Labor and Delivery for High-risk Pregnancy

Family-focused care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a comprehensive approach to preparing and supporting each family. This care begins with preparing you even before the arrival of your baby, with prenatal care, information, educational programs and other services to ensure that you are ready for the new addition to your family. And, after birth, the team caring for you and your baby will provide you ongoing information and education to meet your specific needs.

Childbirth Preparation

To prepare our patients and families for labor and delivery, the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns offers childbirth preparation classes, taught by our certified childbirth education nurses. Our lactation consultants also offer classes on breastfeeding and the basics of newborn care. We recommend that you register for classes by your sixth month of pregnancy (24 to 28 weeks).

You can also register for a tour of our Center for Women and Newborns or learn more about our Center for Women and Newborns via our online Maternity Tour.

Antepartum Care

Women who experience bleeding late in pregnancy, are at risk of early delivery, or have certain medical conditions, such as preeclampsia, may require inpatient care before delivery. The Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine provides evaluation and treatment services at our modern Connors Center for Women and Newborns facility, where women may stay until their delivery. Learn more about our antepartum care services.

Labor and Birth

After you have been admitted, you will be assessed for labor in the triage area and then admitted to a private labor and delivery room which features special lighting and equipment, including a birth bed, rocking chair, television, private shower and pull out bed for your partner. Some of our rooms are equipped with hydrotherapy tubs for labor and are available to patients who meet certain criteria.

A registered nurse will be assigned to your care, providing support throughout your delivery. You will be moved to an obstetrical operating room located on the labor floor if you are having a cesarean birth or complicated birth. For many women and their partners, the cesarean section can be performed to optimize the “golden hour” during which newborns and parents establish early bonding.

Pain Relief during Childbirth

We realize that the birth of your child will be one of the most important experiences in your life, which is why we are committed to making this event as safe and comfortable as possible. Our obstetric anesthesiologists are available to discuss with you the different types of anesthesia that may be given during labor and birth, including inhaled nitrous oxide, intravenous or intramuscular medications and regional anesthetics such as epidural anesthesia or spinal anesthesia.

The Center for Women and Newborns is committed to developing the most appropriate birth plan for each patient, including families who choose not to use medications for pain relief in childbirth. Your obstetric care team will answer all of your questions and work with you to create a birth plan that best suits your and your family. Options for nonmedical pain relief include:

  • Hydrotherapy or immersion in labor tub
  • Birth balls
  • Ambulation or walking
  • Hypnotherapy or the use of mental imagery
  • Use of a doula or labor support coach

Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Delivery

Although a cesarean delivery is often recommended for women with high-risk pregnancies, our goal is for women to have vaginal deliveries. This may be possible even after a woman has already had a cesarean delivery. Learn more about vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) delivery.


Dr. Wiliam Camann, Director of Obstetric Anesthesia, discusses medical and non-medical options for pain management during childbirth.

Katherine Economy, MD, discusses the pros and cons of a vaginal birth following a cesarean delivery known as a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Dr. William Camann, Director of Obstetric Anesthesia, describes the gentle cesarean section, developed to help women undergoing cesarean delivery have a more natural child birth experience.

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