Obstetrics

​Labor and Delivery

​​​​University of Washington Medical Center 
6th Floor of the Pacific Tower (Pacific Elevators)
Tel: 206.598.4616

Our Labor and Delivery service combines personalized care with the most advanced technology and highly skilled physicians and nursing staff in the region. From our exceptionally warm and comfortably appointed birthing suites, to our commitment to family-centered care, we strive to provide choices and honor each woman’s birth plan.

Whether you choose to walk during labor, soak in the room’s jetted tub or receive an epidural for pain relief, our staff will support you and your family throughout your labor. Once your baby is born, we will continue to do all we can to nurture your amazing transition to parenthood. The University of Washington Medical Center has been named a “Baby Friendly Hospital” — a highly sought after award that recognizes our commitment to fostering a woman’s desire to breastfeed her baby with the assistance of knowledgeable lactation consultants and postpartum nurses.

We are dedicated to providing the highest-quality care for you and your family during the birth of your new baby. To see what that dedication looks like in action, please watch this video. We also offer personalized Tours of Labor and Delivery​. 
 
Additionally, our award-winning perinatal education staff has developed several handouts to help answer questions related to labor, birth and the care you will receive:

When to Call

Call your health care provider or Labor and Delivery (206.598.4616) when:

  • You have regular contractions every 10 to 15 minutes for several hours.
  • Your water breaks.
  • You have bleeding from your vagina.
  • You don’t feel your baby moving as much as usual.
  • You have a fever.
  • You are less than 37 weeks pregnant and think you may be having premature labor (cramping or feeling of tightening six or more times an hour).
  • You have constant and severe abdominal pain
  • You have sudden puffiness or swelling of the face, hands or fingers
  • You have a severe persistent headache
  • You have vision problems (seeing spots or “flashes” and blurring or blind spots)
  • You have severe persistent dizziness or lightheadedness
  • You have a painful area or swelling in the leg
  • You have severe pain in the pubic area and hips
  • You have painful urination or burning sensation when urinating
  • You have irritating vaginal discharge, genital sores or vaginal itching
  • You have persistent nausea or vomiting

When to Come to the Hospital

Call Labor and Delivery (206.598.4616) before you come to the University of Washington Medical Center. In general, we will ask you to come to the hospital when:
  • Your contractions are 5 minutes apart for 1 hour if this is your first baby, or when they are 7 to 10 minutes apart if you have had a baby before.
  • Your water breaks — even if you are not having contractions. When your water breaks, it may just feel wet, or it may be just a “trickle.” Or, sometimes it can feel like a gush of fluid.
If you have a high-risk condition, such as a prior pregnancy delivering preterm, your guidelines for when to come to the hospital may be quite different. Please call Labor and Delivery (206.598.4616) if you have any questions.

Getting to the Hospital

If you cannot get a ride to the hospital and you have a medical coupon:

  • Call Labor and Delivery at 206.598.4616. We will call a transportation broker — such as Hopelink or Paratransit — to arrange your ride to the hospital.
Call 9-1-1 if:
  • Your need to get to the hospital is urgent.
  • You do not feel you can get there safely by car or taxi.

Where to Park at the Hospital

Park in the Triangle Garage across the street from the hospital. Parking validation will be provided by the Labor and Delivery Unit.
  • Valet parking is available in front of the main entrance from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you need help getting to Labor and Delivery, you may park in the Emergency Room lot. You can move your car later, or a security officer can park it for you. Be sure to lock your car.

Arriving at Labor and Delivery

Enter through the main entrance to the University of Washington Medical Center (on the 3rd floor). If you need a wheelchair, you can get one just inside the main entrance. Go directly to Labor and Delivery, which is located on the 6th floor of the Pacific Tower (use the Pacific elevators).

When you arrive at Labor and Delivery, you will be escorted to an exam room, where an external fetal monitor will be placed on your abdomen. A doctor or midwife, who may not be your usual provider, will examine your cervix to see if true labor has started.

If labor has not actively started, we will either send you home and tell you what to watch for, or we may ask you to walk around the hospital to help labor progress.

If you have not already called your health care provider, we will call him or her when you arrive in Labor and Delivery.

The Labor Process

If labor has started, you will be admitted to a labor room.

In the labor room, you may have an IV in your arm to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. You may also have a fetal monitor on your abdomen so we can see how your baby is doing. A registered nurse will monitor you closely.
  • Your labor partner is welcome to stay with you throughout your hospital stay. A daybed and linens are provided in your labor room.

If you don’t understand what is going on at any point during your labor and delivery, please feel free to ask questions. A member of your health care team will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

After Your Baby Is Born


Your Recovery Period

After the birth, you will be able to spend some special time holding your new baby (unless you or your baby needs special care).

  • If you are planning to breastfeed, we will help you get started right after birth. Babies are often awake and alert then. Your nurse and a lactation consultant will be happy to help you.
Throughout the hours after birth, your nurse will check on you often. 

Your Postpartum Stay

About two hours after your delivery, you and your baby will move to a private room on our postpartum unit. Your nurse will teach you how to care for and feed your baby.
  • Your baby will stay in your room with you while you are in the hospital (usually one day after an uncomplicated vaginal birth and two to three days after a cesarean delivery).
Your partner, or a friend or family member, is welcome to stay with you and your baby. Depending on your room, a daybed may be available for them to sleep on.
  • Rest is vital to your healing and recovery. We suggest that you try to get some sleep and consider limiting phone calls and visitors. This will allow you time to recover from giving birth and have more energy to care for your baby. Your other children are welcome to visit you and the baby, unless they are ill.

Our visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.