Labour and Delivery / Maternal Newborn Unit

Please See Care Partner Changes During COVID-19 Pandemic
“Birth is a celebration – a normal, healthy process.”
(Family-Centred Care Guidelines, Health Canada, 2000, p. 1.8)

Having a baby can be both an exciting and anxious time in your life. To help you prepare for this important milestone, the Women and Children Program at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has developed a Mother-Baby combined model of care. Our team of specialized nurses and other healthcare providers work together with your own obstetrician, midwife, and/or family physician to provide a safe and nurturing environment to have your baby. We help by offering:

  • Certain prenatal services including stress tests and support during “false” labours
  • Several birthing options during your delivery (see below)
  • Specialized care in a warm, nurturing, and secure environment
  • Direct access to a team of specialists and emergency care for mother and/or baby if needed
  • Information and guidance for new mothers to help you adjust to motherhood and to give your baby a strong start
  • Care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for ill or premature infants.

Our goal is to create a safe and welcoming environment for the better health of mother and baby.

I Think I’m In Labour… What Do I Do?

If you are under the care of your family physician or an obstetrician:

Come directly to Labour & Delivery. Call ahead if possible at (807) 684-6540.

If you are under the care of a midwife:

Call your midwife or the midwifery office and she will discuss your next steps with you.

If you are experiencing pains but you are not near your due date, contact your care provider immediately. You can always come to Labour & Delivery for an assessment if you cannot reach your care provider for any reason. Again, please call ahead if possible at (807) 684-6540.

If you are experiencing pains and you are under 20 weeks pregnant, please go directly to the Emergency Department.

Having a Baby During COVID-19? These resources provide answers to some of your questions.

Planning for Birth

Infant Feeding


Labour & Delivery

Upon arrival to the Labour & Delivery area your nurse or midwife will assess your labour and provide support throughout your labour and delivery. Once you are in active labour you will be admitted. Your support person is welcome and encouraged to actively participate in giving you emotional and physical care. Your needs are important and an individualized plan of care will be coordinated to suit your needs. Client choices are respected, but must be safe and within Health Sciences Centre policy.A range of pain relief options are available, ranging from whirlpool baths, relaxation techniques, positioning, narcotics, nitrous oxide (laughing gas). A referral to an anesthetist may be necessary and will be determined by your care provider.

Video recording is not permitted in the delivery room due to confidentiality. Pictures without flash may be taken during delivery, but if you are planning to take pictures of any staff members or care providers, please ask their permission first as a courtesy.

Mothers may have up to two support persons in the room, including your partner, another family member, and/or a doula. However, if you wish to have more than two support persons during your delivery, please email the Manager of Labour & Delivery Department in advance (the more notice the better) and we will do everything we can to honour your request within the limits of safety and policy.

Please note that visitors other than your support persons are not allowed in Labour & Delivery.

Maternal Newborn Unit

After you give birth, you and your baby will be transferred to the Maternal/Newborn area where Combined Care is provided. In this model of care, our team of specialized nurses cares for both mother and baby at the mother’s bedside. Being together allows the parents to learn/recognize when baby is hungry and learn their care requirements and promotes bonding between newborn and parent. Health Canada and the World Health Organization have shown that healthy mothers and healthy babies should not be separated unless absolutely necessary. Being together increases your comfort level and competence in caring for your baby. This strategy is used around the world to develop beginning parenting skills and mother-child bonding.After a vaginal birth, mothers can expect to stay one to two days after delivery to rest, bond with baby, and to ensure both mother and child are healthy. After a C-section, mothers may stay three to four days.

While in the Maternal Newborn Unit, a specialized nurse assigned to care for you and your baby will be available to help you. She will teach you how to care for yourself and your baby. She will also care for you and your baby to ensure your good health.

This time is also a good chance to learn more about caring for your infant during the first days and weeks. During your stay you will learn:

  • Caring for your baby – diapering, bathing, and cord care.
  • Feeding your baby – infant hunger cues, positioning, how to feed your infant, and how to tell if baby is getting enough food/is full or content.
  • Keeping your baby safe – recommended sleeping position, when to seek medical attention, car seat safety, and where to get help following discharge from the Health Sciences Centre.
  • Skin-to-skin contact – why it is so important for mother-child bonding, especially in the first few days after birth.

With your consent, your nurse will link you to appropriate community service agencies when you go home.

You are encouraged to rest while your baby is sleeping, day or night. Your support person is not considered a visitor and is encouraged to participate in baby care/learning. In some cases, your support person may be able to stay overnight with you and your baby. If the support person stays overnight, he or she is expected to support the new mother by helping with baby care and providing emotional support. Pajamas or athletic pants and indoor footwear (like slippers) must be worn by the support person when staying overnight.

A maximum of two visitors at a time, not including your support person, are allowed at your bedside at a time. If you are in a shared room, please be respectful of other families around you who also need rest. For larger families, we recommend that visitors come in pairs, and keep their visits short. Do not let yourself get too tired! It is important you sleep when you need to – your visitors will understand.

A family room is also available for larger gatherings – please ask your nurse for more information.

Department Tour


Safety & Security

For safety reasons we ask that you do not carry your baby in your arms in the hospital hallways. A crib is provided so you can push your baby while travelling through the hallways. Your baby may be carried in arms in your own room.Other measures include:

  • Unique security procedures while on the Labour & Delivery and Maternal Newborn units.
  • All staff members wear Health Sciences Centre photo identification badges and should introduce themselves to you. Always check for photo identification before giving your baby to a staff member.
  • Newborn babies are never left alone while in the Health Sciences Centre. If you are leaving the unit because of medical needs, a staff member will care for your infant. If you need to leave the unit for personal reasons, please ensure that your baby is not left alone. Your baby must remain on the unit for safety and security reasons.

Feeding your Newborn

Breast is best!

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for babies. The Canadian Institute of Child Health, Health Canada, and the World Health Organization recommend that all newborns be exclusively breastfed. Nursing staff will assist you in learning how to feed your newborn.

We encourage parents to evaluate both breastfeeding and formula feeding before making an informed decision about feeding. How you choose to feed your baby is your choice! Only you can make the best choice for your newborn.

Recommended Resources:

Breastfeeding Matters

Breastfeeding for the Health and Future of Our Nation

Infant Formula

Sleep Well, Sleep Safe

Healthy Outcomes for You and Your Baby: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Best Start – Risk of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting (2019)

Best Start – Mixing Alcohol and Breastfeeding (2020)

Life with a New Baby is Not Always What You Expect

Postpartum Mood Disorder Checklist

Immunizations through the Lifespan

Safe & Secure

Newborn Screening

Tips for New Parents: Making the Most of the Early Years

Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Program

Children’s Centre Thunder Bay: Infant Hearing Program

For more information see the following websites:

“Birth is not only about making babies; birth is also about making mothers, strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength” – Barbara Katz Rothman