What to Expect in a hospital birth

Childbirth might be a miracle but it might not feel that way during delivery! This is because most new mothers do not know what to expect when they arrive at their hospital birth. Some actions of the medical staff can take them by surprise. Other events that take place during delivery might even upset an unsuspecting mum to be. So, congrats that you are expecting but that was the easy part.

The next part is prepping yourself for the birth of your baby at the hospital! Assuming you are not birthing in the Birth Centre or not touting for a non-intervention birth – here are some things that may happen during your labour and birth process:


It is likely that you will go to the hospital with a loved one. Keep in mind that they will have to take care of many small but important details, such as fill admission paperwork, get your urine sample to the lab, park the car, etc.

Therefore, you might be separated from them from time to time. Don’t panic when that happens; they will be right next to you as fast as they can manage.

Staff need to do their job

The staff may talk over you and different strangers might just show up in your room. Most of them have a job to do and they won’t be waiting for your permission to come in.

You will find that in most hospitals, labour and delivery staff are very respectful of labouring women. They try to speak in low voices and direct questions to your support person rather than interrupting your labour.


When you are admitted and every hour after that, a nurse may examine your cervix. You will need to express your desires if you would prefer this didn’t happen.

The foetus’s heart rate must be monitored. This is done by attaching a monitor around your belly. Don’t be alarmed when they fasten it around. Alternatively, they may listen with a Foetal Doppler.

A nurse may insert an IV or a saline lock in your arm.

Rupture of membranes

Your water may be manually broken to ‘help things along a bit’.

Once the waters are broken, it is possible for hospital staff to monitor you or your baby internally. Should your doctor need to do this, your doctor inserts an electrode so that the baby’s heartbeat can be measured. Additionally, to remain updated about your contractions, a tube might also be inserted in your uterus.


If you are given Picton during your labour. Picton is a synthetic form of oxytocin – the love hormone. It will make labour go faster and make your contractions more powerful.

Limited eating and drinking

You won’t be able to eat or drink during the process, except for ice chips.

Pain relief

You may not want to use it, but it’s there. Some hospitals have a policy where their staff will not offer you pain relief medication. They will assume you are okay until you ask otherwise. Others don’t tote that line. You may want to check with your hospital on its policy to see what policy applies to them. So you can state your preference in advance.

Hospital policies

Different countries have different practices in their hospitals. Some require you to spend most of your time in labour in your bed.  Some will even order the mothers to stay there.

In some hospitals, unless you have had an epidural, you will not be expected to spend your labour in bed. Most Australian hospitals are aware of the benefits of movement and letting the mother do what she needs to birth her baby.

You might not be shown the placenta, so remind the staff about it, if you want to see or preserve it.

If you are asked to lay on your back and put your legs in stirrups for the delivery – understand this may be solely for the benefit of the obstetrician. A good obstetrician will get on their knees if you want to birth on all fours.

Hi! Natural Birth and Motherhood is about empowering women who are going through the stages of pregnancy, birth, or motherhood. Find out more useful information on related topics click on the Blog button below.

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