Labor terms

It’s important to know what may happen when you go into labor. You deserve and need to understand your care.

Talk to your doctor and midwife about these terms so you feel confident going into your delivery:

  • Electronic Monitoring: Instruments used to record the heartbeat of the baby and your contractions.
    • Option:  Monitoring when needed instead of all the time to be able to walk around during my labor.
  • IV-Intravenous Line:  Delivers fluids and medications directly into the vein.
    • Option:  When an IV line would be used for hydration and the delivery of medications or not needed. Heplock is an option -just in case an IV is needed.
  • Breaking my water:  Breaking the bag of water by a doctor or midwife.
    • Option: Preferring my bag of water to break by itself, if possible.
  • Induction:  Forcing labor to begin.
    • Option:  There are times when induction is necessary.  It’s very important to talk to your doctor or midwife about these situations. Induction may be needed if:
      • Your water has broken and labor has not begun within 12-24 hours;
      • Your pregnancy lasts longer than 42 weeks;
      • You have high blood pressure or diabetes;
      • You have an infection in your uterus; or
      • Your baby is growing too slowly.
  • Pitocin:  Medication given in a vein to help start labor or make labor stronger.
    • Option:  Choosing my labor to get stronger by itself and to try non-drug methods like walking, changing positions or nipple stimulation, if possible.
  • Epidural: Medication given around the spinal cord which may lessen pain of contractions.
    • Option:  When and why an epidural may be given.  Epidurals can help ease labor pain.  Talk with your doctor or midwife about epidurals.  They do have side effects that make it more difficult to move and change position as labor moves along.
  • Inhaled analgesia (Nitrous oxide):  Pain management option in some hospitals and birth centers.
  • Option: When and why inhaled analgesia may be given and for how long.
  • Episiotomy: Cut made to enlarge the vaginal opening for baby to pass through
    • Option: Why an episiotomy may be necessary and how the doctor or midwife can help prevent a tear. Exercises I can do before delivery to prevent tears.
  • Vacuum or Forceps:  Instruments to help the baby come out if I have trouble pushing right before birth or if the baby is in distress.
    • Option: When a vacuum or forceps may be needed and when we can not use them.
  • C-Section:  Baby delivered through a cut made in the abdomen and uterus.
    • Option:  What can I do to avoid a C-section and when would you have to do one.
Have more questions?
Sources:, The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin with Katie Rohs.