Labor Support

Managing Your Comfort in Labor at Heywood Hospital

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Preparing for the arrival of your new baby?

Family with babiesHaving a baby is an exciting, life changing event. The Maternity staff and physicians at Heywood Hospital share your excitement. We are pleased that you have chosen us to care for you and your family.

We want you to have the best possible care and services, and to have the kind of birth experience you are seeking. Heywood Hospital can provide a home-like and comfortable experience in a setting that is welcoming and safe for you and your baby.

Heywood’s LaChance Maternity Center offers exceptional attention to your needs, and personal care and support for you and your family. But most importantly, we also offer highly skilled physicians and staff who can assure you that you and your baby are receiving the best possible care. It’s the best of both worlds — the comfort and warmth of home, with the safety and security of a hospital.

We offer many options to help you manage the discomfort and pain of labor. This section of our website explains these options in more detail. It is important to note that sometimes medical conditions or situations may affect which options your doctor will recommend for you. It helps if you share your dreams and your goals about your desired birth experience with your doctor and nurses ahead of time and again while you arrive.

We hope this information is helpful for you as you prepare for this miraculous event of birth. Now, take a deep breath and relax!

When it comes to having a baby, you can count on Heywood Hospital for complete support. We recommend a variety of options to keep you comfortable while in labor. From aromatherapy to epidurals, we will do everything we can to meet your needs, while still providing a safe environment. To assist you during the birthing process Heywood offers a variety of pain management options including:

  • AromatherapyOB OR
  • Music Therapy
  • Doulas
  • Lamaze
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Pain Injections
  • Intrathecals
  • Epidurals

Your primary care physician, obstetrician and anesthesiolo­gist are important resources to help answer any questions you may have. We encourage you to ask them to share their knowledge and experience. Knowing about the benefits, safety and risk of all methods used at Heywood Hospital for your care will help provide you with peace of mind.


What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy means “treatment using scents”. It is a holistic treatment using pleasant botanical oils such as lavender, rose or chamomile, when inhaled, can have a soothing, relaxing and comforting effect on the body. As a result, they are useful in labor to help alleviate fatigue and anxiety and promote relaxation.

How is it done?
At Heywood, we have an assortment of different scents for you to choose from. The oil of your preference is placed in a diffuser which scents the entire room and provides you with the benefits as described above.

Music Therapy

What is music therapy?
Listening to music can do wonders to relieve stress and help you to relax during your labor. Experts suggest that it is the rhythm or beat of the music that has a calming effect. It is believed that a baby in a mother’s womb is influenced by its mother’s heartbeat, associating it with a safe, relaxing and protective environment. Later in life, this rhythmic beat of the music also becomes associated with a safe and relaxing environment.

How can I use music therapy?
At Heywood, there is a CD player in every delivery room and we have a variety of CD’s to promote relaxation. We also encourage you to bring any favorite CD you may have from home that you may find comforting to use throughout your labor.


What is a doula?
A doula is a specially trained labor assistant who provides continuous, uninterrupted care for you and your partner while you are in labor. A doula will help you by offer­ing physical support, emotional support and information about the birth process, technology and alternatives.

What can a doula do?
A doula will help provide practical suggestions for working through the pain of contractions and help you to relax by using touch, massage, emotional support, encourage variations in positions and use other labor support techniques to help you through your labor.

What are the benefits to having a doula?

Studies have shown that the use of a doula can result in shorter labors, increased comfort, fewer episiotomies, fewer cesarean sections and greater satisfaction with your birthing experience.

When can you get a doula?

Heywood Hospital has a volunteer doula program that is covered every day and every shift. Most often, a doula can be provided for you when you express or have the need. 

Heywood Hospital Doula Program

Heywood Hospital supports a volunteer Doula program that provides a Doula in the Labor & Delivery setting to women who would otherwise not be able to afford a Doula. The primary goal of our Doulas is to provide support and assistance to women in labor and their significant others in an effort to help the patient manage the discomforts of labor. The Doulas also provide prenatal education at the "Meet the Doula night" and in the physicians office.

Accomplishing these goals is done by offering Doula training to appropriate candidates at a reduced cost ($250) and in turn, such candidates will volunteer their availability to our patients 8-16 hours per week for a period of one year. At the end of the one year commitment, the volunteer Doula can continue to provide volunteer hours for a minimum of one eight hour shift per month or absolve oneself of any further commitment to the program. If the Doula has met all the requirements throughout the year, (i.e. 8-16 hours per week of volunteering for one year, attendance at six of the 12 Meet the Doula nights and obtained certification through Birth Arts International, the candidate will be eligible to receove reimbursement of $100 of the original fee paid.

Pre-Application Process
To be eligible to become a volunteer Doula, candidates must first meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Interview with the Director of Maternal/Child Services and/or the Clinical Coordinator and/or other staff
- Provide two letters of recommendation
- Complete a CORI
- Demonstrate availibility and willingness to commit 8-16 hours per week of volunteering for a period of one year
- Weekend/Holiday/Off-shift availibility
- Phone & internet access
- Complete one weekend of approved Doula training, hospital-wide orientation and unit specific orientation
- Documentation of immunization status, TB testing & other health information as required by Employee Health

Doula Requirements for First Year
- Volunteer for 8-16 hours per week
It is the goal and expectation that candidates within the program will work toward certification within the first year. Certification requires the following:
- Complete required reading (seven books minimum)
- Attend a Lamaze series (four evenings or one full Saturday)
- Attend six "Meet the Doula" nights througout the year
- Attend a minimum of six births
- Complete online course work requiremenst through Birth Arts International
- Complete and pass written test for certification

Doula Requirements Following the First Year
- Volunteer a minimum of one 8-hour shift per month
- Attend three "Meet the Doula" nights throughout the year

The Role of the Doula
- The Doula is someone who has met the requirements for eligibility and has been chosen to be part of the Heywood Hospitals Volunteer Doula Program.
- The purpose of the Doula is to assist the laboring woman and her family through the birth process.
- The Doula will adhere to the hospital/department dress code.
- The Doula will adhere to safety and confidentiality policies, procedures and standards, etc. These will be covered in the orientation process.
- The Doula wil provide required documentation of immunization status, TB test results and other health information prior to coaching in the Labor & Delivery area.
- The Doula will maintain documentation of formal training, volunteer hours and birth attendance.
- The Doula will agree to commit 8-16 hours per week of which may be "on call" if no one is in labor. The Doula may be called in at any time during the "on call" period and therefore must be available during then entire "on call" shift. In the event that the Doula is not able to work the scheduled shift due to illness, he/she must call the L&D unit at least two hours in advance. If a Doula is in need of a day off that he/she has been scheduled for, it is the responsibility of the Doula to arrange coverage.
- In the event of a long labor that continues beyond the Doula's scheduled shift, the Doula may elect to stay with the family or call the next scheduled Doula to come in for the shift.
- The Doula will call Labor & Delivery prior to the beginning of the shift to indicate his/her availibility and the best number to call if needed. 
- The Doula is responsible for arriving to the hospital within an hour of being called to assist with the patient.
- Doulas will provide physical and emotional support and will not provide medical information or advice to the client or family, but may encourage the client or family to request information or clarification from the L&D staff.
- The Doula will abide by all medical decisions and policies.

If you are interested in becoming a Doula, please contact Karen Beaton at (978) 630-6475. 


What is Lamaze? 
Lamaze is a method of childbirth preparation that aims to increase a women’s confidence in her ability to give birth. Women and their significant other are taught various simple coping strategies, of which breathing is one of them. The class also explains the normal birthing process and provides information and tools to help relieve your anxiety and help you make informed decisions.

How can you learn this technique? 
Heywood Hospital offers a Lamaze course every month. Classes meet one evening a week for 6 weeks and are held in the OBS conference room. You may register for these classes through your physician’s office or by calling the LaChance Maternity Center at (978) 630­6216.


What is hydrotherapy? 
Hydrotherapy is the use of a heated water bath by a laboring woman. Soaking in a pool of water creates a sense of weightlessness and has been found to promote relaxation and comfort. Hydrotherapy has also been found to “speed up” the later stages of labor due to its relaxing effects and stimulation from the warm water. Hydrotherapy may also reduce the need for medications in labor.

When can you use hydrotherapy? 
If you do not have any contraindications for the use of the tub, and you are greater than 37 weeks gestation as well as greater than 4 cms. dilated, then you may use the tub with your physician’s approval. You will be asked to exit the tub every hour for at least 20 minutes to assess your progress in labor.

Are there any reasons that would prevent you from using hydrotherapy? 
The tub is not for everybody. If you are having twins, a baby’s presentation is unusual, if the baby’s heart rate is not normal or if there is any complication in the pregnancy, you should not use the tub.

Are there any risks associated with hydrotherapy? 
Hyperthermia (an increased temperature of the mother or baby) can sometimes increase fatigue, and could slow the labor. Signs of hyperthermia are monitored constantly and if there were any signs of this occurring, such as a fever or an increase in the baby’s heart rate, you would be asked to leave the tub immediately.


What is an intrathecal? 
Intrathecal analgesia or anesthesia is a single injection of a combination of narcotic medicines that is given through a thin spinal needle directly into the spinal fluid. 
An intrathecal is quick to administer, effective in providing comfort in most cases and allows you to recognize when to start pushing. Intrathecals also do not reduce your ability to push when it is time to deliver your baby. The amount of medicine that is used has no measurable effect on the baby.

Are there side effects? 
Side effects with intrathecal analgesia are quite limited. While we use very small doses of narcotics, they still can cause itching, nausea and difficulty urinating. An intrathecal can also lower your blood pressure and depress breathing, so we moni­tor closely while the intrathecal is becoming established. Headache following an intrathecal is much less common than it use to be.

When can you receive an intrathecal? 
If given too early, an intrathecal can slow down your labor, therefore, your family doctor or obstetrician and anesthesiologist, will determine when your labor has progressed far enough to give the intrathecal. Usually, it is preferred that you are at least 4 cms. dilated before an intrathecal is given.

How long will it last? 
Generally, an intrathecal will last at least 6–12 hours.

Is there any reason that an intrathecal cannot be given? 
There are very few reasons that a patient may not be allowed to have an intrathecal. You should not have an intrathecal if you have a skin infection on your back or your blood won’t clot – low platelets or use of blood thinners.


What is an epidural? 
Epidural analgesia is an injection of a narcotic medication into the epidural space in the lower back through tiny plastic tubing. Anesthesiologists will first place a needle into this epidural space and the tiny tubing is inserted through the needle. The needle is then removed and the tubing remains in the space. The tubing is then taped against the skin so it will not fall out. 
There may be one narcotic medication or a combination of medications that are then slowly and continually, infused through the tubing. This results in effective relief of pain, by stopping pain nerves in your back from sending pain signals to your brain.

It takes ten to twenty minutes for the epidural to reduce your pain. The effect on sensation and the amount of numbness that you might experience differs from person to person. Some patients may have normal sensation and movement while others may experience numbness and weakness in your legs.

In addition to the continual administration of the narcotic medication, you will be given a special machine called a PCEA (Patient Controlled Epidural Analgesia) pump. If your pain should increase, this machine will allow you to press a button and a safe amount of additional medication will be delivered to control your pain.

For more information about your delivery options or any other services, please call Heywood Hospital’s LaChance Maternity Center at (978) 630­6216 or (978) 630­6228.



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