All births are unique. An average first-time labor lasts 12-24 hours as the uterine contractions cause the opening of the womb, the cervix, to thin and open. The opening process is called dilation. Labor is divided into three stages. Stage I begins at the onset of labor and ends when you are completely dilated. Stage II begins at complete dilation when you push during the contractions and continues until the baby is born, generally lasting one to two hours. Stage III begins with the birth of the baby and lasts until the delivery of the placenta, or afterbirth. It is the shortest stage, usually lasting only 15 to 20 minutes.

It is best to follow the guidelines you and your doctor have agreed upon for when you should come to the hospital. In true labor, your contractions become more regular, getting stronger and closer together. They may increase in frequency and intensity when you walk around. As labor contractions cause the cervix to soften and begin to dilate, you may have a pink, slightly bloody mucous discharge from the vagina. If your water breaks, you should come to the hospital. Rupture of the amniotic membranes may occur as a gush of fluid or as a trickle of water from the vagina. Always give your doctor a description of this fluid, including the color. It is usually clear but can be white or green-tinted

We understand the importance of the support of your family and friends during your labor and birth. Family and friends are welcome to visit early in labor if you desire, but please speak with your nurse about visitors. As labor progresses, most moms prefer to have fewer visitors so that they can focus on the delivery. Children under 12 years of age, except for siblings, should not visit you or your newborn, nor should visitors with colds, fever or illnesses, until they are symptom free. Visitation hours may vary during flu season.

Generally, you will remain in the hospital 24-48 hours after a vaginal delivery with no complications. If you have a Cesarean section, you may stay approximately two to three days. In normal deliveries, your obstetrician will discharge you and a pediatrician will discharge your baby.

During labor, most women tolerate only clear liquids or ice chips. Your doctor may allow you to have ice chips depending on your condition. After delivery, your nurse will make plans for a meal.

A partner or support person plays a very important role in helping to care for you. Everyone handles pain differently, and your support person can help through encouragement and by offering comfort measures, including massaging your hands or feet to help you relax, cheering you on, helping you change position often, reminding you to take one contraction at a time and to breathe during your contractions.

All of our nurses are specially trained and prepared to meet emergencies. If your baby needs special care, neonatal intensive care is available at most facilities with immediate transfer ability to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) if a higher level of care is needed.

Our affiliated physicians are available for care and support throughout your hospital stay. These doctors care for your full spectrum of health care needs from high-risk pregnancy care to unexpected complications.

Please arrive at the Memorial Hermann facility where you plan to deliver at least two hours prior to your scheduled surgery time. It is important to follow all of your doctor’s preoperative orders and to bring copies of your prenatal records and laboratory reports with you to the hospital.

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight. If you are monitoring your blood glucose levels, continue to monitor as usual. If you take medication, ask your physician about what you should or should not take.

Please do not shave your surgery area before arrival. However, do bathe the night before and wash the skin thoroughly with an antibacterial soap such as Dial or with the skin cleanser Hibiclens if directed to do so by your doctor. 

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