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Care during labor

At the Salem Health Family Birth Center, we feel it’s an absolute privilege to care for the parents and families who choose us to be part of such an exciting time in their lives. Whether this is your first baby or another happy addition to your family, we are here to make sure your baby’s birth is safe and memorable for all the right reasons.

Salem Health birthing ball 2022

Your family’s wishes, knowledge, values, beliefs and cultural background are incorporated into the planning and delivery of care in our birthing center. We will do our best to accommodate your birth plan. There are times when we have to make adjustments based on the clinical situation. However, staff are always ready to help you understand when and why changes need to be made if the situation calls for it.

We also care about your comfort and your personal needs. A member of our team will visit you every hour during the day and every two hours at night to check on your comfort. We are here to support you through pain management, positions, needs for personal items and bathroom needs.

Our frequent rounding helps us anticipate your needs and keep you as comfortable as possible. There will also be a nurse leader who will check on you once a day. This will be your opportunity to let us know things that are going really well or to discuss any concerns you may have about your stay.

Managing labor pain

There is good news when it comes to managing your pain during labor — there are options.  Consider your options so that you can make an informed decision about what is right for you. While plans will sometimes change, it is a good idea to discuss a pain management plan with your provider well before you go into labor.

Less invasive options

The least invasive pain management methods are heat packs, birth balls, stress balls or the Jacuzzi. IV pain medication can also be ordered by your provider. IV pain medications can help you to rest and relax during your contractions, but won’t take the pain away and may make you and your baby sleepy.



Another option that can be ordered by your provider is an epidural. We have 24-hour anesthesia coverage at Salem Health, so you can choose to have the epidural at a time that both you and your provider think is appropriate. The epidural will cause numbness from the waist down while the epidural medication is infusing. 

After the birth, you will be required to stay in bed until the medication level has decreased. A catheter will be placed in your bladder so you won’t need to get up to go to the bathroom. You may still feel pressure with an epidural, but you shouldn't feel pain.

Nitrous Oxide 

Salem Health is proud to be able to offer Nitrous Oxide as a pain management option. Nitrous oxide is used for pain management during labor in many countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. It’s been used in labor for pain management for more than a hundred years, but is only recently gaining popularity in the United States.

Nitrous oxide can be ordered by your provider. It is a tasteless, odorless gas, sometimes called laughing gas, which is easily given through a mask that the laboring person holds over their nose and mouth. Nitrous oxide is very versatile. It can be stopped at any time, started at any time, or switched to something else at any time.

Cesarean section

If a cesarean birth is needed, two fully equipped surgical suites are located on the third floor and close by the birthing suites. Anesthesiologists are available 24 hours a day. In most cases, your main support person may accompany you during your cesarean birth and to the recovery room.

Skin-to-skin bonding time

Skin-to-skin contact between a parent and their newborn provides many benefits for the health of the baby. This is the transition period after birth for you baby.

Immediately following delivery, your nurse will dry your baby and keep the baby skin-to-skin on your chest, allowing for close and tender contact with your newborn. 

Contact between a parent and their newborn provides the baby with the best possible temperature regulation. Babies who get cold can have problems with breathing, feeding and maintaining proper blood sugar levels. They also cry less than those placed in a bassinet.


After birth, babies usually become quiet and alert. Yet, have the ability to look directly into their parents eyes and respond to their voices. During this quiet alert phase, your infant will make their first attempts to interact with you and the world around them. 

Newborns have an extraordinary ability to respond to you. Skin-to-skin contact allows them to feel the familiar and comforting rhythm of your heartbeat. They can see the shape of your face and begin to recognize your taste and smell. They will also recognize and respond to the soothing sound of your voice.

A parent’s gentle touch triggers physical and emotional responses. Touch also helps calm your baby and promotes their immune system. 

We have Quiet Time for family bonding each day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nursing staff will still perform required assessments during this time. To help with managing visitors, we can one of our signs posted on your door that say, “During quiet time, visitors may be asked to return after 4 p.m. Thank you for respecting the parent's time to bond with their baby.” Please note, you can still have visitors during this time, if you wish.

Baby screenings

A baby getting screened at Salem Health

After labor, the nursing staff will be closely observing you and your baby to make sure you're both doing well while in the hospital. In addition, your baby will be checked daily and may receive the following screenings and vaccines while in the hospital.

Contact your baby’s health care provider for test results. For additional information, go to the Oregon State Public Health website.

Erythromycin eye ointment

Erythromycin eye ointment is given to all newborn babies within one hour of delivery. It is the law in Oregon that babies receive an antibiotic eye ointment to prevent infections that could lead to eye damage, including blindness.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is also given to all newborns within one hour of birth. It is the law in Oregon that babies receive this shot in order to help prevent bleeding.


Newborns are monitored throughout their entire hospital stay for any signs of infection. If needed, lab tests will be done and treatment may be given.


If you have questions about any of these screenings or vaccines, please ask your baby’s health care provider before the baby is born.

Hepatitis B vaccine

Your baby may receive the hepatitis B vaccination by twelve hours of age. You will be given information about the vaccine and an immunization record to help you keep track of all your baby’s vaccinations.


All newborns are screened to determine if they need testing or treatment for blood sugar problems. If needed, this test requires a drop of blood which is usually taken from the baby’s heel.

Family talking with doctor after labor


Jaundice, the yellowish-orange tint to a baby’s skin, can be a serious problem. All newborns are tested before they go home (sooner if the baby appears jaundiced).

Watch your baby’s skin color after you are home and keep your follow-up appointments. Call your provider if you have any concerns.

Newborn metabolic screen

Oregon law requires all babies be tested for rare disorders, such as phenylketonuria (PKU), cystic fibrosis, and congenital hypothyroidism, which can cause brain damage or death if not treated early.

The first test will be collected before your baby leaves the hospital and the second test will be collected before your baby is 15 days old. You will be given an envelope with the second test inside for you to take to the baby’s follow-up appointment.

Newborn hearing

All newborns are screened for hearing loss that can lead to difficulties in speech and language development and learning delays. The test is easy, painless and reliable.

Pulse oximetry

Pulse oximetry is a simple test to screen for heart defects in newborns by determining the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood.

Checking all newborns before they are discharged from the hospital is the best way to make sure that even babies who don’t show symptoms of heart problems have been screened.

If a heart defect is identified early, your baby can receive the specialized treatment necessary to prevent death or disability.  

Pictures and videos

Photo of mom and baby after labor

Cameras are welcome in the Family Birth Center. However, we have a few reminders:

  • Video recoding or live streaming is not allowed in the birthing suite during the delivery process or in the operating room if a cesarean section is necessary.
  • Families and patients are welcome to take still pictures of their own delivery experience and of their family members.
  • Staff must give their permission before being photographed by family members.

    Newborn photography program

    This service is offered as a courtesy—you are never obligated to have your baby photographed or to place an order. Photographs are taken by Bella Baby. Their phone number is 877-817-8830.

    If you wish to have your baby photographed at Salem Health, tell your nurse and an independent photo representative will stop by your room to explain the process.