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Woman ready to give birth in a hospital bed

Labor & Delivery

At CHI Health, our experienced staff specializes in warm welcomes to expectant mothers. While every labor and delivery is different, you can rest assured that our knowledgeable and highly trained team of physicians, nurses and support specialists are experienced in every situation, including complicated and high-risk pregnancies. Before, during and after your special moment, your care will be completely personalized to your needs and wishes.

Information & Guidance

At CHI Health the goal is to keep you as comfortable as possible and make the birthing experience a memorable one. So go ahead and bring some of your favorite things from home – a special lotion and comfy pillow. You and your physician will discuss your pain management options long before you check into the hospital. It’s good to have a pain management plan but know things can change and the plan in the delivery room will always put the health of baby and mom first.

Non-medical options include:

  • Birthing balls
  • Music
  • Aromatherapy
  • Massage
  • Breathing techniques

Your nurses will help you with different options based on your wishes.

Your pharmaceutical options include

  • Relaxation medications
  • Nitrous oxide (available at select Maternity Centers - read more below)
  • An epidural

If you choose an epidural, CHI Health has an anesthesiologist available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Pain management doesn’t end after delivery. Most women will experience discomfort. Your health care team will do its best to make you comfortable so you can concentrate on what’s important – bonding with your baby. You will want to include your pain management wishes as part of your birth plan. However, because your pain management needs are impossible to predict, especially if you are a first time mom, we will support you in whatever option you choose.

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a gas used to decrease pain sensations. It’s colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and is inhaled through a mask.

The use of nitrous oxide was fairly common in the United States, but fell out of favor as epidurals became more popular in the 1980s. It has been widely used in the United Kingdom, Australia and Europe and has only recently become more available in the United States.

What are the benefits?

  • Takes the edge off labor pains and reduces anxiety for many women.
  • Begins working right away (within 30-60 seconds) and wears off quickly without lingering side effects.
  • Gives you control of how much and when you inhale need it.
  • Allows you to get out of bed or in the tub (have someone with you in case of lightheadedness or drowsiness).

What are the drawbacks?

  • Does not completely numb any part of your body like an epidural will.
  • Causes nausea in some women.
  • Not recommended for those with past gastric bypass surgery, severe vitamin B12 deficiency, collapsed lungs or those unable to hold the mask due to musculoskeletal disease.

Is Nitrous Oxide safe for my baby?

Yes, nitrous oxide has been used by laboring women for decades. Women clear the nitrous oxide from their bodies through their lungs in about five minutes. Nitrous oxide that passes through the placenta to the baby is also cleared by the mother’s lungs. Dental offices use nitrous oxide for pain control in a higher concentration than is used for labor and delivery. 

What is a C-section?

A C-section or cesarean section is a surgical procedure done in the operating room. A small incision is made in the lower abdomen and uterus to deliver a baby.

Why do I need a C-section?

C-sections are preformed for a couple of reasons. There are planned and unplanned C-sections. Planned C-sections are done if a patient who has had a previous C-section decides to skip labor and have another C-section. They are also done if the baby is in the wrong position -- breech or bottom down, transverse or sideways, or if the placenta or blood supply to the baby is covering the cervix. Unplanned C-sections occur during labor. If at anytime during labor there is concern about the baby's heartbeat or how well the baby is tolerating labor, we will elect to do a C-section. If mom's cervix isn't dilating or she continues to push but isn't able to deliver the baby vaginally, then we will proceed with a C-section.

What should I expect with a C-section?

You will be awake for the entire procedure. We will make sure you are comfortable and numb from the uterus down. You will feel some tugging, pulling, and light pressure during the procedure, but you will not feel any pain. An incision is made in the lower abdomen. The doctor will actually separate the abdominal muscles-they are not cut. An incision is made in the uterus to deliver the baby. Once the baby is delivered, the incision will be closed with dissolvable stitches. You will go to a recovery room for a short period of time and then up to a postpartum room. The entire time we will make sure you are comfortable with any pain medication you might need. You will be back to your normal activity in a couple of weeks.

What are the risks of a C-section?

There are risks with any surgery. There's a small risk of complications from anesthesia. There's a small risk the bowel or bladder may be damaged during the procedure. Any time an incision is made, there's also a small risk of bleeding issues. These risks are minimal.

Several CHI Health Maternity Centers and Birth Centers offer water birth, during which mom-to-be labors and sometimes delivers in a birthing pool filled with warm water. CHI Health offers this option at CHI Health St. Elizabeth, CHI Health Birth Center at Lincoln and CHI Health Birth Center at Immanuel.

What are the benefits of water birth?

  • Increased relaxation
  • Decreased pain and reduced need for anesthesia 
  • Potential decrease in duration of labor
  • Greater sense of control

Water birth is not recommended if you have or had:

  • Previous difficult labor or C-section
  • Chronic medical condition (hypertension, diabetes or herpes)
  • Pregnancy complication (gestational diabetes or preeclampsia)
  • Baby in breech position
  • Multiple babies
  • Preterm labor (more than two weeks ahead of your due date)

Because water births are still being researched and expert opinions vary, it’s best to discuss this option with your OB/GYN or midwife. 

The first hour after birth is a momentous occasion when a baby first adapts to life outside the womb. Skin-to-skin contact at birth is a simple, yet profound interaction which increases the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the baby. The Sacred Hour is uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with the mother immediately after birth that allows each newborn to follow nine specific behaviors leading to breastfeeding. There is evidence which shows that newborns placed skin-to-skin experience less stress and parents show more confidence in caring for their newborn. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity when baby meets parents for the first time and a family is formed. This sacred time should be honored, cherished and protected.

What to Expect

The Sacred Hour will begin immediately after the mother delivers. The mother’s chest will be bare and the baby will be placed on her tummy, dried and covered with a warm blanket allowing the mother and child to experience skin-to-skin contact. The baby will remain with the mother, uninterrupted, until after the first breastfeeding. Mothers are offered this opportunity after vaginal and c-section births. If there is a medical reason that delays immediate skin-to-skin contact with the newborn, The Sacred Hour will begin as soon as possible after assessment from the care team.

Bonding With Your Baby

The initial bond between a mother and infant is very important after delivery. Bonding is essential for a baby and is an important process for all new parents to experience firsthand, including fathers. Infants bond through touch and smell. Participating in skin-to-skin contact with your newborn enhances that bond.


There are many short- and long-term benefits for participating in uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact after birth for parents and baby

For Baby

  • Babies are warmer after birth
  • Babies breathe easier and have more normal heart rates
  • Babies are much calmer and cry less
  • Babies can latch onto the breast all by themselves

For Mother

  • Mothers and babies get to know each other sooner
  • Mothers have higher levels of relaxation hormones
  • Mother-infant attachment supports infant brain development
  • Mothers and babies are more successful with breastfeeding and tend to breastfeed longer
  • Milk supply can be improved

For Father

  • Fathers can be a part of the birthing experience
  • Fathers can hold the baby skin-to-skin
  • Fathers can monitor the nine stages of their babies
  • Fathers can marvel at the ability of their baby

When babies are placed skin-to-skin with their mothers, there are nine observable stages of newborn behavior that lead to the first unassisted breastfeeding.

1. The Birth Cry

A distinctive cry that occurs as the baby’s lungs expand for the first time.

2. Relaxation

After the birth cry stops, the mouth and hands become relaxed. The baby is very quiet and still.

3. Awakening

Usually starts around 3 minutes after birth. The baby may open his or her eyes, move his or her head and shoulders and show some mouth activity.

4. Activity

Usually begins around 8 minutes after birth. During this stage, your newborn could:

  • Keep eyes open
  • Look at the breast
  • Salivate (dampen mother’s skin)
  • Root by moving the mouth from side to side, rubbing the cheek against mother’s chest
  • Exhibit high rooting by lifting part of the torso from mother’s chest
  • Bring hand to mouth
  • Move hand to the mother’s breast and back to the mouth
  • Stick out tongue
  • Look at mother
  • Massage mother’s breast with one or both hands

5. Rest

The Baby may have periods of resting at any point throughout the first hour.

6. Crawling

Usually begins around 35 minutes after birth. The baby will move his or her way to the breast by crawling (sometimes while also sliding, pushing and rooting). The baby may lift their torso or head while moving toward the breast.

7. Familiarization

Usually begins around 45 minutes after birth, lasting around 20 minutes. During this stage, your newborn could:

  • Touch and/or massage mother’s breast
  • Lick mother’s breast and/or nipple
  • Look at mother
  • Make sounds
  • Stick out tongue
  • Lick or suck on his or her own hand
  • Look at other people

8. Suckling

About an hour after birth the newborn will usually take the nipple, self-attach and suckle. It may take more time with the baby skin-to-skin to complete the previous stages if the mother has had a c-section, medication for pain or an epidural.

9. Sleep

Baby, and sometimes mother, may fall into a restful sleep about 1 1/2 to 2 hours after birth.

The big day is finally here – you are about to meet your new baby. Knowing what to bring to the hospital when you deliver can alleviate any last-minute confusion. Think about putting together an overnight bag with things that make you feel like you’re at home.

The hospital will provide a gown before and during delivery. You are welcome to stay in that or change into your own pajamas after your baby has arrived.

Hospital Bag Checklist

Especially for first-time parents, packing a hospital bag can be difficult. Our handy checklist will help you make sure you’ve got all the basics ready to go.

  • Comfortable clothes such as a robe, slippers, socks and pajamas
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, hair care items, lotion, deodorant or other toiletries
  • Breastfeeding supplies
  • Paper and writing utensils
  • Lamaze manual
  • Phone numbers, insurance card, and photo ID
  • Cell phone charger
  • Personal pillow, if you prefer
  • Snacks if you prefer

Items for Baby

  • Car seat that has not expired or been in an accident
  • Going home outfit for baby
  • Blanket or car seat cover, depending on weather
  • Diaper bag

This is an exciting time for you and your growing family. Bringing a few things from home can help make your stay comfortable and memorable.