Labor & Delivery

Rely on the birth care team at your Essentia Health hospital to help you stay as comfortable as possible during labor and delivery. Trust us to follow your birth plan as closely as possible while keeping your and your baby’s health and safety our top priority.

One-to-One Labor Support

Count on our experienced and supportive labor and delivery nurses to help you through childbirth. You’ll appreciate having the same nurse tend to you throughout your active labor. That means your nurse gets to know you and your preferences—so you get care that fits you.

What Does Labor Feel Like?

When you go into labor, you may feel pressure or intense cramping sensations in your lower abdomen. Rest assured that labor pain is natural and productive. It’s also predictable. It begins, rises, peaks, and subsides.

For Labor Coaches

Learn how to provide support during childbirth. Download Essentia Health’s Guide for the Labor Coach [PDF].

Managing Labor Pain

Rely on your care team at Essentia to help you understand your options for effective pain management during labor. We’ll help you choose techniques or medications that consider:

  • How much pain control you want
  • Effects on you and your baby
  • Your stage of labor

Drug-Free Pain Control

If you prefer a non-medicated delivery, or natural birth, your care team can help you cope with labor pain using tools such as:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Birthing balls
  • Breathing techniques
  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Hydrotherapy in a whirlpool tub
  • Massage
  • Movement and positioning
  • Relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery

Medications for Pain Relief

Depending on your needs and preferences, you may receive:

  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) – Reduces anxiety and increases feelings of well-being; you’ll inhale it through a mask you hold
  • Systemic analgesics – Lessen pain; you won’t lose any feeling or ability to move, but you and your baby may feel sleepy
  • Local anesthesia – Numbs a small area of your body
  • Regional anesthesia – Decreases feeling in the lower areas of your body
    • Intrathecal analgesia – Relieves pain for two to four hours after a one-time injection during active labor; you’ll remain awake and able to walk
    • Epidural anesthesia – Controls pain continuously or by a button you control; you’ll remain alert and relaxed but will need to stay in bed
    • Spinal anesthesia – Causes total numbness in the lower body; you’ll remain alert and awake

Family-Centered Cesarean Birth

If a Cesarean section, or C-section, is the safest way for you to deliver your baby, ask about having a family-centered C-section. You may also hear this called a gentle C-section. This approach to care means you and your partner will be as involved in the birth as much as possible. As long it’s safe for you and your baby:

  • Your partner will remain by your side during birth
  • You may have the option for a clear drape, so you can see the delivery
  • You’ll be able to hold your baby on your chest immediately after delivery

Prepare for Labor & Delivery

Learn what to expect during childbirth by taking a class at an Essentia location near you. Explore our pregnancy and birth classes.

Signs of Labor