What to expect during labor and delivery

Eight frequently asked questions and answers expecting parents should know

If you’re an expecting mother, we’re not going to tell you not to listen to books such as, “What to Expect When You are Expecting” or “Childbirth without Fear,” or the vast ocean of mommy blogs.

But the truth is your pregnancy and baby’s birth is personal to you.

“The most important thing is to do what’s right for you,” says Luteley Bostick, RN, BSN, CAPPA, National Certified in Obstetrics.

Our staff at The Mary Telfair Women’s Hospital on the Candler Hospital campus is here to help expecting mothers be prepared for childbirth and stay by their side during delivery.

In addition to being a labor and delivery nurse, Bostick also teaches our Prepared Childbirth Class, which is offered the third weekend of every month. One thing Bostick recommends to all expecting moms is having a birth plan.

A birth plan is a way to communicate your wishes to the nurses and doctors who care for you during labor. It can include who you want to be present during labor, pain relief methods and much more. Bostick says to have your birth plan in place well before your due date and be sure to bring it with you when it’s time.

“You can’t pull a birth plan off a website,” Bostick says. “Have one in your own words and go over it with your doctor.”

To help you with your birth plan while preparing for your child’s birth, here are eight frequently asked questions and answers expecting parents should be aware of:

1. When do I know it’s time to come to the hospital?

Once you have any sign that labor may be beginning – your water breaking or mild contractions – you should immediately call your doctor, Bostick says. Your obstetrician can help determine when to come to the hospital. Some doctors may recommend coming to the hospital when contractions are 30 seconds or longer and about five minutes apart, while others may want you to come in earlier than that.

2. What can I bring with me?

You will be provided a list of recommended items to bring with you. Our goal is to make the experience as comfortable as possible, and that includes creating a home-like environment for you in our patient rooms. Some suggested items you may want to bring include a favorite pillow, music, lavender infusers or battery-powered candles.

3. How many guests may I have?

You can have a support person and two visitors with you during labor and birth. One support person can be with you during a C-section.  Bostick recommends deciding beforehand how many and who will be in the room with you during labor.

4. Can I eat during labor?

We recommend sticking to a liquid diet during labor, which could include water, popsicles, ice chips, soda, tea and fruit juice. You will be given an IV for fluid to help prevent dehydration during labor. The IV also is used to administer pain medication and antibiotics.

5. How long will I be in labor?

There’s no clear cut answer to this question because every birth experience differs. For some, labor is quick, and for others, it can last hours. You can expect to go through three stages of labor: early labor, active labor and birth, Bostick says. The length of each stage varies from woman to woman.

  • Early Labor: Your cervix begins to dilate, and you’ll feel mild, irregular contractions.
  • Active Labor: Your cervix will dilate from six to 10 centimeters, and your contractions will become stronger, closer together and regular.
  • Transition: It’s time to deliver your baby, and it can take from a few minutes up to a few hours or more to push your baby into the world.               

6. When may I have an epidural?

Your birth plan should include information on pain management including whether or not you elect to receive an epidural. The timing of the epidural is up to you and your doctor. Most obstetricians want you to be in active labor before starting an epidural.

7. What is skin to skin?

Following the birth of your baby, he or she will be placed on your bare chest wearing only a diaper. Skin to skin contact helps regulate baby’s blood sugar, vital signs and temperate and makes the baby more willing to eat. We recommend skin to skin contact for three months after birth.

8. Will my baby stay in my room after delivery?

Yes. Your baby will go to your room and the same nurse will care for both of you. Our relaxing, home-like rooms are tastefully decorated and equipped with the most sophisticated medical equipment available.


Learn more in our Prepared Childbirth Classes

The above are some great tidbits to help you get started; however, there’s still more to know when it comes to delivering your bundle of joy.

That’s why we recommend our Prepared Childbirth Class. This two-day series is taught by a certified labor and delivery registered nurse. The class helps to prepare expectant parents for their labor and delivery experience. Topics covered include anatomy and physiology of the birth process, techniques in coping with labor and an emphasis on positive effects of the labor support person.

In addition, expecting parents will learn about pain management, practice relaxation techniques, go over skin to skin with the baby following birth and infant care once you and baby are home, Bostick says.

“We go over so much in this class,” Bostick says. “I highly recommend the childbirth classes, especially for first time moms or those that didn’t have a good experience the first time.”

The Prepared Childbirth Class is held monthly on the third Saturday and Sunday of each month. We recommend attending childbirth classes in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy.

In addition to the Prepared Childbirth Class, The Telfair BirthPlace also offers a Breastfeeding Class and a Tea and Tour of the Telfair Women’s Hospital.

You can learn more about our childbirth classes and register online here.

  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
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St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000