mother and father with newborn

What to Expect During Labor and Delivery

By Stephanie Jahn, RN St. Luke's Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a planner like me. I bet you like to do your research and know what’s coming so you can be as prepared as possible. In my opinion, that’s smart. And if there’s ever a smarter time to plan ahead and know what to expect it’s when you have a little one on the way!

So to help your mom-to-be planning efforts, here are a few things you can expect when coming to St. Luke’s Birthing Center on the big day. 

A spa-like private suite. We wanted our moms to be as calm and comfortable as possible. That’s why we designed each of our rooms to be the perfect combination of home and spa. Your room will include a bed, sleep chair for your support person, bathroom with a shower, mini-refrigerator, TV, an infant bathing sink, and an infant warmer. We will also provide a bassinet once your baby arrives.

Monitoring. We have a number of options available to monitor your baby’s heart rate and your contractions while you’re in labor. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature will be checked often. A centralized monitoring system at the nursing station allows us to do this even when a nurse is not in your room. Your healthcare team will determine what level of monitoring is needed for you and your baby, but feel free to ask questions about this if you have concerns or preferences. 

IV placement. It’s standard practice to connect a small, flexible tube to the back of a laboring mom’s hand when she is admitted. This IV access point can be used to drip in fluids and medications quickly, if needed. In low-risk pregnancies, IV placement may be optional. If you have questions or concerns about this, talk with your OB-GYN provider.

Blood and urine samples. You will have your blood drawn to measure your blood count and to determine your blood type. You may also be asked to provide a urine sample.

A vaginal check. Your provider will ask your permission to perform a vaginal check. This is done to find out how dilated your cervix is and what position your baby is in.

Dining services. Water, ice, apple juice, ginger ale, popsicles, gelatin and broth are all available while you are in active labor. After delivery, you can order meals from Blue Waves Café, open every day from 7 am to 7 pm.

A full labor care team. Your labor care team will include an obstetrician, midwife or family practice provider, pediatric provider, family practice resident, labor nurse and anesthetist. A medical or nursing student may also be present, but you can decline their attendance if you wish. A great way to know all your options and think through your personal preferences is to fill out a birth plan

One to three nights at St. Luke’s. Your type of delivery and your providers will determine your length of stay. For an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, plan on staying 1 to 2 nights. For cesarean sections or deliveries with complications, plan on staying 2 to 3 nights. There are a few tests for infants that cannot be done until 24 hours of age. So, if you are planning on a 24-hour discharge, expect an additional 2 to 3 hours past the 24-hour mark for testing and education. Standard discharge times are 11 am and 1:30 pm. Please let your nurse know which one you prefer.

Tests and procedures after birth. In order to ensure your newborn is healthy and thriving, our Birthing Center staff performs a few standard tests and procedures after the birth. Learn more about these common practices here

If you have any additional questions, talk to your OB-GYN provider. If you haven’t selected a doctor or midwife yet, get to know our expert team of OB-GYNs, Nurse Midwives and Family Practitioners and schedule with someone you can connect with.


St. Luke’s Birthing Center is located in Duluth, MN, with St. Luke’s clinics in the surrounding region, including Superior, WI. To schedule a tour of St. Luke’s Birthing Center, call 218.249.5605.


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