Giving Birth at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth

I delivered our daughter this past week and had an absolutely wonderful experience on the labor and delivery and postpartum (4L) units. The nurses were attentive and knowledgeable. I often saw different providers throughout my pregnancy but everyone was on the same page… People give Navy medicine a hard time, but I had both my children at naval hospitals and I couldn’t be more pleased.


When you are looking at your options for the birth of your child as a military parent, base hospitals can seem intimidating. Not only for the reason that they are teaching hospitals, but that your choices of care providers is usually limited and plans are ever changing. I’m happy to share with you the ins and out of giving birth at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth so you can prepare with confidence!


The newly remodeled Labor & Delivery Unit consists of 7 triage (pre-admission evaluation) beds, 10 labor & delivery rooms, 4 observation rooms, a fully functional 3-suite operating room and a 4 bed post surgical recovery room.

Many patients report a calm, patient centered atmosphere while they have a private room, a nice change from the usual military hospital experience. It’s great to know that you will be rooming in with your family throughout the birth process and postpartum recovery! Showers are included in each room, but no tubs are available at this time.

Birth Plans and Options

Many of their policies are very family friendly, such as Midwifery Care, Delayed Cord Clamping, practicing the Golden Hour, the Rooming-In mentioned above, and more. It’s important to talk about anything you want or don’t want to happen during your birth with your care provider during prenatal appointments.

*They have a birth stool, peanut balls, and birth balls on unit for your use.

If you are interested in pain relief other than comfort measures, they discuss your options when you are admitted to the hospital. It’s a great idea to discuss pain relief with your care team before labor begins. Some pain relief options they currently offer are sedatives, narcotics, tranquilizers and anesthesia.

Family centered care means that you and your family will have the support you need during your stay to get the best start possible. That includes lactation support, a dietitian, and more.

Accommodations for Dad / Visitors

Family and friends may visit at any time, however, we request that your visitors respect your family’s need for rest and bonding with your new infant. We do not allow visitors who are ill or have a disease or condition that can be spread to others. On rare occasions we may not have private rooms available when the patient census is high, thus overnight visitors cannot be accommodated.

Counter pressure for doula client

Your partner or a designated support person may stay with you throughout the birth process. There is a fold out chair available for them to rest if needed. It may be a good idea to bring a sweater or sweatshirt, bathing suit and/or a change of clothing for your support person. It is sometimes cool in the labor rooms and they may get wet if you use a shower to help relax between contractions.

*Children are welcome to visit throughout the birth and postpartum recovery, but cannot stay overnight.

Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding assistance is available when you need it during your stay. Make sure you call the lactation consultants for extra help when you need it! The family centered policies and help available make it easy to get off to a good start nursing your new baby. Prenatal classes are linked at the bottom of this post for those interested.

What to Expect the Day of Discharge

You will usually stay for two days after your babies delivery. Here’s the details from their website on preparing for leaving the hospital:

Before you can be discharged, there is a mandatory Shaken Baby Prevention Class all parents must attend (even if you have already been to the class prior to delivery). Discharge medications will be available in the pharmacy before you go home. You or your spouse will be able to pick up the medications with a valid military ID card. Active duty moms will need to go to the admissions office on the 1st floor to initiate convalescent leave. You must report to your command with your leave papers. You will walk off the unit if you feel comfortable, or a wheelchair can be provided to assist you.

Wondering what to bring to the hospital? Here’s what they recommend

  • Pajamas/night gown
  • Bathrobe
  • Slippers
  • Underwear
  • Well fitting bras (nursing or regular)
  • Breast Pads
  • Baby clothes, especially socks and hand mittens
  • Tioletries
  • Mom’s going home clothes (loose fitting)
  • Baby’s going home outfit (to include cap) and blankets
  • Baby Book for foot prints after birth- They will foot print your baby and put prints on anything your want, but they only do this one time!
  • Diaper Bag
  • Infant car seat for day of discharge
    *The Mother-Baby Unit will provide diapers and wipes while in the hospital.

Prenatal Education

To book childbirth classes, learn more about support groups, and more, call NMCP directly at 757-953-4300 or 1-866-645-4584. Class offerings include Baby Basics, Childbirth Education, and Cesarean Preparation. Here’s some more information on Labor and Delivery.

I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. For more information on local hospitals, Doula support, or other resources in Hampton Roads, get in touch with me directly. Thanks for reading!

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