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Labor and Delivery Patient Education from University of Colorado Hospital

Getting a Second Opinion

Having a baby is one of the most important events in your family’s life. You should be comfortable with your entire medical team and feel involved in making choices about the birth process. University of Colorado Hospital is happy to offer a second opinion and to work with you if you choose to come to our hospital for the birth of your baby.

Additional Labor and Delivery Resources

The process of labor and delivery is different for every woman.

You usually know you are in labor when you begin to have contractions (painful cramps) that happen regularly and get closer together. Sometimes your water (the sac of fluid surrounding your baby) will break before contractions begin, and a large amount of fluid will come out; this also means you are in labor. You should go to the hospital when your contractions are about five minutes apart or immediately after your water breaks.

When you arrive at the hospital you should go directly to the Birth Center. If you go into labor between 5 p.m. and 6 a.m. you should go to the emergency department and they will admit you to the Birth Center. When you are checked in, your medical team will evaluate you and might place you on a special monitor that checks you and your baby’s heart rate.

During labor you may use different methods to help reduce or relieve pain, depending on your choices. The following methods are most common:

  • Breathing exercises – a way of breathing to help you handle the intense pain as contractions happen.
  • Epidural anesthesia – Medication is injected into the lower back that blocks all pain from labor below the belly button for several hours.
  • IV pain medication – Medication given through an IV to help relieve pain during labor.

Labor usually lasts from 12 to 15 hours before delivery, but can be much shorter or much longer. Babies can be delivered two ways:

Vaginal Birth – The baby is delivered through the opening of the vagina. Contractions will move the baby down into the vaginal canal. Then when the time is right, the mother will push until the baby comes out. Your baby can be delivered by a doctor or certified nurse midwife (CNM) depending on your choices.

Cesarean Section (C-section) – Sometimes, the baby cannot be delivered through the vagina due to complications or high risk pregnancy. In a C-section, the mother is given epidural anesthesia to block pain. An small incision (cut) is made in the abdomen and uterus, and the baby is delivered through the opening. A C-section is a surgical procedure and only performed by a doctor.

After delivery, a doctor or CNM will do a physical exam to check the health of the baby. In most cases if there are no complications, the baby will be given to the mother to hold and begin breastfeeding. If the baby needs extra care, he or she might be taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

After your baby is born, you and your baby will be given postpartum (after-delivery) care in the hospital. You may choose to keep your baby in your room at all times, or the baby can stay in the nursery at your request. While you are in the hospital, you and your family will receive help caring for your new baby. Extra help is available for breastfeeding from lactation consultants (women who specialize in helping mothers breastfeed). A hospital stay usually lasts two days when there are no complications.

When you are ready to go home, your baby MUST be in a safe car seat in order to leave the hospital. Car seat experts are available if you need help installing the car seat in your car correctly.

You and your baby will receive follow-up care after you leave the hospital. Your care provider will tell you when you need to make an appointment.