There is a lot that goes into the preparing for labor and delivery. Here is some useful information to help you plan for the big day.
Going the full 40 weeks
The last few weeks of your pregnancy can be exciting, busy and a little scary. Unless you need an early birth for medical reasons, it’s best to carry your baby for 40 weeks. It’s better for your baby if you can go into labor naturally. This is because the brain, lungs and other important organs are finishing their development in the final weeks.
Do you know the signs of premature labor?
Premature labor is when a pregnant woman goes into labor before 37 weeks. If your baby is born too soon, he or she can have serious health problems. If you have any of the following signs before 38 weeks, call your clinician or go directly to the hospital:
- Contractions every 10 minutes or more often (with contractions, the belly will tighten like a fist)
- Leaking fluid or bleeding from the vagina
- Pelvic pressure; feeling like the baby is pushing down
- Low, dull backache
- Cramps that feel like menstrual cramps
- Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
Braxton-Hicks contractions, or false labor, can also feel like contractions, but usually subside with rest, changing positions, emptying your bladder or drinking water. If you’re unsure about anything you are feeling, call your provider right away.
labor, delivery and decisions
There are many other things to consider before your big day including where to give birth, building a support network and understanding the benefits of breastfeeding.
Being together during labor and delivery (L&D;) can help you and your partner feel connected to one another and more in control. It also reduces mom’s stress and helps labor go more smoothly for her and the baby.
Be prepared for childbirth. Know what to expect and plan for the type of pain management and labor support your partner will want. Things don’t always go according to plan. Your Birth Plan will help you make good decisions if other plans need to change.
There are a few things you can do now to be ready for childbirth. It’s important to choose who will deliver your baby and where you will deliver your baby. The Childbirth Connection has plenty of useful information to help you out.
The following are positive signs to look for when choosing a place of birth:
- Offers care based on the health needs of you and your baby
- Makes sure the process of pregnancy and birth run smoothly
- Gives you support, including comfort and information
It’s also important to find the people who will help you. Having the support of your family and friends is important for a successful pregnancy. So to increase your chances of getting the right support, share your plans with friends and loved ones. Pregnancy and the days, weeks and months following the birth of your baby are hard work. With a good support system in place, you’ll be able to handle your stress and your life more easily.
As you think about all of the parts of labor and delivery, don’t forget about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is good for the baby and the mother. But it’s not always easy. Research shows a partner’s support helps make breastfeeding successful. Make sure you both know about your breastfeeding plans and agree on them. Don’t put off talking to your health care provider about breastfeeding. You can learn more about the benefits of breastmilk here.
Additionally, local childbirth classes are available in most areas of Texas. Many hospitals offer them to mothers who are having a baby, as well as their families.
Childbirth classes are a great way to meet other parents going through pregnancy. They’re a great way for you and your partner to learn about the birth process and ask questions.
Another support resource you can consider during labor and delivery is a doula. A doula is a birth companion whose job is to support you and your partner throughout labor. By sharing your wishes to the medical team, keeping you up to date on your progress and supporting your pain management, a doula can be a helpful option in an otherwise stressful time. Ask your health care provider for recommendations if this interests you.
your baby is here — now what?
Now it’s time to get to know your baby and for mom to begin breastfeeding.
The hour after delivery is known as the golden hour. It’s a very important time when mother, father and baby have an opportunity to bond, feed and get to know each other.
During this time, your clinician may place a baby directly on the mother’s bare chest. This is called skin-to-skin care and helps keep the baby warm. It also exposes the baby to important hormones from the mother’s body and is important for breastfeeding.
While breastmilk is natural and the best nutrition for your baby, it is not always simple for mother or baby. Many hospitals have lactation consultants on staff to help mothers learn good breastfeeding skills. Be sure to ask for help if breastfeeding hurts, if you feel frustrated or if you’re unsure about anything.
Many hospitals also offer breastfeeding support after you leave the hospital. Your health care provider or your baby’s pediatrician can be an excellent source of assistance as well. Encourage your provider to download the Supporting Your Breastfeeding patient app, so they have all the tools they need to help you.
Check out the Every Ounce Counts website for breastfeeding help and resources. You can even download a birth announcement to email your friends and family! Dads, don’t forget skin-to-skin is important for you and your baby, too. It can be a great way to calm the baby and promote father-baby bonding.
Going home from the hospital can be stressful. Even if you delivered at home, worry can set in quickly once your support people leave. Don’t be shy about asking for help from those around you. It’s important for your physical and mental health to get the support you need. More importantly, your health now affects your baby’s health.
If you’re not getting enough rest, it can affect your baby. You can have a hard time paying attention to your baby’s signals. It can also be difficult to produce enough milk if you haven’t had enough rest. Don’t be afraid to ask people to come over and help with things like folding laundry or washing dishes, so you can actually sleep when the baby sleeps.
Baby blues are normal during the first three to four weeks after delivery. You may feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster as your hormones begin to go back to normal. If you have feelings of hopelessness, hallucinations or paranoia, get help from your medical provider because these are signs of more serious depression.
Postpartum depression and psychosis are treatable, but early intervention is key. There are many resources available including support groups, helplines and websites with additional support and information. If you have any thoughts of hurting yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Breastfeeding has important health benefits for your and your baby. Find out more with Every Ounce Counts.
Find out how our Birth Plan will help make your labor, birth and delivery go smoothly.
Learn about newborn screening. Your baby will have testing after birth to screen for rare but serious illnesses through two-step blood screening. Watch this video to learn more.
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