Labor and Delivery Frequently Ask Questions

Below you find a list of frequently asked questions regarding Labor and Delivery.

How can I find out if my car seat is installed properly? 
You must have a safe car set for your baby before discharge. We strongly suggest that you practice putting your car seat in the car before the day of discharge.

Remember to read and follow your vehicle owner's manual and car seat instructions carefully. Check the owner's manual to see if you need a locking clip because not all safety belts will secure your car seat without it.

There are a number of resources available throughout Maine to check your car seat. Various organizations hold free seat checks at intervals throughout the year.

You can contact the National Safe Kids campaign at or at 207-778-2251 in Maine. 
You can also visit to search for a car seat check location near you.

How long will I be in the hospital? 
Your length of stay in the hospital depends upon how well you and your baby are recovering from delivery.  A new mother should have stable vital signs, a normal amount of bleeding, and the ability to care for herself and her baby before going home. Newborns usually have several wet diapers each day, pass bowel movements, and demonstrate the ability to nurse well or tolerate formula before discharge. Most new moms and babies remain in the hospital for two days but may stay longer if a cesarean birth or any problems occur.

How many people are allowed in the birthing room? 
Mothers can choose up to three coaches who will be of help to be present in the birthing room.

What are my options for dealing with pain during labor and delivery? 
You should think about your preferences for pain relief measures before you go into labor. Some women find that the techniques they learned in childbirth class are all they need to progress through labor and delivery. Comfort techniques may include:
  • Paced breathing 
  • Position changes 
  • Methods to decrease back pain 
  • Walking 
  • Warm bath or shower 
  • Aromatherapy 
  • Guided imagery 
For other women, additional pain relief methods may be necessary, including intravenous pain medicine and an epidural. If you take a childbirth education class, you will have an opportunity to discuss this with your instructor. If not, you may talk to your care provider or your labor room nurse about what may be most appropriate for you.

Epidurals relieve about 90% of the pain of labor. An anesthesiologist will insert the epidural, if requested. Usually, the epidural is not inserted until active labor (about four to five cms). Women who have an epidural may find that picotin is needed to help labor progress. Women who labor with and epidural must have an intravenous line, continuous fetal monitoring, and bed rest. If it is difficult to urinate, a foley catheter may be inserted. During the second stage of labor (pushing), women will feel pressure and have the urge to push, because an epidural does not take away all of the sensations of labor. Your labor room nurse and care provider will offer support, no matter what method of pain relief you choose.

What are the signs of preterm labor? 
Preterm labor is defined as regular uterine contractions and cervical dilation before 37 weeks of gestation.

The signs and symptoms of preterm labor include:
  • Cramping as if your period is starting (constant or occasionally)
  • A low dull backache (constant or occasionally)
  • Pelvic pressure (it may feel like the baby is coming down)
  • Abdominal cramping (with or without diarrhea)
  • Increase or change in mucous vaginal discharge
  • Uterine contractions that are every ten minutes or more often (contractions may be painless)
  • Clear, pink or brownish fluid (water) leaking from your vagina
If you experience any preterm labor symptoms, you should:
  • Stop what you were doing when the symptoms began
  • Empty your bladder
  • Drink 2 or 3 glasses of water or juice
  • Lie down on your side for about an hour
  • Call your care provider if the symptoms stay with you or get worse during that hour
Note: If the symptoms completely go away, you may return to light activity. Never ignore your symptoms or think you will be bothering someone if you call for advice.

What is a birth plan, and how do I make one? 
As you prepare for the delivery of your baby, it is important to remember that labor is a series of changing conditions, and no one can completely predict how you or your baby will respond. As expectant parents, you need to be aware of possible variations so that you can be better prepared to make your labor and delivery experience the best that it can be. Your primary goal is the safe birth of your baby, whether the delivery occurs vaginally or by cesarean. If you can focus on having the safest delivery possible, you're more likely to feel that your experience was satisfying.

It is very important to discuss your personal preferences for labor, delivery and postpartum with your care provider. Some couples even like to write a personal guide, often called a birth plan. Writing a birth plan gives you an opportunity to:
  • Think about the decisions you may need to make
  • List information you may need
  • State your choices for medications and procedures
Within the birth plan, you may want to include:
  • Names and phone numbers of your care provider, the hospital, your baby's doctor and a person who will care for your older children at home
  • Your preference for birth positions, pain medication and the presence of support people
  • Your preference for feeding your baby and your decision about circumcision
  • Writing a birth plan gives you a great opportunity to discuss many topics with your partner and care provider before your baby is born.
What is Baby Club? 
The Baby Club is a free program for expectant mothers that is designed to make giving birth at EMMC as stress free and pleasant as possible. 

When expectant mothers pre-register for childbirth they are enrolled in the EMMC Baby Club. As part of their membership, they get a special card that offers special services-including priority treatment when they arrive at the Registration Desk. Baby Club cardholders will also be eligible for a variety of other perks during their stay at EMMC.

Instead of mailing questionnaires, EMMC preregistration representatives will call expectant mothers in advance of their due date. Calls will be made between 8 am and 7:30 pm, with a call back number to be left on the answering machine if they are not at home. During the conversation with preregistration, expectant mothers will be enrolled in EMMC's Baby Club and a Baby Club card will be mailed our. All patients who plan to deliver at EMMC will automatically be enrolled in Baby Club when they pre-register.

As members of Baby Club, when moms in labor arrive at EMMC, they enter through our main entrance (the front door), where security personnel greet them and help them to get upstairs. There is no need to go to the ED.

The valet parking service is available to expectant parents only, free of charge, around the clock-24/7. This allows everyone in the family who is involved with the delivery to arrive on Penobscot Pavilion 5 at the same time.

After delivery, new moms will be treated to gift bags filled with useful items and treats for her and baby. Parents will also take home a commemorative photo of their baby. The photo can also be posted on EMMC's Online Nursery for family and friends from away to see.

What is EMMC's visitation policy? 
Your family, significant others and friends are welcome to visit with you and your baby at any time, in most areas of the Maternity Unit. Women in Labor & Delivery may choose up to three coaches who will be most helpful to them, but regular visitation is not encouraged. When a baby is admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), their family is provided with specific information about visitation that is most appropriate for that baby.

General Guidelines:
Please limit your visitors to two visitors at a time per patient in semi-private rooms whenever possible. 

For the privacy of our new mothers, we ask that there be no overnight visitors in semi-private rooms. 

Your physician or nurse may reserve the ability to restrict visitation due to your condition. 

Siblings of the new baby are welcome to visit at any time. Parents are encouraged to bring other children to visit the new baby once the mother and baby are at home. All children must be directly supervised by someone other than the patient. 

Visitation after 8:00 pm must be authorized by you and the charge nurse. All visitors who enter the hospital after 8:00 pm are asked to sign in at the Level 1 Security desk. 

For the health and safety of our new mothers and babies, we ask that visitors with cold or flu symptoms not visit when they are feeling ill. 

Please carefully consider what visitation times are going to work best for you. You may choose to encourage family and friends to wait until after you are home to visit with you and your new baby—or you may choose to set aside certain times each day when visitation is best for you. Your nurses will support your individual needs for rest, learning to care for your baby and spending precious "special time" with the visitors who are most important to you.

What is the difference between true and false labor? 
  • If you are beyond 37 weeks pregnant
  • The following are the signs of True (Active) Labor: 
  • Painful uterine contractions occur at least ever five minutes, lasting at least 30-45 seconds 
  • Contractions start far apart and gradually get closer together 
  • Eventually, contractions get much stronger and last longer 
  • Contraction pain starts in the back and moves to the front 
  • Walking makes the contractions feel stronger 
  • Contractions disturb your train of thought, conversation, and activity 
  • The cervix is dilated at least 4cm or 100% effaced and continues to change regularly with contractions 
  • The following are signs of false (or Early) labor
  • Contractions occur at irregular intervals 
  • No real change in contraction frequency 
  • No change in contraction length and strength 
  • Pain usually in the front and varies in intensity 
  • Walking helps contractions feel better 
  • Contractions do not disturb your normal conversation, train of thought, or activity 
  • No change in cervix after a period of observation, usually 1 to 2 hours 

What resources are available to me to help with breastfeeding? 
EMMC offers a number of resources to help new mothers with the transition to breastfeeding. When you check out of the hospital you will be given a copy of New Beginnings: A Postpartum Handbook, which outlines breastfeeding basics as well as other useful information about caring for your newborn. 

In addition, we offer a Breastfeeding Class ($6.00, or included in Childbirth Education Class) once per month. In this one night class, our certified lactation consultants will help you prepare yourself for breastfeeding. You will also learn the proper techniques and methods for successful nursing. Support partners are encouraged to attend.

We also offer a Breastfeeding Support Group that meets every Friday from 10:00-11:00 am in the Penobscot Pavilion 5 Conference Room. This group offers support to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Our certified lactation consultants will lead discussion regarding: breastfeeding in the early weeks, fussy babies, common problems and solutions, breastfeeding and working, nutrition/exercise and breastfeeding, and long term breastfeeding. No registration is necessary.

You can also call our lactation consultant Warmline at 973-8673 for professional advice and support.

What security precautions are in place for me and my baby? 
For the safety and security of our patients, we are using a new, state of the art security system.

This new system, called Safe Place®, uses small transmitter bands to control unauthorized departure of patients from the unit, while allowing open access for staff and visitors. Here's how it works...
  • Infant patients on Penobscot Pavilion 5 will be fitted with an ankle or wrist band that has a tiny transmitter inside. 
  • If a patient gets too close to a protected doorway, the door will automatically lock. An alarm will sound if the doorway is breached. 
  • If an ankle or wrist band is tampered with or cut, an alarm will sound. 

Special security precautions are taken by our nursing staff if a patient needs to leave the unit for any reason. 

The doors to our unit are always closed, but are not locked. We welcome all people visiting patients on Penobscot Pavilion 5 to enter and check in at the nurses' station. 

We want mothers to be as comfortable as possible when giving birth at EMMC.  We suggest that you bring the following with you when you come to give birth:
  • Baby Club card, Care Card, insurance card
  • Bathrobe
  • Slippers
  • A few pairs of socks
  • Eyeglasses if you wear them
  • Hair elastics/hair bands if needed
  • Lip balm
  • Hand lotion
  • Relaxation materials: books, magazines, games, music, extra pillow
  • Nursing bra
  • Breast pads
  • Underwear
  • Nightgown
  • Toiletries
  • Address book and cell phone (or prepaid phone card)
  • Roomy going-home outfit and comfortable shoes
  • We suggest that the person(s) serving as your coach have the following:
  • Watch with a second hand to time contractions
  • Camera and film/tape
  • Toiletries
  • Change of clothes
  • Snacks and reading material
And for baby . . .
  • Infant car seat (this is required)
  • Outfit for the trip home
  • Receiving blanket (a heavy one if weather is cold)
  • One pair socks or booties
  • Cap
  • Snowsuit optional for winter
When should I call my doctor?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call for advice right away:
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Swelling of your face and fingers, generalized swelling throughout your body, or sudden weight gain. If only your feet and ankles are swollen, this is quite normal.
  • Severe headache, dimness or blurred vision, or spots before your eyes.
  • A change in the activity of your baby. If you don't feel the baby moving at all for 12 hours or your baby moves very vigorously for a prolonged period, that may indicate a problem.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Persistent vomiting.
  • Chills or fever.
  • Painful urination.
  • Accidental injury.
  • Ruptured or leaking membranes.
  • Any signs of preterm labor.
Your care provider will probably want to examine you and may do some tests to be certain your baby is alright. The fetal monitor may be applied to check for signs of fetal distress, if you are far enough along in your pregnancy.

Where do I go when I arrive at the hospital to deliver? 
Come right to the main entrance of EMMC. Our friendly security staff will park your car for you. When you come in, proceed directly to the registration desk and show your Baby Club card if you have one. The registration desk staff will arrange for you to be transported to Penobscot Pavilion 5, Labor & Delivery. Wheelchairs are available at both the main entrance and the entrance to the Emergency Department; just ask a security officer for assistance.

Will I be able to take pictures of my baby's birth? 
Many families will want to record the birth of a new baby by taking pictures or using a video camera. This is usually allowed, but please make sure your healthcare provider and nurses give permission before photographing particular people or procedures. Within the operating room, we also ask that you get permission from the anesthesiologist and your healthcare provider before taking pictures. Within the nursery, you may photograph your own child, but you may not take pictures or videos of any other babies (due to confidentiality). We suggest that you discuss this topic with your healthcare provider before coming to the hospital.