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Labor and Delivery: What to Expect

mom and baby holding hands

The Johns Hopkins Birthing Center offers true mother/baby couplet care with no separation, provided both mother and baby are healthy. Learn more about giving birth at the Johns Hopkins Birthing Center.

  • To prepare for your hospital stay, we recommend bringing:

    • A robe
    • A breastfeeding bra (if desired)
    • Panties (we provide disposable mesh panties, if needed)
    • Baby clothing including undershirt, hat, blanket (weather appropriate; for taking pictures or when leaving for home)
    • Your own pillow from home (we do supply pillows but you may be most comfortable with yours)
    • Toiletries (we offer soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary napkins, although you may prefer to bring your own)
    • Infant approved car seat
  • Where to Go

    We are located in the Zayed Building of the Johns Hopkins Hospital at 1800 Orleans Street. All patients should go immediately to Zayed 8th floor to register and be seen in triage. Visit this page for maps and directions.


    For your convenience, patient and visitor parking is located directly across the street in the Orleans Street Garage. You can take the garage elevator to Level 4 via the pedestrian bridge. If you are being dropped off by a friend or family member, they can drive directly up to the main entrance at 1800 Orleans Street, and you can come straight into the hospital from there. Stop by the concierge desk for assistance.

    Valet parking is available at the main entrance on Orleans Street.

    1. You will be instructed by your physician to come to the hospital. At this point, you are probably in active labor.
    2. You will come straight to the Johns Hopkins Birthing Center, located on Zayed 8. Do not register in the main lobby.
    3. One of our nurses will assess you in a triage room. A doctor will examine you to determine if you are in labor and will screen you for COVID-19.* If you are in active labor, you will be transferred to a labor and delivery room (LDR). If you are not in active labor, you will probably be sent home.
    4. Your labor process will be monitored in the LDR. You will wear a belt that sends signals to the electronic fetal monitor. All of our nurses are certified in electronic fetal monitoring. Your doctor will check on you periodically to monitor your progress.
    5. If you should want pain relief, your obstetrician will decide the optimal time in your labor process. Our OB Anesthesiology Team is on stand-by on our unit 24/7. At our Center, we respect those patients who request an unmedicated delivery. You should discuss your birthing plans with your obstetrician prior to labor. PLEASE NOTE: We do not offer aqua/water births.
    6. Due to COVID-19, you are only allowed 1 visitor in both the labor and delivery and postpartum units. NO children will be allowed in Labor & Delivery. If you need to make special arrangements, please speak to your doctor. To view the full, updated visitor policy, please visit our Visitor Policy page.
    7. All newborn exams are performed at the mother’s bedside, as is newborn care like bathing, shots, eye drops and hearing tests. About two hours after delivery, you will be moved to your postpartum room, where you will stay with your baby until discharge.
    8. After a vaginal delivery, women recover in the hospital for up to 48 hours. We do support early discharge if you have excellent support in your home.

    *If you are COVID-19 positive, your labor management will be the same however your labor will take place in one of our protected areas for COVID-19 patients and your providers will wear appropriate protective equipment. 

    1. If you are scheduled for a C-section, or if you should unexpectedly need one due to a pregnancy complication, the Birthing Center staff is committed to providing you with a safe and healthy delivery.
    2. If your C-section is scheduled, you will be asked to come to the hospital the morning of your delivery for laboratory blood work and a brief physical exam. You will receive a phone call from a labor and delivery staff member to verify the date and time of arrival. You will be given a scrub kit to use in the shower both the day before and the morning of your C-section. This helps prevent infection. When you arrive the day of surgery, you will be admitted to a pre-operative waiting area. Your family member (1) will be allowed to wait with you. PLEASE NOTE: We do our best to honor the times assigned; however, many events in obstetrics cannot be planned. Your baby will be delivered as soon as possible and your nurse will keep you informed.
    3. Due to COVID-19, you will only be allowed a support person in the operating room if you are COVID-19 negative, your support person screens COVID-19 negative and they live with you. 
    4. The Birthing Center has three fully equipped operating rooms and a pediatrician is present at all C-sections. Further, you will still have true mother/baby couplet care. Your family member and your baby will be with you at all times.
    5. In the unlikely event that your child requires additional care after birth, he or she will be taken immediately to the NICU and attended by a top pediatric intensive care team.
    6. Women who have undergone a C-section typically recover in the hospital for 72 hours. We do allow early discharge (at 48 hours) and extended stay (up to 96 hours) dependent on your circumstance.
    1. Due to COVID-19, you are only allowed one visitor in your postpartum room. Your visitor must present their own government-issued photo ID. No children under 18 are allowed to visit. For full details, please see our updated Visitor Policy.
    2. We have a supportive and extensive breastfeeding program with five board-certified lactation consultants on staff (IBCLC). They are available to answer any and all of your questions regarding breastfeeding.
    3. We also offer breast pump purchases to patients that deliver with us at Johns Hopkins.
    4. A breastfeeding mothers' support group meets twice weekly. This service is free and offers support to breastfeeding MOMS and NURSING BABIES! All are welcome, registration is not required.
    • Every Tuesday morning on Zayed 8 West from 10:00am to 12:00pm. Please sign in at the Security Desk at the Zayed 8 Lobby and have a seat. Security will notify the Lactation staff when you have arrived.
    • Every Friday morning at the Schaffer Auditorium in the Bloomberg Children's Center, Main Level, from 9:00am to 11:00am. Please have a seat and the Lactation staff will be with you shortly if not already present.    

    If you have any further questions, please contact the Lactation Office at 410-502-3221.

  • Please bring a going-home outfit for your baby, including a weather-appropriate blanket and hat. Also, have someone bring your infant car seat to your room before you leave.

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