Labor and Delivery

After nine months of pregnancy, it's time to prepare for the labor and delivery of your baby.

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 specialist who will help you personalize your birth plan.

You will be able to...

  • Learn more about what to expect in labor and following your baby's birth
  • Discuss pain relief and labor support options available to you
  • Discuss your preferences for your stay with infant care and feedings
  • Learn about our infant security plan designed to keep you and your baby safe during your stay

For your convenience, you can also register electronically through the My Delivery feature within MyHealth. Here's how:

  • Sign into MyHealth
  • 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 are also available for Home Visitation, Developmental Newborn Screening and Military Families Support

To arrange your appointment, please call 701.780.3700. You may also schedule your own appointment in MyHealth. Appointments are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and are generally one hour in length.


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. These changes include:

  • Lightening: The process of your baby settling or lowering into your pelvis just before labor.
  • Passing of the mucus plug: When the cervix begins to open wider, the mucus accumulated at the cervix during pregnancy, is discharged into the vagina and may be clear, pink or slightly bloody.
  • Contractions: During contractions, the abdomen becomes hard. Between contractions, the uterus relaxes and the abdomen becomes soft. Labor contractions usually cause discomfort or a dull ache in your back and lower abdomen, along with pressure in the pelvis. Some women describe contractions as strong menstrual cramps. Contractions move in a wave-like motion from the top of the uterus to the bottom. True labor contractions do not stop when you change your position or relax.
  • Water breaking
  • Effacement and dilation of the cervix

Cesarean Birth

A Cesarean birth or C-Section may be best for you or your baby and, should this be necessary, will be discussed with you by one of our skilled obstetricians. Our surgical suite is located close to the 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 you on your during your stay. 


Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Within Altru's Family Birthing Center is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU is a 16-bed, Level III nursery specifically designed to care for critically ill infants and assist with high-risk deliveries.

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

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


Pastoral Services

We realize that childbirth is a memorable and spiritual experience for most. Because of that, a trained chaplain from Altru's Pastoral Services 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 Pastoral Services 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.