During Your Hospital Stay

  • Where to Go When You Arrive

    When arriving to Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, in labor or for a scheduled Cesarean birth, please use our main entrance. Our guest services personnel offer free valet parking; they will park your car for you and bring the keys to the unit.

    If you arrive after 4 p.m., then leave the car locked in the circle and drop car keys with security at the main desk. Security will park your car and bring the keys to the unit.

    If labor has not progressed to the point of strong discomfort, you are welcome to park the car yourselves and walk into the hospital through the main entrance.

    All of our parking is free.

  • What to Bring

    Packing a bag in advance will help you get out the door quickly and easily when you are actively in labor. Some items to consider when packing your bag:

    • Comfortable clothes for you, your birth partner and a going-home outfit for your new baby. Consider packing a robe, slippers or socks to make you feel more comfortable while you are recovering. Pack a nursing bra if you plan to breastfeed.
    • Toiletries. Pack shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, hairbrush, lotions, hair ties or hair clips, lip-balm, make-up, etc. Pack toiletries for your birthing partner, too.
    • Don’t forget the camera, along with extra batteries, chargers for your phones, or a docking station. Free Wi-Fi is provided in the hospital.
    • Feel free to pack snacks. You are welcome to bring a small cooler to keep in your room. We offer a full service cafeteria and a Greenberry’s coffee shop in the lobby.
    • An item to use for focus during labor.
    • A list of medications and vitamins you are currently taking.
    • Your valid state ID, your insurance card, any hospital paperwork or documentation you will need.
    • If you plan to use a doula make sure to have their contact information.
    • A car seat and appropriate outer wear for the baby to wear when leaving the hospital.

    What not to bring:

    • Don’t worry about bringing your medications. Our pharmacy will provide what you need while you are a patient.
    • Diapers, wipes and sanitary supplies for you and the baby will be provided throughout your stay. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide cloth diapers.
    • We provide peanut pillows for positioning of patients who receive an epidural and birthing balls in all of our birthing rooms.

    Breastfeeding supplies are available at the Lactation Corner, in the Martha Jefferson Marketplace, Main Lobby. For more information, call 434-654-4414 or 654-7042.

  • Doula and Care Partners

    We welcome your Doula or labor support companions. In order for us to give you the best possible nursing care, we have guidelines for you to consider.

    Following are the ways a labor companion can be helpful:

    • Sit with the laboring mother
    • Help with labor position changes
    • Assist with relaxation and massage
    • Reinforce (or Coach with) Breathing/Focus/Various other comfort measures
    • Provide constant reassurance and support
    • Read to or talk with the mother and partner
    • Answer the telephone
    • Write down questions for the doctor and answers for the family
    • Help with getting the mother in and out of bed, with nurse’s approval
    • Help with walking in halls
    • Help mother to the bathroom, with nurse’s approval
    • Advocate the mother’s birth plan to care providers
    • Limit the distractions in the birthing room to create a calming environment
    • Get ice, snacks and refreshments for mom and partner
    • Keep other family members and friends informed of the mother’s progress, according to the mother’s request and permission
    • Offer explanation and support of the necessity of a medical intervention outside of the mother’s wishes.

    Following are the things a labor companion may never do:

    • Perform vaginal exams
    • Adjust or tamper with IV lines, fetal or maternal monitors, any clinical equipment or epidural catheters
    • Administer any medication — including herbal, tinctures, etc.
    • Hinder the medical team from proceeding with a medically necessary intervention

    We encourage you to speak with your care provider or one of our certified childbirth educators when taking one of our classes to learn more about how a Doula may participate in your birth.

  • Mother/Baby Rooming In and Nursery

    We realize the benefits of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth and encourage it when possible in the birthing room and operating room. After birth, you and your baby will be moved to a private room in the Mother/Baby wing for postpartum recovery. These rooms are located in the Family Birthing Center, so you are still close to the nursery and under the watchful eye of the maternity nurses.

    We encourage rooming-in because the time immediately after birth is critical for mother/baby bonding. However, if you need a break or some extra rest, we also offer respite nursery care. Our nursery nurses will gladly watch over your baby in the nursery until it is time for feeding. Once you are ready to room-in again, we will bring your baby right back to you.

  • Postpartum

    Our nursing staff is dedicated to helping you recover physically from birth while teaching you how to care for yourself and your new baby. At Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, we use the Mother-Baby Care Model, which means that one nurse cares for both you and your baby in your postpartum room. We encourage 24-hour rooming-in for your baby, as this offers the most opportunity for you and your partner to learn about newborn care and feeding. The nurses are available to answer your questions and will help you learn to feed and care for your baby. One support person is welcome to stay overnight with you in your postpartum room.

  • Breastfeeding

    More than 80 percent of new mothers at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital breastfeed their babies. Lactation consultants are available to new mothers every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our lactation consultants also provide one-on-one outpatient lactation consults to assist you and your baby with successful breastfeeding after you've gone home. If you have questions or need assistance, call our lactation consultant line at 434-654-8440 or sign up for one of our breastfeeding classes.

    For breastfeeding supplies, visit The Lactation Corner. This boutique offers a variety of items for breastfeeding moms and their babies, including breast pumps for rent or sale, breastfeeding bras, maternity clothes, baby clothes, books and more.

  • Length of Stay

    After a vaginal birth, most women will stay with us for two nights; and for a Cesarean birth, the average is three nights. At the doctor's discretion, some women leave sooner and some stay longer.

  • Family Visitation Policy

    We strongly encourage the birthing partner to remain with the mother at all times to provide comfort and support, so we have furnished each room with a second bed or sleeper sofa.

    For grandparents, the first visit can be at any time, day or night. The baby's siblings are welcome in the Family Birthing Center. However, we are not prepared to care for siblings while the mom is an inpatient, and there are no accommodations for overnight stays for children.

    Because newborn babies have very vulnerable immune systems, we want to minimize the health risks that the baby comes in contact with. To minimize risk to your newborn, it is important that your family and visitors are in good health before visiting. If someone is ill, it would be a good idea for them to wait until they are in good health to visit you and your baby.

  • Visitors and Guests During Your Stay

    We know having a baby is a very important event in your life, and we want you to be able to share your joy with family and friends. While you are in labor, you may designate two to three primary support people, who will receive identification bands allowing access to labor and delivery. We suggest keeping to just two to three support people in the room while you are laboring, as having large numbers of people in the room can make it difficult to relax and focus on labor.

    Once you are on the postpartum unit, family and friends are welcome to visit unless you tell us otherwise. For your safety, visitors must check in at the front desk of our secure unit. Personnel at the desk will contact you on your room phone to verify that you are currently ready for visitors.

    Healthy children may visit the postpartum unit if the delivered mother so desires. For the safety of the child and the care of other patients, children under 12 must be supervised at all times by a responsible adult (other than the patient). Children whose behavior is disruptive will be asked to leave.

    Your stay with us is relatively short, and you will want time to rest and recover from the birth experience. In the weeks before your delivery, you might want to consider who you would like to visit you while you are in the hospital. You may want to ask that only your closest family and friends visit you in the hospital, and that co-workers and other visitors wait until you are home to visit.

  • Discharge/Check-Out

    Checkout time from Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital is 11 a.m. on the day of discharge. You will also have a final consultation to receive instructions on proper care for the mother and to answer any questions before our valet service brings your car to you.