-bone doulas”. Everyone around someone with broken bones is providing medical care – good thing too. Ideally, labouring people will have someone knowledgeable with them whose only job is to provide comfort and support.
  6. Broken bone pain is measured in weeks and months; labour is measured in hours.

* It’s interesting to note that I’ve only heard men make this comparison. Many pregnant women fear this will be the case but I’ve never heard anyone who’s gone through labour and had a past experience of broken bones say they were the same thing. I’m one of them. A couple of years before being pregnant, I broke my pelvis. There is absolutely no comparison between the two events.

Angie The Doula – Postpartum Support and Maternal Mental Health Resources

In the first weeks and months postpartum, the realities of new parenthood can be a whopper. Many new parents find this time hard, especially during this pandemic when most people don’t have the support they’d normally have. Remember that “new normal” that most families find around 6 weeks? That might feel like forever at this point. 

This is a good time to check in about maternal mental health. Partners can struggle with mental health too. Here are some good resources:

Postpartum Support
  1. Maternal Mental Health Issues This online article includes risk factors (any of these that can be addressed can help make postpartum life easier), things to help, local resources, what partners can do.
    There’s a big range between thriving and needing clinical mental health services. This article has suggestions for things that can help in that space.
  2. Self assessment tool: This version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Edinburg Screening & Care Guide, includes valuable information about risk factors and where to find help. This is the form your health care provider would use if they screened for maternal mental health.
  3. Self assessment tool: The Postpartum Progress Checklist has more questions than the EPDS. It can be used to facilitate discussion between postpartum clients and their health care providers.  

If you’re struggling, then here are some things to consider as next steps:

  • Gather up support. Postpartum doulas come to your place and help with all manner of maternal, infant and family needs.
  • Ask the public-health nurse to come over for a chat.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor or midwife. Bring your self-assessment tools and/or concerns. 
  • There are private counsellors who are specifically trained in postpartum care. If you have a health plan at work or in-house mental health counsellor, then that will be your fastest route to get counselling and psych services.
  • Call 811 if you need non-emergent medical advice as they are often well-trained in postpartum mental health.
  • Get medical attention today, immediately if you have thoughts of harming self or baby. This usually means a trip to the ER and is a valid reason to call 911.
  • In case of psychosis, call 911.

I want to reassure you of two things in case medical help is needed:

  1. Breastfeeding is still possible with almost all mental health drugs and many physiatrists will help with that. (Many women are reluctant to get help for fear of not being able to BF.) One of my clients needed antipsychotic medications that weren’t good for breastfeeding. Her physiatrist and pharmacist came up with a schedule where she could pump and feed her baby for 8 hours daily. She recovered and went on to breastfeed her baby for over a year!
  2. Your local pharmacist is the most knowledgeable person about medications and breastfeeding. If you’re breastfeeding, then always ask them for advice before filling a prescription.
  3.  Families are kept together during mental illness, as long as there’s one healthy adult (parent, grandparent, relative or close friend as guardian) to care for the baby. If a parent has to be admitted to the psych unit then the baby stays with the other parent or guardian. Family visits with the mentally ill parent are arranged as soon as possible. A few of my clients have been down this road and it’s not easy but they received excellent care and recovered.   
postpartum support

I teach a variety of Child Birth Education classes and prenatal workshops online for people all over.  I have been a birth doula since 2002, and have helped over 300 clients with their births and over 1000 through prenatal classes. Learn more about my birth doula services, and contact me with any questions you may have.

Choices in Planned Caesarean Births

One of the benefits of a planned caesarean is that there’s time to consider options, ask questions and make choices beforehand. 

Many hospitals are willing to take extra steps to make a caesarean birth more gentle and family friendly. The following is a list of practises that are being requested as part of a “Gentle Caesarean”. Yes I’m aware that the very nature of a caesarean and the postpartum recovery do not seem gentle to most people. However I appreciate that there are medical staff working hard to make the experience as positive, healthy and family-friendly as possible.  

  • Watching your baby being born. Clear surgical drapes, surgical drapes with a panel that can be lowered to a clear panel, or having the drapes lowered entirely.
  • Cord cutting. Most hospitals don’t allow anyone other than staff to cut the cord in the surgical field. But they can leave a longer cord and have the partner trim it – like a ceremonial cutting of the cord.
  • Skin-to-skin contact with the birthing parent, from the chest up.
  • Maternal heart monitors on their side or back, leaving the chest available for holding baby skin-to-skin.
  • Music of your choice – played on the sound system or your headphones.
  • Support through the entire procedure, from the moment of entering the O.R. until heading to the recovery room. Most hospitals allow one support person in the O.R. and recovery room. Some allow doulas to come in as well. 
  • Healthy baby stays with the parent(s); family stays together in O.R. and recovery room. In some hospitals babies born by caesarean are automatically taken to NICU or a medical nursery for observation.
  • Photos / videos – always bring your device. There’s often a nurse who is waiting for the baby to be born and will take some photos of the birth, the first time parents hold the baby, etc. There are many beautiful moments to celebrate at any birth, including caesareans.
  • Flora for the baby – vaginal seeding. You might ask for a GBS test a week before the surgery before going ahead with this. Note that this is still new enough that most medical staff will not participate. Plan to DIY.
  • Covid testing options – find out if this is something that will affect your birth. What happens if you take the test or don’t take the test?
  • Any cultural / spiritual aspects you might wish to include. I’ve seen an obstetrician lead a prayer before starting the surgery and have joined the surgical team in singing happy birthday to a newborn.
  • Obstetrician of your choice. Certainly a perk of scheduling your birth. 
  • Volume of monitoring machines – ask for the volume to be turned up or down if it’s reassuring for you, or not, to hear things like fetal heartbeat, maternal heart beat. 
  • Delayed cord clamping – up to 1 min is considered safe with caesareans. (I’ve heard of a hospital that keeps the placenta and baby attached after the placenta is removed – definitely not standard of care in most places. Never hurts to ask.)

In some facilities the things on this list may already be standard care. In others, requesting these things will provide an opportunity for staff to gain a new perspective. Patient safety is the primary concern. Some of these practices may be considered safe or not, possible or not, depending on patient health, the facility and/or the staff working in the O.R.

Speak with your doctor well ahead of time about the things that interest you from this list. 

If you get a sea of “no ways,” then ask why not. There could be valid reasons or it could be one unbending person. If it’s the latter then you might wish to explore working with another doctor or giving birth in a different facility, if that’s an option. 

Doulas and Dads

Although the information here will reassure any partner, this article intentionally addresses dads-to-be. All the quotes, links and videos are made by dads for dads-to-be, about their most common concerns about birth support:  1) Value; why should we pay for a doula if I’m going to be there?  2) Why do we even need a doula; what does she have that I don’t?  3) How will I be included if a doula attends?

Infant Colic – What Can You Do?

Colic can make the new parenting journey grueling!  What can parents and care-providers do?

Babies are said to have colic if they cry for more than 3 hours daily on a regular basis. The cry is often high-pitched and relentless, accompanied by a red face and rigid body. It often happens later in the day or evening. Nothing seems to soothe the baby. Research shows 10-20% of babies experience colic. It’s heart-wrenching and exhausting for care-providers. 

There are theories about what causes colic but no certain answers. Colic resolves in most infants by 3-4 months, which is the entire “4th trimester”, when we expect babies to sleep a lot and when new families are typically bonding and getting to know each other.

The first thing to consider is your baby’s health. Is your baby gaining weight and soiling diapers as expected? Check out the handy Best Start Chart for signs that feeding is going well. Watch for signs of illness that require medical attention, such as lethargy (limp baby), fever, diarrhea, forceful vomiting.   

Is there a chance your baby is overstimulated? Some babies get overwhelmed by a seemingly low level of sounds, sights, and attention. Others can’t get enough. 

If your baby is fed, dry, healthy and the usual soothing techniques (rocking, walking, warmth, fresh air, holding, breastfeeding, singing etc) don’t help, then suspect colic. Here are some suggestions that can help an otherwise healthy baby who has colic. 

  • Infant Chiropractic care, from a Chiropractor who has specialized training and experience. Over 90% of colicky babies show improvement! It’s gentle and nothing like adult adjustments. I’ve heard countless stories from clients who’ve seen amazing results after only one or two treatments from their local baby-chiro.
  • Consult with a Lactation Consultant. Suggestions to help with latch and positioning can make a big difference, especially if the colic is related to swallowing gas while feeding. LCs spot all kinds of little or big things that can be easily corrected. 
  • Infant massage. There are classes and videos demonstrating how to do infant massage for colic. This can help move gas along, colic or not.  
  • Homeopathic remedies such as Cocyntal. I used to run the Vitamin & Supplement department of a busy health store and this was one product I could never run out of for fear of the pleas from desperate new parents. Many of our customers swore by this remedy. 
  • Fennel tea is a natural remedy for digestive issues such as gas, cramps, flatulence. It helps with colic too. Ready-to-use fennel tea is sold commercially; just add boiling water and steep for 5-10 minutes like any other tea. It can also be made by boiling fennel seeds (5ml seeds per 250ml water; 1 tsp per cup) for 10-minutes in a covered pot. The breastfeeding parent can drink 3 cups daily. For babies being formula fed, cooled fennel tea can be given to the baby orally with a dropper, 3-5ml (½ – 1 tsp) three times daily.
  • Break the stress cycle, if there is one. Never punish or shake a baby who won’t stop crying. Take 10. While it might go against your instincts, it’s better to put your baby down in a safe place and step away for 5-10 minutes to breathe slowly and deeply and regroup. Colic is one of the hardest parenting issues! 

I worked with one family who tried everything to no avail. Both parents were loving and kind but exhausted, distressed, anxious and at the end of their rope. Finally, in desperation, they asked a relative to come and stay for 2 nights so they could go sleep at a hotel. They figured they could go home to care for their screaming infant again once they’d restored some energy. When they went back home the colic was over. Done. Never came back. Coincidence or an environment of stress responses cleared up? We’ll never know but they sure were relieved. This is an extreme example but sometimes we have to ask for help and try something we’ve never done.

𝗗𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗮𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗻𝗲𝗿𝘀: 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗧𝗼𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿. Top 3 𝗠𝘆𝘁𝗵𝘀 & 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀

Some couples worry that the partner will be relegated to a minor role if a doula attends the birth. On the other hand, some pregnant women worry that their partners will not be very helpful but are hesitant to suggest a doula for fear of hurting the partner’s feelings. Many partners want to help but feel insecure about their ability to meet all of their loved one’s needs.

𝗠𝘆𝘁𝗵 #1: Partners can do all the labour support on their own.

𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆: While this may be true for a minority of couples, many partners are not equipped to be the primary birth support. Doulas are specifically trained in emotional and physical support such as comfort measures. They understand the birth process and what to do at various stages and situations. Besides, partners are going through their own birthing journey and need support too.

𝗠𝘆𝘁𝗵 #2: Doulas displace partners and interfere with the couple’s intimate experience.

𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆: Research shows more eye-contact and physical touch between couples when a doula is present; they usually work more closely together. Doulas help couples clarify their expectations of each other and then make space for partners to participate at their comfort level. When the partner chooses to be the primary emotional support, the doula can supplement their efforts by running errands, making suggestions for comfort measures, etc. During a long tiring labor, she can give the partner a break. While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman’s personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, they love the birthing woman!

𝗠𝘆𝘁𝗵 #3: Doulas are there only for the birthing client.

𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆: Of course the labouring woman is the priority but doulas support partners too! Medical staff have other priorities that may compete with the emotional care of their patient; e.g. breaks, shift changes, clinical responsibilities, office hours and hospital policies. Client care is the doula’s priority. She is not just another stranger with the couple. They’ve met prenatally until they know each other and feel ready as a team. Doulas understand the dreams, wishes, goals of the birthing person and the partner. By making sure that the partner’s needs are met (e.g. food, drink, reassurance, and maybe even rest), the birthing woman and partner can work more closely together.

As one partner said, “I heaved a big sigh of relief when she (the doula) walked in. I hadn’t realized how much pressure I had been feeling. She not only calmed my wife, she calmed me down. I was able to support my partner MORE when the doula was with us!”

Released Waters (aka Ruptured Membranes or Water Breaks) and What to Do!

Your waters just released – now what?  When you water breaks, it can be released as a few drops at a time or in a gush.  Less than 10 per cent of Pregnant people will experience waters releasing before labour has started.  When this happens, labour usually starts within 24 hours.  The other 92 per cent will release at some point during labour, usually in active labour.  Here is information on self-care and warning signs.

About 75 per cent of those with PROM at term (“premature rupture of membranes” i.e. before labour starts but at full term from 37 weeks on) give birth within 24 hours. This increases to 90 per cent within 48 hours and 95 per cent by 72 hours.  People often worry about infection after waters release.  Note that risk of infection increases with internal exams (cervical checks), fever, and being confirmed GBS-positive.

Warning Signs Regarding Released Waters

If any of these occur, seek medical attention in a timely manner. Contact your medical provider and/or go to hospital – calmly but don’t wait.

  • Waters release before 37 weeks.
  • Fluid is coloured (yellow, green, brown) or has a strong smell.
  • Any signs of fever.
  • Baby isn’t moving normally and doesn’t respond after you’ve had a snack, rested and paid attention.
  • This last one is a 911 call! If you feel a cord between your legs or at the vaginal opening, assume a “child’s pose” with bum in the air (on hands and knees with chest on the ground) and call 911.

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“Child’s Pose” with bum in the air

Self-Care After Membranes Release

  • Nothing inside! That includes internal examinations unless there’s a good reason to do one. There’s a correlation between time on first internal exam and onset of infection; the earlier the initial internal exam, the higher the risk of infection.  Risk of infections goes up with number of internal examinations.
  • Baths in your own tub at home are fine. Once you’re in active labour then baths are also fine in your private birth room.  Use showers instead when in public spaces (e.g. hotel, hospital assessment washroom).
  • Be aware of signs of infection such as fever. Take your temperature every 4-8 hours during awake hours.
  • Stay hydrated. Consider if you’ve had a steady stream of fluid or just that early trickle.  It’s also possible to have a little “high leak” without membranes fully  releasing.  A healthy mama/baby will continue to make amniotic fluid.
  • Take care of hygiene:
    • Wear a clean pad and change it often
    • When using the toilet, one wipe from front to back per tissue
    • Wash hands before and after using toilet or changing pads

Go to Hospital… or Not?

This should be discussed with your midwife or doctor at prenatal appointments ahead of time in case they have specific instructions for you.  If fluid is clear then you may have the choice to stay home or contact your medical care provider for options. Generally there are 3 things assessed at hospital:

  1. Baby’s health (by listening to fetal heart tones);
  2. Maternal health (vital signs and interview); and
  3. Presence (or absence) of amniotic fluid (the “waters”) present, usually by doing a cervical check/internal exam.

If you go to hospital and you’re not in active labour, you will likely be offered a sterile-speculum exam (think PAP test); the purpose being to confirm your waters actually released.  This is optional, although it’s not usually presented as such.  Other ways to determine if waters actually released may included simply asking the pregnant woman or dipping the testing swab into her wet pad.

  • If you previously tested “GBS positive” then your medical care provider may recommend induction.
  • If you previously tested “GBS negative” then may be offered induction but will more likely be sent home to wait for labour to start.  If labour hasn’t started within 24 hours then your medical care provider may recommend induction.

Your Options

  1. Go to hospital for maternal and baby assessment but decline internal examination.
  2. Go to hospital and consent to all of it – sterile speculum exam, maternal and baby assessment.
  3. Stay home and wait for labour to start, barring any warning signs or health complications.  Practice good self-care, be aware of warning signs, and pay attention to your baby’s movements.

Further Info:

This is the best handout I’ve seen for clients – What to do When Your Water Breaks Before Labour. It has graphics and is research based. It’s easy to understand.

Here is an excellent, detailed research article about obstetrical care of women with Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM) at term (37+ weeks), including discussion of differences in outcomes with GBS positive and negative, options, and when labour typically starts. This document contains studies and stats.

Pregnant Woman by ocean

I teach a variety of Child Birth Education classes and prenatal workshops online for students all over.  I have been a birth doula since 2002, and have helped over 300 mothers with their births and over 1000 through prenatal classes. Learn more about my birth doula services, and contact me with any questions you may have.

C-19 Updates in Birth and Postpartum Care in Regina

I’ve been keeping in touch with the good people managing the units at Regina General Hospital. Here are all of the recent updates of RGH Labour/Birth Unit and Mother/Baby Units here in Regina, Saskatchewan due to Covid-19. Please note that any of these may change on short notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some additional tips for navigating your birth journey:

I lead RGH Tours live but online multiple times a month.

Article: How to Set Up your Birth Room (i.e. What Your Doula Would Normally Do!)

Easing Labour Pain: An online 2-hr class offered monthly that teaches partners how to provide hands-on birth-support, comfort, and decrease labour pain.

If anyone’s looking for online prenatal classes please contact me. I teach all the sessions live but online so you can ask questions.

*****

Hospital Update

March 2022. 

  • Due to Covid, the Nitrous Oxide (“laughing gas”) is not available. It may be available again, depending on some supply issues. 
  • The Mother Baby Unit now allows new families to have 2 visitors at a time (11am-8pm) and they can be anyone you want. (The “no-swapping rule” has been lifted.)
    That said, postpartum hospital stays are usually short – only 1-2 days. There are many benefits to just resting with your new baby and saving the visitors for once you return home.
  • Note: The Labour & Birth Unit remains as is – 2 support persons per maternal patient, no swapping.

Feb 2022. The proof of vaccination / negative test requirements have been lifted.  Support persons no longer have to show proof of anything. 
As of Nov 8, 2021, partners, visitors, doulas, support persons, everyone EXCEPT the patient being admitted, must show proof of double Covid vaccine or a negative test within the past 72 hours from an SHA approved tester in order to enter SHA hospitals. Anyone who is not double vaxxed and wants to attend the birth might consider serial testing every 72 hours in order to be ready anytime.  

ONGOING:

There are 2 support persons allowed in the BIRTH ROOM. From Saskatchewan Health Authority:

“Effective immediately, expectant mothers and families across Saskatchewan will now be permitted to have two designated family members/support persons present during their birthing experience. Designated family members/support persons are chosen by the mother and family and may include but are not limited to partners, family members, coaches, doulas or cultural support persons.

All maternal patients and their designated family members/support persons will be screened for COVID-19 upon arrival and be required to have a temperature check, wear a mask, participate in hand hygiene and follow physical distancing guidelines. Designated family members/support persons who are symptomatic for COVID-19 or who have other risk factors will not be permitted. The designated family members/support persons must be consistent during the duration of the patient’s stay. They may leave the facility but cannot be switched out for another family member or support person. Only designated family members/support persons will be permitted at this time, other visitors, including siblings, will not be allowed.

All maternal patients will be offered an optional COVID-19 swab upon admission. Family members/support persons will not be offered a COVID-19 swab.”

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◆ Support people coming in on their own, i.e. not with the labouring patient, can be screened 24/7 at the main RGH doors (14th St entrance). They do not have to go to the ER doors.
◆A 24-hr support person who’s joining a birth or going to MBU for a maternal patient that has already been admitted can enter through the main 14th St doors at any time, 24/7. No need to go through the ER.
◆ A support person entering the hospital with a maternal patient will be screened with the maternal patient.

Please note that while the 14th Ave entrance is open 24/7 with a security guard that can screen and let people in, the registration desk is only open from 6am-6pm. Support people can enter this door 24/7 because they are not patients (don’t need to go through the registration process).
 
If you’re in labour and going to RGH as a patient, then you’ll have to go to an entrance that has an open registration desk. On weekends, holidays and evenings/overnights, that will be the ER.
 

If you have to step outside and get back in, here’s how:

◆ 14th St main entry has a security person around the clock. If you have your proof of screening and are wearing a band it’s easy to get back in 24/7. If you’ve not been screened yet, I recommend you start at this door. If they are unable to screen you, they will send you through the ER doors instead.
◆ The ER can screen 24/7 but please save the ER capacity for people who need it.
◆ 15th St admitting doors are locked overnight. The doors below MBU at 15th St parking lot are locked 24/7. You can not enter the 15th St side of RGH overnight. If you go out those doors, you’ll have to walk around to the 14th St entry.

If your 2nd support person is not at the birth but is invited to MBU, they will be screened on their way into the hospital. They must be named when you are admitted to LBU so remember to tell your nurse. You must get a coloured bracelet for them. I expect someone has to meet them outside the unit to give them the band that will grant them access to the MBU, but ask your MBU nurse about this.

“If the patient fails screening, she becomes a Person Under Investigation (PUI), therefore the support person now becomes a PUI as they have been in ‘close, prolonged contact with a PUI.’ The support will be sent home, however, the patient may have an alternative support person or people who pass screening. ” That means anyone who has been with the labouring woman for more than 2 hours will not be allowed in if she is suspected of C-19/exposure.

Folks – you need to plan for this. Plan C. New support people who have not been with you for more than 2 hours AND who pass screening may be allowed into isolation. They will be gowned, masked, gloved throughout and will not be allowed to leave the isolation room. Food will be brought in.

◆ Again, it’s up to you to ensure that a 2nd support person has been named so they can enter the unit. Ask your nurse about this.
◆ Supports must be 19 years and older. (No, I’m not sure what happens in the case of teen pregnancy, young doulas and so on. This is just what I was told.)
◆ The health region is not on the same timeline of relaxing restrictions as the SK gov’t. Restrictions are still in place at health care facilities.
◆ You’ll see staff wearing masks throughout your stay.
◆ Bring what you would normally bring for your birth and hospital stay. Support people will be given a wristband so they can go to car later for extras and car-seat. You are still allowed to bring your pillow, clothing etc – whatever you need for comfort.

Doctor

◆ Labouring women are asked to wear the mask as long as they can stand to do so. Postpartum patients are asked to wear their masks when staff are in the room.

◆ Masks are mandatory for partners and support persons throughout the hospital, except for when there’s no staff present in the Mother-Baby Unit.

◆ People can wear whatever mask they want to enter the building. Public Health does have recommendations on personal masks (on the SHA site). However, once inside the building, people will go through screening and will be given medical masks to wear in the building (the blue ones with folds). The blue medical masks must be worn in all public spaces and the assessment area.

◆ Nitrous-oxide (“laughing”) gas is available for pain management. If a tank is being used (instead of the tubes that go directly into the wall), then the maternal patient must have a negative Covid swab done prior to use. 
◆ If you or baby are at high-risk for birth complications, you may be asked to use an epidural during labour to avoid the need for a general anaesthetic in case of an urgent/stat caesarean. Best to discuss this with your OB ahead of time so you can learn your options and make a plan.
◆ Waterbirth is currently not an option in the hospital. Midwives are not lending pools out for home birth. If you have your own then waterbirth at home is still an option (contact me for info on where to get one).
◆ The installed bath-tub is available for comfort in labour.
◆ Breastfeeding is still being supported at RGH.
◆ There are plans and protocols in place so that mother-baby can stay together if mom is at risk or has symptoms of C-19 in the immediate postpartum.
◆ Even though some community restrictions are being lifted, great care should be taken with newborns once the family is home. Physical distancing and being only with members of the same household are still recommended. Anyone who enters the house can bring in pathogens/bugs.

◆I always tell people to bring their own hot water bottle or Magic Bag to the hospital. That’s because the hospital does not provide any warm tools other than blankets from the blanket warmer. They are lovely but they are not the same as a hot water bottle. The new update is that the staff are not allowed to take people heating devices to the microwave or kettle. Therefore if people want to use heat it will have to be a plug-in device or they can fill the hot water bottle with hot tap water in their own room. Stay warm and stay well during your visit!

◆ Paid parking has resumed in the RGH parking lots. You will need cash for the main lot. Also, the 15th street parking is reserved only for people who have appointments or are being admitted to the hospital. Vehicles are being ticketed again on the streets around the hospital so no more free parking that way.

◆ There is nowhere for the second support person to wait as all waiting rooms are closed. The second support person should wait at home or somewhere outside the hospital until the labouring person is officially admitted and moved to a birth room.

◆ Partners/support persons will be provided with a mask at the entry doors. (Bring a big paperclip or string if you want to save sore ears.) Check out these tips for saving your ears from mask-pain.  Everyone must wear masks in the hallways. Labouring people do not have to wear a mask once they’re in their patient rooms in the birth unit and the mother-baby unit.

◆ Food outlets now allow people to sit in.

◆ Galleys are still closed to patients in both units. The nurses will get food for you in the birth unit but not in the mother-baby unit so people have to bring their own snacks. There is no access to the microwaves, kettles, food, water-ice machines. There is no access to the big fridges and freezers, but every room has a small mini-bar fridge.

Birth Room

𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞

● Attend appointments, diagnostics (ultrasound, lab) solo. Routine appointments might be done over the phone or spaced out. High-risk and special circumstances will still get the extra care they need.
● Midwifery offices are doing the discussion part of the consult by phone and then a quick in-person appointment for the hands-on part. They prefer pregnant patients attend alone but will allow partners. No other family members/friends/support are allowed.
● Anyone under midwifery or GP care who tests positive for C-19 at any point in their pregnant, birth or postpartum will be immediately transferred to OB care.
● If you’re an early-bird you may be asked to wait in your car until your appointment time.

𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞 (𝐋𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫 & 𝐁𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐡)

● Early discharge is being offered as an option for those that are healthy and feel comfortable with newborn care. That means to go home a few hours after your birth instead of staying 24-36 hours.
● Anyone getting a cervidil induction will be monitored and then sent home to wait for labour to start, as per usual, then rescreened at RGH doors and LBU doors upon return.
● Support people are allowed at homebirths but must be screened. If anyone in the home (residents or support people) doesn’t pass screening, then the birth must be transferred to RGH. In that case, the one support person rule applies. Home birthers – screen your people before they come over!

𝐏𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐮𝐦 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞

● Doors that don’t have an admitting desk are locked tight; security will not let anyone in. That includes the convenient door just below the MBU.
● Families are being asked to stay in their room as much as possible.
● Support people may not visit any other patient areas.
● Food trays are being provided for new moms in the MBU.
● Breastfeeding class in the unit is still running but only birth mother and baby attend, and only up to 3 participants. If there are less than 3 maternal patients, then partners may be allowed to attend.
● Midwives and public health nurses are still providing postpartum home-visits. Some may be done by phone or video, depending on your needs.

Please contact me if you have any questions about this information or any of my services.

Angie The Doula – New Parent and Baby Essentials

What are the most important items for new parents and their newborns? Everyone has different opinions about this. Stores and ads would have us buy all kinds of things. What do you really need? Think about what you have to do with your baby. For example, a travelling family will have different needs than a family at home.

This New Parent and Baby Essentials list is from my experience along with comments from families with whom I’ve worked.  It’s biased toward being kind to the environment and keeping life simple.

Before we get started, I want to let you know that really all you need (other than love, food, shelter) is a warm safe place for your baby to sleep when they’re not in your arms, diapers (unless you’re doing EC) and a system for cleaning your baby, and a safe and comfortable way to transport them.  Note that babies will go from laying stationary to rolling over in the blink of an eye.  Save your babe from a fall and potential injury by never leaving them unattended on a flat surface such as a bed or table, unless they’re surrounded by little rails or something that will both prevent rolling and suffocation.

New Parent and Baby Essentials

Essentials:

  • For maternal postpartum recovery and wellness:
    • Bottom spray (postpartum perineum-saver!!)
    • Adult diapers for the first week – not pretty but awesome way to prevent postpartum leaks
    • See Breastfeeding section below
  • Something to wear or a way to hold the baby – sling, wrap, carrier or baby pack for newborn i.e. supports head
    • May need a couple of methods to accommodate different adults – sizes, abilities, preferences – and babies
  • For baby:
    • See Diaper section below
    • Car seat
    • Baby blanket or cover for car seat
    • Receiving blankets – 20
    • Mini-wash cloths can be used as wipes – 40-50 if you’re not using disposable wipes
    • Baby blanket for home
    • Digital thermometer
    • Q-tips, in case of care of umbilical cord
    • Baby nail clippers 
    • Saline-squirter or nose-sucker
    • Baby clothes – many people get much more than they need from family & friends
      • A few outfits including sleepers and undershirts
      • Socks & mitts
      • Outdoor clothing
      • For winter babes, outer clothing such as a fleece bunting-bag or something that covers hands and feet as part of the outfit.  Also a good hat that stays on.
      • For summer babes, a sun-hat, and thin clothing to cover up skin but not overheat
    • Baby ear-muffs (hearing protection), e.g. for music festivals, movie theatres
New Parent and Baby Essentials
  • For breastfeeding/chestfeeding:
    • Nipple cream or pharmaceutical grade lanolin (e.g. Lansinoh)
    • Nursing bras
    • Nursing pads (pref cotton, non-disposable)
    • For consideration: a little manual pump or milk collector device such as the Haakaa
    • Book: Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – quick answers for breastfeeding issues; easy to read and short fix-it suggestions
  • Diapering.  Set up a safe place and have supplies ready to use.
    • Change table with little rails, change pad (with sides) on a table or dresser, or towel on the floor
    • Diapers – what kind will you use?  Cloth or disposable (biodegradable, organic, or regular)
    • Wipes – washcloths / reusable, or disposable
    • If using cloth, you’ll need a storing, soaking and washing method.  Feel free to ask me.
  • Think about sleeping options:

CPS recommends baby sleeps in the same room as parents , ideally for the entire first year, but for a minimum of 6 months.

  • Baby blanket or quilt; no pillows needed
  • Some kind of washable pad for under baby – can be anything from a proper baby-pad to a folded sheet.  This goes under the baby-sheet to avoid scrunching and twisted bedding.
  • Family bed – a futon on floor, extra-wide bed against the wall, or 3 sided crib that attaches or goes against parents’ bed
  • Family room – a safe place for baby to sleep in your room but not necessarily attached to bed
  • Baby room – high quality crib with slats close enough so a pop-can won’t fit through 
  • In a pinch – box, drawer or laundry basket
New Parent and Baby Essentials

Other things that make life easier (and are worth every cent!)…

  • Really great nursing pillow 
  • Smart Medicine for Healthier Kids book has both allopathic and holistic advice on childcare from newborn to teens
  • Calms book – a short read with great tips for learning to communicate with your new baby
  • Medicine dropper – has many uses other than medicine
  • Stroller, or Burley/Chariot 
  • High quality and “clean” baby care soap and laundry soap

Nice to have but not essential

  • Swing or Rocker
  • Baby-bath or Tummy Tub but another option is to just have a bath with your babe to minimize buying stuff.
  • Baby monitor, depending on your lifestyle and home layout.
  • Breast pump and glass bottles in case of emergency or depending on lifestyle.
  • Playpen  

I teach a variety of Child Birth Education classes and prenatal workshops online for people all over.  I have been a birth doula since 2002, and have helped over 300 clients with their births and over 1000 through prenatal classes. Learn more about my birth doula services, and contact me with any questions you may have.

Checklist: Things to Learn About Your Hospital / Birthplace Before Labour Begins

This is also available as a Printable Birthplace Checklist.

Ideally, you will learn these things before 36 weeks of pregnancy. 

This list includes things available in most city hospitals, where units are specialized. In smaller hospitals, there may not be a specific birth and/or mother-baby unit and some of the services and amenities listed may not be available. Small town hospitals may have a birth room rather than a unit, and then the family stays in the general acute care unit. Sorting these details out is part of good birth-prep. 

General Planning

  • Name & location of hospital / birth centre
  • Do they offer pre-registration or do you register on the way in?
  • What you need to bring
    • Birth bag / supplies
    • Documents for registration
  • Support people 
    • How many
    • Ages
    • Requirements (e.g. hours, ID)
    • Payment required – covered by provincial health, private insurance, or out of pocket
    • General policies e.g. most hospitals have no-scent policies

Parking / Transit

  • Fees
  • Methods of payment 
  • Hours
  • Apps
  • Street parking? Hours/tickets
  • Access to hospital doors

Entry & Registration:

  • Entry to go in as a patient – which doors to use and hours for each
  • Entry for support persons 
  • Security / screening requirements
  • Documents / ID required
  • Who can be with you?

Birth Unit

  • Floor #
  • Elevator location
  • Path from door to elevator to birth unit
  • Assessment area (documents needed, support persons allowed?)
    • Private or shared space?
  • Support – who can go in, when, and in what areas
  • Caesarean / O.R. – who can be with you
  • Recovery Room / Post-op – who can be with you, how long are you there?
  • Food – Galley / kitchenette & rules
  • Food machines – location, form of payment, products
  • Washrooms for patients – shared or private?
  • Washrooms for partner / other supports
  • Sleeping arrangements
  • Fridges in the room?
  • Wifi?
  • Labour tools such as birth balls, birthing stools, squat bars, electric beds
  • Lighting – windows, blinds, dimmers?
  • Shower / bath – shared or private
    • Supplies – soap, shower curtain etc
  • Where to put your stuff

Mother-Baby / Postpartum Unit

  • Is it the same as the birth room or a separate unit?
  • Which floor
  • Path from the birth unit and also from the entry/exits
  • Length of admission
    • Early discharge and extra nights
  • Visitor policy – hours, numbers, ages
  • Shared or private rooms
    • If there are both, how do you get a private room 
  • Support people – who can stay overnight
  • Sleeping arrangements for baby
  • Sleeping arrangements for partner / support person(s)
  • Entry / exit doors & hours e.g. food run, visitors
  • Food – Galley / kitchenette / food machines
  • Are patient meals provided? How many daily, special requests/diets
  • Washrooms for patient
  • Washrooms for partner / other supports
  • Managing interruptions
  • Fridges in the room or availability of other places to store perishables
  • Security in the room
  • TV / wifi
  • Lighting
  • Shower / bath and supplies
  • What is supplied and what do you need to bring
  • Where to put your stuff

Discharge

  • What is the shortest / easiest way out
  • Need to show a car-seat to the staff?
  • Paperwork requirements
  • Hours

Services and Other Units

  • Food
  • Gifts
  • General supplies
  • Quiet spaces – chapel, multi-faith center, Indigenous services
  • Library
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Special Care Nursery
  • Lactation Consultants
  • Meetings / classes available during admission
  • Special services – e.g. social workers, translators, spiritual/faith leaders, help for special circumstances or unexpected outcomes

Other

  • C-19 policy for maternal patient
  • C-19 policy for partner / primary support
  • C-19 policy for 2nd support
  • C-19 policy for other visitors (if applicable)