Birth and Newborn Services

UnityPoint Health - Meriter Hospital
new parents holding baby

Birth & Newborn Services

Welcome to UnityPoint Health – Meriter – Birth & Newborn Services! At our birthing center you will find experienced and caring physicians, midwives, nurses and support staff who will help you welcome the newest member of your family. We believe in a family-centered approach to your care. Our team is here to respond to your needs with the highest level of skill, professionalism and compassion.

We make every effort to make your stay is as comfortable as possible so that you and your family can be afforded the privacy and ability to experience the birth of your choice.

Take a Virtual Tour of Wisconsin's Largest Birthing Center

Experience Our Complete Birthing Center Tour

Preparing for Childbirth

Every pregnancy and birth is a unique, life-changing event. That is why UnityPoint Health – Meriter is committed to providing you with the information you need, the best possible care, and a comfortable environment where you are treated with warmth and respect.

Preparing for Childbirth

Pre-Register for Your Hospital Stay

You can securely pre-register online for your hospital stay by filling out our Hospital Pre-registration Form.

Birth Preferences

Complete the Birth Preferences form. Writing your birth preferences will help you to consider the many decisions you will make during your labor and postpartum time in the hospital. It will also enable you to communicate your ideas and philosophy to your OB provider, nurse midwife, the nursing staff and your support people.

Childbirth & Parenting Classes

Family Health Education offers a variety of live virtual classes and support for new and expecting parents all led by birthing and parenting experts. Classes cover late pregnancy, childbirth, baby care and infant feeding. We even offer a class for grandparents-to-be!

Breastfeeding Supplies and Support

Meriter provides many resources to help you have a successful breastfeeding experience, including a Basics of Breastfeeding class, lactation consultants and a Breastfeeding Helpline with specially trained lactation consultants.

Test Your Drinking Water

Well Water - If you have well water, it is very important to have it tested to be sure it is safe for your baby. A high nitrate content will decrease the ability of a baby's blood to carry oxygen. Bacteria in the water can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Boiling well water may kill the bacteria, but it also increases the nitrate level.

City Water - If your home was built before 1985 have your water tested for lead. If your home is new, have your water tested for copper.

How to Test - The local agencies that test water are:

  • State Lab Hygiene - (800) 442-4618. Water testing kits for well and city water are available for a small fee.
  • Public Health for Madison and Dane County - (608) 266-4821. Water testing kits for well and city water are available for a small fee. Fees are waived for Dane County residents who meet income eligibility standards.

Your Hospital Stay

In the Birthing Center, we want to make your entire childbirth experience comfortable, personal and memorable.

  • Take a virtual tour of our Birthing and Family Care Centers.
  • All of our new families start their journey on the labor and delivery unit in the Birthing Center. Tucked away in each room is everything our staff needs to welcome your baby into the world. Special equipment is immediately available if needed. Should the need arise, Cesarean Birth operating suites are located in the Birthing Center for immediate access.
  • After delivery and recovery, you and your family will be moved to a private suite in our Family Care Center.
Arriving at the Hospital – Directions & Parking

Valet Services are conveniently offered at the front entrance of the hospital weekdays, 6:00 AM – 4:30 PM.

  • 6:00 AM - 8:00 PM - Park in any visitor area in the ramp. (If you do not feel comfortable walking from the ramp, you can park temporarily in the drive-in front of the main lobby doors. Your spouse or support person can move the car after you are admitted.) Go to the 4 North triage area where you will be admitted.
  • 8:00 PM - 6:00 AM- The main lobby doors are locked during these hours. Park and take the elevators to the 2nd floor to enter the hospital lobby. From there, you will be directed to the Birthing Center.

One of the advantages of family-centered care is that your baby stays with you from the moment of birth. You will discover your baby's preferences and begin a feeding relationship. By spending time together, you will discover the uniqueness of your new baby. Your nurse will be there to support you and assist you in caring for your baby.

Benefits of Rooming-In

  1. Better Breastfeeding.
    Being with your baby allows for a better breastfeeding experience. You can breastfeed more often, learn your baby’s hunger cues, increase milk production and get more practice with different techniques. This helps foster more questions and conversation with your nurse and lactation consultant.
  2. Understand Your Baby.
    Your baby has unique cues and ways of communicating his or her needs, whether baby is tired, stressed or hungry. The more quickly you learn to understand your baby, including in the overnight hours, the sooner your family will adjust to a new life together.
  3. Bonding.
    Your first few days with your baby are precious. We encourage you to spend as much time as possible holding baby skin-to-skin. This not only allows for bonding with baby, it helps baby regulate body temperature and stress, may improve brain development and healthy weight, may reduce postpartum depression and encourages breastfeeding and milk production.
  4. Sleep.
    It may seem like you’ll get more rest if baby is in a nursery. However, studies have shown you get the same amount of rest if baby shares your room, especially in the early days when baby wakes often to eat. Sharing a room will help your baby develop a more regular sleeping routine, which may lead to a better routine for the whole family.
Going Home

We want to make sure you are prepared to take care of your infant when you go home. Keeping your baby with you gives you more time to practice news skills like swaddling, bathing and diaper changes in an environment where you can freely ask advice from your care team. You’ll be more confident in your abilities when you leave.

You and your OB provider will decide together when you are ready to go home. Patients who have a vaginal birth generally go home the second day after giving birth. Patients who have a cesarean birth usually go home about three days after giving birth. Factors that could extend or shorten your stay include complications, personal preference and insurance coverage.

Information for Patients & Visitors

Parking Pass

You will receive one parking pass that can be delegated to a family member or friend. To get the pass, go to the Guest Services office in the lobby.

They are open Monday - Friday, 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM and Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM. Other visitors can also park in the ramp, for a small fee. Parking is free on holidays.

Due to COVID-19 UnityPoint Health - Meriter has made changes to our visitor policy. For the most updated information regarding visitors, please visit our Patients & Visitors Page.
Meal Service
Our Food & Nutrition team strives to provide high-quality food to promote health and healing. Meal service consists of a house select meal delivered to your room three times a day. A diet clerk will visit you before your second meal to "personalize" your meals and accommodate your preferences, desired portion sizes or any allergies you may have. If your provider has ordered a special diet, the menu may be modified to adjust for changes in calorie, texture, fluids or other nutrients.

Birthing Experiences

Cesarean Birth Pre-Operative Education

Cesarean birth patient instructions

Cesarean Birth Post-Operative Education

Cesarean post-operative patient instructions
Cesarean Post op.PNG

Water Birth

UnityPoint Health – Meriter offers water birth as an option for labor and delivery. Water birth can provide an excellent alternative birth option for healthy patients who are expecting an uncomplicated birth.

Water Birth FAQ

What are the risks to me or my baby?
  • Baby taking water into lungs during delivery
  • Possible infection for you or your baby
  • Newborn bleeding from broken umbilical cord

Your participation in a water birth class will help you prepare for possible emergencies. To prevent your baby from taking water into their lungs or breaking the umbilical cord, your OB provider will gently and quickly guide your baby above the water surface as it is born. You and your baby will be monitored for signs of infection. As with any birth, the obstetrical team will inform you when the risks of delivering in the birthing tub will outweigh the benefits of delivery under water. At that time, you will be informed and moved to the labor bed or an operating room.

What do I need to do to plan for a water birth?
Discuss the water birth option with your OB provider. You and your provider will meet to review the eligibility requirements. A water birth class is available for you, once it is determined you meet the eligibility requirements. Attendance at a water birth class is encouraged but optional. A separate consent is required for a water birth delivery.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Healthy pregnant patients at least 18 years old
  • Uncomplicated pregnancy
  • Single baby in head down position
  • No previous cesarean births
When is a Water Birth not possible?

You will not be eligible for a water birth if any of the following conditions are present:

  • Any condition requiring continuous electronic monitoring of your baby
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Need for a vacuum or forceps delivery
  • Need for medicine to strengthen contractions
  • Meconium stained fluid
  • Fever or other evidence of infection
  • Request for epidural anesthesia
  • Any obstetric emergency
  • Problems with the water birth tub
  • Decision of the admitting provider
  • Trained water birth provider unavailable
  • Pregnancy BMI of 40 or greater
Who should I contact if I would like more information?

Please contact your OB provider to determine if you are a candidate for a water birth and if your provider is willing to offer a water birth delivery.

If you would like more information about a water birth, please contact Family Health Education at (608) 417-8446.

Breastfeeding & Lactation Lounge

Our expertly trained Lactation Consultants, nursing staff and educators are committed to helping you have a positive breastfeeding experience. We offer a wide variety of services for before and after delivery including:

  • Prenatal breastfeeding class
  • Breastfeeding educational materials and aids
  • Prenatal assessment for patients with previous or anticipated breastfeeding problems
  • In-hospital consultations for patients and newborns
  • Outpatient consultation for nursing parents and babies
  • Telephone consultation from UnityPoint Health – Meriter Breastfeeding Helpline
  • Office clinic visits for hands-on help
  • A private Lactation Lounge for visitors to use for nursing and pumping (located in 3 Atrium above Dr. Joe Coffee Kiosk)

Lactation Lounge
While patients and visitors are welcome to breastfeed anywhere within our hospital and clinics, those looking for a private space are invited to use our Lactation Lounge. The Lactation Lounge is conveniently located in 3 Atrium near the After-Hours Clinic, surgical waiting area and Dr. Joe. The room features a pump, comfortable chair, small table and electrical outlets. A bathroom is also located nearby.

Lactation Services Offered

Inpatient Visits

Following the birth of your baby, our nurses are there to answer questions you may have and can help educate you on how best to meet your breastfeeding goals. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, our lactation consultants are there to support you and your nurse. Our consultants are available for inpatient visits seven days a week on our post-partum floors and in our NICU.

Breastfeeding Helpline
Our helpline answering machine is on 24 hours a day, and we return calls between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm for any questions or concerns which may arise after you return home. Please feel free to call at (608) 417-6547.
Outpatient Visits
If breastfeeding questions or concerns arise after you return home, our consultants can help with any breastfeeding challenges you may face, including positioning, latch-on, engorgement and low milk supply. Our goal is to provide you with the help you need to reach your breastfeeding goals. Call (608) 417-6547 to schedule a one-on-one outpatient visit. This visit involves a fee so check with insurance first.

Lactation Patient Resouces

During the breastfeeding journey questions can come up. It’s important that you get your information from reputable resources. You can call the UnityPoint Health - Meriter Breastfeeding Helpline at 608-417-6547 or we suggest the following websites.

BFUSA Logo-JPG.jpg

Baby-Friendly Hospital

UnityPoint Health - Meriter is proud to be a designated Baby-Friendly Hospital by setting standard for the best possible breastfeeding support for our patients.
More information on Baby-Friendly USA

Additional Resources

Center for Perinatal Care
Our expert clinical teams are able to care for any complex pregnancy condition or fetal concern that may unexpectedly occur.
Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
We have a state-of-the-art newborn intensive care unit (NICU) for premature or sick newborns to receive the advanced care they need. In fact, we are recognized as a premier regional center for excellence in high-risk newborn care.
Family Health Education

Parenthood is a rewarding and joyous experience, but it can also be an isolating one. Finding a good network of people who have similar experiences as you is beneficial for your wellbeing both mentally and physically. UnityPoint Health – Meriter offers several classes that enable parents with children 1 years old or younger to connect and share stories and common questions that may come up during your first year of being a parent. For any questions on birthing classes reach out to our Family Health Education team at or 608-417-8446.


Generations Fertility Care
Generations Fertility Care, a joint venture between UnityPoint Health - Meriter and UW Health, has reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists in Madison, Wisconsin, combine state-of-the art technology and compassionate, personalized care to assist couples who wish to become parents. With expertise in male and female infertility conditions, as well as women's endocrine conditions, we provide a wide range of assisted reproductive treatments.

Birth & Newborn Services Contact Information

Birthing Center Triage Line
Department Information
(608) 417-6228
Patient Room Information
Department Information
(608) 417-6000
Family Health Education
Department Information
Email or call (608) 417-8446

2180 W Beltline Hwy
Madison, WI 53713

Breastfeeding Helpline
Department Information
(608) 417-6547 or (800) 261-4449

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