After nine months of incredible growth and changes both in the mother and the fetus, your body will start to show signs that it’s time for your baby to be born. Many women have fears about delivering their child, partly because they’re not sure what to expect. Baptist Health wants to help you be proactive and learn what happens before, during and after childbirth. Be sure and talk to your physician, so he or she can answer any other questions you may have.
What happens before childbirth?
Baptist Health offers monthly classes focused on prepared pregnancy and childbirth for the mother and her support partner. Instruction covers pregnancy, labor and delivery (including breathing & relaxation techniques) and postpartum.
Be Healthy. Be prepared.
Choosing a Pediatrician
Packing for the Hospital
But, one of your concerns may be knowing what supplies you should bring. We've compiled this comprehensive list to help you plan ahead.
- Photo ID
- Insurance Card
- Hospital Paperwork
- Cell Phone and charger
- Camera and accessories (battery, charger, memory card)
- Eyeglasses or Contacts and solution (if you wear them)
- Comfortable bra or nursing bra
- Comfortable clothes and shoes for the trip home
- Toiletries for Mom:
- Sanitary Pads
- Hair Brush
- Hair Dryer
- Baby Formula
- Toiletries for Baby:
- Baby Comb
- Baby Clothes
- Baby Blanket
- Car Seat
Your arrival to Labor and Delivery is a time of great excitement and we’re here to ease any stress or apprehension you may have. Enjoy the convenience of special maternity parking with easy access to Labor and Delivery. After a few quick questions about your condition at the admissions desk, you will be escorted to one of our Labor/Delivery/Recovery (LDR) rooms.
A Baptist Health Labor/Delivery/Recovery (LDR) room means you can stay in the same room from labor to delivery and 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 Dad. Some are even equipped with therapeutic tubs to ease labor discomfort.
Baptist Health is also proud to offer a world-class experience with family suites available in the Women’s Center at Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock.
The family suites deliver a stylish, pleasant, and comfortable suite for families who want a more upscale postpartum experience than what a single private room can offer. A snack basket is placed in each room to welcome moms after their birthing experience, and each room comes with a flat-screen television, a private bathroom, a refrigerator, a microwave, and a reclining chair for guests.
The mother’s room is connected to a family guest room that fosters an intimate visiting area for family and friends to meet the new baby and visit with the parents. This guest room also features a sleeping sofa and private bathroom.
Other amenities are just a phone call away through concierge services and can include a baby birthday cake, coffee services, or rocking chairs.
Based on availability, families can reserve the new family suite for an additional fee of $125 per night through the Baptist Health Foundation.
Reservations can be made up to three months out from a due date by calling Sterling Goodwin at the Foundation at 501-202-1839 or filling out the reservation form and faxing it to 202-7352. Suites are assigned on a first-come and first-delivered basis.
Reservation forms are also available on the Women’s Center floors at BHMC-LR and provided in the birthing classes.
Should your physician not be available when you arrive, a board-certified obstetrician from our laborist group will evaluate your progress and react to any complications with your pregnancy, if needed. This constant presence makes childbirth safer for women and babies.
Below is helpful information about what to expect as childbirth begins.
What happens during childbirth?
Signs of Labor
- 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.
Stages of Labor
- Natural or non-medicated measures. 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.
- Analgesics. 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.
- Anesthesia. 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.
- 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.
Cesarean Birth (C-Section)
What happens after childbirth?
Staying at the Hospital
Your baby will have these screenings before you leave the hospital:
- Hearing Screening - Every infant delivered at Baptist Health has a non-invasive and painless hearing screening prior to discharge. A small cable with a rubber tip will be placed in each ear followed by small clicks that will be sent through the cable to see if each ear can hear the sound. Infants that are unable to "pass" this exam will be referred to an audiologist in infant testing. If an infant does not pass the initial screening in the hospital, it does not mean the infant cannot hear. Certain factors such as gestational age or fluid in the ear can affect early test results.
- PKU (Phenylketonuria) - This test will be done when the baby is 24-48 hours old. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in the baby's hand or heel. The blood is then sent to the State Department of Health who will notify you and your doctor if there are any problems.
- Jaundice (Bilirubin) - A Bilirubin test is done if your baby has yellow skin or eyes. The test measures the amount of Bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a waste product that occurs naturally in your baby when red blood cells are broken down. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in the hand or heel and sent to our lab. Results are known in 2-3 hours. High Bilirubin levels may be treated with phototherapy.
- Critical Congenital Heart Disease - This test measures the amount of oxygen in a baby's blood using a machine called a pulse oximeter, with sensors placed on the baby's skin. The test is painless and takes only a few minutes. Low levels of oxygen in the blood can be a sign of critical congenital heart disease.
Breastfeeding Support Services
The care you receive at Baptist Health doesn’t end when you leave the hospital. Our dedicated nurses will call after you have settled in at home to make sure everything’s going well and answer any questions you have.
What are the patient outcomes?
The best advocates for the care you can expect from Baptist Health are the patients themselves. Hear success stories from a few of our patients.
Kimberly and Jerome Templeton's decision to add another child to their family was an easy one. The challenges that soon followed were anything but normal.
After having her membrane spontaneously break 28 weeks into her pregnancy, Baptist Health was able to delay labor and administer the proper steroids and precautions to ensure a safe and healthy birth even at such an early stage in pregnancy. Hear Christina's story.
Even though Laura was just a stranger in Arkansas after evacuating to escape a hurricane, Baptist Health’s hospitality made Laura feel safe and calm through her surprise delivery. Hear Laura's story