Know the different types of birth and medical procedures.

There are four stages of labour. Discover what happens and how you might feel during each stage, and what you and your support person can do during these stages. Learn more about the birth stages.

Types of birth

Medical procedures

Sometimes you may need procedures during labour and delivery. It’s important to know ahead what may occur and discuss with your health care provider.

Antibiotics. Antibiotics may be given to protect the baby against possible infection. During pregnancy all women are usually screened for Group B Strep (GBS), a bacteria that commonly colonizes 15-40 per cent of pregnant women. Most women do not even know they are colonized with it and it is benign. However, a very small number of babies may develop a serious infection after birth. You may receive antibiotics regularly once your water breaks or your labour begins until the baby is born to protect against GBS.

Induction. To help start or speed up your labour, the following techniques may be recommended:

  • Breaking your water
  • Putting medication into the vagina
  • Giving medication by IV to start, strengthen or speed up contractions

Vacuum extraction. A cup is placed on the baby’s head and suction is used to help gently pull the baby out while you push.

Forceps. Smooth metal instruments that look like large spoons or tongs. They're curved to fit around the baby's head and used to gently pull the baby out while you push. Forceps can leave small marks on your baby's face but these will disappear quite quickly.

Breech birth

If your baby is breech, it means that she or he is lying with their bottom downwards. This makes delivery more complicated. Your health care provider will advise on the safest option for you to deliver.

Your care provider may try to turn the baby around in your uterus, a procedure known as external cephalic version, allowing for a vaginal delivery. Learn more about Breech birth.

A cesarean birth may also be recommended. Understand the risks and benefits of a C-section.

Pain relief

Labour pain is different for every woman. Know your options for pain relief medications prior to delivery; this will assist you and your partner in making choices while in labour.

Birth plan

Write down your wishes in your birth plan, but remember that you should keep an open mind. You may find that you want more pain relief than you'd planned, or your doctor or midwife may suggest more effective pain relief to help the delivery. Find a sample template and what to include in your birth plan.

Safe skin-to-skin contact

Immediately after birth, your baby will be placed skin-to-skin. If you are not able to, then the baby can be placed skin-to-skin with your support person.

Keep the baby skin-to-skin until after the first feed.

Healthy babies are more likely to suffocate when we are distracted.

Using your cell phone can distract you. It can keep you from spotting when your baby might have trouble breathing.

When you are skin to skin, focus on your baby. Hold your baby in a safe way.

If you are going to use your cell phone, check your baby often.

If you are too sleepy or unsure if you can be safely skin-to-skin with your baby, have your support person watch you and your baby to make sure your baby is safe. Or place your baby on their own sleep surface until you can resume doing skin-to-skin safely later on. Learn more about safe skin-to-skin with your baby. 

How to safely do skin-to-skin

  • Position yourself so you are a little upright, not lying flat
  • Look at your baby
  • Hold your baby this safe way:
  • Face can be seen, especially their nose and mouth
  • Head is turned one side
  • Head is slightly tilted up and away from their chest
  • Nose and mouth are not covered
  • Chest and shoulders are flat against you
  • Legs are flexed
  • Back is covered with a blanket

Continue to hold your baby skin-to-skin (with either parent or other support person) as much as you can for the following 48 hours. Learn more about the importance of skin-to-skin.

Baby's first feed

Let your baby breastfeed as soon after birth as possible. It helps with breastfeeding later on and it also helps your womb to contract causing less bleeding. Our nurses will help you get breastfeeding established before you go home. Learn more about breastfeeding.

Donor breast milk. Some of our hospitals offer donor breast milk for babies in need. Consider becoming a breast milk donor. Learn more about donating breast milk.

Babies who need extra care

If your baby needs some extra care adjusting to life, we have specialists here to help them.

Pediatricians are available and if your baby needs extra nursing attention, he or she will be taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The NICU staff will take special care of your baby. But understand you play a big role in the baby’s care. Learn about what to expect and how to care for your baby in NICU.


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