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Questions to ask your doctor about labor and delivery

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 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?

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 normal a 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 facility for cord blood storage?
  • How long will the baby need to stay in the hospital?
  • How soon can I breast feed 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?

Alternative Names

Questions - labor; Questions - delivery; What to ask your doctor - labor and delivery; Questions - how to prepare for delivery



Kilpatrick S, Garrison E. Normal labor and delivery. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al,. eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 12.

Rosene-Montella K. Common medical problems in pregnancy. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap:239.

Vasquez V, Desai S. Labor and delivery and their complications. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 181.

Review Date 8/22/2018

Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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