Your Birth Options

We want your birth experience to be as safe and satisfying for you as possible. You can help us help you by considering these options. Use this guide as you prepare. We will accommodate your wishes as much as we can.

Remember, every labour and birth is unique. Some events are unexpected and others may be unavoidable. Keep an open mind. Remember, together our objective is to have a healthy baby and a healthy mother in a family-focused environment.

Support person

support person with labouring woman
  1. Time the length and frequency of contractions. Frequency is measured from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction.
  2. In early labour, contractions may be mild and infrequent and the mother may feel anxious and excited. Try to take her mind off her labour by going for a walk or playing a game of cards. A warm shower or massage may help her relax. Stay at home as long as you both feel comfortable.
  3. As the labour progresses, her contractions will speed up. They will become stronger, longer and closer together. She may become very serious or introverted as this happens. She may not want to talk or be distracted; labour is taking all her energy and concentration. This is a good time to go to the hospital. Help her cope with one contraction at a time. Breathe with her and try massaging her lower back. Encourage her to change positions.
  4. In transition, she may feel overwhelmed, exhausted and ready to give up. Remind her that labour is nearly over. Maintain eye contact and ask her to breathe with you. You ma y need to be firm. Finally, it is never easy to watch someone you care about in pain. You can not do it for her, but your presence and encouragement can make this a memorable and satisfying experience.

Help her by…

  • Using comfort measures such as backrubs, fanning, massage, holding her hand
  • Doing errands
  • Getting her ice chips
  • Helping her with breathing and relaxation
  • Being a spokesperson to keep in touch with others
  • Emotional support, company, distraction.
a razor with a NO bar through it

Do NOT remove “the hair down there”

Research shows that removing “the hair down there” during the last month of pregnancy (36 weeks and later) can lead to a greater chance of infection, should you end up with a c-section. If you just can’t bear “the hair down there”…

Clip it! Wax it! Cream it! Just don’t shave it!

Family presence

We try to support family-focused care in our Birthing Centre. If at any time, your nurse or health care provider requests that the visitors step out of the room, please respect this request. Please reinforce this with your support people.


Phone calls

North York General Hospital does not give out any information about you to inquiring relatives, friends or strangers. It would help us if you explained these limitations to those people who care about you. A phone is available to you in the birthing suite for incoming and outgoing calls. Your cell phone may also be used with discretion.

Please ask a person not to visit if they are experiencing any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling sick
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting


We would like to know your preferences regarding the birthing atmosphere or environment.

Nearly all vaginal births occur in our birthing suites using birthing beds. Exceptions include twins, breech and very pre-term infants where the delivery is in our Operative Birthing Suites. The most frequent position for birth is semi-sitting. We encourage position changes and squatting to help the progress of the second stage. There are no large sterile drapes, only one small sterile towel.

Things to think about

Most women prefer a light diet in labour (eg. toast, soup, jello, cookies, crackers, popsicles, juices, etc.). You may bring your own labour snacks.

  • What are your preferences for the type of pushing you will do or the position for pushing and for delivery?
  • Would you or your partner like to cut the cord?
  • Do you want to identify the sex of the baby yourself?
  • Are you planning picture taking during or after the birth?
  • Do you want some time alone as a new family?
  • Do you plan to breastfeed the baby?
  • Do you have special dietary needs (vegetarian, Kosher, allergies, etc)?
  • Do you have any special concerns or fears that we should know about? How can we help you?
  • Do you have any religious requests that we can help accommodate?

Medical interventions during labour

Discuss your preferences about medical interventions with your health care provider during your prenatal visits.

Intravenous lines are necessary in the following circumstances:

  • If an epidural or general anaesthetic is necessary
  • If oxytocin stimulation is necessary
  • If prolonged labour or other conditions result in dehydration
  • If there is abnormal bleeding
  • If you are Group B Streptococcus (GBS) positive
  • If you have had several babies
  • If you have had a previous cesarean section

Vaginal examination

A vaginal exam is used to assess the progress of labour. An exam is usually done when you arrive in labour. However, it may be deferred if your water has broken and labour is not yet established.

It may also be done when:

  • Pain medication is requested
  • Bearing down sensation is felt
  • Every 2-3 hours to check for progress when you are in active labour

Fetal Assessment

Your baby’s well being needs to be assessed during the labour. We will use a fetal monitor when you first arrive. The fetal heartbeat will be assessed on a regular basis during your labour. Continuous fetal monitoring is indicated for identified reasons that your nurse and health care provider will discuss with you.

Cesarean birth

One support person may go to the Operative Birthing Suite with you for a cesarean birth. The role of your support person is to provide you with reassurance during the operation and to hold the baby once he/she is stabilized.

For most cesarean births, a spinal anaesthetic is used. Following the anaesthetic procedure, your support person will then come into the operating room with you. Occasionally, a general anaesthetic (going fully to sleep) may be required and when this happens, no support person is allowed in the operating room.

The support person may be asked to leave the operating room under certain circumstances.

Our most important goal? Healthy baby, healthy mother.