What to Expect

  • As your due date nears your baby settles deeper into your pelvis. You may feel increasing pressure on your bladder but less pressure on your diaphragm, relieving shortness of breath that you may have been experiencing.
  • Your cervix gradually softens, shortens, and becomes thinner in preparation for delivery, a process called "effacement" (also "ripening" or "cervical thinning").
  • You may experience Braxton Hicks contractions—irregular, unpredictable, nonrhythmic contractions.
  • Hours, days, or even weeks before labor, the mucous plug in the cervix is expelled. It will look clear, slightly pink or blood-tinged, and have a stringy or sticky texture.

Tips for the Well-Being of You and Baby

  • Early in labor, it is not necessary to rush to the hospital. Track your contractions.
  • Call your doctor when your contractions are about 8 minutes apart and last longer than 30 seconds.
  • When you go to the hospital, check in at Admitting, located just inside the main entrance on the third floor. (If you arrive between 8:30 PM and 6 AM, use the Emergency Services entrance on the second floor.)

Birth at Valley Medical Center

  • Our birthing parent and baby rooms have state-of-the-art birthing beds and are fully equipped to ensure a safe delivery in a comfortable, homelike setting.
  • After you check in, you'll be taken to your personal parent and baby room, where your nurse will assess the condition of you and baby and review your birth plan.
  • For a vaginal birth, Valley Medical Center offers a range of options for managing pain during labor and delivery. Let us know how we can help—whether it's giving a massage, telling you more about what to expect, or offering medication.
  • If you are scheduled for a cesarean delivery, your support person will change into scrub clothing and you'll be taken to The Birth Center 30 minutes before your scheduled delivery time.
  • Whether your delivery is spontaneous or scheduled, we're eager to help make it special for you and your family.

One expectant parent out of every four gives birth via cesarean delivery-through an incision in the abdominal wall and uterus rather than through the vagina.

These guidelines explain what to expect if you are scheduled for a cesarean.

The night before arriving at the hospital:

  • No food for 8 hours before surgery.
  • Clear liquids only until 2 hours before the scheduled surgery time.
  • No smoking.
  • Unless instructed by your physician, no medication after midnight.
  • Check in at Admitting, located just inside the hospital main entrance on the third floor. You will be taken to the Birth Center on the second floor.

          For delivery scheduled at Check-in at
    7:15 AM 5:30 AM
    8:30 AM 6:30 AM
  • At The Birth Center, you will be taken to your room, and your nurse will perform a physical assessment.
  • You and your support person will be given identification bracelets.


  • Your nurse will review your birth plan with you.
  • Nursing staff will start your IV.
  • Your support person will change into operating room clothing.

Progressing to Childbirth

  • If another parent is experiencing a complicated delivery your scheduled cesarean may be delayed. This does not happen often, but it is important to be aware of the possibility.

Recovery Process

  • We encourage you to walk often, with help. Walking will help you heal. Plan to walk in the halls several times a day.
  • Most times, medicine you receive during surgery will help control pain for 12 to 18 hours after surgery.
  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen will be your main pain medicines. Opioids will be given only if needed. 

Download Valley's Preparing for Your C-Section Guide.

The nurses and doctors at The Birth Center at Valley Medical Center are ready to help you manage pain in a variety of ways—whether it's giving a massage, providing information so you know better what to expect, or offering you safe, short-acting pain medication during labor. Pain control is an important part of your care. Please tell us if you are having pain or if your pain medications are not working for you.

Analgesics are medications that relieve pain or raise a person's threshold for pain tolerance. Analgesics are usually given through an IV by your nurse and can be administered more than once until the later stages of labor (when you are pushing or delivery is near).

Anesthetics are substances that produce a loss of sensation. "Regional" anesthetics are used to numb a particular area of the body. The most common regional anesthetics used in childbirth are:

Nitrous Oxide

  • Effective, non-narcotic pain management.
  • Self-administered in bed or while seated.
  • Safe for Mom and baby, does not affect labor progression.
  • May be used before an epidural or other pain-relief option.
  • Is nitrous oxide is right for you?  

Continuous Epidural

  • Used for the duration of active labor.
  • Injected into the lower back or through a catheter (a very small plastic tube) placed in your back by an anesthesiologist.
  • Takes 10 to 15 minutes to begin relieving discomfort and affects the area between your waist and toes.
  • A patient-controlled epidural is also available. With this type, you press a button to give yourself a controlled amount of medication.

Spinal Anesthesia

  • Used mainly for cesarean delivery.
  • Injected into the lower back by an anesthesiologist.
  • Takes 3 to 5 minutes to begin working and lasts 1 to 2 hours, affecting the area between your waist and feet.

Pudendal Block

  • Used for discomfort during an "assisted" delivery (when forceps or vacuum are needed). Does not block contraction pain.
  • Injected in the top of the vagina by the doctor who is delivering the baby.
  • Takes 2 to 5 minutes to work. Lasts about an hour and affects only the vagina and perineum.

Local Infiltration

  • Used for episiotomy repair after delivery.
  • Injected in the perineum by the doctor who is delivering the baby.
  • Takes about 2 minutes to work and lasts about 20 minutes. Numbs the perineum.

Anesthesia Provider

Valley Anesthesia Associates provides anesthesia services at Valley Medical Center. You will receive a separate bill from them for your anesthesia costs. If your health insurance covers obstetrical services, it will usually cover obstetrical anesthesia. However, we recommend you that call your insurance provider to verify coverage.

For more information about anesthesia costs, call Valley Anesthesia Associates at 425.353.3788.