Preparing for Labor & Delivery

Find your care

If you are a new patient seeking prenatal care, please call 310-794-7274. If you are an established patient and need to reach labor and delivery, call 310-825-9111 for Westwood or 424-259-9250 for Santa Monica.

Labor and Delivery Preparation

By having conversations with your care team during your visits, taking childbirth classes and gathering emotional and physical support for the experience, you can prepare for labor and delivery.

Laboring at home

Before you go to the hospital, try a combination of activity and relaxation to help you stay comfortable during early labor. Talk through your plan with your partner or doula to prepare. You may find these activities helpful:

  • Eating easily digestible foods
  • Having a massage
  • Keeping lights dim
  • Listening to calm music
  • Sitting on a yoga ball
  • Staying hydrated
  • Taking a shower
  • Trying to nap
  • Walking

From 37 weeks on, know the plan and what you want to bring to the hospital for labor and birth. Consider who will care for any other children or pets when you go into labor, and have a back-up plan.

Call your doctor if you have decreased fetal movement, leaking water, spotting or bleeding or increasing contractions that are painful. Keep in mind travel time to arrive at the hospital when you are in active labor. Know which symptoms are abnormal and know the signs of early labor.

What happens when you arrive at the hospital?

A care team will greet you when you arrive. It may include an OBGYN doctor, nurse midwife, resident doctor and a nurse that will oversee your care.

When you are admitted to your labor room, you will need to:

  • Change into a gown (either your own or a hospital gown)
  • Provide a urine specimen
  • Have your vital signs checked (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, breathing rate, and oxygen levels)
  • Have your baby’s heart rate and your contraction pattern checked
  • Get an IV placed and lab blood tests conducted
  • Answer admission questions and discuss your birth preferences
  • Have a vaginal exam

Please feel free to bring things that help you feel comfortable during labor and birth, such as a music playlist, battery operated candles, a special blanket or pillow or a yoga ball (we provide peanut balls).

Preparing for birth

Preparing for birth starts with having a trusting relationship with your care team, knowing that the goal is a healthy outcome for you and your baby. We want you to stay open-minded and feel safe to ask questions as your labor unfolds. Find more information about managing labor pain.

When your body is ready to actively push your baby out (when you are 10 centimeters dilated), your team will work with you during the pushing stage of labor. This may take an average of 2 – 3 hours and it may include a variety of positions.

Your care team will support you the entire time as your body does the work of giving birth to your baby. Additional support people who are there to help are a baby nurse and possibly the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team to help stabilize the baby after birth, if needed. The entire team will work with you for a healthy outcome for you and your baby.

We will discuss recommendations to help you have a healthy outcome as needed. These recommendations may include special medications, procedures such as vacuum or forceps to help with a vaginal birth or a cesarean section. Your care team will give you clear explanations and information so you can make the right decision for you and your baby, when ready.

In most cases, you’ll know in advance which UCLA Health location you’ll deliver your baby. While we anticipate that your baby’s birth will be complication-free, it’s important to be prepared if a higher level of care is necessary. If you or your unborn baby needs specialized care, we may transfer you to a different UCLA Health location. If this happens, don’t worry. Keep in mind that:

  • Transferring a birthing parent and baby between hospitals is in the interest of providing the safest and most optimal care.
  • You and your family are partners in your transfer decision.
  • We will help make the transition as seamless and stress-free as possible for you. This is of utmost importance to us.

Your obstetrician or nurse midwife will discuss possibilities like a hospital transfer with you during your prenatal sessions. To simplify any necessary hospital transfers, please complete the admissions form.