Labor and Delivery

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The more you know about labor and delivery, the more prepared and relaxed you’ll be when the day arrives. Norton Healthcare is committed to providing the necessary resources along with expert care, which is why more parents choose to deliver with us than any other hospital in the region.

Stages of Labor

Every childbirth experience is unique, and there’s no way to predict how your specific delivery is going to go. However, there are three general stages of the birth process. Here’s what to expect:

Early and active labor. During this stage, your cervix dilates (opens) and effaces (thins or stretches). Your contractions will feel mild and irregular at first, becoming stronger, closer together and regular as you progress. The length of the first stage of labor is unpredictable, lasting anywhere from a few hours to days.

The birth of your baby. This stage begins once the cervix is dilated to 10 centimeters and lasts until the baby is delivered. It can take from a few minutes up to a few hours or more to push your baby into the world.

Delivery of the placenta. After your baby is born, you’ll likely feel a sense of relief, but a lot is still happening. There will continue to be mild contractions, and you’ll be asked to push one more time to deliver the placenta. This process usually lasts from a few minutes up to an hour.

Talk With Your Provider

Because no two pregnancies or labors are alike, it’s important to discuss any questions or concerns with your provider. Below are a few common topics you should address before the big day.

  • How will I know I’m in labor?
  • What if I have preterm contractions?
  • When should I go to the hospital?

Norton Healthcare offers prenatal classes to help prepare you for childbirth and beyond.

What to Expect from Norton Women’s Care

More mothers in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose to deliver their babies at Norton Hospital or Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital than with any other hospital system in the area.

We deliver more than 8,000 babies a year. We’re close to you with more than 90 providers at more than 25 locations around Louisville and Southern Indiana. Choosing Norton Women’s Care gives you many options for how delivery day could go — all with the confidence of knowing that our obstetrics and pediatric specialists are there to help. With Norton Women’s Care, you’ll find:

  • The birth experience you want: You can choose natural childbirth, a midwife, labor tub, nitrous oxide and other birthing options. We’ll recommend a C-section (cesarean section) or induced labor only if it’s medically necessary.
  • Preparation: Our specialists offer the support you need, including free Lamaze and other childbirth classesnew parent classesbreastfeeding supportchild safety classes and more.
  • Confidence and quality in care: Norton Women’s Care has been recognized as High Performing — the highest rating available — for maternity care with fewer complications and C-sections, plus breastfeeding support and other benefits.
  • We offer the highest-level (Level IV) neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Louisville and Southern Indiana at Norton Children’s Hospital, and a sophisticated Level III NICU at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
  • Around-the-clock OB/GYN care is available at Norton Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital emergency departments.
  • Our board-certified maternal-fetal medicine specialists  can help guide you through a high-risk pregnancy, from treating preexisting diabetes in the pregnant patient to a fetal echocardiogram to diagnose a congenital heart condition before a baby is born.
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Convenient access to your medical record: Communicate with your health care provider, get lab results, renew prescriptions and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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