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Labor & Delivery

We offer Labor & Delivery services at both Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla and UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest. Our maternity suites are spacious, with room for the entire family to welcome your new arrival.

Pain Management

Non-Medical Options

We support a number of non-medical options for comfort during labor, including:

  • Walking during labor
  • Birthing balls
  • Labor “peanut balls” (peanut-shaped vinyl exercise balls that help relax and open the pelvis of women who are resting in bed or have received epidural anesthesia)
  • Relaxation and breathing techniques
  • Doulas, from our UC San Diego Health volunteer doula program, or your own hired doula

As an option for fetal monitoring, we offer a wireless system with a small, light transmitter that is easy to carry. The cordless monitor allows laboring women to walk, use a birthing ball, or shower instead of being confined to a bed.

Learn relaxation and breathing techniques in our childbirth classes and free online tutorials.

Medical Options

  • Narcotic: Women in labor can receive injections of a narcotic through an IV during labor. The narcotic works quickly and can be given every hour, except immediately before delivery to ensure that its effects will wear off before the baby is born. For some women, this medication takes the edge off and allows them to rest and relax between contractions.
  • Nitrous oxide gas: This gas, best known for its use at dentist offices, can be inhaled through a mask during contractions. The gas lessens but does not eliminate the pain of labor. The effect occurs only while the gas is being inhaled and disappears rapidly when the mask is removed. It can be used through delivery.
  • Epidural anesthesia: An epidural can offer very effective pain relief during labor and birth. A tiny tube or catheter is placed through a needle into a space (the "epidural space") outside the spinal cord sac in the lower back. The needle is removed and the tubing is taped in place. Similar to an IV, medication is given continuously through the tube during labor and birth. The medication blocks the pain of contractions. Because of the numbness produced by the epidural, a woman with an epidural cannot get out of bed. Most women take the opportunity to get some rest, and we support the use of labor “peanut balls” to help open the pelvis.

Our anesthesiologists are available 24 hours a day to administer pain relief. An anesthesiologist will meet every laboring woman regardless of whether she is planning anesthesia for her birth. There are two reasons for this: to learn of any medical problems in the unlikely event of an emergency, and to answer any questions about the pros and cons of medical approaches to pain relief during labor.

C-Section Deliveries

Some women may require an abdominal surgery called a Cesarean section. We maintain our family-centered approach for these deliveries. Your nurse remains with you throughout the preparation, birth, and recovery, and we encourage your spouse or support person to attend the delivery. Read more about planned or emergency C-section deliveries.


Your post-recovery period will be spent in a quiet environment where specialized nurses care for mothers and new babies. Private rooms are available. (See Newborn and Postpartum Care for more information.)


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Do you offer hospital tours?

When will I know that I am really going into labor?

When should I call my doctor, midwife or Labor & Delivery?

Where should I go once I’m at the hospital?

What will happen when I check in?

I keep hearing about the stages of labor? What are they? How long does each last?

What is a doula? How can I request one?

How many people are allowed in the delivery room?

Can I eat during labor?

What is labor induction and why would someone need to get induced?

How is labor induced?

How long will my induction take?

Does UC San Diego Health have lactation consultants available to help with breastfeeding?

How long will I be in the hospital after my baby is born?

What are the visiting hours and who can visit me?

Will there be Internet access in my room?

Should I bring my own medications or supplements to the hospital to take while I am there?

Labor & Delivery Locations

Pregnancy & Childbirth FAQs