How the Atmosphere in Labor & Delivery Rooms Affects the Birthing Experience

How the Atmosphere in Labor & Delivery Rooms Affects the Birthing Experience
Healthcare providers and facility managers are increasingly aware that patients’ physical environment has significant effects on their mental and physical well-being.

A pregnant patient needs both high-quality medical care and a calm atmosphere. Since hormone levels can be greatly impacted by stress, the more safe and secure a patient feels in the labor and delivery (L&D) room, the higher the chances of an optimal birth.

Safety. Comfort. Ambiance. Cleanliness. Every aspect of the labor, delivery, and birthing experience can make a lasting impression on new mothers and their families. Healthcare facilities and providers must do their best to enhance the patient experience by creating a truly welcoming environment.

The National Library of Medicine provides ample scientific research detailing the many options available for creating better atmospheres for better outcomes. These studies emphasize the importance of intentional design when creating L&D rooms. Even something as simple as allowing the patient to raise the temperature of the room to prevent postpartum shivering can have a significant impact on mom and baby.

Here are some of the National Institutes of Health’s design considerations that have resulted in positive effects on labor and pain, the patient’s heart rate, the baby’s Apgar score, and the need for artificial oxytocin.

Suggested methods of distraction, comfort, and relaxation

Keep in mind that some of these suggestions have to already be in the room and available for patient use (if the patient wants to use them):

  • Soothing patterns or pictures on the wall
  • Fiber-optic lights with changing colors
  • An aquarium containing tropical fish
  • Aromatherapy or essential oils
  • Soft music or sound

Try to have a few options for your patients to choose from or select the most widely-appealing choice (we cover common preferences later in the blog). Other ideas on this list would require the patient bring the items to the L&D room with them.

Whenever possible, defer to patient choice—like with music and aromatherapy—so they feel cared for and comforted by the familiar. And so you don’t inadvertently create stress or cause an allergic reaction of some kind.

Not all noises or sounds are pleasant, and some patients might prefer silence. Again, it’s about making the patient feel comfortable, safe, and in control.

Features of familiarity

A homelike L&D room is vital to giving the patient a feeling of comfort and control. Art is an important part of this, as few people live in homes with blank walls and no decor. Case studies have demonstrated that art displayed in patient rooms can benefit patients by aiding in their physical, mental, and emotional recovery, including relieving anxiety and decreasing the perception of pain. For medical settings, durable metal art is easiest to sanitize. Of course, the design should be general, muted, and inoffensive.

Other items that promote domesticity include:

  • textile curtains
  • soft rugs and ottomans
  • comfortable furniture


Common Preferences to Consider

Whenever possible, support the patient’s freedom of movement and self-expression. This will limit fear, reduce stress, and increase positive encounters with staff. However, there are some design choices that have to be made when the rooms are being constructed—long before the patient and their family arrives. Here are some common preferences to consider that will have wide appeal.

Avoid stressful paint colors

Most designers and researchers agree that bold, aggressive colors aren’t for everyone and can actually induce anxiety. Ideal L&D rooms will offer a serene atmosphere to help lower jitters in what is already a stressful situation. That means it’s best to avoid paint colors such as red, bright yellow, and even stark white. These colors can make a patient feel overwhelmed. Instead, choosing a lighter shade in the blue or green family (colors we see everyday in the sky and grass) can have a calming effect.

Adjust the lighting

Most counseling rooms no longer use harsh overhead tube lights and instead use floor lamps with adjustable brightness and a warmer hue. This is to help the patient relax and feel safe in what is a vulnerable situation. Similarly, adjusting the lighting can make the L&D room feel less cold and clinical. Many birthing patients prefer their room to have a soft glow of dimmed lighting, which can promote relaxation.

Provide comfortable furniture

Many patients are anticipating discomfort in a medical setting, so they deeply appreciate anything that makes them a bit cozier. One way to “bring home to the hospital” is with comfortable furniture, which also allows caregivers to have a comfy place to rest and sleep. A plush recliner for the recovery area and side tables that feel nice to touch can make a huge difference.


Person-Centric Seating Solutions

To promote patient well-being and reduce stress, modern healthcare design emphasizes ample sunlight and diffused indoor lighting, earthy colors and textures, curvilinear shapes and flowing layouts, and person-centric seating solutions. Comfortable medical seating and bedding options have a profound effect on the patient and the caregiver(s) staying in the room.

Instead of straight-edged, rigid patient chairs, cozy recliners offer a soothing yet supportive seating option, with curved lines and natural hues. For example, Champion’s Augustine recliner is designed to mimic home furnishings; its low profile and spacious seat provide ease of entry and 24-hour comfort and convenience.


All the Comforts of Home

You already make sure mother and child have the best medical care possible. It’s easy to ensure that birthing families are immersed in an environment that is comfortable and serene.

Champion has attractive colors, textures, and designs to enhance your facility’s décor, while providing safe and sterile surfaces for new mothers and their families.

Browse our collections and see how our designs balance form and function.