Maine Medical Center
Woman with newborn baby

Labor & Delivery

At the Family Birth Center at MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland, we want you to be prepared as possible. Here is some valuable information to help you understand what will happen when you first arrive. Once you are here, our labor and delivery care team members will be there to provide further information and support.

When you arrive at the medical center, please check in at the Coulombe Family Tower security desk.

  • Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you will first go to the obstetrical emergency department (on the second floor) where we will confirm your stage of labor. This usually takes 1-2 hours.
  • If you are in active labor, you will be brought to the labor and delivery unit where you will stay throughout your labor and the birth of your baby.
  • If you are not in labor, but you or your baby need to be monitored, you will be brought to the prenatal care center.
  • If you are scheduled for an induction, you will go directly to the labor and delivery unit.
  • If you are scheduled for a cesarean birth, you will go to the obstetrical emergency department first where you will be cared for before the surgery. You will also stay there with your baby for 2-3 hours after the birth. The birth will happen in the surgical suites next to triage.

Most women in labor have choices about what they want their birth experience to be. At the MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland Family Birth Center, the patient’s safety and desires come first. Whether it is a natural child birth with little to no medical intervention, or one with medication to help ease pain, our nurses and doctors work with each patient individually to help them achieve their goals.   

Before you come to the medical center, be sure you understand the birth process and your options. Talk to your obstetrical provider about what happens during labor and what your options are for managing pain, should you want it. It is important to discuss your wishes with your provider during your prenatal visits. When you come to the medical center, make your plan known to your care team upon arrival.

We offer many options for women in labor without medication. You can change your plan depending on your stage of labor. We support various natural measures including:

  • Walking
  • Birthing tubs
  • Massage
  • Position changes
  • Birth balls
  • Hypnotherapy
  • General distraction

Ask your nurse or doctor for the “Comfort Measures in Labor” handout to learn more about tools you can use. You can learn about comfort measures in our childbirth education classes, too.

Should you choose medication for relief during labor, it’s best to know your options before making a decision. There are benefits and risks of using medications. Your care team is here to answer your questions. There are three types of pain medication available during labor & delivery:

  • Nitrous Oxide Inhaled gas that is self-administered after education provided by anesthesiologist and/or nurse
  • Medication given by your nurse through your IV or an injection
  • Epidural pain medicine given through a thin tube in your lower back by an anesthesiologist

While it is not possible to relieve all the discomfort of labor, we are here to support you, and make sure you have the experience you desire with the comfort measure plan you have developed. No matter what type of comfort measures options you choose, we recommend you communicate with your care team here in the hospital every step of the way.

Learn more about labor and delivery pain relief options.

Learn more about obstetric anesthesiology.

  • After your baby is born, you will recover in the Labor & Delivery/Obstetrical Emergency area for 2-3 hours. Then we will bring you to a private room on the Mother Baby Care Unit.
  • You will typically stay on the Mother Baby Care Unit for 1-2 nights if you have a vaginal birth or 2-3 nights if you have a cesarean birth.
  • Your baby will stay in your room with you on the Mother Baby Care Unit where your nurse will care for you and your baby.
  • If your baby needs special medical care or to be watched more closely he or she will be moved to the Newborn Observation and Procedure Area (NOPA) or the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
  • You are welcome to have visitors at any time during your stay. Patients are welcome to have up to 4 visitors in their room at a time, although we encourage you to limit your visitors so that you can focus on getting your rest and learning how to feed and care for your baby. We also encourage you to bring your own doula. 
  • During our Quiet Hours of 8 PM – 6 AM we ask that all visitors are quiet in the rooms and hallways to allow all of our patients to rest.

We encourage you to take any of our Childbirth Education classes to learn more about labor and birth, caring for and feeding a new baby, and more. Call 207-662-6132 for more information. We are here to help make the birth of your baby a safe and comfortable experience. 

Newborn Care

Infant Feeding: MHMMCP supports The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Once solid foods are introduced, breastfeeding is recommended until your baby is 12 months old and may continue for as long as both mother and baby desire. Any time you spend breastfeeding is beneficial to both you and your baby. Whichever method you choose to feed your baby, it should be a decision that makes you feel comfortable. Our nurses are all trained in helping with breastfeeding and will guide you throughout your stay. We also have an experienced team of Lactation Consultants available 7 days a week. If you will be formula feeding your infant, the nurses will teach you about formula selection, feeding techniques, and newborn feeding patterns.

Skin-to-Skin: Your baby will be brought right to your chest after he or she is born, as long as you are both feeling well. Research has shown that babies who are kept skin to skin will stay warmer, feel more secure, cry less, breastfeed better, AND their blood sugar, heart rate, and respiration stabilize easier when placed and kept skin-to-skin with Mom. You can expect the staff at the Family Birth Center to help you keep your baby skin-to-skin right after birth and throughout your stay.

Vitamin K: Since all newborns are born without enough Vitamin K or the ability to use it well, your baby will receive a Vitamin K injection within a couple of hours after birth, as recommended by the AAP. This will help your baby with blood clotting. Learn more about Vitamin K here.

Antibiotic Eye Ointment (Erythromycin): The AAP also recommends every baby is given an antibiotic ointment for their eyes to prevent an infection from developing if they were exposed to an undetected sexually transmitted infection (chlamydia and gonorrhea) during birth. Learn more about eye ointment here.

Hepatitis B Vaccination: If you are planning on being a vaccinating family, your baby will receive the first of three Hepatitis B vaccines while in the hospital.  It is important to vaccinate your baby at birth so he or she will be protected as early as possible from any potential exposure to the Hepatitis B virus. Questions about this and other vaccinations? You can find more information here.

Circumcision: If you have a baby boy, you have an important decision to make: whether you will have him circumcised or leave his penis natural. For some families, the choice is simple because it's based on cultural or religious beliefs. But for others, the right option isn't as clear. There are many things to consider when making this decision. Learn more about circumcision.

Many insurance companies do not cover the cost of this procedure. Your provider may require you to pay a portion of the amount up front or may bill you afterwards. In most cases, an obstetrician or a pediatrician will perform the circumcision in the hospital before your baby is discharged but there are some situations that require this procedure to be done in an outpatient visit. Talk with your partner and your physician about the benefits and risks, costs, and scheduling before making a decision.

Newborn Screenings

By law, all newborns are tested for several rare but serious medical conditions. Babies with these conditions may look healthy at birth. If not treated, these conditions can cause health problems such as mental retardation, slow growth, and even death. With treatment, these problems may be prevented. More information can be found at Baby First Test website.

Hearing Screening: Maine requires newborns’ hearing to be screened before they are discharged from the hospital. A child develops critical speaking and language skills in the first few years of life, and if a hearing loss is caught early, doctors can treat it so that it doesn’t interfere with that development.

Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) Screening: CCHD is a birth defect in the structure of the heart or how blood flows through the heart. This painless screening measures how much oxygen is in your baby's blood. Click here for a video to learn more about this screening.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Screening: In accordance with State of Maine recommendations, all infants born in Maine are screened at birth for CF if the family agree. Genetic counseling is available to parents of infants who screen positive for CF or who are carriers of the CF gene. Learn more about CF.

Infant Security

Soon after the birth your nurse will apply identical ID bracelets to you, your baby, and your birth partner. Wear them until after your baby has been discharged. They will be checked each time your baby has testing/procedures, leaves the newborn observation area, and at time of discharge. We also have an electronic system that will help us be sure of the baby’s safety in our unit. This electronic tag is also attached to an ID band that will be removed only at discharge. This electronic tag sounds an alarm if your baby is removed from the unit.

You are the most important person in keeping your baby safe. Please never leave your baby alone at any time. All of our hospital staff must wear a photo ID badge. Staff caring for infants have a special pink band across the bottom of their ID badge. Only staff with the pink stripe should transport your baby. Immediately tell our staff about anyone you think is suspicious. Since staff will approach anyone carrying a newborn in their arms in the halls, place him or her in the bassinet if you leave your room.

Birth Certificates

Please fill in the birth certificate worksheet that you will receive so it can be sent to the Department of Human Services Vital Records Unit. It is best to get this paperwork done here where your baby is born, otherwise you will need to go to Portland City Hall or your home town/city hall and pay a fee to file this information. In 4-5 weeks, your baby’s birth certificate will be available at your home town or city hall. The Social Security card will be mailed to you in 6 weeks. More information can be found in the brochure in your welcome packet.

If you are not married and need to fill in paternity papers, both parents must sign the paternity form in front of a notary public. You may get the papers notarized at the Family Birth Center. These forms are sent to the Portland City Clerk’s office and the Department of Human Services Vital Records Unit in Augusta.

Low Intervention Birth

Whether it be a natural child birth with little medical intervention, or one with medication to help ease pain, our nurses and doctors work with each patient individually to help them achieve their goals.

Immunization Schedule

Review a schedule of recommended immunizations. These may vary depending upon where you live, your child's health, the type of vaccine, and the vaccines available.

Feeding Your Newborn

How you feed your newborn is the first nutrition decision you will make for your child. Our guidelines on breastfeeding and bottle feeding can help you make the decision that's right for you and your baby.

Harold Alfond College Challenge

Maine babies can start a college investing account with a $500 grant from the Alfond Scholarship Foundation.