I'm a midwife – we don't care if you've shaved or not, but here are the things to AVOID in the delivery room

AS your due date approaches a mix of emotions can wash over you and despite all your planning it's sometimes hard not to feel unprepared – especially if it's your first.

While you're excited to meet your little one there are so many unknowns – what should you pack? What's the delivery room etiquette? Is there anything you've forgotten or not thought about?

Well, worry no more – help is at hand.

Independent Consulting Midwife & Co-Founder of Mummy’s Organics Odette Abououf has more than 20 years of experience, has delivered over 1,200 babies, and is a mum-of-four.

Here, she shares her top tips for delivery, and what to avoid…

Pregnancy prep

Prep begins before way before you even step into the delivery ward, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming, promise!

Odette says: "Nine months of pregnancy gives women plenty of time to plan for the birth of their baby. 

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Midwives don't care if you have your nails done, or if you've shavedCredit: Getty

"Have your birth plan ready by 36 weeks gestation and pack it inside your birth bag or the front cover of your maternity notes.

"Your due date is 40 weeks gestation but this is an estimated time for your baby to arrive.

"Normal labour starts anytime between 37 and 42 weeks gestation.

"Stick a ‘to do’ list on the fridge door to help you remember what needs doing when you go into labour and plan to be away from home for at least 24 hours."

Shaving, and 'accidents'

Women will hear many stories about labour experiences friends and relatives and will spend hours sifting through information on the internet.

Odette says: "Often women are worried about things that the midwife will think is completely normal.

"As well as serious concerns, women are also often worried about things such as, ‘I didn’t have time to shave my legs or paint my toenails’.

"Of course, the midwife doesn’t expect you to shave or paint your nails.

"Less than half of the women I’ve looked after have actually shaved and even less than that have painted their toenails. 

"Women also worry about what will happen during the pushing phase of labour and if the stories she’s heard about this phase being similar to ‘going to the toilet’ are true or not.

"It can on occasion be so embarrassing for women, that they are reluctant to push, especially with their midwife and birth partner looking on.

"Midwives usually have a sigh of relief if this does happen during the pushing stage of labour and see it as a good sign.

"It is perfectly normal to happen and natural of course but certainly very positive. 

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen a midwife shocked or embarrassed, its part of the job."

Guidance for labour

  • Write a birth plan by 36 weeks (not too long)
  • Pack your hospital bags by 36 weeks 
  • Pack only what you need – you should be able to fit this into a suitcase
  • Remember to pack your maternity notes
  • Call the hospital before turning up so you don’t waste a trip in labour 
  • Make yourself at home when you arrive on labour ward. You will have your own room to make your own. Dress in comfy loose clothes or as you please
  • Your midwife will never be shocked and things that worry you or make you embarrassed, she/he won’t notice.

Swearing?Completely normal!

Women can do no wrong in labour, and midwives can be the most accommodating and easy going people – however there are a few things they'd prefer you avoided if possible.

Odette says: "Anything goes, it's not your fault, it’s the labour!

"Swearing in labour? Completely normal! Breaking your birthing partner's fingers? Well, you’re in labour so all is forgiven.

"However, birthing plans… Many midwives will frown when they see a four-page birth plan in tiny font.

"It's time-consuming to read if it's too long and easy to forget some key points.

"Ideally, one sided A4 page will be sufficient with bullet points with clear and simple points.

"Also, use definite language such as ‘I do’ or ‘I don’t’ rather than ‘I would rather not’ when writing your birth plan."

What to pack

When you're thinking about what you might need for your hospital stay, consider essential practical items for you and baby for at least 24 hours.

Odette says: "Also add some nice items that will help to give you the feeling of a spa weekend away, for example massage oil, comfy slippers, music, battery candles, nice shower gel and toiletries.

"Meals are provided for you but not your birth partner, so pack some snacks and drinks for your birthing partner.

"Also, pack a pillow. Often labour wards have a shortage of pillows and you will feel more comfortable with your own."

Try not to overpack

However, please don't quite literally pack the kitchen sink.

Odette says: "There can be occasions that some midwives in the delivery room will look at things less favourably.

"Annoyed? No never, just perhaps a cause to question 'why?'

"One of these could be bringing in enough for a two-week holiday.

"I have seen on more than once occasion the labouring woman and birthing partner with three suitcases, two ruck sacks, a car seat, three pillows, a sleeping bag, handbag, plastic carrier bags filled, a pull-along trolley… the list can go on.

"Try not to over pack, as you won’t need too much and the rooms can get cluttered very easily."

What to expect on arrival

You’ve packed your bag and your birth plan, called the hospital and they’ve asked you to come in to the unit. What next?

Odette explains: "For admission to the maternity unit, your cervix needs to be at least 4cm dilated but you may be admitted earlier if this is not your first baby or if you or your baby requires more monitoring.

The next big decision is whether you go to the Labour Ward (if you need more monitoring, higher levels of interventions, or have a higher risk pregnancy) or Birthing Centre (midwife led, lower interventions, lower risk pregnancies). 

"Any fear you had about the big day has now gone and you’re feeling relieved by this stage that you will be meeting your baby soon!"

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