Basic Tips To Help Prepare For Labor And Delivery
Published on 12/09/20
You’ve made a baby! That was the easy, exciting, and fun part!
So we got the baby-makin’ down but now you have an entire 9 months of pregnancy ahead of you. Some women take no issue with the fast approaching labor and delivery, some women, especially first time moms may find it something to dread. But it doesn’t have to be. Educate yourself and plan for delivery, what it is, and what to expect. And giving birth may seem a whole lot less scary.
Giving birth has a lot of aspects that are entirely uncontrollable in the process. It can seem hard and emotional. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your fears of labor and delivery. Your doctors can help put your anxieties on the back burner and make you feel comfortable and supported during a new and unknown experience.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for labor and delivery of your baby:
Nutrition and Exercise
Eating healthy is kind of a given for any time of any day. It doesn’t just pertain to pregnancy, but at least in the development of your child, it’s very important. It not only helps your body maintain a healthy track but it keeps the baby healthy and out of the way of additional risks. For example, gaining too much weight over what might be considered a healthy pregnancy could contribute to complications like Gestational Diabetes. Conditions like these need to be monitored by a doctor. Lifestyle changes and medications may be needed to control the situation. Babies delivered by mothers with Gestational Diabetes are at higher risk of health complications like a risk to becoming overweight themselves.
Same for women who gain too little weight. Babies born to women who gain under 20 pounds are at risk for a premature birth and growth limitations. A healthy lifestyle not only helps in pregnancy but also in delivery. Babies that become overweight have difficulty passing through the birth canal. Which can lead to a C-Section.
Premature babies may have trouble on their own and have to be admitted to the NICU to help them become stable. Being mindful of your nutrition and level of health, can help prevent the need for additional medical interventions during delivery. Talk to your health care provider about what your particular health needs may be.
Learn About Delivery
Fear of the unknown is normally caused by … the unknown. Especially if it’s your first pregnancy. Educating yourself on the birth process and delivery can help fill in the blanks and answer a few looming questions you may have that causes anxiety. Go to birth classes, get books, talk to friends or family members about your concerns. Although everyone’s experiences differ, getting a sense of what’s to come may be more calming going into the birthing experience.
Walking and moving help the progression of labor. Studies have shown that laying on your back during labor is actually counterproductive. The space in the birth canal winds up being reduced and makes it more difficult for the babies to pass through when it’s time. Walking and moving around during labor help the process and avoid stalling.
It’s well known that the birthing position has a massive impact on the execution of labor and delivery. Being in positions that help gravity bring the baby out and open up the pelvis. It can even help get the baby out more smoothly and hopefully, less painfully as possible.
Being calm and positive helps have a great experience. It’s likely to experience hiccups on the way but expecting the worse may make the experience worse. Being focused with a birth plan is a great way to set yourself up for the delivery you hope for. Communicate with your doctor your wishes and have an open mind about the experience. Panic can cause complications to surface so take it all in stride and the best is yet to come!
Have a support system. Keep around the friends and family that stress you out the least. The people that keep you calm in a panic and that you trust to have around during an important time. A time that you would prefer your go-to person to be there for, just in case things get intense. ‘Cause they may! It may get complicated or exhausting and the unwavering support can go a long way to get you through!
First Time Mom Questions?
“What if I need a C-Section?”
It’s pretty common. 33% of women have births by Caesarean. Depending on your pregnancy, most first time moms aren’t carrying multiples, or go into labor spontaneously. This makes their rate 15% of a chance for a C-section.
It’s good advice to consider hiring a doula – a nonmedical labor coach. Who can be in the room along with your OB/GYN.
Women who had a doula were 40% less likely to deliver by C-section. They can coach you into helpful positions, massage your back, and check in with you throughout delivery. Even help your partner help you. Some hospitals are known to offer free doula services or you can find recommendations from your physician or hire one through an additional service. Some insurance companies will reimburse the fee.
If you’re not sure about a C-section, ask your healthcare provider about trying labor first. What the risks are and what other alternatives they may suggest. Sometimes the C-Section is the only option. Have no worries, it’s only a 45 minute procedure and your partner can almost always stay with you during the process.
“What if I don’t make it to the hospital?”
It’s pretty unlikely. Most first time laborers are pretty long. This gives new moms a long time to get to the maternity ward. It’s even more common that first time laborers arrive early during labor. This means it can last a few hours to a couple days. Most providers apply the 5-1-1 rule. A contract every five minutes and lasting one minute that continues for an hour. Hospitals can cause stress and can stall labor and it’s best to spend early labor walking around.
And in the case – the rare case – that you had to deliver your baby by yourself… cut the cord, clear the baby’s nostrils and mouth and swaddle them and the baby should be perfectly fine.
Most women have a very long labor and would probably prefer a backseat 20 minute delivery. It’s just not a thing.
“What About The Pain?”
There are options for pain. However, the pain is necessary. It helps move us into positions that help labor move along. The longer stages of labor are easily managed by most women. The shorter transition into more severe labor that can be the toughest lasts about one to three hours. The pushing happens shortly after and then the birth. However, if you prefer medications to manage the pain, epidurals are available for most deliveries.
There are prenatal yoga practitioners that have reported less pain during labor. Pairing movement and breathing helps to build endurance during delivery and teaches you methods of management throughout the process. As well as teaching visualization. Which helps in the process of relaxing through sensory details in happy and calming memories. Which is supposed to trigger a relaxation response during contractions.
In addition to prenatal yoga, learning breathing techniques and positions are other med-free tactics to learn to tolerate it all. However, if none of this is your cup of tea, anesthesia or intravenous narcotics can dull the pain for two to six hours. Talk to your doctor about which options may be right for you and your pregnancy.
“What if I tear?”
Tearing can happen when your skin won’t stretch enough to accommodate the baby coming through. Which can be pretty common. Doctors have to repair a tear in almost 50% of hospital births. Your OB may require you only a couple stitches with a short snip to help prevent any rupture.
Childbirth educators have stated that side-lying and upright positions help protect the perineum. When it’s time to push, squat bars can help protect the entire under-carry and keep everything intact. You could also ask a nurse to hold a warm compress over your perineum to increase blood flow and elasticity. A nurse can also help by giving a massage to help you stretch as the baby’s head starts to breach.
If snipping is necessary, the birth tends to be entirely distracting. So the administering of the anesthesia before the doctor stitches you up, will be hard to feel. Doctors recommend sitting in a bath daily to ease the soreness and swelling from delivery. The sutures dissolve in a few weeks and a topical estrogen cream may be prescribed to help healing. Total mending happens within six-weeks.
“What If The Baby Gets Stuck?”
Babies don’t normally “get stuck”. Almost half of unplanned C-sections are decided because labor isn’t progressing or the baby isn’t fitting through the birth canal. There’s no easy way to predict the type of delivery you’re going to have. The head could be at an awkward angle or the baby could be sitting in an odd position.
This is where staying active helps. Being active and walking around helps the baby descend down the birth canal. Making room for the baby can be created by rocking while holding on to your partner, hip circles, or swiveling on a birthing ball.
Sometimes labor will not progress no matter the effort and that can determine the rest of the delivery. There are many instances that can transfer into a different birth plan than originally planned on. If the baby is in a difficult position, or your uterus becomes tired, and in extremely rare instances, the baby is too big to fit through the birth canal, your OB might suggest forceps or a vacuum extractor to help them out. Depending on how the baby is positioned, a C-section may be suggested if the baby is stuck farther up.
Talk to your healthcare provider in advance to discuss the alternative options for delivery so they’re aware of your preferences going in.
“Labor lasts up to 70 hours!?”
Early labor could last for a long time and every woman varies. But early labor isn’t considered too uncomfortable. They’re mild contractions. When it comes to active labor, contractions are much longer and most likely way more intense than early labor. When your cervix dilated to 10 centimeters, that typically won’t last any longer than 8 hours. And most doctors won’t let you go over 24 hours once your water breaks.
“What if I poop while I give birth?!”
The infamous question! And the worst realization you’ll have as a young woman… that you might poop during delivery. Because the baby moves through the birth canal, it flattens your rectum and if there is anything inside you ahead of the baby, it will most likely come out. It happens to most women and is extremely common.
Because labor can happen at any time, making sure your colon is empty before is not really easy. However, your body may naturally expel looser and more frequent bowel movements before the contractions begin.
A nurse will be at your feet ready to clean up as quickly as possible. Most people won’t even notice, not even your partner. However, most doctors say there’s so much going on, this is a non-issue.
Whether you’re new to the experience or have given birth before, having the details laid out can help any potentially stressful situation. Pregnancy should be a great experience! So, when your labor begins and you anticipate the delivery of your baby, nothing is more reassuring than knowing you’re in the hands of skilled and compassionate doctors.
Call Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine in NYC For Your Labor and Delivery Needs
The clinical team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine have the expertise you can count on, with many years of experience supporting women through normal vaginal deliveries, high-risk pregnancies, and cesarean sections. If you have any questions or concerns about your delivery, please don’t hesitate to call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City.