Once in Labor FAQ

Are you looking for more information about what to expect during labor?

Please visit our main Once in Labor page.

Whether you’re already expecting or just thinking about getting pregnant, it’s a good idea to plan and prepare as early as possible. The Woman’s Health Pavilion specializes in the care of obstetrics (maternity) patients and looks forward to becoming your health partner during this exciting time. On this page, we’ve answered some questions often asked about labor by moms we see at our OB-GYN offices in Queens and on Long Island.

If you have additional questions, we encourage you to meet with an obstetrician/gynecologist practitioner at one of our multiple offices in Queens or Long Island. Simply request an appointment using our online form. We see patients 7 days a week and offer same-day appointments for urgent conditions.

When I go into labor, should I go to the hospital right away?

In most uncomplicated cases, we recommend staying at home in early labor. Once your contractions follow a regular pattern, feel strong and painful, and are closer than 5 minutes apart, it’s time to head to the hospital. Keep in mind that labor can easily last 24 hours or more, especially for first babies. Be patient, and rest assured that babies don’t just “fall out.” Review our When Labor Begins page for more information about early labor.

Which hospital should I go to once it’s time?

Our doctors perform deliveries at the state-of-the-art Katz Women’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. You can find directions here.

How do you make sure my baby is OK during labor?

From the time you are admitted into the hospital until your baby is born, we will periodically monitor your baby’s heart rate and your contractions to ensure that it is safe for you to continue in labor. An abnormal heart rate pattern may indicate that your baby is not tolerating labor.  If monitoring suggests that your baby is not tolerating labor, there are a variety of techniques that can be used to reduce stress on the baby.

Fetal monitoring may be performed externally or internally.

  • External monitoring is performed with a special belt that is placed around your belly. A transducer on the belt detects the baby’s heart rate and transmits it to a recording device.
  • Internal monitoring is performed using a wire or catheter that is inserted through the vagina and cervix.  A scalp electrode is attached to the baby, and records electrical activity from the baby’s heartbeat. Contractions can also be monitored internally. Internal monitoring can only be used after the amniotic sac ruptures (“your water breaks”). Internal monitoring is safe for the baby, and hardly noticeable for women after placement of the leads.

What can I do to help my labor progress?

Sometimes, women arrive at the hospital in active labor, only to find that their labor slows down once they get settled. Here are some helpful tips to keep labor progressing:  

  • Move: While it may be the last thing you want to do, standing and walking seem to help labor progress. Some evidence suggests that the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix while you are upright stimulates contractions.
  • Relax: Taking deep breaths, listening to soothing music, and having your significant other comforting you can help you let go and allow your body to take over. It takes some planning to figure out what will work for you on your delivery day. If you’re a first-time mom, we suggest childbirth classes, held right in our offices, to help you feel empowered and reduce anxiety.
  • Don’t overmedicate: Most medications used for pain relief in labor have a tendency to slow contractions. We want you to be comfortable, but it’s sometimes preferable to tough it out in early labor so that strong, regular contractions can be established.  

Because our team has delivered many babies under a wide range of conditions, you should listen to the suggestions of the practitioner caring for you. Every patient is unique.

I’m worried about pain. How soon can I have an epidural if I’m in labor?

Generally, it’s best for patients to be in active labor, with well-established contractions, and dilated to at least 3-4 centimeters before getting an epidural, but each case is different. Sometimes, having an epidural in very early labor can make contractions stop. In later labor, women with a well-functioning epidural may not have the natural sensation to “push!” when they are fully dilated. Most women can be effectively taught which muscles to use, but the epidural occasionally needs to be turned off before delivery to facilitate pushing.

Will my baby stay in my hospital room with me?

Whenever possible, we encourage new moms to keep their baby with them while in the hospital. “Rooming-in” offers mom and baby many benefits, which include:

  • Babies tend to cry less.
  • Moms and babies have higher quality sleep.
  • Moms and babies bond more quickly.
  • Trained staff is available to provide guidance, address concerns, and answer questions.

Can a loved one stay overnight with me in the hospital?

Yes! Katz has 88 private mother-baby rooms, which each include overnight accommodations for the baby’s father, your partner, or another loved one.

Will I need an episiotomy?

Because each delivery is unique, we usually don’t know if a patient will need an episiotomy until her actual delivery. The vagina is capable of stretching impressively, which means that an episiotomy isn’t always necessary. Reasons for performing an episiotomy include:

  • Avoiding unnecessary physical trauma to the baby
  • Speeding up delivery of a baby in distress
  • Preventing the vagina from tearing

If an episiotomy is necessary, we rely on your epidural and/or local anesthetic to make sure you’re comfortable.

Some women have strong feelings about wanting or not wanting an episiotomy. Be sure to discuss this with your delivering provider while in labor. We are usually flexible if the situation permits it.

If I had an episiotomy with my first baby, will I need one again with my next baby?

Women who have already had a vaginal delivery are less likely to need an episiotomy with future deliveries, even if they’ve had an episiotomy: Each vaginal delivery makes the perineum more “stretchy”. If you feel strongly about avoiding an episiotomy, there are exercises which can be done to improve the elasticity of the vagina before childbirth.

Will I need a C-section?

A cesarean section (or C-section) refers to delivery of the infant through an incision in the abdomen and uterus. Moms who have had a previous C-section may choose to have future babies delivered this way, which is called a planned or scheduled C-section. Other reasons for a cesarean delivery include:

  • Labor stalls and fails to progress.
  • The baby’s heart rate pattern is abnormal and cannot be corrected.
  • Pregnancy of multiples (twins, triplets, or more).
  • The baby is coming out sideways or feet first (breech presentation) and cannot be reoriented.
  • The placenta is covering the cervix (placenta previa).

We understand that most women would like to deliver their babies vaginally; however, safety of both mom and baby is our top priority during any delivery.

Some women ask us for a scheduled C-section for their first pregnancy. Generally, we hesitate to perform major surgery unless there is a compelling need, but we do take patient’s desires into account. If you have any fears or reservations about labor and delivery, be sure to tell us early on in pregnancy so that we can properly address them.  

May We Help You?

Would you like to find out more about our treatments and services? Are you looking for a second opinion on a diagnosis or treatment recommendation you received at another practice? The experienced team at The Woman’s Health Pavilion is happy to help. Just let us know how and when you would like to hear from us.

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