From the moment you find out you’re expecting until the day you give birth, Baptist Health offers you the array of resources you need to have a healthy, happy pregnancy. Find out why more mothers choose to deliver their babies at Baptist Health than any health system in the state by requesting an appointment with one of our expert OB/GYNs.
Resources on this page are split into two sections. Jump to a section by selecting your preference:
Baptist Health offers monthly classes focused on topics such as pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. We also offer sibling classes for future big brothers and sisters!
Due to current restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hosting our birthing and parenting classes virtually. To register, click one of the buttons below that fit your need and check for the classes listed as “Virtual”.
Baptist Health offers free, guided tours of the labor and delivery unit. A tour allows you to become more familiar and comfortable with the labor/delivery/recovery (LDR) rooms, while also giving you an opportunity to map out where to park and check-in when you arrive at the hospital. All of our hospitals ask that you schedule your tour before coming to the hospital except Baptist Health-Arkadelphia, where you are welcome to take a tour after a prenatal appointment if a room is available.
To schedule your tour at each of our facilities, you may call the following numbers:
A baby is placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) if, in the opinion of the professionals present at the birth of the baby, it is the best place for the child to be observed, treated and cared for. Reasons for admission depend on the history and gestational age of the baby. After being admitted and examined, the team will give a more detailed explanation of what is going on. Learn more about Baptist Health’s NICU.
Pack for the Hospital
As you get closer to your due date, it’s a good idea to have your bag packed and ready to go. Check out our complete hospital bag and day after checklist so you can make sure you have all the essentials for both you and your baby.
Pre-Registration for labor and delivery will speed up your hospital admission by collecting medical history and insurance information in advance. In order to better serve you, we ask that you pre-register several weeks prior to your due date. Pre-registration packets may be picked up at your doctor’s office or you can pre-register online.
Your Hospital Arrival
Once you arrive at Baptist Health for delivery, you’ll answer a few quick questions about your condition at the admissions desk, and then be escorted to your room.
At some Baptist Health hospitals, you’ll be placed in a Labor/Delivery/Recovery (LDR) room, which allows you to stay in the same room during labor and delivery, as well as while recovering from childbirth. LDR room facilities were created with your comfort in mind and feature a warm, home-like atmosphere with cable TV and sleeping accommodations for your partner. Some are even equipped with therapeutic tubs to ease labor discomfort.
If you deliver at Baptist Health-Little Rock, a board-certified obstetrician from our laborist group will be available to evaluate your progress and react to any complications with your pregnancy anytime, day or night. The constant presence of laborist makes childbirth safer for women and babies. Read more about what you can expect upon arrival at Baptist Health for your delivery.
What to Know About Labor, Inducing, and Cesarean Sections
Signs and stages of labor vary from woman to woman, as each woman experiences labor differently. However, labor typically is divided into three stages.
In special cases, labor may need to be induced or a Cesarean Section may need to be performed. Learn about the signs, stages and special cases that may lead to labor induction or Cesarean Sections below.
Signs of labor vary from woman to woman, as each woman experiences labor differently. Some common signs of labor may include:
- Bloody show – A small amount of mucus, slightly mixed with blood, may be expelled from the vagina indicating a woman is in labor.
- Contractions – Contractions (uterine muscle spasms) occurring at intervals of less than ten minutes are usually an indication that labor has begun. Contractions may become more frequent and severe as labor progresses.
- Rupture of amniotic sac – Labor sometimes begins with amniotic fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina. Women who experience a rupture of the amniotic sac should go to the hospital immediately and contact their physician. The majority of women go into labor within hours after the amniotic sac breaks. If labor still has not begun after 24 hours, a woman may be hospitalized for labor to be induced. This step is often taken to prevent infections and delivery complications.
If you’re unsure labor is beginning, always call your physician.
The first stage of labor is divided into three phases: latent, active and transition. The latent phase is the longest and least intense. During this phase, contractions become more frequent, helping your cervix to dilate so your baby can pass through the birth canal. Discomfort at this stage is still minimal. During this phase, your cervix will dilate approximately three or four centimeters and efface, or thin out. If your contractions are regular, you will probably be admitted to the hospital during this stage.
During the active phase, the cervix dilates from four to seven centimeters. You may feel intense pain or pressure in your back or abdomen during each contraction. You may also feel the urge to push or bear down, but your doctor will ask you to wait until your cervix is completely open.
In the transition phase, the cervix fully dilates to 10 centimeters. Contractions are strong and frequent, coming every three to four minutes and lasting 60-90 seconds.
The second stage of labor begins when the cervix is completely opened and ends with the delivery of the baby. The second stage is often referred to as the “pushing” stage. During the second stage, the woman becomes actively involved by pushing the baby through the birth canal to the outside world. When the baby’s head is visible at the opening of the vagina, it is called “crowning.” The second stage is shorter than the first stage, and may take between 30 minutes to three hours for a woman’s first pregnancy.
After the baby is delivered, the new mother enters the third and final stage of labor – delivery of the placenta (the organ that has nourished the baby inside of the uterus). This stage usually lasts just a few minutes up to a half-hour. This stage involves the passage of the placenta out of the uterus and through the vagina.
Each labor experience is different and the amount of time in each stage will vary. However, most women will deliver their baby within 10 hours after being admitted into the hospital, if the labor is not induced. Labor is generally shorter for subsequent pregnancies.
In some cases, labor has to be “induced,” which is a process of stimulating labor to begin. The decision to induce is often made when a woman is past her due date but labor has not begun or when there is a concern about the baby’s or mother’s health. A few specific reasons for induction include preeclampsia and chronic high blood pressure.
To ensure the safest childbirth, Baptist Health’s Labor and Delivery physicians and staff have committed to eliminate all elective deliveries prior to 39 completed weeks of gestation. There is essential growth and development in the last few weeks of pregnancy and we want to make sure that every baby has the opportunity to reach his or her full development.
Common techniques of induction include:
- Inserting vaginal suppositories that contain prostaglandin to stimulate contractions.
- Administering an intravenous infusion of oxytocin (a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates contractions) or similar drug.
- Rupturing (artificially) the amniotic sac.
If a woman is unable to deliver vaginally, a surgical procedure called cesarean section (c-section) is performed in which the baby is removed through the mother’s abdomen. Some cesarean sections are planned and scheduled accordingly, while others may be performed as a result of complications that occur during labor. Cesarean section is major surgery and carries risks. Healing also takes longer than with vaginal delivery.
In some cases, the vaginal opening does not stretch enough to accommodate the fetus. It may be necessary to expedite delivery, for example, if the baby is in distress. In such cases, the healthcare provider may perform an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a surgical cut made by your doctor in the perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) to help deliver the baby or prevent tearing. Episiotomies are not needed for every delivery and are not routinely performed.
For many mothers, pain management is among the most important childbirth considerations in selecting a hospital. At Baptist Health, we offer 24-hour anesthesia capabilities, enabling us to respond quickly and efficiently to your needs, no matter what the time of day.
A woman has many options for managing the discomforts that occur during labor and the birth of her baby. Generally, mothers and their physicians want to use the safest and most effective method of pain relief for both mother and baby. The choice will be determined by the woman’s preference and health, the health of the fetus and the physician’s recommendation.
There are three main types of pain management for labor and birth.
Many women learn special techniques in childbirth classes to help them feel more comfortable and in control during labor and birth. Some of these techniques include: breathing and relaxation, heat on the lower back, a cold washcloth on the forehead, changing positions, sitting on a birthing ball or walking around.
These are medications to relieve pain without total loss of feeling or muscle movement. They can make the pain tolerable without affecting your ability to push.
These are medications that block all feeling, including pain. They also block muscle movement. Different types of anesthesia include:
- Epidural anesthesia (also called an epidural block). This anesthesia involves infusing numbing medications through a thin catheter that has been inserted into the space that surrounds the spinal cord in the lower back, causing loss of sensation of the lower body. Infusions of medications may be increased or stopped as needed. This type of anesthesia is used during labor and for vaginal and cesarean deliveries. The most common complication of epidural anesthesia is low blood pressure in the mother. Because of this, most women need to have an intravenous infusion of fluids before epidural anesthesia is given. A risk of epidural anesthesia is a postpartum headache. It may develop if the epidural needle enters the spinal canal, rather than staying in the space around the canal. The anesthesiologist will discuss the risks, benefits and alternatives to the various methods of pain relief with the patient.
- Spinal anesthesia – This type of anesthesia involves injecting a single dose of the anesthetic agent directly into the spinal fluid. Spinal anesthesia acts very quickly and causes complete loss of sensation and loss of movement of the lower body. This type of anesthesia is often used for cesarean deliveries.
- General anesthesia – This type of pain relief involves giving an anesthetic agent that causes the woman to go to sleep. This type of anesthesia may be used in emergency cesarean deliveries.