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Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

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Giving birth: At the hospital

Wear comfortable clothes. You can wear a hospital gown. However, wearing your own clothes might help you feel more relaxed and comfortable. As labor progresses, you’ll be working hard. Wear something that is loose and lightweight. If you get chilly, you can add a sweater or blanket.

Make yourself at home. Make the labor room your own. Arrange the chairs so you can be close to your partner. Open or shut the curtains. Turn the lights up or own. Play your favorite music. Turn the television on or off. Unpack your labor bag. When you decide to get into bed, raise or lower it into a comfortable position. Arrange the pillows and get more if you need them.


Ask to speak with the charge nurse if you feel your nurse doesn't support your birth plan or if you are having difficulty working together.

Share your birth plan. If you have a birth plan, share it with your nurse. Talk about your coping style and the comfort measures you'd like to try. Explain how she can help support you. Ask her to put a copy of your birth plan in your chart if one isn't already there.

Ask for what you want and need. The nurses and staff want to help you. Ask them for suggestions when you feel "stuck." They can recommend positions and comfort measures.

When you'd like to be alone with your partner to hug or talk, ask the staff. They will honor your privacy. It is important that you feel you can share your concerns with your nurse. Ask to speak with the charge nurse if you feel your nurse doesn't support your birth plan or if you are having difficulty working together with her.

Monitoring. You may be asked to lie in bed for a while in order to monitor your baby's heart rate and your contractions. If you are not being monitored or if the monitoring is done, you may sit in a rocking chair, walk, or try another activity.

Why move?

Moving during labor helps your baby find the easy way out. Spend part of your labor in a rocking chair or on a birthing ball.

Move. Movement and changing positions can help speed your labor along. It may also help your baby get into a better position for birth. Movement can help your body stay as comfortable as possible. Being tense and lying in the same position for a long time can slow labor and make it more painful.

Use a birthing ball. Birth centers have a large plastic ball you can use. You can lean on it, sit on it, and roll gently back and forth on it. Sitting on the ball encourages pelvic relaxation. This may help your baby move through your pelvis. The ball can also help relieve backache.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, ISBN 1-931876-14-2

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 08/15/2011

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts