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Care During Birth

Auckland City Hospital

Women we look after at AOC give birth in the labour and birthing unit of National Women’s Health at Auckland City Hospital. Situated on the 9th floor, all the rooms are spacious with en-suite bathrooms and toilets. From most rooms there are views across the city and there is ample space for family and visitors. Many of the rooms have hot tubs. In the event of any problems in labour paediatricians, anaesthetists and a caesarean section theatre are all close at hand.

Many thousands of women have benefited from the supportive and caring atmosphere of National Women’s. All of us at AOC feel it is a very caring and safe place to give birth.
If you are admitted to hospital at any time during your pregnancy or have a problem that needs urgent review outside of clinic hours you will usually be seen in the Women’s Assessment Unit (WAU) – also on the ninth floor of Auckland City Hospital.

You can watch or download a “virtual tour” on video of the labour and birthing unit here.

Labour

When you arrive at the hospital in labour we will check all is well with baby and examine you to see how far your labour has progressed. We encourage you to keep mobile in labour and will discuss your options for pain relief, guiding you, according to how far you have progressed and how you are coping. You can use the bed, chairs, Swiss balls, La-Z-Boy, or hot tub to get comfortable in labour. There are also birthing stools that you may find helpful for delivery. We will need to listen to baby’s heartbeat intermittently but generally you can keep mobile in labour. Usually there is no need to examine you to check how labour is progressing more than every three or four hours. Should an epidural prove to be the best pain relief option for you this can usually be arranged quickly so there is no need to book anything in advance. Sometimes baby’s heartbeat needs to be monitored continuously or your progress watched very closely, but if there are any concerns about baby’s well-being or how your labour is progressing we will always discuss this with you.

What to Bring

At your 35 week birth talk we will discuss what you need to bring. Some clothes for baby and yourself, toiletries, some snacks, drinks and a camera are generally all that you need. Some couples bring laptop computers, books and music players but remember you do need to be able to carry everything that you bring. Most importantly, make sure you have a car seat for baby. Don’t worry if you forget everything: National Women’s can cope.

Caesarean Section

If you are not progressing in labour or there is concern about baby’s well-being, delivery by caesarean section may be required. The decision making around this will always be done with you and your partner. Only very rarely does this need to be done very quickly and in almost all cases a caesarean section can be performed with an epidural for pain relief and your partner coming with you into the operating theatre. Very occasionally, a general anaesthetic is needed and then your partner is not able to come with you into the operating theatre. A team of experienced anaesthetists and support staff are always close at hand should a caesarean section be the safest way for baby to be born.

If baby is born by caesarean section it doesn’t need to leave the room and your partner can help weigh and dress baby. You can usually give baby a cuddle and have “skin to skin” contact with baby within a few minutes of it being born. As soon as you are in recovery you can breast feed baby.

If your baby is going to be delivered by a planned or “elective” caesarean section then you will usually attend a pre-admission clinic a couple of days before to meet one of the anaesthetists who will review your medical history and answer any questions you have about epidural or general anaesthesia and post-delivery pain relief. Some blood will also need to be taken to check for any possible problems with cross matching blood in the unlikely event of you needing a blood transfusion. You will be admitted to the hospital a couple of hours before your caesarean section time. Usually, baby is born close to the planned time of your operation but occasionally elective cases are delayed by unexpected emergencies.

Pain Relief

In the last few weeks of your pregnancy we will talk over your options for pain relief. Entonox (“gas and air”), pethidine, hot tubs and a 24 hour epidural service are all available at National Women’s. If you are considering using TENS you will need to hire this from a pharmacy in the last couple of weeks of pregnancy. We encourage you to keep an open mind about pain relief - sometimes an epidural is the best option but equally often you may surprise yourself by how well you cope with relatively little pain relief.

Birth Plans

We will spend time with you as a couple at about 35 to 36 weeks to talk over a birth plan. We encourage you to think over who you would like to come into National Women’s with you. For most women this will be their partner but many women find their mother, sister or a friend makes a huge difference to their confidence in labour. We will also talk over your pain relief options, what you should consider bringing and answer any worries you have about your delivery.

Labour always seems to go better if you’re confident, optimistic and well supported - we all feel our role is to help you get into the right “space” and make your birth a safe and rewarding one.