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Labour and Birthing

The Labour and Birthing Suites are located on Level 9 of Auckland City Hospital. It has 14 birthing rooms with ensuite bathrooms; six of the rooms
also have a pool for pain relief during labour and for giving birth. If you would like a room with a pool, we’ll do our best to accommodate you at the
time. The Labour and Birthing Suites are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


All birthing rooms are equipped to look after you and your baby during labour. Special medical equipment includes a monitor that records your baby’s heart beat and your contractions while you walk around. Swiss balls and birthing stools are available if you need them. If you plan to use aromatherapy, please bring an electric oil burner and your favourite aromatherapy oil.

Virtual Tour

If you are thinking about coming to National Women's, check out our Virtual Tour. It will help you and your support person know what to do when you arrive.

Going into labour

Every labour is different, if you think you could be in labour, the first thing to do is relax. Begin to time your contractions when they become regular. Stay calm!

You may notice that you have a ‘show’ – the discharge of a plug of mucus that can be thick and stringy or blood-tinged. This may happen the day you go into labour, or up to a week before.

The best place for early labour is at home relaxing. Eat and drink as you need to, go for a walk or soak in a bath. Panadol may help. Follow the advice of your LMC about when to call your LMC or the Labour and Birthing Suite.

If you have been advised to ring the Labour and Birthing Suite early, due to a complication with your pregnancy, please do. Tell the Labour and Birthing Suite midwife about any complications you may have at the beginning of the call and the advice your LMC has given you. This will help the midwife to give you the correct information.

When to ring the Labour and Birthing Suite – (09) 307 2888

  • Your contractions are coming every five minutes, lasting longer than 50 seconds and have been getting stronger for at least two to three hours.
  • You have severe or constant abdominal pain with a tight abdomen.
  • Your water has broken and it is clear or has a tinge of pink. Put on a sanitary pad and check it after an hour. If it is wet, please ring us.
  • Your water has broken and it is green or brown. Call us immediately - you will be advised to come into hospital.
  • Your baby’s movements change, slow up or stop.
  • You notice any vaginal bleeding - bright red vaginal bleeding is not normal.

Things you may be asked when in the Labour and Birthing Suite

  • Do you have any requests that are not on your birth plan?
  • If active management of third stage (birth of placenta) is necessary, do you give your consent for the ecbolic (drug that causes uterine contractions)?
  • Do you want to take your placenta home or have the hospital dispose of it?
  • Do you consent to Vitamin K for your baby?
  • If it is necessary for the baby to be vaccinated for hepatitis B, have you signed the consent form?
  • If you and your baby are healthy, are you transferring to Birthcare or do you wish to go home?
  • Which ethnic group or groups (up to three) do you want your baby registered with?
  • Have you chosen a Well Child provider that you wish to be referred to at the appropriate time?

Coping with labour

Some people are very sensitive to pain, others aren’t. Until you are in labour for the first time, it can be hard to predict how much pain you will feel and how you will cope with it.

It’s very important that you understand your pain relief options and remain flexible about managing your pain during labour. You might like to read our Coping with Labour. Your LMC will help you to make decisions and support you in whatever choice you make.

Take a look at our information on our upcoming pain relief talks for 2019.


TENS Machine

A TENS machine is a pocket-size, battery-operated device that sends electrical impulses to certain parts of the body to block pain signals. It’s best used in early labour and while at home. Please bring your TENS machine to hospital with you, as they are not available in the hospital.


Some women find massage helpful. Please bring in your favourite massage oil.

Breathing techniques

Rhythmic breathing during labour maximises the amount of oxygen available to you and your baby. Breathing techniques can also help you cope with the pain of contractions. Ask your LMC about breathing techniques. 


Aromatherapy uses essential oils to affect your mood and how you are feeling. Please seek professional advice about which oils will be effective in labour. 


Entonox, a gas mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, is breathed through a mouth piece. It takes only a minute to work and wears off quickly, so it can be used with each contraction. Some women find entonox makes them feel light-headed or sick. These side effects go away rapidly when you stop breathing the gas. Entonox has no known side effects on the baby. 


We have a full service for epidural anaesthesia if required. Please be aware there may be times when an anaesthetist is not immediately available straightaway, due to emergencies in other birthing rooms.

An epidural requires an anaesthetist to inject local anaesthetic near the spinal cord in the lower back. This effectively numbs the lower part of the body. A small plastic tube is inserted into the epidural space so that you can have further pain relief as required. An epidural requires a drip in your arm and may require a catheter in your bladder, because you might lose the urge to pass urine.

Your baby’s heart beat will be continually monitored if you have an epidural, and your blood pressure will be checked regularly. A very small number of women have a serious reaction to some anaesthetics drugs. If you have ever had a reaction to an anaesthetic drug, please tell your LMC.

 Assisted birth

A small number of women will require assistance with their births, either by forceps or ventouse (vacuum extraction). The obstetrician will choose which is best for your situation.


These are a pair of spoon-shaped tongs that fit around the baby’s head, so the baby can be gently guided down and out of the birth canal as you are pushing.


A ventouse is a metal, rubber or plastic cup that fits on the top of the baby’s head and is held there by suction. The baby can be gently pulled to assist with delivery as you are pushing.

Caesarian Section

Most caesarean operations are performed with an epidural anaesthetic, which allows you the be awake when your baby is born. Your doctor or the anaesthetist will discuss and explain which anaesthetic is best for you.

You may find the following information leaflet from our A-Z Fact Sheet section useful

Caesarean Section (pdf)

Or take a look at our Caesarean Section information video by Dr Morgan Edwards

 Your Caesarean Section - NZ with subtitles from Morgan Edwards on Vimeo.


National Women's Health
Phone: 09 307 4949
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