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Emotions of Labor, Delivery and the Hospital Stay [What to Expect]

Unplanned pregnancy and the adoption process come with a lot of complex emotions. Preparing for the emotions of labor, delivery and your hospital stay is one of the most important parts of your adoption.

If you already have children at home, then you likely already have an idea of what to expect in terms of labor and delivery. But now you will be factoring in the emotions of placing your baby with their adoptive family, which can make this a very different experience from the births of your other children.

If you’ve never gone through labor before, then this will be a completely new experience for you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions so that you can adequately prepare for what to expect.

Whether this is your first labor and delivery or your third, you won’t ever be alone. Your adoption specialist will be by your side every step of the way. Our specialists are here for you 24/7 to provide you with the guidance and support you deserve.

American Adoptions has been helping women like you through the adoption process for over 30 years. Many of the adoption professionals at American Adoptions are birth parents, adoptive parents or adoptees themselves. They’ve been in your shoes and can offer you a firsthand perspective into what to expect from your hospital stay when placing your baby for adoption.

If you have questions about the emotions of labor, delivery and the hospital stay, reach out to an adoption specialist today to get the support you need.

The Emotions of the Hospital Stay

Even if you know adoption is what’s best for you and your baby, it’s a decision that comes with a lot of complex emotions. You might be feeling any combination of relief, grief, joy, loss, anxiety, hope and more.

Whatever emotions you are experiencing, you are completely valid. You might be wondering about what to expect from your hospital stay.

You will be experiencing a battle of mind, heart and body.

  • The emotions of knowing that you will be separating from your child (heart) will be clashing with the pregnancy hormones (body).

  • All of these emotions will be working against the knowledge that adoption is what’s best for your baby (mind).

  • There is no one-size-fits-all way to prepare for the internal conflict you may experience.

These emotions are as unique as the birth mother who is experiencing them. And not every birth mom will have the same struggles. Some may have been able to process these emotions early on in the adoption and are able to be more at peace during their hospital stay. Others may not be able to fully process what’s happening until the time comes — or even after it’s all over and they’ve returned home.

Either way, it’s OK. What you are feeling is normal, and we are here to help.

If You Have Children at Home

In many cases, prospective birth moms who are choosing adoption already have children at home that they are currently raising. If this is you, you might not be at a place in your life where you are ready to or want to parent another child. If you already have children of your own, then you already know what to expect in terms of labor and delivery.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all childbirths are the same. You will also be shouldering the emotions of knowing you will be separating from your child. Your adoption specialist can help you prepare for what to expect emotionally and from the adoption process when you call them at 1-800-ADOPTION.

The difficult emotions might be easier to cope with in the moment knowing you will have your own children to go home to. That doesn’t mean the baby you’re placing for adoption is less important; it just means that having children to return home to may help soften the emotional blow of the separation.

If You Are a First-Time Mom

If you’ve never given birth before, you can talk to your medical provider about what the labor and delivery process will look like and how you can prepare. You can also talk to your adoption specialist about what you can expect from the hospital stay and how the adoption process will move forward once the baby is born.

Your Hospital Plan

One of the biggest resources you will have during your delivery and hospital stay is your hospital plan. Your hospital plan is essentially the blueprint of what you want your hospital experience to look like. 

Your adoption specialist will sit down with you and help you create the hospital plan that’s best for you. As the prospective birth mother, you will be in control of everything in your hospital plan.

You will be able to decide:

  • Where you want to deliver

  • Who you want at the hospital

  • Whether you will breastfeed

  • How much time you would like with your baby

  • And more

Your adoption specialist will coordinate with the hospital social worker to make them aware of your adoption and the details of your hospital plan. However, because there are so many people involved in the labor, delivery and adoption, not everyone you come into contact with on the big day will be aware of your adoption.

You might be asked questions by staff members like, “What’s the baby’s name?” “Do you want a picture of your baby?” and other questions asked under the assumption that the baby will be going home with you.

How you choose to respond to these questions is entirely up to you. You can tell them about your adoption or choose to keep your answers vague. If you encounter staff who try to guilt you for choosing adoption, let your adoption specialist know, and they can make the appropriate arrangements to keep this staff member separate from you.

How to Cope with the Emotions of the Hospital Stay

Once your baby is born, you will likely experience a flood of emotions. You might be feeling joy as you hold your little one in your arms, while at the same time experiencing sadness knowing that they will not be going home with you. All of this combined with the pregnancy hormones can be a lot to handle. There are things you can do to help navigate these emotions.

Grief and Loss

No matter how confident you are that adoption is the right choice for you and your baby, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of grief and loss. A couple ways you can cope with these difficult emotions are:

  • Write a letter to yourself. Before your due date arrives, write a letter to yourself reminding you why you’re choosing adoption. Bring the letter with you to the hospital. Reading the letter before or after seeing your baby can help you reaffirm your decision.

  • Lean on your support system. If you have friends, family or a partner at the hospital with you, they can be a huge source of comfort during this time. Tell them how you feel and let them support you however they can.

  • Counseling. Our adoption counselors are available 24/7 to lend guidance and support, and they’ll be checking in on you to see how you’re feeling during the hospital stay. Reach out to your adoption specialist if you’re struggling. Our counselors are here to listen and guide you through these difficult emotions.

  • Get one-on-one time with your baby. It will always be completely up to you whether you want to see your baby after they are born. If this is something you’re comfortable with, take some time to spend alone in the hospital with your baby. This is your chance to tell them what you want them to know, cry, hold them and ultimately just be with them. This will be a moment you remember for the rest of your life.

If You Don’t Have a Support System

If you’re in a situation where your friends and family don’t support your decision or are not involved, going into this can be scary. You may even begin to doubt your decision.

No matter what the people in your life are telling you, always remember that you are this baby’s parent. This is your baby; therefore it is your decision. You know what’s best for your child.

If your family doesn’t support your decision but is still involved in your life, sticking with your choice will help prevent feelings of resentment. You can have peace of mind knowing that you made the right choice for you and your baby. If you have questions about what to expect from the labor and delivery process, reach out to an adoption specialist today to get the answers you need.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

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