Process when going into Labour

  • When you arrive at the hospital, a nurse or doctor evaluates you to see how far your labour has progressed. You may be asked to walk around a bit or even to return home for a while before being admitted.
  • Once you’re admitted, the hospital may allow you to invite family and friends to be with you, bring in comfort objects (such as photographs, flowers, or pillows) or food and drink for your support team, play music, dim the lights, and move around as you need to for comfort. If you plan to have the birth photographed or filmed, ask ahead of time what the hospital’s policy is. Not all hospitals allow it.
  • To allow you to move around as you choose during labour, most hospitals won’t routinely start an IV when you’re admitted. (You’ll be encouraged to drink clear liquids to stay hydrated.)
  • Most hospitals no longer order enemas or shave you before delivery.
  • You may want to ask about the hospital’s policy on fetal monitoring. Your baby will likely be monitored externally for 20 or 30 minutes when you’re admitted. If your baby’s heart rate is reassuring, you may only need to be intermittently monitored after that. Not being tied to a monitor allows you to move about more easily during labour. (And some hospitals have wireless monitors, so patients can walk around while being continuously monitored.)
  • Discuss your preferences for pain management with your healthcare provider. If you’re trying for an unmediated birth, you may plan to work with a support team or use various labour props. (You may want to ask your provider what kinds of props you’re allowed to bring with you and which ones the hospital can provide. These may include a shower, tub, birthing ball, birthing stool, squatting bar, and so on.) If you prefer to use pain medication or have an epidural, it’s a good idea to discuss your options ahead of time.
  • If your labour stops progressing, your medical team may recommend interventions such as breaking your amniotic sac or augmenting your labour with oxytocin (Pitocin).
  • When it’s time to push, your medical team may coach you on when and how to bear down. Another option may be to follow your body’s natural urges and push when and how you feel is right for you.
  • Most hospitals don’t routinely perform episiotomies. However, in some situations your provider may recommend one.
  • If an assisted delivery is required, your provider will use a vacuum device or forceps to help your baby out of the birth canal.
  • If you end up having a C-section, it’s likely that you’ll be awake and your support person will be able stay with you. In rare cases, you’ll need general anaesthesia and your support person will be asked to wait outside the operating room.


  • After a vaginal delivery, the baby is placed on you and covered with a warm blanket. The umbilical cord is clamped in two places and cut between the two clamps. Let your provider know if your support person wants to do the cutting.
  • If you’ve chosen to bank your baby’s cord blood, the blood will be collected at this time. (You’ll need to arrange for this process several weeks in advance.
  • Unless your baby needs special medical care, you can usually ask for all procedures and tests to be done while your baby is in the room with you. Some procedures (such as bathing and measuring) can be delayed for an hour to give you a chance to feed and bond with your baby.
  • Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula-feed, you can begin whenever you and your baby are ready. If you’re nursing, let your medical team know if you’d like a lactation consultant to help you get started.
  • Consider whether you want your baby to have a pacifier and let the hospital staff know your feelings
  • Most hospitals encourage you to be with your baby as much as possible during your stay. They tend to support “rooming in” – rather than keeping the baby in the nursery – to promote bonding. Ask about your hospital’s policy on this if you have any questions.
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