Your labour and birth

Mercy Hospital for Women provides care for women with both uncomplicated and complicated pregnancies. Our birth-suite team of midwives and doctors work together to provide the best care for you, taking all of your personal health and individual needs into account.

We understand you have your own unique expectations, past experiences, preparation requirements and sometimes concerns regarding the birth suite.
We welcome you to bring your labour and birth plan you have considered and discussed with your midwife and/or doctor.

Please call our birth suite if you think you are in labour: 03 8458 4058

Preparing for labour and birth

Participating in a childbirth class, especially for your first baby, can help you understand the physiology of labour, as well as what supports and options are available for managing your labour.

Being physically prepared is also very helpful, so we advise you do an active birth class. Doing a hypnobirthing class can also be of great benefit to you and your partner or support person.

What to bring to hospital

Listed below are suggestions of what you can bring to hospital. You may want to bring other items to make your stay more comfortable.

For you

  • Medicare Card and Health Care Card
  • Victorian Maternity Record (VMR)
  • casual, comfortable clothes
  • dressing gown and slippers or shoes
  • two maternity bras and nursing pads
  • three packets of thick maternity pads
  • pyjamas or nightgowns – front opening for breast feeding
  • soap, toothpaste, shampoo, brush or comb, tissues etc
  • pen.

Please Do Not Bring Valuables

Suggested items for labour

  • loose fitting nightgown or t-shirt
  • camera, music
  • massage oil
  • gel heat pack- NO hot water bottles
  • lip balm or Vaseline
  • high energy foods and drinks eg Lucozade, lemonade for partner or support person
  • bathers and towel for partners if using bath.

For your baby (guide only)

  • packet of newborn nappies
  • four singlets
  • two hats
  • five night gowns or grow suits
  • three wraps including one thicker wrap
  • two pairs of mittens, socks or booties
  • baby wipes or bag of cotton balls

If planning to formula feed you will need to bring the following equipment with you for your hospital stay

  • 6 sterilised bottles, teats and lids
  • 1 tin of your chosen formula
  • Steriliser – a Microwave Steam Steriliser is recommended.

Caring for you during labour

Our birth suites are staffed by a team including midwives, doctors, anaesthetists and paediatricians who are available to care for you and your baby.

For your individual care in labour, depending on your chosen model of care, you will be cared for by a midwife who is well known to you, or one of our birth-suite midwives who will quickly get to know you. For uncomplicated labour and birth, you will primarily be cared for by midwives.

If you need additional medical assistance, a team of doctors is available at all times. Our doctors will introduce themselves during your birth-suite stay, and stay in touch with the midwives caring for you.

If you need a caesarean birth, you will be looked after by doctors, together with anaesthetists.

Our paediatricians are available at all times, if they are needed, to provide care for your newborn baby.

For people who have difficulties with English, a free and confidential interpreter service is available, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Ask the staff to arrange an interpreter for you.

Being active in your labour

Women who are active and remain upright during labour experience less pain, have shorter time in labour, and require less medical intervention.

Coping with labour is made easier when you feel supported. Support people during birth reduce tension and fear. Choose people who really will be of support to you.

Massage, warm packs and using the shower and/or bath can all be soothing, and are ways your support person can help you.

Other supports during labour

If you need help with your contractions, there are many options available to you. You can use some, or all, of the options. During your labour, your midwife will continue to guide you, as well as take your personal preferences into account.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (or TENS)

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) works in two helpful ways. It ‘scrambles’ the message of the pain from the contraction sent to the brain. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, our own naturally occurring painkillers. It can be used with other methods of pain relief.

If you would like to use TENS please contact our parent education department for more information.

Sterile water injections

Some women experience relief from their back pain by getting sterile water injections just under their skin.

Medical pain relief

There is a variety of medical options available to you for pain relief. Your midwife and doctor can guide you to decide if medical pain relief is the best option for you. Options include:

  • Gas – this can be helpful for taking the edge off the pain, as well as being an effective distraction. There are no long-term effects on your baby.
  • Morphine: this is a strong painkiller, given by injection. It takes about 30 minutes to work and lasts for between two and three hours. Morphine reduces the severity of the pain, but may not take it away completely. It does help with relaxing between contractions. There are side effects for your baby, depending on how soon your baby is born after the injection. Baby can be very sleepy or have breathing problems. We can give your baby an injection after the birth, which reverses the sleepiness or breathing problems. We will watch your baby to ensure they are breathing well.
  • Epidural: this is a local anaesthetic injection, delivered into the epidural space (not spinal cord) in your back to block any pain. You will usually lose all sensation from your waist down. A very thin tube is left in your back so the epidural anaesthetic can be topped up to stop any pain.

Your baby’s birth

For the majority of women, the birth of your baby will be a normal vaginal birth.
There are times when the safest birth for you and your baby may be an assisted vaginal birth (with a vacuum or forceps) or a caesarean birth. We never do this without discussing why this may be best for you. Even if this is an emergency, there will be time for you to discuss your birth options. Your midwife and doctor will be there to help guide you.

After your baby is born

Most babies cry and breathe within a minute of being born. As long as all is well, your baby will be placed on your chest or tummy after birth.

  • Sometimes, you can feel a bit overwhelmed just after baby is born: feel free to let baby lay on your skin, your midwife will make sure your baby is warm.
  • Newborn babies will often start to seek out your nipple for a feed. Your midwife will help you with baby attaching, if you would like her to.
  • Once you feel ready, and your baby is warm, it is lovely to touch and look at your baby. Count her or his fingers and toes, and spend some time marveling at your precious newborn baby.

Your midwife will be there to check you and your baby, as well as giving you and your partner time to bond with baby.

When you are both ready, you will be transferred to the postnatal ward or home if you are in the Maternity Group Practice (MGP) model of care.

Other places to get help

Raising Children Network - Pregnancy and birth

  • Website:
  • About:

    Raising Children Network is the complete resource for Australian parents, beginning with pregnancy and birth.

    This evidence based website provides information for your pregnancy presented as articles, videos and parenting in pictures, including Week by week, Dad’s guide to pregnancy, Health and wellbeing and Preparing for your baby.

Raising Children Network - Newborns

  • Website:
  • About:

    Raising Children Network is the complete resource for Australian parents.

    This evidence based website provides information for parents of newborns presented as articles, videos and parenting in pictures, including Breastfeeding, Sleep, Behaviour, Connecting and communicating and Premature babies.

Better Health Channel

  • Website:
  • About:

    We provide health and medical information to improve the health and wellbeing of people and the communities they live in. This information is:

    • quality-assured and reliable
    • up-to-date
    • locally relevant
    • easy to understand.

    The information on our site aims to help people understand and manage their health and medical conditions. It does not replace care provided by medical practitioners and other qualified health professionals.

    We are fully funded by the Victorian Government, with no commercial advertising or corporate sponsorship.


Labour and Birth

  • Website: Information on labour and birth
  • About:

    Learn more about how every labour and birth is unique and unpredictable, making it difficult to plan.

    It is common for women to feel some level of anxiety during pregnancy; perhaps about their changing body, the health of their baby or concerns about the birth.

Pain Relief in Labour and Childbirth

TENS hire

  • Website: TENS
  • About:

    FreeMOM TENS is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (T.E.N.S.) device which has been specifically designed to assist in the relief of pain during labour, afterbirth pain and assist with sleeping after delivery.

Additional resources

Active birth
  • Description:

    Women who are active and upright during labour may experience less pain and may have shorter labours. Find out about breathing, positions, massage and more.

  • File Download: English File size: 336.3K — File type: PDF
Induction of labour
Advice for support people during labour and birth
Advice after epidural or spinal
Going home after giving birth

Last reviewed September 28, 2017.

During your postnatal stay

It is important that you enjoy the precious time after your baby is born. Knowing what to expect after birth, and the support we give you, is helpful in taking each day at a time as you get to know your baby.

During your postnatal stay

When your baby may need additional care

Some babies are born too early (prematurely) or with an illness. At Mercy Hospital for Women, these babies are cared for in our combined Neonatal Intensive Care and Special Care Nurseries.

When your baby may need additional care