Author: Ohh Baby

Not eating well because of morning sickness? You may need a prenatal vitamin

Did you know that pregnancy increases your needs for 20 out of 29 necessary vitamins and minerals, and that your B6, folic acid, iron, iodine and zinc needs are increased 40-50 percent?

At any life stage, eating a variety of proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and calcium-rich foods can meet most of the body’s demands. But maintaining a varied diet during pregnancy isn’t always possible due to morning sickness, busy schedules, food intolerances, reflux and other factors.

Taking a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement that includes these specific nutrients can help give moms-to-be the energy to complete daily tasks as well as meet the needs of her developing baby. There are many supplements on the market listed as prenatal multivitamins, but not all of them contain all the necessary nutrients. When choosing a prenatal supplement, make sure to pick one with B6, folic acid, iron, iodine and zinc.

While antacids can help improve reflux, they contain calcium which can reduce iron absorption. If using these, try taking them two hours before or after taking an iron-containing supplement or high-iron foods.

While vitamin and mineral needs are much higher during pregnancy, calorie needs are only increased by 10-20 percent – and only in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. While many friends and family will push food on you, saying “you’re eating for two,” do not feel pressured to eat past fullness.

However, do try to fit in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, calcium-rich, and protein-rich foods every day. Eight to 12 ounces weekly of low-mercury fish is encouraged during pregnancy for the benefits of unsaturated fats. Eating these foods while nursing will also pass these benefits on through breastmilk.

Visit here for a list of fish which are low in mercury.

Focusing on these foods does not mean you have to limit yourself to these foods; there is still space for other foods you enjoy or crave. Just make sure to pay attention while eating and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness.

Morning sickness can make getting adequate nutrients difficult. Eating smaller meals more frequently, and including salty, dry foods, usually helps manage morning sickness enough to prevent weight loss. If morning sickness does not resolve by 13-14 weeks of pregnancy, ask your doctor about meeting with a registered dietitian (RD) to find alternatives to get the nutrition you and your baby need.

Also consider consulting with an RD if you are experiencing food aversions to the point you cannot tolerate a whole food group; if you have food preferences that prevent you from consuming a whole food group; or if you have a health condition that affects your ability to eat a variety of foods.

Foodborne illness can be much more serious during pregnancy and can affect developing babies. All grocery stores are required to stock pasteurized milk and juices, but if buying from a farm or farmer’s market directly, ask the farmer if it has been pasteurized. Cook meat and eggs thoroughly (145-165 degrees depending on the product), and cook lunch meats and reheat leftovers to 165 degrees.

If you’d like to learn more about nutrition and food safety and practice hands-on cooking for simple, low-cost meals, email CookingMatters@hhsys.org to see if there are classes near you.

If you would like to meet one on one, always look for a credentialed registered dietitian. Huntsville Hospital has outpatient RDs at the Wellness Center. You can schedule a meeting by calling (256) 265-7100

Remember:

  • Select a prenatal vitamin that includes minerals. Gummies do not contain adequate minerals
  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Measure food temperatures for food safety

Carmen Moyers, RD, LD
Adult and Pediatric Clinical Dietitian, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children

What to do if you experience postpartum hemorrhage

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is a serious but rare condition when a woman has heavy bleeding after giving birth. You’re more likely to have PPH if you’ve had it in the past or if you have certain medical conditions – especially conditions that affect the uterus (womb) or the placenta or conditions that affect how your blood clots.

It’s normal to lose some blood after giving birth. Women typically lose about half a quart during vaginal birth or about 1 quart after a Cesarean birth. With PPH you can lose much more blood, which is what makes it a dangerous condition. PPH can cause a severe drop in blood pressure that must be treated immediately.

The labor and delivery teams at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital have special PPH training. As with any emergency, we are here for you.

When should you contact your provider?

  • When your bleeding increases or if you have heavy bleeding that soaks a pad in 1 hour for 2 hours in a row.
  • You pass large blood clots (larger than a quarter) from the vagina.
  • You feel dizzy.
  • You have a lower back ache, abdominal pain or tenderness, or loss of appetite.
  • You are urinating less than usual or not at all.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition.

Call 911 right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding from the vagina
  • Soaking through 1 pad in 15 minutes that doesn’t slow or stop
  • Blurred vision
  • Clammy or pale skin
  • Feel weak or feel like you’re going to faint
  • You faint or lose consciousness
  • You have trouble breathing

What causes PPH?

After your baby is delivered, the uterus normally contracts to push out the placenta. The contractions help put pressure on bleeding vessels where the placenta was attached in your uterus. If the contractions are not strong enough, the vessels bleed more. It can also happen if small pieces of the placenta stay attached.

How is PPH treated?

Treatment depends on what’s causing your bleeding. Options may include:

  • Getting fluids, taking medicine (like Pitocin) or having a blood transfusion
  • Massaging the uterus by hand. Your provider can massage the uterus to help it contract, lessen bleeding and help the body pass blood clots. Your provider may also give you medications like oxytocin to make the uterus contract and reduce bleeding.
  • Getting oxygen by wearing an oxygen mask
  • Removing any remaining pieces of the placenta from the uterus
  • Packing the uterus with gauze, a special balloon or sponges
  • Using medical tools or stitches to help stop bleeding from the blood vessels
  • Taking extra iron supplements along with a prenatal vitamin. Your provider may recommend this depending on how much blood was lost.
 

Samantha Wall, BSN, RNC-OB
OB Simulation Coordinator at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children

 

Tammy Baer, RN
Clinical Education Specialist for Labor & Delivery, Antepartum and OB Emergency Department at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children

What does a doula do, and are they for you?

At Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital, laboring moms are welcome to have a doula with them to provide comfort, support, information and encouragement. We spoke to three North Alabama doulas to give you a better understanding of the role of a doula during childbirth.
Tracy Abney – Rocket City Doulas
Q: What is a doula, and what is your role as a doula?

A: “We are primarily a support person. What that support looks like will vary person to person and even labor to labor. Sometimes, that looks like physical support like counter pressure or offering position changes, and sometimes that looks like emotional support – listening with a compassionate ear when clients have unexpected complications or outcomes, or when they’re nervous or anxious.

“We may provide information support and walk clients through upcoming procedures and what to expect in terms of emotions and physical sensations, or hospital procedures (as best we know them at the time.) We are supporting the family unit, so that support extends to partners when they need or want it as well.  We help partners feel comfortable to take bathroom breaks, grab food, etc., without leaving their loved ones alone during labor. We also help partners be involved (as much or as little as the family desires) by teaching hands-on comfort measure techniques.

“We are not medical professionals, so we don’t do medical tasks or offer medical advice. While we may offer suggestions to our clients of questions they can ask their provider, we would never make decisions for our clients in that capacity. The physician and nurses are there for the physical wellbeing of the baby and parent, and we are there for emotional wellbeing. We’re part of the birth team, and each of us plays an important part.”

Q: Why are doulas helpful?

A: “It’s not only statistically proven that doulas improve birth satisfaction as well as birth outcomes, but doulas fill a gap where hospital staff cannot. The L&D nurses I know locally are some of my very favorite people, and they love their patients so well. They are amazing at what they do. However, they cannot be with our clients every moment during birth. They cannot know our clients prenatally (generally) and they won’t have a relationship with our clients after birth.  Having that continuous support of someone who is professionally trained benefits our clients as well as our nurses.

“One of the things I remember after my first birth (that was a hard birth for me) was how alone I felt. I knew the nurses were doing their jobs, but I was scared and unsure and so alone. Having a doula there during the entire birth and post-recovery would have soothed my soul and calmed my anxiety. Someone to tell me that what I was going through was normal and I was doing everything I needed to do for my baby. Letting me know sensations and emotions I was experiencing were normal and natural would have helped so much.

“Birthing people benefit from having a constant presence who is there just for them, to reassure them, and to support whatever choices they have made.”

Kirsten Clark – Sacred Haven Birth Services

Q: What is a doula, and what is your role as a doula?

A: “As a doula, the most important part of my role is to support the birthing family so they feel empowered and positive about their birth experience. I help birthing people find their voice in birth, help partners feel included, and bring in techniques for comfort in pregnancy and labor.

“Birthing with a doula means birthing with loving, unbiased support. Doulas provide physical support, emotional support and informational support. We are there physically for every step of the birth, giving comfort and support in whatever way the birthing person needs. Whether you plan for a non-medicated birth, a planned Cesarean, an induction, or want an epidural, a doula can be a valuable member of your birth team! We help prepare you prenatally to know your options and plan the birth that is right for you. We offer comfort measures to help make pregnancy and labor easier and less uncomfortable. And we are there for you emotionally, since we know pregnancy and birth can be a challenging time!

Q: Why are doulas helpful?

A: “Doulas not only help provide positive experiences for birthing families, they also change health outcomes! Doula support has been extensively researched, and birthers who have a doula have been shown to benefit from:

  • 39 percent decrease in the risk of Cesarean
  • 10 percent decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • Shorter labors by 41 minutes, on average
  • 31 percent decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience

Kaelie Harris – Breathe, Love, Birth Doula Services

Q: What is a doula, and what is your role as a doula?

A: “A doula is someone who is contracted by the family to provide emotional, physical and educational support throughout labor and delivery. My role as a doula is to help my clients figure out what they want out of their birth and how to make it happen. I provide them with resources to allow them to do their own research and make their own decisions. I support my clients through labor and delivery by teaching and implementing comfort measures, allowing the partner to rest if needed, and supporting them both emotionally.

“Some people think that doulas only support drug-free childbirth, but that isn’t true. I’ve had clients who want an epidural or want a C section. My job is to support their vision of their birth – whatever that looks like for them.

“I have personally given birth with and without a doula, and to me my doula made all the difference. I had someone supporting me the entire time and encouraging me every step of the way. She explained the different options of my birth plan and gave me the knowledge that made me confident in my body and my ability to give birth. I had someone who physically comforted me when I was in pain and reminded me of my goal when I was giving up mentally. People can have beautiful births with or without a doula, but for me it was a total game changer.

Q: Why are doulas helpful?

A: “Doulas can be helpful because we build relationships with our clients throughout their pregnancy. We help them build their birth plan and teach them techniques that can help them through labor and delivery. We learn what calms and comforts them so that we can implement that in pregnancy.”

Making the most of the Golden Hour

Your baby has arrived. Now what?! Let’s walk through the first few hours and days of your baby’s life at Madison Hospital or Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.

The first hour of life following delivery is known as “the Golden Hour.” Your baby is going through changes to prepare for life outside of your womb. To help this transition go smoothly, your baby will be placed on your chest for skin-to-skin (STS) care. During STS care, your baby’s naked body is placed next to your naked chest. There are many proven benefits including:

  • Calms both you and baby
  • Helps baby cry less
  • Releases hormones that relieve stress and help baby stabilize their breathing, heart rate, temperature and blood sugar. Hormones release in mom as well to help lower her stress and pain and promote healing.
  • Helps colostrum production
  • Boosts baby’s immune system
  • Lowers moms’ risk of postpartum mood disorders
  • Helps cultivate the connection between mom and baby as well as the whole family

We encourage uninterrupted STS care for the entire Golden Hour. The nurses caring for your baby will be able to complete their first assessment, APGAR scoring (to help assess baby’s transition), vitamin K injection and erythromycin ointment all while baby is on your chest. The nurses will also help your baby establish their first feeding.

Even though there’s a lot going on in that first hour, it is a great time to rest, relax and focus on baby bonding and feeding.

After your recovery from delivery, you and baby will be moved to the Postpartum or Mother Baby room. This is where you and baby will stay until being discharged from the hospital. Here’s a checklist of things that must be completed prior to leaving the hospital:

  • Baby feeding well, peeing and pooping lots. Baby will lose weight, but we need to ensure it is not too much weight loss.
  • Check for yellowing of baby’s skin which can indicate jaundice. This too is normal in infancy; we just make sure it is not too high.
  • Circumcision for boys, if desired
  • Hearing screen
  • Metabolic screen, also known as a PKU test.
  • Congenital heart screening. This is a simple test that checks the baby’s oxygen saturation in the hand and the foot.
  • Birth certificate
  • Lots of teaching!!

Our postpartum nurses will make sure you know everything about caring for baby – from diaper changes and burping to feeding and everything in between. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask. You will have a communication board in your room. Write down any questions you have so you don’t forget before you see your nurse again.

Once your OB writes orders for your discharge from the hospital, you will need to have a follow-up appointment for baby in 2-3 days. Your OB will let you know when you need to follow up with them.

Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC
Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC
Director of Perinatal Services at Madison Hospital

Is it safe to take the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy?

We get a lot of questions from expectant moms about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Is it safe to be vaccinated while pregnant?
Should I wait until after baby is born?
Do I even need to be vaccinated?

For answers, we turned to three of our most trusted physician experts: Dr. Robin Cardwell, who practices at Huntsville Hospital Obstetrics & Gynecology and is part of the OB Emergency Department team at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children; Dr. Morgan Tucker of OB-GYN Associates, a member of Labor & Delivery team at Madison Hospital; and Huntsville Hospital infectious disease specialist Dr. Ali Hassoun.

Here’s what they told us.

Dr. Cardwell –
Vaccines, except live-virus vaccines like chicken pox and MRR, have proven to be safe and effective in pregnancy. Along with protecting the mother, vaccines protect the newborn baby with antibodies created by mom that are passed through the placenta. Some antibodies are also passed through mother’s milk.

Because expectant moms were not included in the initial COVID-19 vaccine trials, women and their doctors had to make choices based on animal data, studies on the physiology and pharmacology of the vaccine, expert opinion, and the guidance of medical societies like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. We also saw some data from women in the initial phase III trials who were later found to be pregnant or who conceived shortly after enrolling in the study. There were no safety concerns in this group.

Now that we are five months into vaccinating, the evidence so far supports the vaccine’s safety in pregnant and lactating women. One study showed that the COVID-19 vaccine is both effective in creating protective antibodies in mom and that these antibodies are being found in baby as well. Another study found no differences when comparing the placentas of vaccinated and unvaccinated moms. Another study found the incidence of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, small for gestational age, congenital abnormalities, and neonatal death was not different than the known population risk. As more women are vaccinated, we will see more data. So far, it looks reassuring.

Meanwhile, we do know that pregnancy puts women who contract COVID at higher risk for ICU hospitalization, supplemental oxygen and death compared to non-pregnant women of the same age and medical background. Because of the known risk of COVID to mom and baby and the emerging safety data on the vaccine, we encourage women who are considering pregnancy, who are pregnant, and who are breastfeeding, to get vaccinated.

Dr. Tucker –
The risk of severe illness from COVID during pregnancy is high. The inflammatory properties of COVID can make moms-to-be more susceptible to hypertensive disease such as eclampsia, cause babies to be born small for their gestational age, increase the risk of preterm delivery, and increase in the likelihood that baby will require Neonatal ICU care. Getting vaccinated can reduce all of these risks. Also, more and more evidence is showing that the protective antibodies mom receives from the vaccine are shared with the fetus during pregnancy or with baby during breastfeeding.

Dr. Hassoun –
If you are pregnant and exposed to COVID-19, you are at higher risk of severe disease. That means more complications, a longer hospital stay, possible intubation and the need for medication which might affect you and the baby in different ways.

By being vaccinated, you will protect yourself and help protect your family and community. Also, studies have shown the vaccine provides some protection to the baby both in utero and after birth.

Ready to get the COVID-19 vaccine? It’s easy. Click here to schedule your appointment at Huntsville Hospital’s Community Vaccination Clinic.

Want to read more about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women?

New England Journal of Medicine

American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Journal of the American Medical Association

*The information in this blog is not intended to replace the medical advice of your physician. Please ask your physician if you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Dr. Morgan Tucker
OB-GYN Associates, Labor and Delivery team at Madison Hospital

Dr. Ali Hassoun
Infectious Disease Specialist

Dr. Robin Cardwell
Huntsville Hospital Obstetrics & Gynecology

Want to be the perfect childbirth partner? Here’s how

Pregnancy can be an exciting time for the whole family! An expectant mom may find herself with offers of support from her spouse, parents, extended family and friends. It’s important that she identify her biggest supporter and make sure they’re on-call and ready when delivery day arrives.

Because mom will be focusing on having the baby, her primary childbirth partner can lend support in many ways.

They can help write and be the keeper of the pre-delivery checklist. Feed the dogs? Check! Line up care for the other kids? Check! Bag packed for the hospital? Check!

While packing the hospital bag can be a good labor distraction for mom, the childbirth partner can help tie up any loose ends before heading to the hospital.

Speaking of heading to the hospital, a mom in active labor should not attempt to drive herself. The childbirth partner can be the driver – but make sure they know where they’re going. It can be helpful to do an advance “test run” so the childbirth partner has the directions memorized and knows where the hospital entrance is located.

Of course, emergencies sometimes happen. If there is another hospital closer than the one where you are planning to deliver, make sure both you and your childbirth partner know how to get there in case baby is coming faster than you expected.

One of the most important roles of a childbirth partner is to support mom during labor – both at home and at the hospital. There are a variety of childbirth classes with differing philosophies. Mom’s labor preferences may dictate which classes to choose and how the support person can help. Huntsville Hospital Health System offers free virtual childbirth classes taught by the experts at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital.

There are a number of ways for a childbirth partner to support mom during labor:

  • Hold her upright as she sways back and forth during a contraction
  • Apply soothing pressure on her lower back
  • Offer ice chips
  • Fan mom to help keep her cool
  • Keep a labor playlist with mom’s preferred music

New moms need just as much support after delivery – if not more. Childbirth partners can help by offering to change diapers and rock baby to sleep so mom can get in a quick nap. A new mom can get really hungry and thirsty! Help her by keeping water close by, and offer to make dinner (remember to hold the baby so mom can eat in peace). Volunteer to wash the dishes or do a load of laundry.  Or just offer to watch baby for a few minutes so mom can take a nice hot shower.

So many new moms want to be the one holding their new bundle, so a trusted support person can really be helpful when they take care of life’s other demands.

While many in-person classes at our hospitals have been temporarily suspended due to COVID, we look forward to opening them back up as soon as we can safely do so. In the meantime, our online “Parenting” class is a great starting place for pregnant mothers and their childbirth partner at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital.


Samantha Wall, BSN, RNC-OB
OB Simulation Coordinator at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children

Know the difference between “baby blues” and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

Let’s talk about the difference between “baby blues,” perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), and postpartum psychosis.

Baby blues are very common. About 80 percent of mothers experience mood swings and weepiness during the first two to three weeks after baby arrives. This is totally normal due to the huge hormonal changes that occur during and after childbirth. Acute sleep deprivation is also a factor. Baby blues usually disappear on their own with proper rest, nutrition and support.

If mom continues to struggle with mood or anxiety for longer than about two weeks, it could be a sign of a more clinical problem such as perinatal mood disorder or perinatal anxiety.

Mood disorder is an umbrella term that can include depression and bipolar disorder. Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term that can include anxiety, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Symptoms for mood disorders may include:

  • feelings of sadness
  • feelings of emptiness
  • crying spells
  • irritability or rage
  • sleep disturbances
  • apathy
  • lack of energy/motivation, decrease in personal care activities
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • appetite changes

*This is not an exhaustive list, just some common symptoms.

Symptoms for anxiety disorders may include:

  • frequent worry
  • panic, fear of losing control
  • physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and breathing, feeling keyed up or on edge, inability to relax or sleep
  • intrusive thoughts, obsessing over care for baby

*This is not an exhaustive list, just some common symptoms.

Fortunately, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are very treatable. Moms do not need to suffer with symptoms. As we like to say at Postpartum Support International: “You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help, you will be well.”

There are two peer-to-peer support groups serving moms in the Huntsville/Madison area, including one run by Teresa Fleischmann through Postpartum Support International-Alabama. To attend this group, send an email to teresapsialabama@gmail.com. The other local support group is organized by Mama Circle. Check them out on Facebook.

There are also a number of national support groups with very specific topics that meet online. You can learn more about these groups here.

Postpartum Support International has coordinators in every state to provide moms with support and encouragement and connect moms with local resources. If you need help, just call 1 (800) 944-4773.

If mom or her support persons want to seek therapy, email psial@postpartum.net and they can provide a list of vetted mental health professionals in the Huntsville area who have specific training in treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).

Prescription medications are another option. At Postpartum Support International, we support whatever decision a mom makes in regards to taking or not taking medication for PMADs. There is a lot of stigma and misinformation about mothers taking medication during pregnancy or while lactating, so we encourage moms to empower themselves with evidence-based information. A good place to start is here.

While up to 20 percent of new moms will develop a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, postpartum psychosis is very rare. It is also a medical emergency. A mom who experiences postpartum psychosis may have a break from reality, experience hallucinations, become paranoid or act manic. Postpartum psychosis symptoms usually appear within the first 72 hours to two weeks after birth.

Even though we have focused on mom in this blog, we can’t forget our dads/partners. We don’t want them to fall to the wayside and silently struggle. Click here for more information about dads and PMADs.

 


Alicia Schuster-Couch, MA, LPC, PMH-C

Board Chair of the Alabama chapter of Postpartum Support International

What’s the difference between eclampsia and preeclampsia, and what are the symptoms?

Most births happen without incident, but sometimes excessive bleeding and high blood pressure can occur. These are the two leading preventable causes of childbirth harm to moms.

Make sure to pay attention to your blood pressure readings leading up to your due date. The changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy put her at greater risk of developing high blood pressure (also called hypertension). It can occur before, during and after you deliver your baby.

High blood pressure during pregnancy is known as preeclampsia. It usually develops after 20 weeks gestation, often in the third trimester. You may also have protein in your urine.

Preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, a dangerous condition that can cause seizures during pregnancy. Fortunately eclampsia is relatively rare, affecting about 1 in 200 women with preeclampsia.

The symptoms of preeclampsia and eclampsia typically disappear within days of giving birth. However, some women continue to be affected up to 6 weeks after delivery.

If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia or eclampsia, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure, protect your organs and prevent seizures.

Know these preeclampsia warning signs:

  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (140/90 or greater) may be a sign that preeclampsia is developing
  • Know what your blood pressure was at the start of pregnancy — particularly if it is normally low

If you have any of the symptoms below during pregnancy, call your OBGYN provider:

  • Swelling of the face or hands
  • A headache that won’t go away, even after taking medication
  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing spots or flashing lights
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden nausea or vomiting after the second trimester
  • Pain in the upper-right belly that feels like indigestion

 

 

A systolic blood pressure (the first number) of 160 or higher, or a diastolic blood pressure (second number) of 110 or higher during pregnancy, is dangerous — and needs urgent treatment.

Remember: Many women who get preeclampsia do not have clear risk factors. Talk with your provider right away if you have any of the warning signs listed above.

Here are some helpful tips for managing hypertension during pregnancy:

  • Go to all scheduled doctor’s appointments. Your provider will check your blood pressure and may order other tests.
  • Rest as directed. Your provider may tell you to rest more often if you have mild symptoms of preeclampsia.
  • Check your blood pressure as directed if you have chronic hypertension. Sit and rest for 5 minutes before you take your BP. Extend your arm and support it on a flat surface. Your arm should be at the same level as your heart. Follow the directions that came with your blood pressure monitor. Take your BP as often as directed. Keep a record of your BP readings and bring it with you to your follow up visits.

    Tammy Baer, RN
    Clinical Education Specialist for Labor & Delivery, Antepartum and the OB Emergency Department at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children

Everything you need to know about your Labor & Delivery experience

Before coming to the hospital to deliver your baby, you should always discuss your birth expectations with your OB provider.  They will let you know what is realistic for your situation.

Also, don’t forget that you can take a virtual hospital tour by clicking one of the links below:

Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children virtual tour:
https://www.hhwomenandchildren.org/images/PDFs/Women-and-Children-Maternity-Tour-web.pdf

Madison Hospital virtual tour:
https://www.madisonalhospital.org/images/PDFs/Madison-Maternity-Tour-web.pdf

Now that you are here to have your baby, let’s get to the good stuff! What can you expect during your stay, and what do you need to bring with you?

After you are checked into Labor & Delivery, the fun begins. As you prepare to meet your new baby, your nursing team will be doing everything to ensure a safe arrival. Your baby’s heart rate and your contractions will be monitored by advanced fetal monitoring and continuously evaluated by your nurse and OB.

No worries, they are trained to care for anything that comes their way! Check out our blog post on pain management options while in labor.  https://ohhbaby.org/know-your-options-for-pain-management-in-childbirth/

Once baby makes his or her entrance by vaginal or Cesarean delivery, baby will be placed skin to skin on mom’s chest. If for any reason baby needs extra help at delivery, he or she will come back to mom as soon as possible. Specially-trained nursery nurses are on standby for that extra help, if needed.

We recommend that baby stay skin to skin with mom for the first hour of life (known as the Golden Hour). This will help regulate baby’s breathing, blood sugar and temperature. It also helps mom bond with baby and establish breastfeeding.

Mom, while you enjoy meeting your baby, your nurses will be rubbing your belly and monitoring your bleeding. This is the most unpleasant part of post-delivery, but we need to make sure your bleeding is controlled.

Once your bleeding is under control and you are able to stand, you and baby can be safely moved to a postpartum (Mother Baby) room. This is where you will remain for 2-3 days, depending on the type of delivery.

Baby will room-in with mom and only needs to go to the nursery for circumcision (for boys) or if they are having difficulties. Throughout your stay, our Mother Baby nurses will be providing lots of education on how to care for yourself and your baby. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask!

You will spend most of your time in Mother Baby feeding and changing baby and getting rest. It’s a good idea to rest when baby rests – you’ll need energy to care for baby once you get home.

Baby will have several tests done before going home. The doctors and nurses will ensure that baby’s bilirubin/jaundice level is OK and that they are eating, peeing, and pooping normally. You will need to make plans to follow up with your pediatrician within 2-3 days of leaving the hospital.

While both Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital will provide any essential items for you or your baby, many women find it more comfortable to have their own care items. Here’s a check list of what to bring with you to the hospital:

  • Birth plan (contingent on medical advice and safety)
  • ID for all caregivers
  • Insurance cards
  • List of home medications
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Robe
  • House shoes
  • Nursing bra
  • Hair brush
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hair ties
  • Contacts or glasses if you wear them
  • Cell phone and chargers
  • Camera
  • Cash for vending machines
  • Portable speaker and playlist for labor
  • Going home/picture outfit for baby (we recommend a onesie because baby will still have umbilical cord stump attached)
  • Car seat (the hospital will not provide this for you). Hospital staff is not certified to secure or inspect your car seat, so be sure to have it checked prior to arrival.

This blog post is intended for uncomplicated/well deliveries. Please consult with your physician for special requests or needs.

Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC
Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC
Director of Perinatal Services at Madison Hospital
What to expect when expecting

What to expect when you’re expecting

Your bag is packed, you’ve lined up a pediatrician and finished decorating the nursery.

But do you know what to expect when you arrive at the hospital to deliver your baby?

At Huntsville for Women & Children and Madison Hospital, our goal is to make the entire childbirth process – from check-in to postpartum care – as smooth as possible for you and your family. And that starts the moment you step onto our campus.

At both Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital, expectant mothers can drive right up to our covered front entrance. Please let our attendant know if you need a wheelchair. Once inside, you will be directed to take the elevator to the Labor & Delivery Unit on the second floor.

If you are coming for a scheduled delivery, after checking in we’ll screen you and any support persons for COVID-19. As of March 6, 2021, Labor & Delivery, Mother Baby and Antepartum patients can have two designated caregivers at the bedside. For the most up-to-date visitor guidelines at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children click here. For Madison Hospital guidelines click here.

Vaginal births take place in our modern, spacious, labor-delivery-recovery suites. For Cesarean deliveries, we have a dedicated surgical team and multiple operating rooms specially designed for childbirth. These areas are meticulously cleaned and disinfected daily by our professional environmental services staff.

Your safety is our top priority. Our staff is vigilant about sanitizing their hands and will wear the appropriate PPE while caring for you. You can help us by please wearing a mask when hospital staff is in your room.

If you are not scheduled for delivery but suspect you are in labor, it’s still important that you come to the hospital to be assessed – even if it’s the middle of the night.

At Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children, after checking in you will be taken across the hall to the region’s only OB Emergency Department. Here our board-certified OB hospitalists will determine if you are in labor and baby is coming. If so, you will be admitted to the Labor & Delivery Unit.

At Madison Hospital, our highly-trained labor and delivery nurses or an on-duty obstetrician will assess your labor and determine if it’s time to admit you to the hospital for the big moment.

As soon as baby arrives, our goal is to place your precious newborn on your chest for skin-to-skin time. Multiple studies have shown this is one the best ways to relax your baby, stimulate their interest in breastfeeding, and create an immediate bond between mother and baby.

On behalf of our entire staff, thank you for allowing us to care for you and your baby.


By Jade LeCroix, RN, BSN, MMHC and Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC

Jade LeCroix, RN
Jade LeCroix, RN, BSN, MMHC
Director of the Labor & Delivery, Antepartum and OB/GYN Emergency Department at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children
Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC
Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC
Director of Perinatal Services at Madison Hospital
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Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children
245 Governor's Drive • Huntsville, AL 35801
Driving Directions | Website
(256) 265-1000

Madison Hospital
8375 Highway 72 • Madison, AL 35758
Driving Directions | Website
(256) 265-2012

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