Childbirth (Labor and Delivery)

As you approach your delivery due date, learn about labor and delivery, signs of labor (like contractions and amniotic sac rupture), how to manage pain while giving birth, labor options, and the LVHN care team, including your obstetrician, nurse and possibly a nurse-midwife.

Just as prenatal development occurs in several stages, so does labor and delivery of a baby. Discuss your pregnancy and delivery preferences with your obstetrician or nurse-midwife before labor begins. At Lehigh Valley Health Network, we will do all we can to make labor and delivery one of the most special times of your life.

Together, you and your provider will discuss your preferences for labor and delivery and immediately after birth. For example, perhaps you’d like to try to deliver without anesthesia. It’s important to tell your health care team, but remember, labor is a series of changing events, and at times medical necessity requires a change from the plan. 

Before the event, it can be helpful to attend some of our Pregnancy and Family classes which cover labor, delivery, breastfeeding and more, read recommended books, tour a Family Birth and Newborn Center at the Lehigh Valley Hospital location near you, and ask questions. Your birth team is there to support you.

Is this labor?

If you feel unsure whether labor is beginning, call your physician or midwife. Common signs that labor has started include:

  • Contractions (uterine muscle spasms) occurring at intervals of less than 10 minutes and becoming more frequent and severe with time
  • A small amount of mucus, slightly mixed with blood, being expelled from the vagina
  • Amniotic fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina. If this occurs, contact your physician or midwife immediately, as most women go into labor within 24 hours of the amniotic sac rupturing.

When you arrive at LVHN to have your baby, you’ll go to one of our birthing rooms, where you’ll labor, deliver and recover with a nurse personally assigned to your care.

In some cases, such as the pregnancy continuing too far past the due date, labor has to be induced, which is a process of stimulating labor to begin. Induction of labor is done by inserting vaginal suppositories that contain prostaglandin hormone to stimulate contractions, administering an intravenous infusion of oxytocin (a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates contractions) or rupturing the amniotic sac.

Managing pain during labor

Pain management techniques for labor and birth vary and may include:

  • Relaxation methods such as progressive relaxation
  • Touch, including massage or light stroking
  • A jetted bath or a shower
  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Imagery
  • Meditation or focused thinking
  • Breathing techniques
  • Rocking in a rocking chair, sitting in the “tailor sit” position or sitting on a special “birthing ball”
  • A small dose of analgesic medicine
  • Anesthesia
  • A pudendal block
  • An epidural block
  • Spinal anesthesia
  • General anesthesia

After delivery, we know it’s important to keep you and your baby together for bonding for the first few hours after birth. We’ll measure and weigh the baby (and give any needed medications) right in your room. Once you’ve recovered from delivery, you will move to your room in the secure Mother Baby Unit. Here you and your baby will be cared for by a mother/baby nurse. Your nurse will answer your questions and show you how to care for yourself and your new baby. 

Patient safety and security is a priority at Lehigh Valley Health Network. To promote patient safety and security in the Mother Baby Unit, an approved visitor pass is required for all visitors and family members who wish to enter the unit.