Navigating a Hospital Visit for Childbirth

Navigating a Hospital Visit for Childbirth: A Step-by-Step Guide for Expectant Parents

(Last Updated On: September 27, 2023)

The idea of driving to the hospital to have your first child haunts new parents almost from the moment they learn they are expecting. As you will soon see, it is a daunting and difficult process.

And yet, it’s also an overwhelmingly common feature of life. In this article, we look at everything you need to know about what will happen at the hospital after you arrive to deliver your first child. Read everything you need to know about your visit from admission to discharge.

It’s *Usually* Not Urgent.

In movies and TV shows, pregnant women are rushed to the hospital in the greatest haste. The scenes always play out in a photo-finish fashion, leaving the viewer to wonder if the new child will take their first breaths in the back of a New York taxi cab.

In real life, it seldom plays out that way. Women having their first baby can spend up to twenty hours in labor. This is a good thing as you get ready at the house and a bad thing for… the next nineteen hours.

When you feel the early signs of labor, calmly get yourself ready. You only need to get to the hospital once your contractions are strong and separated by about three or four minutes.

Get Your Things Ready for Hospital

It is a good idea to have a hospital bag prepared. This isn’t because you might need to leave in haste but because packing may not be the first thing on your mind as you experience labor. First-time parents spend two days in the hospital on average.

The mother will be changed promptly into a hospital gown upon arrival, which she will wear for the stay. If a partner will be accompanying her, they are, of course, free to wear their clothes.

Moms will want to pack something to change into for the day they take their baby home. They may also want to pack their hospital papers, slippers, lotions, massage oil, a written birth plan (if you have one), and any necessary items to help you carry out said birth plan.

For example, some parents have playlists they wish to use in the birthing room. At the end of your hospital stay, there is a decent chance you’ll find that you overpacked. During labor, you’re often occupied with the—

The daunting idea that a person is squeezing their way out of me?

We were going to say “miracle of childbirth.” But yes. And then, once the kid comes along, they give you little free time. Hey, get used to it.


This will be a constant aspect of your time at the hospital. When you arrive, the nurses will assess your health and the baby’s. Note that it may be many hours before the doctor arrives. Remember that 20 hours of labor we mentioned earlier?

Oh, no. It slipped my mind. 

Well, the doctor knows the lay of the land. They may come into chat shortly after your admission for a meet and greet, and they will certainly be on call, but you won’t see much of them until the moment of truth. The nurses will hook you up to monitors and so on.

If you and the baby are doing well, the labor hours will pass without much medical intervention. At this point, you and the hospital are just waiting for the baby to arrive.

Know Your Options

During your assessments, there is a lot of healthcare management taking place. The nurses and doctors taking care of your delivery will be able to help you understand your options. Some new moms like to take walks around the floor, get massages from their partners, or even take a bath.

Usually, there is no reason not to do these things. If there are limitations placed on your activity, the hospital will let you know, but always feel free to ask.

Tough Choices

You will be asked if you would like an epidural at some point in your labor. Up to 70% of women choose to get one. However, timing is important. Studies have shown that getting your epidural too early can prolong labor and increase the chances of getting a c-section.

Getting the epidural too late, on the other hand, can reduce its impact. It takes about fifteen minutes for the effects of an epidural to be realized.

Don’t panic too much. It usually works out just fine. Keep the line of communication open with your caregivers. They can help coach you on whether and when the epidural should be administered.


Okay, here’s the hard part.

The hard part?!

Sorry, mom. Now that you’ve gone through labor, you’ve gotten your epidural. An unopened hospital bag sits next to your bed (funny enough, but the contractions kept you occupied enough without it). It is time to get ready to push.

If you have yet to see your doctor, this is when they will make their debut. Some moms will be taken to a delivery room. Newer hospital rooms convert seamlessly (and with alarming speed) into delivery rooms.

Either way, it’s time to push.

Sometimes, this part of the process unfolds quickly. Other times—

It doesn’t?

Right. The average first-time mother spends about two hours pushing. It’s hard, but it will be okay. You can do it, Mom!

Meet Your Child

After all the chaos of the last twenty hours comes a moment of profound joy and peace. You’re handed your child. I asked to feet them for the first time. This, of course, is the moment that makes everything else worth it.

After your child is born, they will be cleaned up and evaluated many times by nurses and doctors. A constant stream of healthcare workers will be filtering in and out of your room for the next day. The rest of your hospital stay probably won’t be the restful experience you need— spoilers, it only gets a little better once you come home— but it will all be worth it. Congratulations!