Labor & Delivery

When will I know I’m in labor?

If you have signs of true labor or your water breaks, go to your chosen hospital or birth center immediately. Call your OB/GYN, doula, midwife or other birth support person as soon as possible, especially if you have chosen  to have a home birth.

True Labor

False Labor

Contractions are regular, get closer together, and last 40–60 seconds

Contractions are irregular, do not get closer together and last 20–40 seconds

Contractions continue despite movement

Contractions may stop when you walk or rest, or may change when you shift position

Pain/discomfort usually felt in back and moves around to front

Pain/discomfort often felt in abdomen

Contractions steadily increase in strength

Contractions are usually weak and do not get much stronger

Cervix dilates

Cervix does not dilate

Bloody show may be present

Usually no bloody show is present

When is my due date?

Your due date is considered 40 weeks. Anticipate delivery sometime around the week of your due date. Many OB/GYNs recommend additional testing for your baby at 40-41 weeks.

Types of Delivery Procedures

Induction

Induction is a process where medication is given to stimulate contractions. An induction of labor may be offered if your baby is late or there are concerns for your health or theirs. It can take more than 24 hours to work and can increase the likelihood of cesarean delivery, especially if this is your first birth. It is important to allow your baby to fully grow and develop before delivery. 

Cesarean Section (c-section) Birth and Recovery

A cesarean (surgical) birth may be planned or unplanned. Nurses, anesthesia staff and your physician will be with you in the operating room. If necessary, a group of non neonatal healthcare providers also will be with you. Your blood pressure and heart rate/rhythm will be monitored, and a nurse will listen to your baby’s heart rate. Your baby will be delivered in a short  period of time once surgery begins. Once delivered, it will take approximately 45-60 minutes to complete surgery. Your incision will be closed with staples or sutures or glued. You will then be moved to the Recovery Room.

Initial Recovery after Cesarean Birth

The immediate recovery period for a c-section is similar to the recovery period for a vaginal birth. Rest to conserve your strength. You and your support partner will remain in the Labor and Delivery Recovery Room for approximately two hours. During this time you and your baby will be monitored closely.

Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Birth (VBAC)

If you have had a cesarean delivery in a previous pregnancy and are now preparing for the birth of another child, you may consider delivering your baby vaginally. VBAC is recommended for those who are candidates for safe, healthy delivery. You will need to discuss this with your healthcare provider. 

Episiotomy

An episiotomy is an assisted delivery procedure: a small incision is made at the vaginal opening to help deliver and potentially prevent tearing. Episiotomies are not routinely needed and many deliver without the need for any stitches. If an episiotomy  is recommended, your OB/GYN and delivery care team should discuss it with you first. You have the right to refuse an episiotomy.

Other Assisted Delivery Procedures

Your OB/GYN may recommend other assisted delivery procedures during labor, such as:

  • Amniotomy: artificial rupture of the amniotic membrane (sac)
  • Forceps Delivery: used to assist delivery of the baby’s head
  • Vacuum Extraction: using a pump to create a vacuum, the baby is pulled down the birth canal along with contractions

Consent & Your Rights during Childbirth

You have the right to choose and/or refuse procedures during and after birth.
For more information on your rights as a child-bearing person, visit childbirthconnection.org.

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