Whether you are a first-time Mom or you are preparing to welcome a new member to the family, your pregnancy and birth of your baby will be a unique experience. Here are some general things you may expect along the way.

Early Labor

Early Labor typically begins with the onset of labor pains until your cervix is three centimeters dilated. This stage lasts up to 12 hours. Contractions, which tend to be mild at this stage, last about 30 to 45 seconds with a rest period of five to 30 minutes between each. You may experience an aching in your lower back, menstrual cramps, and pressure in the pelvic area. Your water may break.

Conserve your energy. Drink plenty of water. Eat small snacks. Keep track of your contractions – how long they last and how much of a break you have between each.

Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, begin making your way to Women's & Children's Hospital. Don’t hesitate. Our skilled, experienced physicians and staff are ready to care for you at any stage of your pregnancy and labor.

Active Labor

Contractions during Active Labor are stronger, last longer, and come more frequently. You may expect each to be about 60 seconds with a three- to five-minute break between. This stage lasts about three to five hours as your cervix dilates from four centimeters to seven centimeters.

Begin making your way to Women's & Children's Hospital. Start the breathing techniques you learned in birth preparation classes. Experiment with different relaxing techniques or exercises between contractions. Try walking. Switch positions often.


The Birth stage can take 30 minutes to two hours as your cervix dilates from eight centimeters to 10 centimeters. Contractions, which are more intense and may overlap in this stage, last 60 to 90 seconds. You may experience a rest period between each of 30 seconds to two minutes. Hot flashes, chills, nausea, vomiting, and gas are common. The good news is that this is the shortest stage before you meet your baby face-to-face for the first time.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Neonatal Intensive Care UnitSometimes babies come early or complications develop. Our physicians and staff are well equipped and experienced in caring for critically ill newborns.

Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) services have been part of Women's & Children's Hospital since we opened more than 30 years ago. To date, our NICU is the only one in Acadiana staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with both a Board-Certified Neonatologist and a Nurse Practitioner. The Neonatologist and Nurse Practitioner work hand-in-hand with our experienced staff to provide the specialized care required by newborns in need of a little extra attention.

Women's & Children's Hospital has the only Level III Surgical NICU in Acadiana, as designated by the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals. It means we have a full complement of pediatric specialists – including a neurosurgeon, general surgeon, pulmonologist, orthopedic surgeon, and others – available to help care for your baby should the need arise.

Women's & Children's Hospital is the hospital other hospitals turn to for these specialized services time and again. Our specially trained and experienced Transport Team works in conjunction with Acadian Ambulance to provide transportation of critically ill newborns to Women's & Children's Hospital from other facilities in Acadiana.

Getting the Answers You Need

You may have questions along the way. If you are home, answers are a phone call away. Call 1-877-30-CARE-1 (1-877-302-2731) and ask to speak to a Nurse. Because labor doesn’t always start during normal business hours, a Registered Nurse is available to answer any of your questions and address any concerns any time of the day or night – even on weekends and holidays.