Patient Education

Preparing for Birth and Parenthood

Whether you are expecting your first child or your fourth, our patient education resources are designed to help prepare you for your hospital stay, childbirth, recovery, and caring for your new baby.

Click on the links below to

Pre Labor: Before You Come to the Hospital

Childbirth preparation classes are designed to provide you and your support person with the information and skills you need to approach the birth process with confidence and skill. Discussions include:

  • Discomforts of late pregnancy
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Stages of labor
  • Pain management: breathing and relaxation
  • How to prepare for labor
  • Medications
  • Possible complications
  • Cesarean sections
  • Postpartum and newborn care
  • Infant feeding, basic breastfeeding

We cannot stress enough the importance of prenatal care as soon as you learn you are pregnant.

Preconception counseling also is a good way to ensure a healthy start for a healthy pregnancy. It is especially vital during pregnancy to watch the health of both you and your baby.

If you do not have an obstetrician or if you need a high-risk pregnancy specialist, call Emory HealthConnection℠ at 404-778-7777. Our staff will refer you to an obstetrician or family practice physician who can deliver your baby at Emory Healthcare. This physician referral service is fast, confidential and free.

If you have any one of the following symptoms during your pregnancy, call your doctor right away.

  • Bright red bleeding
  • Abdominal pain that is severe or is worsening
  • No fetal movement for more than half the day (refer to "How is Your Baby Moving?")
  • Leakage of watery fluid
  • Fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain or pain in your legs
  • Severe headaches, visual disturbances or fainting spells

It is a good idea to pack for your trip to the hospital one month before your due date. If you have other children, arrange for their care while you are away.

Leave your valuables at home, including watches, rings, and other jewelry. Diapers and sanitary pads are supplied by the hospital during your stay.

Due to the timing of routine vaccinations, or because of employment or school requirements, many pregnant women are faced with the decision of whether or not to receive certain vaccines during pregnancy. In many cases, vaccines prevent infections that would otherwise be very harmful to both mom and baby.

Generally, pregnant women can safely receive vaccines made from dead viruses, from genetically engineered viruses, or from toxoids, which are chemically altered proteins from a bacterium. In contrast, live viruses should be avoided, as they can potentially cause harm to the baby. Please see below the 2005 guidelines presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Safe vaccines:

  • Influenza: If produced by an inactivated virus (as is usually the case), the vaccine can be received during any trimester and is recommended for every pregnant woman. While the flu does not harm the baby, the illness may cause more severe symptoms when a woman is pregnant
  • Tetanus: Receive in the second or third trimesters if it is due (due every 10 years), or if exposure occurs (deep or dirty wound); generally includes diphtheria toxoid which is also safe
  • Meningococcal or Rabies: Recommended to receive if exposures occur
  • Hepatitis B: Recommended if you work in healthcare or daycare, or if you live with somebody who is infected with Hepatitis B

Vaccines to avoid during pregnancy (these vaccines may harm the baby):

  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
  • Varicella
  • Typhoid
  • Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)

Vaccines that may be recommended if the risk of infection is high:

(This generally means that there is only limited data on the risks of the vaccination, although there are no reports of the vaccine causing harm to the baby.)

  • Anthrax
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Smallpox
  • Yellow Fever

**According to the CDC, breastfeeding does not adversely affect immunization and is not a contraindication for any vaccine.


You will be admitted first to the triage area in labor and delivery to be evaluated. Your nurse will take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure. She or he will ask you questions about your contractions and will usually perform a vaginal examination to check if your cervix has begun to dilate.

The nurse also will use the fetal monitor to assess the frequency of your contractions, your baby's heart rate and how your baby is reacting to your contractions.

When you are in active labor, you will be admitted to a labor, delivery, recovery room (LDR). Each of our LDR rooms is comfortable and spacious, private and has its own bathroom.

Each room has a tub or shower to use during labor. The tub and shower help to alleviate pain and aid in relaxation during and between contractions. Think about how great a bubble bath at home feels when you have had a stressful day. The same effect is true with a bath or shower during labor.

The nursing and medical staff will want to know about your birth plan for you and your baby. This is the best time to discuss your plans for walking, pain relief, if you plan to breastfeed your baby, the name of your pediatrician and your plans for circumcision. The nurse also will need to know if you are allergic to anything, especially medications.

A fetal monitor is often used to obtain information about your baby. It may be indirect, direct or a combination of the two. Fetal monitoring may be intermittent or continuous. If your labor is progressing without complications and your baby is tolerating labor without problems, your nurse may agree to intermittent monitoring with your doctor's permission. This will allow you more freedom to move.

Indirect monitoring also can be done by telemetry (remotely), which allows you to walk throughout labor and your baby will still be monitored. We also can listen to your baby's heartbeat by using a fetoscope.

If the baby's father cannot be here during your labor and birth, you may decide on another support person — either a family member or friend — to take his place.

This person will usually be permitted to stay with you throughout your labor and delivery.

We recognize that families are important to you at this exciting time. Our philosophy of family-centered maternity care is guided by the principle that the environment should be safe and comfortable for everyone.

Visitation in the labor and delivery suite is decided by you, the laboring woman, your physician and your primary nurse during labor.

Post Labor: After Giving Birth

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives all agree that breastfeeding is the preferred method of feeding your baby.

If you get home and have questions about self-care, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding or baby care, you may call us at 404-686-2237. If you think that either you or your baby is sick, please call your doctor as soon as possible for instructions.

A medical records clerk will come to your room with a birth certificate worksheet to fill out. A formal copy will be made from this worksheet and filed with the state. You may order this official copy three months after the baby is born.

If you have questions about the birth certificate, call our Medical Records Department at 404-686-2482.

Becoming Acquainted

All mothers will have their babies in their rooms as much as possible. If mother or baby is ill and requires special care, other arrangements may be made.

Having your baby with you will help you learn to care for him or her with the nurse's help and guidance. You will be able to care for your baby at your own pace.

While caring for your baby over a consistent period of hours, you will begin to learn the meaning of his or her behavior and how to meet your baby's needs. You will have an opportunity to feed your baby when he or she is hungry, to handle, hold and rock your baby when he or she needs attention, and to become well acquainted with your baby's reactions.

Learning About Yourself and the Baby

From the time your baby is born, your nurse will be teaching you how to care for your newborn and yourself. Your nurse will give you a discharge instruction packet. The packet is designed to provide information about breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, newborn care and postpartum/home care. Other topics about home care are included in this packet.

Television programs on mother and baby care also are available on closed-circuit TV channel 20 in your room. Fathers and other family members also are encouraged to watch.

Because of the Georgia state law requiring the use of an approved car seat at all times, all babies must be in car seats when they leave the hospital. It is Georgia law that all children under the age of three be placed in a safety seat.

The recommended place for the car seat is in the middle of the backseat facing to the rear of the car with the seat at a 45-degree angle or less.

Someone should be able to see the baby at all times. The car seat should be secured and belted according to the manufacturers' recommendations.

Emory Healthcare does not provide infant safety seats. Please know how to operate your infant safety seat and practice how to put the baby in and adjust the straps before discharge.

To safeguard your newborn, an infant security transmitter will be applied to your baby's ankle. You and one (1) support person will be issued identical armbands with the same number. Do not remove the armbands until you are released from the hospital. If your baby has to stay, plan to keep your armband until the baby is discharged.

Never leave your baby unattended, even if you go to the bathroom. Take the baby with you. Let the nurse know if you plan to leave the room for any reason. Your baby may go to the nursery while you are gone.

Never give your baby to anyone unless they are wearing an Emory University Hospital Midtown photo ID badge. Remember if anyone needs to see your baby for any reason, make sure you know who they are and why they need to see your baby. Call your nurse if you have doubts about anyone.

Be sure you know your nurse's name and you are familiar with anyone who cares for your baby. If you do not know the person who comes to the room to ask about the baby, call your nurse right away. Don't delay.

If your baby has to have tests, find out how long they take, who is doing the tests and why. Most tests can be done in the room. If you are in doubt about anyone entering the room, call the nurses' station right away.

Always use a bassinet to transport the baby in the halls and to the nursery.

How Can We Help You Today?

Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at 404-778-7777. We look forward to hearing from you.