If you are having a hospital birth, one of the first interventions you will face is an IV. Most commonly, a doctor might want to give you antibiotics if you have tested positive for Group B Strep* (in the US at least) or if you have another communicable illness; Pitocin to induce or augment labor or to help prevent hemorrhage in the third stage of labor; or fluids to help keep you hydrated or in preparation for surgery. The downside to having an IV is that it tethers you. If you plan to have an epidural, that doesn’t really matter, but if you seek a natural birth it can make things harder. It doesn’t make movement impossible, but it does make it more difficult – just turning over from a side-lying position to being on all fours in bed is trickier, because you get tangled.

Many docs and midwives in hospitals will at least consider inserting an IV lock, which gives you freedom of movement but allows for the speedy administration of an IV if it becomes necessary, accordingly to . For my own last birth, I would have preferred not to have one at all – I was GBS-, laboring fast and hard, and kept drinking throughout. I had decided it was a ‘battle not worth fighting’ though, and agreed to the IV lock when I was admitted. It took five goes (five BIG bruises) to insert the lock and perhaps 10 minutes of trying. I have a lovely big blue juicy veins too – except when I’m in labor. They vanish during contractions. That made me understand more fully why a care provider might feel more comfortable with a laboring mom who agrees to an IV-lock!

* In the US, mothers who are GBS+ are routinely administered 2 doses of antibiotics via IV during labor. GBS is a bacteria that colonize the vagina, just as other kinds of bacteria colonize the gut or the skin. It is not harmful to the mother, and it is rarely transmitted to the baby. However, when it IS transmitted, it can cause very serious illness and death. Medics treat GBS+ mothers differently in different countries.

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