The maternity ward: A new mother’s guide

During your pregnancy, you’ll probably have questions about almost everything from healthy eating to your developing baby. But what about the maternity ward? Here is a brief guide to help navigate the maternity unit when it’s time for your little one to arrive.

Maternity ward

While hospitals across Canada are very similar, there may be differences when it comes to hospital policies and facilities. It’s advisable to check out your delivery hospital in advance of your due date to become familar with what it has to offer. Here are the details of common maternity ward facilities.


The triage room is often the first order of business. This is where your labour will be assesed: Your contractions will be monitored, and all your vitals will be measured. After the assessment, you will be admitted to the maternity unit or possibly sent home if you are in very early labour and aren’t having any problems.

Birthing/labour room

This is your private room, where you will welcome your newborn into the world. It is fully stocked with the medical equipment that’s required for both the mother and baby during delivery and after the birth. This will be where you will stay during labour, birth and for a few hours after delivery before moving to the maternity ward.

Caesarean birth rooms

Generally speaking, the maternity unit will have one or more operating rooms designed for C-section deliveries. Afterward the mother will be taken to a special recovery room before being brought to her ward or private room.

Wards or suites

After your baby is born, you will move to a hospital room for the duration of your stay. Standard rooms in the maternity unit include private rooms, semi-private rooms (two patients per room) and wards (four patients per room). There is usually an additional charge if you opt for a private or semi-private accommodation, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get that type of room even if that’s what you’ve requested. You also need to realize that, as a patient, you could be relocated to accommodate another patient who may have specific medical needs or issues. Some hospitals may offer maternity suites, which are larger rooms with a comfortable, homey feel. Check with your hospital for all the details.


A neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, is part of the maternity/postpartum ward. This area specializes in the care of premature or ill newborns and has the caring staff and medical technology to do so. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or are carrying more than one baby, you will likely be offered the opportunity to have a tour prior to your delivery date. It can be tough to see your baby whisked off to the NICU after birth, but this unit generally has an open door policy for mothers and welcomes them anytime.


Unless your baby needs special care, he or she will likely spend their hospital stay in your room. If this is a concern, be sure to discuss it with the hospital staff, as they will do what they can to ensure the well-being of both you and your newborn.

Snack room

Most maternity units will have a room for the mom-to-be and new mom to grab a nutritious snack or make a hot drink. It will likely be open 24-7, so take advantage of it whenever you need to.

More on pregnancy

Early signs of pregnancy
Music during labour
Preparing for baby


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