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What to Expect in the Delivery Room

6 min read

What to Expect in the Delivery Room

If you plan on giving birth in a hospital, you’re in good company: over 98 percent of births in the U.S. and Canada happen in hospitals. Though every birth is different, it helps to know what we can expect before it’s time to check in to the hospital.


Book a Hospital Tour:

If your hospital provides tours it is a great idea to schedule a tour of the hospital where you plan to give birth a month or two in advance of your due date—most hospitals recommend you tour the facilities at around 32 weeks.
On the tour, a guide will show you where to park, where to check in and what the
delivery rooms look like. They’ll also go over labor and delivery options available to you, and show you the recovery rooms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and if you have a birth plan, bring it with you (also remember to bring a copy when you check in to the hospital).


First, preregister at your hospital. This means giving them your insurance  information and filling out all that boring paperwork in advance, so you’ll have less to do when you get there on the actual day.

Pack your Hospital Bag

Once you are around 34 weeks you should consider packing your hospital bag. Review the information provides by the hospital to identify the items they recommend. You can also cross-reference that list with this handy-dandy checklist here: (–link to DTD hospital bag checklist).


Checking In

Chances are you’ll be in labor when you arrive at the hospital, though not if you have a scheduled induction or c-section. Luckily, hospital staff members are prepared for this, and the check-in process is usually quick. They’ll ask you for your name and insurance information, and they might also need your license plate number if the labor and delivery wing has a special parking lot. Once you’re checked in, the nurse at the front desk will put a wristband on you and another nurse will escort you to a triage room (or to a labor and delivery room, if you have a scheduled delivery).


If you’re in labor when you arrive at the hospital, you and baby will be checked in a triage room. If you are wearing a Dressed to Deliver 3-in-1 birthing gown you can simply unsnap a few of the abdominal snaps of your gown for your nurse to have full access. A nurse will monitor baby’s heart rate by connecting a fetal monitor to your belly. Your nurse will also monitor your contractions to see how far apart they are and check your cervix to see how dilated you are. If your contractions are five minutes apart and one minute long for at least one hour, and your cervix is dilated three centimetres or more, you’ll most likely be admitted. But if labor is progressing slowly, you may be sent home at this point. Don’t worry—you’ll be back soon enough!

In the Delivery Room

Time to take off your clothes and put on a super-stylish hospital gown provided by the hospital or if you prefer a more comfortable and discreet option you can purchase a Dressed to Deliver 3-in-1 birthing Gown for your birth here.

A labor and delivery nurse will be assigned to you—they are your point person as you progress through labor.Although, during your labor, you may encounter multiple labor and delivery nurses. This is because they change shifts every eight to 12 hours, so the nurses you meet when you arrive could be different than the ones there when you give birth.

Most hospitals allow you to have partners, doulas or family members in the room with you while you’re in labor if you choose, but they usually have a limit. Ask about this during your tour and keep the number in mind as you consider what you want for your birth.

Managing Pain

What happens next depends on how you plan to manage pain. If you’re going medication-free or would like to wait before getting an epidural, you may want to walk around or take a shower or bath, if your hospital has tubs, to deal with the pain. Nurses will put the monitors on you periodically to check on baby’s heart rate and your contractions.

If you want to go the epidural route, know that there’s no specific time you have to request it. Just know you might have to wait a while for an anesthesiologist, and it will most likely be about 30 to 45 minutes before you are pain-free from when you make your request.

If you are wearing a traditional hospital gown provided by the hospital, the nurse will help you undress your backside for the epidural administered by the anesthesiologist.

However, if you are wearing a Dressed to Deliver Birthing gown, simply have the nurse unsnap the back portion down to the small of your back so that your epidural can be administered (and you won’t have to bare it all!).

Once your epidural has been administered, you will receive continuous monitoring, which means you’ll need to stay in bed with the monitors attached to your belly. You will also get an IV to provide fluids, so you don’t get dehydrated.

Also, be warned that having an epidural means having a catheter to empty your bladder as well—some moms-to-be are surprised to hear that.

As you dilate to 10 centimetres and start to push, an OBGYN will join the labor and delivery nurses in the room to assist in the delivery. This may or may not be the practitioner you’ve been seeing throughout your pregnancy, but rest assured that this process is totally normal.


You did it! After the birth, a doctor or nurse may remove your traditional hospital
gown to place your baby on your chest for some rest and skin-to-skin bonding time. If you are wearing a Dressed to Deliver Birthing Gown you will simply be able to unsnap the shoulder straps and have your baby on your chest for skin-to-skin, and subsequently breastfeed your new bundle. Your nurse, midwife or OB will then weigh and measure your baby. They will then run the following routine tests:


This is a quick assessment of baby’s overall health done at one  minute and five  minutes after birth.

  • Assessed in 5 categories - Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respirations - each on a scale from 0 to 2. A baby’s scores can range from 0 to to a perfect 10.
  • Most babies score in the 7 to 9 range at birth, but even babies with a lower score of 4 to 6 at the one minute mark can rebound quickly and score a 9 after fives minutes!

Note: Scores from 0 to 3 are critically low and will require invasive medical intervention. Scores below 7 at five minutes are also assessed with an APGAR score at 15 minutes.

Vitamin K Shot

Babies are born without this important vitamin that helps blood to clot. Vitamin K is important because:

  • Babies do not get vitamin K through the placenta in utero, nor is there enough vitamin K in breast milk.
  • It prevents sudden and serious bleeding in the brain or intestines which could be life threatening or lead to permanent brain damage and even death.
  • There are no side effects. Only the minor discomfort of an injection.
Prophylactic Antibiotic Eye Ointment

This helps prevent any eye infections from bacteria they may pick up on their travels through the birth canal.

Newborn Screening Test

A blood test done by a small prick to the heel. This test checks the baby for a number of potential diseases and disorders that require fast treatment to ensure normal development.

Bilirubin Levels

All babies experience jaundice after birth as a side effect of not being able to pass stool in utero, and thus unable to excrete bile (a by-product of red blood cells). This mild build up of bile in the blood stream causes jaundice which is often noticed as a yellowing in baby’s skin several days after birth.

  • Most hospitals use a non-invasive machine to test bilirubin by shining a light on baby’s forehead and measuring how the light bounces back into the machine.
  • If the values are high, a follow up blood test is performed where blood is collected from a small heel prick to check for elevated levels.
  • Every baby has their bilirubin levels checked at least once but those with high levels of bilirubin might need repeat testing to ensure levels remain within safe limits.
  • If bilirubin levels become too high or baby is lethargic or excessively sleepy and having difficulty eating, phototherapy (think sun tanning beds but for baby’s health) may be initiated.
Congenital Heart Defect Screening

A new recommendation, most hospitals now test baby for congenital heart defects before being discharged home. This is done by putting a pulse oximeter on baby’s wrist and foot to check the oxygenation of their blood supply on two different limbs.
Two markedly different oxygenation levels in the 2 limbs would be an abnormal finding and require a follow up echocardiogram (ultrasound imagery of the heart) and a consult with a cardiologist.

Heading Home

Once you and baby have been assessed you’ll be ready to head home! Once your baby is discharged, you’ll need to go back and check in with their paediatrician within 2 - 4 days after coming home.

We hope the above information has helped dispel any myths or questions. Have any further questions? We’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below!

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