Intravenous fluid can be a common medical tool used during labor. The most common reason for it is to prevent dehydration. IVs can also be placed as a way to administer medicine when needed.
Did you know you have options?
First off every birth place is different, and every provider is different. One way to know what IV policies are for where you plan on giving birth is to ask! Start by asking your doctor or midwife, and you can also call down to the labor and delivery department of the hospital you are planning to birth at. You can simply ask “what does it look like to receive IV fluids?” Follow up with “what are my options?” This may even lead to a further conversation with your care provider that really paints a picture of what you may expect when it comes to IV fluids at your birth.
What are your options?
There are usually a few different choices surrounding IV fluids. Due to medical necessity you may be limited. You also may realize when examining your options that you already know what you feel most comfortable with or what makes the most sense for you.
Standard IV- In this circumstance as you get settled into your birth room, or sometimes in triage, a standard IV will be placed and fluids will be dripped. This involves a little poke with a needle to place the tubing into your hand or arm, and you will be connected to the fluid bags throughout the entirety of your labor.
DOULA TIP: Ask that the IV or saline lock to be placed on the forearm instead of the wrist or hand when possible. This helps from anything interfering with your range of motion or any bother when you are using your hands throughout labor and after birth.
Saline Lock (also sometimes known as a Hep-lock) – Tubing is placed just like in an IV but it is sealed off and serving as a place to quickly connect fluid or medicines. When fluids or medicine are not needed you have freedom from being connected to anything.
Request for neither an IV or Saline Lock- In this instance the choice would be the request for nothing to be placed.
With all these options there are of course pros and cons. And depending on the medical needs of your pregnancy and situation your choices may be limited. Walk through BRAIN with your doctor or midwife as you decide what makes the most sense for your situation.
It is common at hospital births for some sort of IV to be placed. Saline locks may be a good choice if you find yourself hoping to not be connected to bags of fluid your entire labor, but if at anytime anything is needed the port is already there. Also as labor progresses some people would rather not have to mess with a nurse placing an IV if it is deemed medically necessary later in the labor process. So by having a saline lock it is already there just in case.
You know yourself and your veins too.
If drawing blood or getting an IV placed has been troublesome for you in the past, getting the saline lock upon arrival to the hospital may be a good choice as well. Placing it early on can get that piece of the way. As it may not be fun to be coping through intense labor and having someone spend a lot of time placing an IV.
Free standing birthing centers and homebirths may have different availability of these options. It will be determined by the midwife’s certification and what is deemed appropriate for them to do medically.
Don’t forget hydration can come from drinking water and other fluids too. Some providers rely on that, and some birthing people may still need more than what they are able to drink by mouth.
Times an IV is absolutely needed:
-Intravenous medical pain relief is requested
-Intravenous medicine is needed
-The care provider deems fluids are medically necessary
Take some time to explore with your care provider what options are a good fit for you! It is good to know what choices you might have as you plan and prepare for your birthing experience.