At about 36 weeks of pregnancy, you'll be expecting the arrival of your baby soon. To help you plan ahead, now is a good time to talk to your doctor about labor and delivery and what you can do to prepare for it.
When do I need to go to the hospital?
- How will I know that the baby is coming and it's time to go to the hospital?
- How will I know my labor pains have begun?
- What is false labor? How do I identify true labor?
- What should I do if my water breaks or I notice a bloody discharge from my vagina?
- What if I do not get labor pains even after 40 weeks of pregnancy?
- What are the emergency signs to watch out for?
What will happen during labor?
- How painful will it be?
- What can I do to reduce pain during labor? Breathing exercises?
- Will I be given medicines for pain relief?
- What is an epidural? What are the side effects of having one?
- Can I eat or drink during labor? What kind of food can I eat? Is there something I need to avoid?
- Will I have to have an intravenous line during labor?
How much time will it take for the delivery to occur once my labor pains have begun?
- What are my chances of having a normal delivery?
- What kind of exercises can help improve my chances of having a normal delivery?
- Who can accompany me in the labor room?
- Do my previous delivery conditions or complications affect this pregnancy in any way?
How many days will I need to stay in the hospital?
- What is the normal period of hospitalization for a normal delivery? For a cesarean delivery?
- Can someone from my family stay with me in the hospital?
- What kind of clothes will I need? Will I wear a hospital gown or I can bring my own clothes?
What do I need to bring with me for the baby?
- Do I need to bring clothes with me for the baby?
- Does the hospital have a facility for cord blood storage?
- How long will the baby need to stay in the hospital?
- How soon can I breastfeed the baby? What if I do not produce enough milk?
- Do I need to bring a car seat to the hospital in order to safely bring the baby home?
Questions - labor; Questions - delivery; What to ask your doctor - labor and delivery; Questions - how to prepare for delivery
Kilpatrick S, Garrison E, Fairbrother E. Normal labor and delivery. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 11.
Rose J, Eiting E. Labor and delivery. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 176.
Thorp JM, Grantz KL. Clinical aspects of normal and abnormal labor. In: Resnik R, Lockwood CJ, Moore TR, Greene MF, Copel JA, Silver RM, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 43.
Review Date 7/2/2022
Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.