This post contains questions I get when working as a labour and delivery nurse. Do you have any that I haven’t covered? Feel free to contact me and I’ll include it in the next question and answer period.

Does the Epidural Hurt?

Well it’s hard to say, because pain is subjective. Depending on where you are in the labour process and how you usually respond to pain, it can be different for every woman. When you get the epidural, you get two needles. The first poke is for local anaesthesia, so that you’re numb before you get the actual epidural needle. Women usually describe it as a bee sting ?. The second needle feels mostly like pressure while the doctor tries to find the epidural space in your back. That’s where the medication that numbs you goes. Women usually feel the epidural more if they are not in active labour. Once they are focused on the contractions, they usually say that they barely felt the epidural. What was your experience?

questions epidural needle medicine

Who is Allowed in The Room During The Delivery?

Each hospital has their own rules regarding this. These days, I find a lot of hospitals are family friendly and typically allow the patient to decide who is in the room. I’ve seen friends, doulas, grandmothers, siblings and even other children. Sometimes all of them at once! The most important thing is that visitors don’t get in the way during the delivery, which is typically pretty hectic. Find out ahead of time what is allowed in your hospital so you can plan appropriately. If you really want your grandmothers first cousin’s best friend there, then you should be able to choose. Most women have their significant other present, but there really are no rules! Your support person should be whoever is most important to you, and will support you the best. And if you need additional people there for support, find out what is common practice at your hospital.

What is Oxytocin and Why do I Need It?

If you have given birth in a hospital, you’ve probably heard of oxytocin. Oxytocin (sometimes called by its trade name Pitocin) is a drug that mimics the natural hormone oxytocin in your body. What it does, is bring on contractions in your uterus. It is almost always used if you are being induced and is sometimes used to keep your labour going once you’re admitted to the hospital. Every woman needs a different amount, so the nurse first administers a low dose through your IV and slowly increases it as needed. Oxytocin is also given after you have your baby to make your uterus contract and to prevent bleeding. Incidentally, your body also releases into oxytocin your blood while you are breastfeeding or holding your baby skin-to-skin! Which in turn also contracts your uterus. Isn’t nature amazing?

What Should I Bring to The Hospital?

  • A support person that will actually support you. If you don’t think your partner is up to the task get a doula!
  • A pillow or even two! One that smells like home, it’ll get you more comfortable in your space, plus hospitals are usually short on pillows and the ones they have really suck.
  • Music ?. If you love certain tunes they can help you focus and make the hospital room more home-y. Earphones if you’d like.
  • An item that will help you focus. For example, a picture of your other children or anything you cherish that will keep you calm during or between contractions.
  • Loose comfortable clothes and lots of comfy underwear.
  • Pads. Big and medium pads. Your period is coming back with a vengeance!
  • Clothes for baby. You won’t need a ton, because ideally you’ll be doing lots of skin-to-skin and the baby won’t be bathed for a bit. But have a couple of sets. Bring warm clothes if it’s winter and it gets cold where you are. I’ve seen babies very under-dressed in winter. They get cold too!
  • A nice warm blanket for baby. And maybe one for you too. If you don’t mind it potentially getting dirty. Hospital dirty!
  • Diapers for baby. Some hospitals will give you a few, but most are selling them now so bring lots.
  • Any toiletries you would need while away from home. “Toiletries” for baby too, like vaseline for their bum, shampoo and any creams or lotions you have chosen (not necessarily needed).
  • A car seat to take baby home in if you or your partner are driving.
  • Cameras, phones and chargers.
  • Oh and don’t forget your hospital documentation like your hospital card and insurance (OHIP in Ontario)

Try to pack as light as possible as you’ll probably be moved around once or twice during your stay. Any comments about what you forgot or couldn’t live without during your hospital stay? Please comment below !


And the number one question all parents ask me as a labour and delivery nurse is…

When is My Baby Going to be Born?

Well, there is no way of knowing exactly when this is going to happen. It depends on a few things. Is the mother in active labour? Has she had a baby before? Is she being induced? Waiting for the main event can be frustrating and it’s hard not having control over your situation. This is the ideal time to try to enjoy the process, not only the end result. Your baby will be here before you know it!

Typically if you’re in active labour and have never had a baby before, you will dilate about one centimetre an hour. The most common timing is around 12-14 hours of active labour and pushing for a first time mom. But longer or shorter is a possibility as well. If you’ve had a baby before it CAN be faster, but again, there’s no way of knowing actually how fast. You’re on the home stretch! Your baby will be in your arms before you know it.

That’s it for now for questions I most commonly get asked on the labour and delivery/ postpartum ward. If you have any that I haven’t covered, or need a more in-depth answer to, don’t hesitate to contact me! I love to hear from you gals and guys.

About the Author

Hanna is passionate nurse and mama of four babies. Parenthood can be hard, but you don't have to do it alone. Hanna is here for you from pregnancy, to birth and beyond!

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