Frequently Asked Questions About Labor and Delivery

I think that I am in labor. When should I call my provider?
Your prenatal care provider will instruct you on when to call the office if you think that you are in labor. Most providers will suggest that you contact the office if you have been having contractions every five minutes for one hour, have broken your bag of water (this may be a huge gush or a constant trickle), or if you have heavy bleeding similar to that of a period. Please call your prenatal care provider if you have any questions regarding the safety of you or your baby.

What is the difference between true labor and false labor?
If you are beyond 37 weeks of pregnancy, the following are signs of true labor:
• Painful uterine contractions occurring at least every five minutes and lasting 30 to 45 seconds.
• Contractions starting far apart and gradually getting closer.
• Eventually, contractions getting much stronger and lasting longer.
• Contraction pain often starts in the back and moves to the front.
• Walking makes the contractions feel stronger.
• Contractions disturb your train of thought, conversation and activity.
• The cervix is dilated and effaced and continues to change with contractions.

If you are beyond 37 weeks of pregnancy, the following are signs of false labor:
• Contractions occur at irregular intervals.
• No real change in contraction frequency.
• No change in contraction length and strength.
• Pain usually in the front and varies in intensity.
• Walking slows down contractions.
• Contractions do not disturb your normal conversation, train of thought or activity.
• No change in dilation or effacement of cervix after one to two hours of observation.

Can I eat and drink while I am in labor?
If you are at home, we recommend that you eat light and keep yourself well hydrated. You may want to avoid acidic and dairy beverages such as some juices and milk as you may find that these products upset your stomach in labor. In the hospital, we encourage clear liquids including Popsicles, Jell-O, bouillon, ginger ale, juice, and water. If you would like to bring in your own beverages we suggest putting them in a small cooler or storing them in the Labor and Delivery unit refrigerator. Please be sure to have these items well marked with your name. Also, you may want to pack snacks for your partner.

How can I tell if my water has broken?
Put on a clean maxi pad and lie down for 30 minutes. When you stand up you should notice a small puddle on the maxi pad if you have ruptured your membranes because the water will collect in the vagina and leak out when you stand. If you have broken your water, you should note the time, amount, color, and odor and call your physician or midwife.

What is fetal monitoring?
Fetal monitoring is defined as watching the baby’s heart rate for indicators of well-being during labor and birth or in some instances during antenatal testing such as a Non-Stress Test (NST ). There are different ways to monitor your baby including the us of an electronic fetal monitoring, telemetry, or a doptone (used during your prenatal visit to asses the fetal heart rate). Telemetry monitoring is like Electronic Fetal Monitoring, except one can maintain mobility including ambulation outside of your room.

When can I ask for an epidural? How soon will I get it?
While the decision lies with each individual care provider, most will recommend waiting to get an epidural until you are between three and five centimeters dilated. It takes a few minutes to get the epidural placed and another few minutes for you to feel relief. Complete pain relief may take 10 to 20 minutes or more.

Can I change my birth plan?
Absolutely! Your birth plan is important and is used as a guide for those caring for you and it can always be changed. Flexibility is the key to a successful birth plan both for the laboring woman, her partner, and for the caregivers.

How many support people can I have with me in the birthing room?
There is no rule to say how many persons can be with you. Please discuss your plans for labor support (partner, family, friends) with your provider and make this part of your birth plan. As you decide who will be with you remember that there is limited space in the birthing rooms. Finally, as your labor progresses you may find that your needs change and you may want to be alone with your partner. Also, medical needs may change in which a quiet, relaxed environment becomes necessary. There is a lovely waiting area for friends and family that you want to be near you, but not in the room with you.

Can I take photos/use a video camera after my baby’s birth?
Birth is a special occasion for you and your family and taking pictures is often a part of the occasion. We ask that you check with your health care team first to be sure it is okay to take pictures and that if Newton-Wellesley Hospital staff are in your pictures, you first obtain their consent to be photographed.

We also ask that you only take pictures or video before the birth (in labor) or after the birth (after your baby is born). Please do not take pictures during the birth itself or during any treatment that your baby may need after delivery. This request is for a couple of reasons.

First, our primary concern is to make sure you and your baby are safe. The delivery room can get very busy and sometimes the doctors, midwives, and nurses must act quickly and need room to carry out their jobs. To have someone photographing or taking video may create an unnecessary distraction

Second, if you deliver your baby by Caesarean section, it will be in the operating room. The operating roommust be kept sterile and it is a very busy place. Photos and videos of the operation are not allowed. Taking pictures of your baby is allowed once he or she is safely on the warmer. Again, we ask that you check with your health care team first to be sure that it is okay to take pictures.

Lastly, we request that you respect the privacy of other patients, families and visitors and not include them in your pictures.

How can my friends and family get information about me and my labor progress?
We understand that your friends and family are excited for you and want to be kept up to date on your progress so they can congratulate you and welcome your new addition. However, health care privacy laws prohibit us from disclosing information about your status. Therefore, we recommend that you coordinate a phone tree or identify a designated friend or family member to keep your loved ones updated on your progress.

Where do I go when I arrive at the hospital to deliver?
If you arrive between 6:30 am and 8:30 pm, please enter the Hospital using the East or West entrances. Take the West elevators to the 5th floor. There you will find the Reception/Registration area. After registering you will be escorted to the Antenatal Testing and Evaluation Unit (AET U) for evaluation.

If you arrive between 8:30 pm and 6:30 am, please use the Emergency Department entrance where you can register with the Admitting Coordinator. You will then be directed to AET U for evaluation of your labor.

Where can I park?
Patient parking is available in the parking lot near the Hospital’s main entrance and in the Patient/Visitor Parking Garage located at the East Hospital Entrance. Valet parking is provided at the Main Hospital entrance, the Surgical Center entrance and the Emergency Department (ED ) entrance from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. If you come to the Hospital after 8:30 pm, you will need to check in at the ED. During this time, you can park in the Patient Garage adjacent to the ED.