IV’s During Labor
“Good morning!” I said, peaking my head around the corner into my patient’s room.
A first-time mom, my patient had arrived on the labor and delivery floor where I work for a scheduled induction to have her baby. As I prepared to go over the plan of care for the day, she interrupted me.
“Do I have to have an I.V.?” she asked me hesitantly. “I’m more scared of getting an I.V. than I am having the baby!” she exclaimed.
My patient’s fear is a common one—a large majority of the patients I have seen are dreadfully afraid of getting that darn I.V. In fact, for a lot of moms, coming to the hospital to have their babies will be their first time being admitted to a hospital, so I definitely understand the fear. As a nurse, I’m pretty familiar with I.V’s. and yet I can’t say that I love them myself.
Unfortunately, if you are giving birth in a hospital environment, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you will have to have an I.V. inserted right from the onset of your stay.
Not only does getting the I.V. ensure your caregivers that you are sufficiently hydrated, but in the event of an emergency with your baby, your nurse or doctor may need to give you a quick boost of fluids. Sometimes, once your water has broken, the baby can “pinch off” its umbilical cord, so giving you fluids through your I.V. can help give the baby a little extra fluid cushion to keep the blood supply running to the cord. The I.V. can also provide quick access for emergency medication or even a blood draw if lab work is needed.
If you are experiencing anxiety about having an I.V. during your hospital, keep these thoughts in mind:
- Pregnancy = good veins. Generally, in pregnancy, women have extra fluid and blood supply, making their veins abundant and usually pretty easy to hit with an I.V.
- It’s not that bad. Honestly, like with most things, getting the I.V. is usually worse in theory than in reality. New mom Bridgette, who also happens to be a nurse, describes it as “a sharp pinch with the initial pick and then a sting while the catheter is advanced and then you really don't notice it.” Depending on the position of the I.V and where it’s positioned in your hand or arm, you might not even feel it.
- When in doubt, go with distraction. If you just can’t handle the thought of getting the I.V., ask your partner, labor coach, or even your nurse to distract you while it’s being putting in. I always try to talk to my patients while I’m doing it so they are distracted and then, before they even know it, I’m done.
Did your I.V. bother you during labor?
Photo credit: Flickr/koadmunkee