Labor and Delivery

Many women who are pregnant may have many questions about their upcoming labor and delivery. What I have done here was take what I have researched to be the top questions asked by women, whether first time moms or moms who have already had children, and put the answers or links to site(s) I have researched to give the best answers for you.

I have done most of the work for you moms and put it all here. As I mom I have spent lots of time on the internet personally looking for answers to many of my questions, so I can understand the need for a one stop help site, with so many sites out there to go through.

Labor and Delivery Q&A:

  1. Braxton hicks Contractions
  2. Labor Contractions
  3. Will I know if my water broke?
  4. When to go to the Hospital
  5. Should you call the doctor?
  6. Vaginal Birth After C-Section
  7. How long can labor take?
  8. Does labor and delivery get easier the more children you have?
  9. Is Labor always painful?
  10. What types of pain treatments are available?
  11. Who is allowed to be with me during the labor and birth?
  12. I have young children, should I have a babysitter prepared?
  13. What to do if you give birth before you get to the hospital
  14. How to deal with the Nurses?
  15. Will the doctors have to cut an incesion, otherwise known as an episiotomy, for me to give birth?
  16. What if I have to have a c-section?
  17. Once I have my baby what happens next?
  18. Who can stay with me at the hospital?
  19. How long will I stay at the hospital?

  1. Braxton hicks Contractions
    1. Definition: Irregular contractions of the womb (the uterus) occurring towards the middle of pregnancy in the first pregnancy and, earlier and more intensely, in subsequent pregnancies.

      These contractions tend to occur during physical activity. The uterus tightens for 30 to 60 seconds beginning at the top of the uterus; and the contraction gradually spreads downward before relaxing. Although said to be painless, Braxton Hicks contractions may be quite uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to distinguish from the contractions of true labor.

      Not named for a Dr. Braxton and a Dr. Hicks but for John Braxton Hicks (1823-1897), a British gynecologist.

      Read More >>>

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  2. Labor Contractions
    1. The First Stage of Labor
      A. Early Labor
      Definition: Early labor is defined by cervical dilation of 0-3cm, contractions in the range of 5-20 minutes and lasting for about 30-45 seconds.

      Signs and Symptoms of Early Labor: Mothers typically notice several possible labor signs such as back ache and nesting urges. Contractions progress over time by getting longer, stronger and closer together. Mothers may notice some mild-moderate intensity during contractions, however, in between contractions she is able to converse and behaves normally.

      What Support People can do: Encourage mothers to rest, eat lightly and conserve energy. Assist with relaxing activities such as reading, walking, breathing exercises during contractions as needed. In most cases, mothers can safely stay home during early labor. Check with your care provider regarding their recommendation for you.

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  3. Will I know if my water broke?
    1. by Lisa Rodriguez, R.N. and Marjorie Greenfield, M.D.
      reviewed by Marjorie Greenfield, M.D.

      Having heard more than one story about a pregnant woman's water breaking in some very inconvenient public place, most women worry about where--as well as when--it will happen to them. In addition, one of the most common questions pregnant women ask is how they will know if their water has indeed broken.

      That said, sometimes it's extremely obvious that you broke your water, because you experience a big gush of fluid that soaks through your clothes and simply can't be mistaken for anything else. At other times, however, it happens in a more subtle manner that understandably is mistaken for vaginal discharge or urine leakage--both common occurrences during pregnancy.

      Read More >>>

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  4. When to go to the Hospital
    1. I remember my first pregnancy I went into labor at Wal-Mart and her father wanted to rush me to the hospital. I stayed calm and insisted we go home and just wait it out. I really wanted to make sure I was in labor. Funny thing was he was so nervous that he made me nervous and I kept walking in a circle in the room; walking actually speeds up labor!

      My labor contractions quickly went to 5 mins apart and I still was not ready to go to the hospital. I was worried that I was just having Braxton Hicks contractions and I would be told to go home. He called his mother and she said I needed to go and hurry to the hospital; about 4 hours later I had my first baby girl.

      I was shocked for as young as I was and that being my first pregnancy how quickly I gave birth to her. And, yet there was still time to wait to go to the hospital.

      My second daughter was a 14 hour labor, even with the fact that my water broke at home when I woke up in the morning. However, since my water did break, I needed to be at the hospital the whole time. When your water breaks it is important the doctors and nurses keep an eye on you and your baby.

      My third daughter was overdue and I was thinking she would never be born. Was I going to have to have to be induced? It was actually kind of strange since I had been dilating since I was 5 months pregnant. By the time I was 9 months I was already 4 1/2cm dilated and yet no labor pains.

      I went to my 41st week prenatal visit and was about 2 days from having to be induced. The nurse checked me to see how far dilated I was and she wound up breaking my membranes and no more than 20 mins later I was in labor.

      I still had my husband take us home and decided we should wait to go to the hospital. I already know how this works anyways; if you aren't far enough in labor or dilated enough (6cm) the doctors will send you home anyways.

      So, we went home and we watched TV, well he watched TV and I was going from watching to having contractions, watching to having more contractions. I just took some relaxing breaths and kept myself calm and let my body do what it needed to do. I alleviated the pain out of my mind and focused on relaxing. You will be surprised how much labor pains are more in the mind then in the body. I will talk about this in the question about pain and childbirth.

      I waited until my contractions were 5 mins apart and then we went to the hospital, where about 7 hours later, my newest daughter was born. And, believe me that time really does go by fast if you stay focused and calm.

      So, when do you go? Most physicians and midwives suggest contacting them when your contractions are five minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds, and you have had this activity for about an hour.

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  5. When should you call the doctor?
  6. Source:
    1. 1. Bleeding
      If you experience any bleeding or spotting, call your doctor or midwife immediately.

      2. Pain
      Sharp, one sided pain, or intense pain that does not go away with movement needs immediate attention. Minor aches and pains can wait until the morning or your next office visit.

      3. Contractions
      Before you are 37 weeks pregnant you need to call your midwife or doctor immediately if you have contractions more frequently than 10 minutes apart.

      4. Gush of Fluid
      If you have a gush of fluid at any point, it's an immediate call to your midwife or doctor.

      5. Baby Moving
      Any decrease in your baby's movements should be reported right away.

      6. Sudden/Severe Headache
      If you have sudden or severe headaches that are out of context for you, call your doctor or midwife within 24 hours.

      7. Swelling
      Some swelling is normal in pregnancy. Anything that is sudden or doesn't go away after a night of rest need to be reported to your practitioner.

      8. Questions
      Things that come up between visits but are not urgent can wait until morning or your next regular office visit.

      What to Say When You Call

      When you call your doctor or midwife you need to be ready to provide relevant data. Have the following information available:

      •Due date
      •Last Menstrual Period
      •Symptoms you are experiencing (pain, bleeding, fluid, temperature, etc.)
      •How long you've been having these symptoms
      •Name of your doctor or midwife
      •Hospital closest to you
      •Pharmacy name and number

      Calling During Office Hours

      When you call during office hours you will usually talk to the receptionist first. You may ask to speak to the nurse who works with your doctor or midwife to be sure that your practitioner gets the message. It is also helpful because this nurse will generally be more likely to know you and your status than the receptionist.

      Calling After Office Hours

      Calling your practitioner after hours can be disconcerting. Generally, you will talk to the answering service first. Their job is to screen the calls and then route your call to the on call practitioner. This may not be your doctor or midwife. Usually they will return your call within five minutes. If they do not return your call in five minutes, call back.

      If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency, go to the emergency room and have them alert your practitioner.

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  7. Vaginal Birth After C-Section
  8. Source: By Mayo Clinic staff
    1. You've already had a baby by Caesarean section (C-section). Your doctor says you have a choice with your next baby. You can try a vaginal delivery or schedule a repeat C-section.

      Years ago, a C-section ended any hope of future vaginal deliveries. But today, thanks largely to changes in surgical technique, vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) is possible in many cases. In fact, 60 percent to 80 percent of women who try VBAC have a successful vaginal delivery.

      VBAC isn't right for everyone, though. Sometimes a pregnancy complication prevents the possibility of a successful VBAC. Many local hospitals don't offer VBAC because they don't have the staff or resources to handle emergency C-sections.

      In this guide, you'll explore your options. When is VBAC a safe choice? When should VBAC be avoided? What are the benefits of VBAC? What are the risks? You'll also consider common questions about VBAC, answered by a Mayo Clinic specialist in obstetrics and gynecology. After reviewing the guide, you'll be better prepared to make a decision about whether VBAC is right for you.

      Read More >>>

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  9. How long can labor take?
  10. Source: By Mayo Clinic staff
    1. Every woman's labor is unique, even from one pregnancy to the next. In some cases, labor is over in a matter of hours — or less. In other cases, labor tests a mother's physical and emotional stamina.

      When everything goes smoothly, the stages of labor unfold in three distinct parts.

      Read More >>>

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  11. Does labor and delivery get easier the more children you have?
    1. Having a baby is always going to be a unique experience for every woman. No two pregnancies are going to be identical to the letter.

      My personal experience was that my first child was the easiest: 6lbs 10oz, my second daughter was not so easy (much of that had to do with the doctor and nurses being idiots - but I won't go into that): 6lbs 10oz, my third daughter was in-between the first two experiences: 8lbs 3 oz.

      There are many factors that can play a huge role in the birth of your child and can have an effect on how well the labor and delivery goes. So, there is no way to answer how your labor and delivery will go. Your best bet is to do everything you can to take care of your body during pregnancy, make sure to get some proper exercise and take Lamaze classes to help learn how to prepare your body before and during labor.

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  12. Is labor always painful?
    1. No, from my research and experience labor is only as painful as you allow it to be. Think of haunted house stories and how many people can be placed into a house that they are told is haunted and then come out scared to death and has stories to tell about how they saw a ghost, heard it or felt it touch or talk to them. But, in many of those studies the houses were in fact never haunted, no one died in them and there was only the impression of the haunting that lead people to be scared and to hear and see things that did not exist.

      The same holds true in many cases of labor and delivery. Many women do not know what to expect and have not learned how to take control of their bodies and in turn they are scared and freaked out making things more painful than it needs to be. And, then there are women who want to convince other women to take their labor home unassisted and out of the hospital to experience a more pleasureful labor and delivery. When truth is: all of those practices can be done at home with a mid-wife or many of them can be done at the hospital.

      Keep in mind: Fear is not the only contributing factor of pain during labor. There are other uncontrolled factors that can bring on pain during labor; including having your labor induced - and there are risks of breeched labor, inability to dilate etc.... these are many reasons why it is best to have a professional with you.

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  13. What types of pain treatments are available?
    1. Non-Medicated:
      Childbirth hypnosis
      Birthing from Within

      Source: By Mayo Clinic staff
      Some women claim to have experienced orgasmic pleasure during childbirth. In her article, "The Don't Call it a Peak Experience for Nothing," (Mothering, Fall 1989) Ruth Claire said:

      "I caught the infant who rushed from my vagina into the small world between my legs, in the midst of an extraordinary orgasm from the inside out."

      Ten Techniques for a Painless and Pleasant Birth Experience
      1.Using natural methods of labor induction can give a woman a sense of responsibility for her experience.
      2.Expecting a pleasant, joyful experience increases the likelihood of experiencing birth as pleasant.
      3.Slow, deep breathing induces the state of physical and mental calm necessary for a peaceful experience.
      4.Visualizing calming, energizing, or empowering images and actions, such as flying or floating, can enhance a woman's states of peace, invigoration, or exhilaration.
      5.Accepting and embracing the physical sensations of labor and birth allow a woman's body to progress unhindered by any struggle against the process.
      6.Releasing negative thoughts that inhibit a joyful mood allow positive thoughts to grow.
      7.Moving and vocalizing freely support the state of openness that allows a woman to transform the intensity of labor into a joyful, painless experience.
      8.Laughing loosens up tight muscles and eases the birth process.
      9.Dancing loosens up muscles, eases the birth process, and can lighten a woman's mood.
      10.Giving birth in a safe, comfortable place enhances a woman's state of peace necessary for a comfortable, productive birth experience. Additionally, a baby's place of birth may have symbolic and empowering meaning for a mother.
      A host of practices, including those listed above, from various methods of natural childbirth and from individual women's experiences can prepare a woman to have a joyful, painless, and pleasant birthing experience.

      This site has more information on medications during labor:
      Epidurals and Other Labor Medications

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  14. Who is allowed to be with me during the labor and birth?
    1. If you are at home with a mid-wife or doula - anyone who can handle the situation and can safety fit in the room as long as they are not sick and contagious.

      If you are at a hospital you will need to ask your pediatrician as the rules differ based on the hospital rules and room sizes. My third daughter was born with my husband and my eldest daughter with me. She was 8 years old at the time and stood up by my head next to dad (she did take a nap for a few hours before I gave birth, but we woke her when it was time – she jumped up and was so ready!), and she was the first to hold our newest daughter after they cleaned her up. This really thrilled her and has created such a wonderful bond between them.

      Remember, having too many people present may make things harder on you to focus and remain calm and breathe during labor. So, make sure that whoever you allow, and yes - you have to allow them in the room, are people who you can trust to help you breath, focus, and relax. Relaxation is the biggest key here - if you can relax and breath and go with the labor pains, not fight them, you will have a great labor and delivery. Anyone who talks to much, asks you a lot of questions, wants to help you too much or can do anything that can bring on stress should not be welcomed in the room (hospital or at home).

      Even if this means making your mother or mother in law angry with you. It is your labor, your body and your right - if anyone can't respect your need to stay calm and feel joy during labor, if they persists to get in your head about labor being painful because theirs was, then they do not respect you enough, for you to care if you hurt their feelings. Tell the nurse you want them to leave and they will be escorted out, do not let them, or your guilt, ruin your day of joy!!! They will need to get over it, this day is for you! Relax, smile - give into your body and let yourself enjoy your labor - your baby is on its way to greet you!

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  15. I have young children, should I have a babysitter prepared?
    1. You probably want to have someone to watch your little ones while you are in labor - this way your partner is there to fully focus on you and help you relax, breath and stay calm with out distractions.

      This is probably a great job to offer that family member or friend you know will make your labor hard and you can just tell them you really trust them and have an important job for them to do to help you out. And, ask them to watch your children while you give birth.

      If you have older children who are capable of sitting still and being calm like my 8 year old daughter was, then you should be fine; we did not have a baby sitter with us. Just make sure you pack a bag for them to have things like snacks, juice, books, and a few other things to help them have something to pass the time and have no need to interrupt you.

      This all depends on your children and what works best for you. Some people will leave their kids home with a sitter until the baby is born and then have them visit when mom has been moved into the recovery room.

      Or, at home delivery parents may allow their kids to be in the room until they get restless and maybe ask them to go play in their rooms for a little bit and come back when they are calmed down. Some of those parents do not have a babysitter there as they have things all set up for their kids to be occupied and the mother has the mid-wife to help while the other parent may give instructions to the kids. Or there may be another family member present to help with the other kids while mother and partner work together on the labor experience.

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  16. What to do if you give birth before you get to the hospital
  17. Source: By
    1. Don't lose the plot...
      OK, so you didn't exactly plan to give birth on the bathroom floor but try your hardest not to go into headless-chicken mode. Yes, easier said than done. But reassuringly, midwife Gail Johnson, from the Royal College of Midwives, says, 'If your labour is so quick you haven't even had the chance to prepare, it's usually a sign that everything is OK.' So don't panic.

      Raise the alarm ASAP
      If you can get to a phone, ring 911 or your hospital's delivery suite. If you can't, shout for a neighbour, bang on the walls – do whatever you have to do to alert someone. Knowing help is on its way will make everything less scary.

      Keep yourself and your baby warm
      'Babies have quite a large surface area and can lose a lot of heat very quickly,' says Gail. 'So wrap your baby in a nice, dry, clean towel as soon as you can.' Keeping yourself warm will help prevent you going into shock after the rollercoaster ride you've just experienced.

      Don't cut the umbilical cord
      Yes, they might do it in the movies but doing so could result in both you and your little one losing a serious amount of blood. The cord needs to be cut and clamped in a precise way, so leave this to a medic whose hands will be a lot less shaky than yours.

      Boost your baby's breathing
      More than likely your precious bundle will come out screaming blue murder. But if she's quiet, try very gently blowing on her face, near her nose. The simple change in temperature may encourage her to take that first gasp of oxygen. Try also wiping away any excess mucus around her mouth and nose. Getting those kind ambulance people out to you ASAP, however, is the best way of dealing with an unresponsive baby.

      Do your prep
      Chances are you won't give birth on your own but it still pays to think ahead just in case the impossible ever happened. From around 36 weeks, make sure your labour bag is good to go and put all those useful phone numbers, such as the hospital delivery suite, on speed dial.

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  18. How to deal with the Nurses?
    1. Have you ever had a bad or stressful day at work? Or, has anyone at work or a client/customer at your work really tick you off? Maybe you had a bad day at home and are stressed when you get to work. No matter the situation, we sometimes take it out on the innocent we should never take our stress on, we even take our stress out on our own children at times.

      What ever the reason for stress, there is still no excuse for poor treatment at the hosptial by the nurses. But, keep in mind - they may have just been treated vary badly by a rude, obnoxiuos patient and then went to your room and unintentionally took this out on you.

      So, how to handle this type of situation?
      First I recommend taking a tour of the the hospitals near you when you find out your pregnant. Check out this site: 10 Reasons to Take a Hospital Tour Before You Give Birth. Make sure to bring your partner with you so they too can learn how to help you when dealing with a stressful nurse. Find out if they have any testimonials or reviews on them anywhere you can research. Ask many questions to see how they react to concerns and being bothered; doctors are assigned to hospitals, so it is best to know what hospital you feel most comfortable with that you want to deliver at when picking your doctor. This also helps ease the worries and stress you may feel about labor and delivery when it is getting close to baby time - the less stress and worry, the more pleasant the birthing experience.

      You can also ask to meet many of the nurses when you take a tour to see if you like them. Of course you are not likely to meet everyone and may not meet the nurses on the staff when you go into labor, but this allows you to get comfortable with the environment and staff before hand. You can also ask to speak to the head nurse to let them know of your concerns about nurses and how they handle these types of situations. This helps you have more control when you are in labor and feel comfortable knowing you know what to do without worry of making things worse.

      Make sure to have your partner ask each nurse their name and refer to them by name. Do not call them, "HEY NURSE", it takes away the fact they are a person and may lead to them not seeing you as one either. Just think how you'd feel if the nurses kept calling you, "Hey Patient". Or at work if people call you "Hey Cashier", "Hey Miss", "Hey Accountant" etc... you get the point. Calling a person by their name gives them a more personal relationship with you and it also lets them know you know their name if you choose to report them for anything. It is the simple things like that on your part that can help improve your experience's anywhere.

      Why do you think having a mid-wife seems to be a liked idea by many? Think about it, it is the personal relationship, the fact you know each other’s names, trust built etc.... Getting to know your hospital and their staff allows you that experience too. And, if you get to know the head nurses on the floor in advance and let them see you as a nice person when you are not in labor, you just created a relationship with them. And, so if you have a nurse who is upsetting you in labor and you already know the head nurses in advance, chances are you will not need to have any worries and that head nurse will make sure you feel comfortable while you are there.

      Plus, a thank you card never hurts!! After visiting the hospital for the tour, mail or drop off a thank you for your time card to the head nurse and their staff. This really hits home with them and you will be remembered as someone who went above and beyond and chances are they will return the favor when you are there. Just make sure when you are in labor to call the nurses by their names, and if anyone gives you grief, nicely ask for that head nurse on staff. This is why I would recommend meeting the day and night head nurse.

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  19. Will the doctors have to cut an incesion, otherwise known as an episiotomy, for me to give birth?
    1. I had this done on me with my first daughter; I only felt pressure and nothing else, but this did make my healing process a tad bit more uncomfortable. I never had to have another one, nor did the first one have any effect on my future vaginal deliveries.

      I was a little irritated to learn that it was not even needed, but the doctor choose to do it as he was concerned I was going to tear while pushing my daughter out.

    2. Source: By Mayo Clinic staff
      Planning a vaginal delivery, here's what you need to know about episiotomy and childbirth.

      The episiotomy tradition

      For many years, an episiotomy was thought to help prevent more extensive vaginal tears during childbirth — and heal better than a natural tear. The procedure was also thought to reduce the risk of incontinence after childbirth and keep the bladder and rectum from drooping into the vagina.
      Sounds reasonable, but researchers have found that routine episiotomies don't prevent these problems after all. Recovery is uncomfortable, and sometimes the surgical incision is more extensive than a natural tear would have been. For some women, an episiotomy causes pain during sex in the months after delivery. An episiotomy also increases the risk of fecal incontinence after delivery.

      The new approach

      Researchers say there's no need for a routine episiotomy, but the procedure is still warranted in some cases. Your health care provider may recommend an episiotomy if:
      • Extensive vaginal tearing appears likely
      • Your baby is in an abnormal position
      • Your baby needs to be delivered quickly
      If you need an episiotomy, you'll receive an injection of a local anesthetic to numb the tissue if you haven't had any other type of anesthesia or your anesthesia is no longer numbing the area. You won't feel your health care provider making the incision or repairing it after delivery.
      Read More >>>

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  20. What if I have to have a c-section otherwise known as a caesarean section?
  21. >Source:
    1. The FAQ contains the following topics:

      * Preventing the Unnecessary Cesarean
      * Indications for a Cesarean
      * Medications for Pain Relief During and After
      * Procedures for Cesarean
      * Partners and Cesareans
      * Emergency Cesareans
      * Recovery from the Cesarean
      * Breastfeeding After a Cesarean
      * Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Information
      * Books and Resources
      * Emotions and Feelings

      Read More >>>

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  22. Once I have my baby what happens next?
    1. If you give birth at home :
      You will discuss these plans with your mid-wife/doula.

      At the hospital:
      Once you give birth to your child the doctor may hand the baby to you to hold for a few minutes as long as everything seems fine. Sometimes even if everything is OK, they will just take the baby over to the hospital bassinet warmer and clean the baby up, check his vitals, and wrap him, before handing your baby over to you to hold.

      After a short bonding time, the nurses will take your newborn to the nursery and have the rest of his vitals checked and have his hand and foot prints done.

      You will soon be taken to the recovery room where you can begin to get some rest. Shortly after that is visiting time and many other people may come and visit you. There will be nurses coming in to check on you and other people with different companies who may want to offer you paperwork and other new baby information. Plus, there is someone who comes in to ask if you wish to have your baby's first photo taken and offer you the opportunity to get him changed into a new outfit and any toys or anything you may want to include in the photo.

      In other words, even the recovery room may seem to get a bit hectic with the visitors, non-expected visitors, and nurses coming to check on your vitals and to bring you your baby.

      You can order your meals sent to your room - the nurse will give you the things you need to place your order and know what comes with your room stay.

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  23. Who can stay with me at the hospital?
    1. In general, your partner or one friend if you have no partner to stay with you at the time, is usually allowed. You should discuss this with you when you go on your hospital tour. I would also recommend talking with your insurance carrier about what they cover for other persons. Many insurances will only pay for the patients meals, not their partner etc...

      My husband and our 8 year old daughter stayed with me in the recovery room the whole time. My husband did leave with our daughter here and there to give me time to rest, give our 8 year old time to stretch, and to take care of things before I left. The rooms are not that big, so having other children with you may not be acceptable, especially if they cannot sit still or stay calm. You may need to arrange a family member to take care of the child during this time. Having more than one child would be deemed necessary to find childcare arrangements during your recovery room stay.

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  24. How long will I stay at the hospital?
    1. A few years later they passed a law that said a woman got 48 hours after an uncomplicated vaginal birth and 96 hours after an uncomplicated

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