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Labor & Delivery

As your due date approaches, it’s time to prepare for the labor and delivery of your baby. Altru Health System’s Family Birthing Center provides a variety of labor and birth services so you feel prepared and at ease throughout the process.

Schedule a Labor and Birth Planning Appointment

In preparation for your upcoming stay at Altru’s Family Birthing Center, you and your family are encouraged to schedule a birth planning appointment. At your appointment, you and your partner and/or family members will meet with one of our registered nurses or clinical nurse specialists who will help you personalize your birth plan.

You will be able to:

  • Understand the first signs of labor approaching.
  • Learn more about what to expect in labor and following your baby’s birth.
  • Discuss the pain relief and labor support options available to you.
  • Discuss your preferences for infant care and feedings while in the hospital.
  • Learn about our infant security plan designed to keep you and your baby safe during your stay.

For your convenience, you can register electronically for an appointment through the My Delivery feature within MyChart. Here’s how:

  • Sign in to MyChart.
  • Select the Visits—“My Delivery” tab.
  • Enter your due date and verify your information.
  • Enter your information in the Pre-delivery History Database: Newborn Database, Birth Certificate, Referrals for Home Visitation, Developmental Newborn Screening and Military Families Support.

To arrange an appointment via phone, call 701.780.3700. Appointments are available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and usually last one hour.

Signs of Labor

Some women experience very distinct signs of labor, while others do not. No one knows what causes labor or when it will start, but several hormonal and physical changes may indicate the beginning of labor.

Here are the first signs of labor and birth approaching:

  • Passing mucus: As the cervix opens, the mucus that has built up at the cervix during the course of the pregnancy is released into the vagina. Known as the mucus plug, this discharge may be pink, clear or contain small amounts of blood.
  • Contractions: As the body contracts, your abdomen will become hard, and it will become soft as you relax during contractions. During labor contractions, you’ll experience pressure in your pelvis, along with discomfort and sometimes minor aches in your back and abdomen. These contractions typically start at the top of the uterus and move in wave-like motions to the bottom. When you’re in labor, the contractions will continue, even when you relax or change your position.
  • Water breaking: This occurs when the amniotic sac ruptures, which can happen before labor has started or during labor. It will either come as a slow trickling or large rush of fluid.
  • Effacement and dilation of the cervix. This is when the cervix opens and become thinner and softer to prepare for birth.


There are two main types of delivery:

Vaginal Birth

Labor for a vaginal birth consists of three main stages.

  1. During the first stage, you will begin to experience contractions and your cervix will dilate to prepare for birth. Your physician will monitor the position of the baby at the hospital. The first stage of labor is the longest.
  2. The second stage is the actual pushing and delivering of your baby. You will get in a comfortable position and alternate between periods of pushing and resting between contractions.
  3. The third and final stage is the delivery of the placenta, that gave your baby nutrition and oxygen in the uterus.

Some women choose to have an unmedicated birth. This means going through labor without use of pain medications and with limited use of artificial medical interventions. For women who want pain relief during labor, we offer many safe interventions. You can meet with a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) while in the hospital to review the epidural option, if desired.

Cesarean Birth

A cesarean birth, or C-section, may be best for you and your baby depending on your circumstances. Our skilled obstetricians will discuss this with you should it be necessary. Our surgical suite is located close to our Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and conveniently adjacent to your private labor room.

We offer several choices to help make this a special birth experience for you and your partner:

  • Your partner may be present with you after your anesthesia is initiated.
  • A clear viewing drape is available so that you can see your baby’s birth if you desire.
  • Skin to skin can be an option in the operating room and/or recovery room if it is safe for you and baby.
  • A private post-anesthesia room is available for you and baby to get to know each other while being cared for by an experienced perinatal nurse during your golden hour.

A highly skilled group of professionals with expertise in the perinatal specialties will be available just for you and your newborn during your birth experience. They will continue to care for you during your post-anesthesia recovery and check on you during your stay.


Postdelivery is a time to celebrate your new baby. It’s also the time for a mother to regain her strength after labor and for parents to learn how to take care of a new addition to the family. Our perinatal nurses provide postdelivery care that includes breastfeeding support, continued monitoring and coordination of care and medications.

Specialty Services

Altru offers the following specialty services for you, your loved ones and baby:

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Within Altru’s Family Birthing Center is the NICU. The NICU is a 16-bed, Level III nursery specifically designed to care for critically ill or premature infants.

Experienced physicians use the latest technology to provide specialized care to those in need. Working in collaboration with providers throughout Altru and Mayo Clinic, our NICU providers make decisions in the assessment, diagnosis and management of the healthcare needs of neonates and infants.

Our full-service neonatal transport team is available round-the-clock to move infants requiring intensive care services to and from Altru Health System.

Spiritual Care

We realize that childbirth is a memorable and spiritual experience for many. Because of that, a trained chaplain from Altru’s Spiritual Care is available 24 hours a day to provide support to you and your family. Additionally, access to the chapel, located on the second floor of the hospital, is available for prayer, meditation and quiet time for families.

To contact Altru’s Spiritual Care or members of the pastoral services staff, call 701.780.5300 (between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.) or 701.780.5000 (after hours). Your nurse is also available to coordinate a chaplain visit.

For more information about preparing for labor and delivery at Altru’s Family Birthing Center, call 701.780.5480 or 800.732.4277.

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