6 Things Your Hospital Won’t Tell You About Labor and Delivery

Image via j&j brusie photography

Wondering what really happens behind closed doors of the labor and delivery unit?

Oh, sure. You know that a pregnant mama comes in and a baby comes out, and perhaps your childbirth education classes gave you some insight into what to expect during your labor and delivery, but who isn't curious about that behind-the-scenes action that happens every day at a hospital? Satisfy your curiosity about a birth center with some inside secrets from a former labor and delivery nurse.

  1. There's a very real chance a nurse could deliver your baby.

Honestly, it happens a lot more often than you would think. And honestly, usually both the nurse and the baby do totally fine. Deliveries that happen that quickly usually mean a healthy, if potentially bruised, baby.

{ MORE: Study Shows Midwives Bring Many Benefits to Safer Birth Outcomes }

2. Your placenta will probably be thrown out.

It depends on hospital policy, but in a lot of cases, your placenta is usually just considered medical waste. If there is a problem during your pregnancy or delivery, it may be analyzed. But other than that, it is disposed of or donated.

Image via Flickr/ Tammra McCauley

3. Your nurse does way more than the doctor.

You may think that your doctor is the one calling the shots, but trust me, your doctor depends on a good nurse for pretty much everything. Your labor and delivery nurse is the one monitoring you, discerning if there are any problems, and responding to any emergencies.

And more often than not, a good nurse is skilled at gently guiding the doctor in calling orders that he or she thinks are necessary, so don't worry if the doctor isn't around much, it's typically the nurses running the show at your labor and delivery.

4. No one is really too clear on how much stuff costs.

We once had a couple come on who didn't have any insurance, meaning they were paying out of pocket for some tests that the doctor wanted to run. They asked (rightfully so) if all of the tests were 100% necessary and what outcome they meant for them and their baby – and at what cost.

Instead of getting them an answer, the doctor became very irritated because, the truth is, the staff really doesn't know how much care or supplies cost. But know that you do have a right to know, so don't be afraid to ask if you're concerned about any unnecessary testing.

{ MORE: Sick Baby? Here's When to Head to the Emergency Room }

5. Most requests can be accommodated.


You may think that because you're delivering in a hospital, you're stuck with the hospital rules for a standard birth. But if you plan it right, get permission, and work with the staff and care provider, most requests can be accommodated for labor and delivery. OB staff really are a great, caring bunch of people, and they want you to have a positive experience.

So whether that means requesting extra people in the delivery room, toasting your baby's birth with a glass of bubbly, or doing skin to skin in the c-section room, don't be afraid to ask for what you want.

6. Those little surveys actually mean everything.

A good nurse would never push one on you, but you know those little patient satisfaction surveys that the hospital sends you or tries to collect over the phone? They actually mean a lot to the hospital as a whole and to individual nurses. Most units have special reward systems for nurses who get high “scores” and extra incentives for nurses who are mentioned by name.

So if you have a really positive experience with a specific nurse — or any staff member, for that matter — I can guarantee that he or she will appreciate your taking the time to mention their name. When I had my babies, it was a chance to recognize several of my co-workers, everyone from the housekeeper to the food-service workers.

{ MORE: Giving Birth Is About to Get Much Safer }

Did anything about your hospital stay surprise you?

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What do you think?

6 Things Your Hospital Won’t Tell You About Labor and Delivery

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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  1. Brooke says:

    1. You may have a crowd of interns pop in. You may be put on display and practiced on with no one asking for consent.
    2. The USA Hospitals have become increasingly unsafe for women and babies delivery and postpartum, and during the birth process/prenatal process.
    3. We rank 50 or 51 in Maternal mortality, We have the highest first day infant mortality rate of any industrialized nation.
    3. Hospitals make money by interventions.
    4. In the UK they urge women to stay out of the hospitals to have safer births.
    5. Look in to alternatives to the hospital.

    • Jilian says:

      Brooke, I think it’s great that you took the time to respond. But you really should take a few moments to validate your statements.

      1) interns do pop in, it’s because you have chosen a teaching hospital. I am certain if you look through the paperwork, you will authorize the interns to be there.

      2 & 3) According to the World Health Organization, the US was the 12th safest place to deliver and baby. True, it has declined to number 14, due primarily to the socio-econimic mixture of the patients, not the level of care received.
      3 (second one) Almost every hospital in the US gets paid per delivery (for those they get paid for), regardless of resources consumed (excluding NICU and other outliers) so any un-necessary “interventions” actually cost the hospital money (see rising healthcare costs and defensive medicine).

      4) Don’t know about the UK.
      5) Their are alternatives to having your baby in a hospital. But I would ask the question – Why would you? Do you really believe it’s safer? According to the World Health Organization, the most common causes are postpartum bleeding (15%), complications from unsafe abortion (15%), hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (10%), postpartum infections (8%), and obstructed labour (6%).[5] Other causes include blood clots (3%) and pre-existing conditions (28%). I’d think twice about those alternatives.

  2. Reo says:

    We actually had several great nurses, throughout our labor and delivery. We went through three doctors (we’d gone in at the end of one shift and after 19 and a half hours managed two others) but only met one of them. She was a great doctor and listened, but it was the nurses who really helped us through it. We not only filled out the survey, but we also sent a letter of thanks to them for all they did for us.

  3. Kristi says:

    So true about the nurses! I knew my nurses pretty well by the end of my delivery. My OB only popped in 2 times in 14 hours.my nurse was there to help me manage the pain naturally, she got a bath ready for me, got me a ball, put presume on my back when I needed it, and when I said I had enough, she got me someone to do an epidural. She had me do a practice push them called my OB in because the my son was making his entrance. Then afterwards she brought me ice and nice bag of “post delivery” goodies! She let me keep my son in our room which was very nice. Really my OB taught me nothing , didn’t have much chance for asking questions either cause she was too busy. Nurses are life savers, especially in the labor and delivery room!!!


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