Your Birth Preferences & What to Expect
Preferences for Your Birth Experience
The events surrounding the birth of a baby create memories that will remain with you for a lifetime. Thank you for choosing Alta Bates Summit Medical Center as your place of birth and including us in this special and exciting time.
In preparation for your stay with us, we have described common situations that may be encountered during the birth of a baby. Please review these so that you can discuss them with your physician or midwife. And please note that labor and delivery services are provided at the Alta Bates Campus in Berkeley (View Alta Bates Campus Map).
We have also included a Birth Preferences Worksheet (PDF, 390k) for you to complete if you desire. This page represents special requests that you might have for your birth experience. If you choose to use this birth plan, please print it out and bring it with you when you are admitted to the hospital.
The PDF links on this page require Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you are unable to open the files, you may need to Download Adobe Reader .
Labor and Birth
This is sometimes a lengthy process. During this time, it is very important for you to be able to move freely, change positions, and eat light snacks. In most circumstances, home is a much better place for early labor. Do not be discouraged if, on the first exam in the Triage Unit in Labor and Delivery, you are asked to walk for a period of time or even to return home. Occasionally, a medication can be provided to help you rest if you are sent home.
Induction of Labor
Your physician may recommended an induction of labor for medical or obstetrical reasons. The following document describes the various methods that may be used, what you might expect, and how to best prepare.
Preparing for Induction of Labor(English version, PDF)
Preparing for Induction of Labor(Chinese version, PDF)
Preparing for Induction of Labor(Spanish version, PDF)
All of our Labor and Birth Rooms are private and have showers. Three of these rooms include a Jacuzzi tub. We encourage you to bring your favorite music with battery-operated CD player, dim the lights to create a relaxing environment, and change positions as you need comfort. You may invite up to four family members and/or friends to be with you during labor. Limiting the number of guests during your labor allows the nurses to access you easily and provide the care you need during this important time.
It is important that you stay well hydrated during your labor. We encourage you to drink clear liquids during this time. We provide ice chips, water, juice, broth, and tea. You may also wish to bring hard candy for yourself and snacks for your partner.
We do not routinely start an IV at the time of admission. You will be free to walk around, drink clear liquids, and try different positions for comfort and to help the progression of labor. We do not routinely perform enemas or shaving in preparation for delivery.
Monitoring Your Baby
On admission to Labor and Delivery, every baby’s heart rate is monitored externally for 20-30 minutes. If the baby’s heart rate rhythm is reassuring, then you may only be monitored intermittently (10-20 minutes per hour). Sometimes continuous monitoring becomes medically necessary, and is routine if you have an epidural.
Pain Management Options
We support a range of non-medication options for pain management including walking, massage, shower or bath, rocking chairs, chairs, birthing balls, Jacuzzi, and more. Please review the comfort measures brochure in your prenatal information, “Preparing for Labor and Delivery”.
Walking around and being upright are helpful for the progress of labor. If labor does not progress, you may need additional help such as breaking the bag of water or administration of a medication called Pitocin. This medication is the same hormone that your body produces during labor. If this is necessary, we will start Pitocin at the lowest dose and increase gradually while monitoring your baby. Your physician or midwife will discuss the most appropriate options with you.
For pain medication, we offer two options that are both safe for the baby. One is a rapid acting short-term narcotic that is given either through a vein or injected intramuscularly. The other is epidural anesthesia which is pain medication that is injected into your lower back.
Epidural anesthesia is provided by an anesthesiologist who is on-site 24 hours a day. With an epidural, your blood pressure will be monitored continuously, you will not be able to walk around, and you may have a diminished sensation for the need to urinate. The baby’s heart rate will be monitored continuously.
Even if you do not plan to have either of these options, it is good to know about them before you go into labor. Please review the pain medication brochure in your prenatal information, “Preparing for Labor and Delivery”. In addition, an evening presentation about pain relief in labor is given by one of our anesthesiologists. Please see more about this class in your brochure, "Preparing For Your New Baby."
Episiotomies are not routinely performed. However, there are some circumstances when your physician or midwife may recommend the use of this procedure. Please discuss possible reasons for an episiotomy with your care provider.
Use of Forceps and/or Vacuum
Forceps and vacuum births are not routinely performed. However, there are some circumstances when your physician or midwife may recommend their use. Please talk with your doctor or midwife about these possibilities.
Cesarean Section (C-Section)
Should a cesarean section become necessary, you will likely be awake and your support person can remain with you during the birth. You and your partner will be able to hold your baby very soon after the delivery as long as your baby is in good health. On rare occasions, you may need general anesthesia and your support person will need to wait outside the operating room so that we can focus our full attention on your care.
Information About Scheduled C-Sections(English version, PDF, 353k)
Information About Scheduled C-Sections (Spanish version, PDF, 353k)
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Cutting the Cord
After a vaginal birth, we usually place the baby on your tummy and clamp the umbilical cord at that time. Newer studies indicate that very little blood flow occurs through the cord after birth. If your support person desires, he or she will be able to cut the umbilical cord.
For security purposes, matching identification bands will be given to the baby, mother, and designated support person. Our staff will discuss the Infant Security System with you.
At Alta Bates Summit we encourage breastfeeding. Our staff is trained to assist you and will help you to breastfeed your baby within the first hour of life. In addition, our board certified lactation consultants are available to offer further assistance as needed.
If you choose to bottle-feed your baby, your baby’s physician will advise you regarding infant formula. Our staff is here to offer you support and assistance in feeding and caring for your baby.
The recovery period is a time of transition. You will stay in the Labor and Delivery room while we monitor a safe transition for you and your baby. During this time, the new parents and baby stay together as much as possible. We encourage you to participate in your baby’s transition, including bathing and dressing your baby. Your baby will be receiving standard medications such as Vitamin K (to help blood clotting) and Erythromycin for the eyes (to prevent infection).
At Alta Bates Summit, we encourage the baby and new parents to stay together as much as possible. After your delivery, your baby will be transferred with you to the Family Care Center where we support rooming-in to promote bonding with your baby.
Getting to Know Your Baby
The postpartum period is a time not only to rest and recover, but it is also a time for you and your baby to learn about each other. Our staff is here to teach you about the changes you will be going through immediately after birth and about your baby’s behavioral cues. We encourage you to take classes offered through our Parent Education Department before and after birth to help prepare for this exciting time. Please refer to your prenatal information brochure, “Preparing for Your Baby,” which lists all of the classes and support groups.
In addition, during your postpartum stay you will be encouraged to attend a class on mother/baby care that is given daily by a registered nurse. You will also be given a book, You and Your Baby, which will serve as a resource for you when you get home. For more information about Parent Education classes and support groups, please call (510) 204-1334.
Newborn circumcision is only done by parents’ request. The circumcision is scheduled after the pediatrician has examined the baby and after you have signed the informed consent. Please discuss the procedure with your pediatrician.
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Birth Preferences Worksheet
Your memorable experience is our goal. Our desire is to honor your preferences for your birth experience. In some situations, the health of you and your baby may necessitate flexibility and collaboration. We want you to be informed and involved in your care while you are with us.
This preference list is only one of many ways we strive to achieve your highest patient satisfaction. If you choose to use this Birth Preferences Worksheet (PDF, 390k) , please print it out and bring it with you when you are admitted to the hospital.
We are looking forward to seeing you in Labor and Delivery and hope you will have a wonderful experience at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.
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