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Lots of women opt for vaginal delivery when considering birthing options. Watch this video to learn more about the ups and downs of vaginal deliveries.
Transcript: Delivering your baby is a rush, but it can also be a little bit scary. Remember that babies have arrived...
Delivering your baby is a rush, but it can also be a little bit scary. Remember that babies have arrived vaginally since the dawn of time, and that two-thirds of American babies still debut this way! The first-time mom can expect to labor for about fourteen hours, while repeat moms tend to take around eight. But because labor CAN last a few days, it helps to be prepared! Childbirth begins with labor, a three-stage process. The first stage of labor has 2 phases, latent and active phase. Latent labor is the longest phase and lasts from a few days to a few weeks. During latent labor, your cervix will dilate about three centimeters, a process that results in mild, brief contractions, which are spaced five to twenty minutes apart. Your amniotic sac MAY rupture now, but it's more likely that your water will break once you're in the hospital. Expect to notice discharge, known as the bloody show, and to experience back aches and cramping. At the end of latent labor, the active labor phase begins and you'll head to the hospital. During active labor, which usually lasts for several hours, your contractions will strengthen and occur about every three minutes. Try to stay as comfortable as possible during this period. Don't be afraid to ask for a back rub, or for help walking through a contraction. During the active phase of labor, you'll start your breathing exercises, if you plan to use them. If you're having a medicated birth and have not yet done so, you might ask for pain-relief now. At this point your cervix will open past four centimeters and labor will quicken. The result is very strong contractions which last about a minute and are spaced quite closely together. This part of your labor can be VERY intense, and you may experience nausea, fatigue, chills or sweats, and strong pressure in your lower back and rectum. Once your cervix is fully-dilated to ten centimeters, your labor will end and it will be time for stage two of childbirth: the delivery! To push your baby through the birth canal, a process that can take 60 minutes to several hours, you'll get into your preferred birthing position. Following the instructions of your doctor, you'll push as if you're having a bowel movement with each contraction. And don't worry: Your bowels and bladder may empty, or you may vomit, and that's normal! Between contractions, you'll rest and conserve your energy for that next push. Soon, your baby's head will appear, or crown. Once the head emerges fully, your doctor will suck mucous out of your baby's nose and mouth, and then guide him or her the rest of the way. The umbilical cord will be cut and your baby will be in your arms! But YOU'RE not done! It's time for stage three of childbirth: delivery of the placenta. This usually doesn't last longer than 20 minutes and is accompanied by mild contractions. Once the placenta is delivered, your doctor will stitch up any tears and you'll be free to nurse and cuddle your new arrival. Congratulations, Mom!More »
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A Cesarean section delivery often occurs if there is a labor or pregnancy complication. Get details on what happens during a C-section.
Transcript: If your baby is delivered by cesarean section, you're not alone: About 30 percent of babies born in the...
If your baby is delivered by cesarean section, you're not alone: About 30 percent of babies born in the United States make their arrival this way! So why might a C-section be necessary? Some women walk into delivery already slated to have a cesarean. These high-risk moms may have placenta problems, a breach presentation baby, a multi-fetal pregnancy or have had previous uterine surgery. Women who are HIV-positive or who have an active genital herpes infection may also require a C-section, so as not to pass the virus on to the baby. More frequently, though, a C-section is not scheduled in advance. If a woman's cervix doesn't dilate properly, or if the baby's head is too large to fit through the pelvis, a cesarean section becomes necessary. Other in-the-moment problems can also lead to emergency C-sections, such as fetal distress, a ruptured uterus, or a too-exhausted mom. So what happens during the procedure? First, anesthesia is administered. Most often, you'll get an epidural or spinal block, which numbs the lower half of your body, while still keeping you awake. If you're having an emergency C-section, there may not be enough time to numb you, in which case you'll be put to sleep with general anesthesia and wake up with a baby! Once numb, a catheter will be placed in your bladder and a drape will rest on your abdomen. This is so you don't have to see the incision. The doctor will make a horizontal cut just above your pubic hair line to start your C-section. Then, your baby will be lifted from your body, no worse for wear, and without the pointy cone-head of babies born vaginally. Your surgeon will then cut the umbilical cord and stitch you up, a procedure that can take up to thirty minutes as each layer of tissue is mended. The recovery from a cesarean section usually begins with three days in the hospital followed by six to eight weeks of rest at home. Because a cesarean is a major medical procedure, your mobility may be limited as you recover initially. You may also experience similar symptoms to moms who deliver vaginally, including cramping in your uterus, bloody discharge, and fatigue. Of course, as you wait for your post-surgical symptoms to pass, you can enjoy getting to know your new arrival, a worthwhile reward if ever there was one!More »
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Learning how to care for a newborn takes a little time and practice. What are the best ways to help your baby to burp after eating? How can you quickly diaper a squirming infant? Learn all the burping, bathing and bathroom basics here.
Transcript: A word of comfort to new moms and dads: You WILL figure this out! Newborns are a lot of work, but knowing...
A word of comfort to new moms and dads: You WILL figure this out! Newborns are a lot of work, but knowing some baby basics will help. Of course, one of your more unpleasant (and frequent!) jobs will be diaper duty. This isn't hard and will become second nature in no time. Before you start, be sure that you have everything you need at your fingertips. That means diapers, baby wipes, diaper rash ointment, and a change of clothes (just in case!) Lie your baby down and open the diaper. Parents with boys, watch out for that penis! Keep it covered with a cloth when he's undressed to avoid a spray surprise. Now fold over the diaper so that the clean side touches your baby's bottom. Lift your baby's legs and wipe the area well. If you have a girl, wipe her from front to back to keep her vagina bacteria-free. If you have a boy, prevent leaks by quickly fastening his diaper. As you replace the dirty diaper with a clean one, remember that disposables have tabs that go in the back and wrap around to the front. So what if your baby's made a REALLY big mess in his or her diaper? Bath time! Once again, have everything you'll need handy before you begin. Ensure that the room is between 75 and 80 degrees. Because babies lose body heat very quickly, this keeps them comfortable. Use an infant tub, or the sink, until your baby can sit up unassisted. Once the sink is filled with enough water to cover your baby's bottom half, slide him or her into the tub. When washing a newborn, use soap sparingly and stick to the hands, bottom and genitals. The rest of your baby's body can be washed with water alone. If you want to shampoo, use a drop of tear-free product once a week. If you have an uncircumcised boy, it's fine to wash his penis with soap and warm water. But a circumcised boy shouldn't be bathed until his penis is healed, so stick to sponge baths for now. It seems like when babies aren't dirtying diapers, they're nursing, and feeding babies need to be burped. Burp your baby when you switch breasts, or halfway through a bottle. Remember to have a burp cloth handy in case the baby spits up! The classic burping position is to hold your baby upright, with his or head on your shoulder. Support the bottom with one hand and use the other to pat the back firmly. If this doesn't work, try placing your baby stomach side down across your lap, turning him or her sideways. Or hold your baby in a seated position, supporting the neck and chest with one hand, and patting with the other. A newborn baby is a lot of work. But take heart in knowing that every couple DOES get the hang of burping, bathing, diapers, and everything in between!More »
Last Modified: 2014-02-24 | Tags »
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There are some very significant changes your body will go through postpartum . The most heavily affected body organs will be your vagina and breasts. Learn more in the video.
Transcript: No part of your body is harder hit by giving birth than your vagina and breasts. In the several days...
No part of your body is harder hit by giving birth than your vagina and breasts. In the several days following birth, your breasts will produce a yellowish fluid called colostrum. In the several days following birth, your breasts will produce a yellowish fluid called colostrum. When your infant suckles, it will cause the release of hormones that trigger your milk. However, even if you choose not to nurse, your breasts will produce milk for several days to a week. If you want the milk to stop flowing, you shouldn't allow your baby to nurse, nor should you remove the milk in any other manner. However, these drugs come with additional health risks to the mother, so they are not commonly prescribed. You will notice discharge known as lochia from your vagina. This occurs as cells from the lining of your uterus slough off. Lochia starts out as bright red blood, then tapers off before finally stopping. After you give birth, your uterus is 15 times heavier than it was when you got pregnant! For this reason, you'll be able to feel it a few finger widths below the top of your belly button. But by six weeks after delivery, your uterus will return to its old size. Having a baby definitely changes your body, but take comfort in the fact that most alterations are only temporary.More »
Last Modified: 2014-02-03 | Tags »
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While there will be plenty of mess and blood during delivery, some of that mess could potentially be helpful in the future…like cord blood. Check out this video to learn more about cord blood.
Transcript: If you're pregnant, you've no doubt begun to hear a lot about cord blood. Here are the basics. First,...
If you're pregnant, you've no doubt begun to hear a lot about cord blood. Here are the basics. First, the facts. After a baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut, some blood remains in the vessels of the baby's placenta and the cord attached to it. This is known as cord, or placental, blood. Cord blood has all the elements of normal blood, plus a rich supply of hematopoietic, or blood-forming, stem cells. These are similar to the cells found in bone marrow. For this reason, cord blood is increasingly replacing bone marrow in stem cell experimentation. In addition, cord blood transfers can be used to treat and improve some pediatric cancers and blood disorders. Today, cord blood can only be transplanted from a donor into a recipient who is a match. This is similar to how a bone marrow transplant works, although cord blood transplants use less stringent matching criteria. The cord blood from a baby will also have a high likelihood of matching with the baby's parents and any of the baby's siblings, so the benefits of familial cord blood extend beyond the donor. As of today, only a few illnesses can be treated with cord blood, so it is statistically unlikely that any individual will need the use of his or her cord blood. But because stem cell research is always evolving, many people believe that cord blood will have even more uses in the future.More »
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There will be changes in your sex lives after you become parents but it doesn’t have to be any less exciting. Click here for more details about your post-partum sex life.
Transcript: Saying hello to a new baby does not mean saying goodbye to a great sex life! Immediately after a vaginal...
Saying hello to a new baby does not mean saying goodbye to a great sex life! Immediately after a vaginal delivery, your vagina will be stretched out, sore and bruised. Because you need time to heal, most doctors recommend waiting until your six-week checkup before resuming intercourse. When you do get back in the bedroom, you may notice that you produce less lubrication than you did pre-baby. This is due to lower levels of estrogen in your body, something which will be even more pronounced if you're breastfeeding. Luckily, a water-based lubricant will help with vaginal dryness. If things still feel "stretched out" post delivery, you can tighten up with Kegel exercises. To do a Kegel, imagine that you're trying to stop a flow of urine midstream. If you repeat it often, that squeeze and lift will tighten your vagina. Once you work past these early difficulties, though, note that you will need to use birth control. Your period won't start right away - it could take two months to a full year post-baby - but that doesn't mean you're not ovulating! Most doctors recommend using a condom, as a diaphragm can slip around inside your post-pregnancy vagina, and an IUD can't be installed until you've healed. In addition, hormonal birth control is not encouraged if you're breastfeeding, because the hormones can contradict milk production. Getting used to sex post-baby may take some time. But, just like when you were making your baby, practice will make perfect!More »
Last Modified: 2012-09-26 | Tags »
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Calculating your due date is simple if you remember the date of your last period. Watch this video to find out how this date is important in the calculation.
Transcript: Congratulations-you're pregnant! But how will you know when to expect your bundle of joy? Once your pregnancy...
Congratulations-you're pregnant! But how will you know when to expect your bundle of joy? Once your pregnancy has been confirmed, what you most want to know is your due date. Luckily, calculating your baby's due date is pretty easy to do at home. The average length of a pregnancy is 40 weeks, or 280 days, from the FIRST day of the LAST menstrual period, or LMP. Calculating the due date, or expected date of delivery, for a pregnancy is quite simple, then, if you know that date. Simply add nine months and seven days to the date, and you've got your pregnancy due date.Here's an example of how it works: say the first day of the last normal menstrual period was February 1st. Add seven days to that number, and you get February 8th. Add nine months, and you get November. The expected due date of that pregnancy, then, is November 8.Many factors play into determining the exact day you may have conceived. If your cycle length is irregular, you may not be able to use the first day of your last menstrual period as a marker. And similarly, if you have no idea when your last period was, don't worry!In these types of circumstances, your doctor will likely use an early ultrasound to measure the fetus' size and thus determine its gestational age. You may be wondering why you use your period, and not the day you CONCEIVED the baby, as a starting point. This is because it's rarely possible to gauge the PRECISE day that you got pregnant. After all, your ovulation schedule may be unpredictable, and sperm can live inside you for a few days. Remember, though, that your baby's estimated due date is just that-an estimate. In fact, only 5% of babies make their debut on the EXACT day predicted for their birth! So don't worry if your baby is born before or after that big X on your calendar.More »
Last Modified: 2013-04-15 | Tags »
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While not that common, delivery problems with baby are possible, such as a breech birth. Learn more about common complications, and what to be on the lookout for.
Transcript: No matter how careful you are during your pregnancy, there is always a chance that your unborn baby will...
No matter how careful you are during your pregnancy, there is always a chance that your unborn baby will experience a problem during delivery. In about three percent of pregnancies, the baby is not in the correct birthing position. Doctors use the term "breech" to refer to a baby that is ready to emerge buttocks first. In some breech cases, a doctor can manipulate the uterus to get the baby to turn over to a more favorable, head first, position. If this is not successful, your doctor will typically deliver your baby via caesarean section. Sometimes, a baby grows too large to comfortably fit through the birthing canal. Babies weighing more than 9 pounds and 15 ounces are considered to have macrosomia, the term for a larger than average baby. In some cases, a macrosomic baby can be born naturally, although there is a greater risk of tearing or blood loss. In rare cases, a large baby can get stuck behind the pubic bone, a problem that can result in injury or death to the baby, which is why some doctors schedule a c-section for macrosomic babies. While both of these issues can frequently be observed prior to delivery, sometimes a seemingly ordinary birth will become problematic. During birth, it is possible that the baby's umbilical cord will emerge wrapped around his neck. Although this is good cause for caution, it is usually possible for a doctor to unwrap the cord prior to the birth's conclusion. It may become necessary to cut the cord to untangle it, which makes immediate birth important. More serious is when the umbilical cord passes through the uterus before the baby. Known as cord prolapse, this can make it impossible for the baby to get oxygen, resulting in brain damage or death. For this reason, a cord prolapse will usually result in an emergency c-section. Because so many things can occur to make birth difficult, your baby will be carefully monitored during labor and delivery. If your baby shows signs of fetal distress, or a lowered heart rate, your doctor will likely make the decision to speed up the delivery of your baby.More »
Last Modified: 2012-10-18 | Tags »
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When you go into labor, you may have to consider getting an epidural. Check out this video to learn all about epidurals, including their pros and cons.
Transcript: About half of all women who give birth in a hospital receive an epidural for pain relief. The goal of...
About half of all women who give birth in a hospital receive an epidural for pain relief. The goal of an epidural is to provide analgesia, or pain relief, rather than complete anesthesia, which is total lack of feeling. Epidurals work by blocking nerve impulses from your lower spine, in turn causing decreased sensation in the bottom portion of the body. Because a standard epidural seeks to provide pain relief, it's often combined with a narcotic medication, like morphine or fentanyl. An epidural can also contain MORE narcotics and LESS anesthetic, a procedure known as a combined-spinal epidural, or walking epidural. Although the pain may sometimes be greater with walking epidurals, some women prefer them because they may allow more personal control over pushing. Many physicians recommend that you enter the active phase of labor with the cervix dilated at least three centimeters before you get an epidural AND you must usually receive about a quart of intravenous fluid to prepare for the procedure. At that point the epidural catheter, a small tube, can be inserted into your epidural space. Epidurals provide pain reduction and may make labor easier for you, and the advantages with respect to pain management are quite clear.- If your labor is particularly long, an epidural may also let you get some much-needed rest. Also, you'll be fully present at your baby's birth since the medication does not sedate you. In terms of the disadvantages, epidurals MAY temporarily make pushing more difficult for you. In addition, about 1 to 3 of every 100 women who has an epidural can develop a severe headache in the days after the procedure, which usually gets better and can be treated. In about 10% of cases, an epidural may ALSO cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly, which may temporarily reduce blood flow to your baby. In addition, the epidural may cause temporary side effects that can include shivering, ringing of the ears, backache, soreness where the needle is inserted, nausea, or difficulty urinatingSome mothers may wish to consider the potential effect of epidural anesthesia on newborns. Most medical research indicates that there is little or no medically significant effect of epidurals on newborns, while some studies suggest limited and temporary changes in newborn temperature and breastfeeding behaviors. For most women, the option of epidural anesthesia can provide pain relief during a difficult and stressful labor, with fairly limited risks. Despite the risks, many women weigh their options and decide that a pain-free labor and delivery is the way to go-and most doctors approve. As with all important decisions in pregnancy, discuss this with your obstetrician- preferably BEFORE you go into labor.More »
Last Modified: 2013-04-15 | Tags »
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How is labor induced? There are certain medical procedures that are used to dilate the cervix and speed up the labor process. Watch this to get detailed information.
Transcript: If your doctor has decided to induce labor, you might want to know how it's done. During a natural labor,...
If your doctor has decided to induce labor, you might want to know how it's done. During a natural labor, the lower end of the uterus, called the cervix, softens. This process is called ripening. Next, the cervix thins out, or effaces, and opens, or dilates. The cervix must be fully effaced and dilated for a baby's head to come through. To induce labor, this process is speeded along in one of the following ways. Your doctor may insert a finger into your vagina and move it back and forth to separate the membrane that connects your amniotic sac to your uterine wall. Following this procedure-which is called stripping the membranes-your body releases prostaglandin hormones, which can lead to the start of your contractions. Your doctor may also choose to ripen your cervix by giving you manmade versions of prostaglandins to take by mouth or vagina. The cervix can also be ripened with a balloon-like device, which is inserted into the vagina and then filled with water. This causes the cervix to expand. If your cervix has already started to open, your doctor may move your labor along by using a plastic hook to manually break your amniotic sac, which should lead to contractions. As a final method of labor induction, your doctor may decide to give you an intravenous dose of Pitocin. This drug is an artificial form of the hormone oxytocin, which also occurs naturally in the body to trigger and strengthen contractions. With the exception of stripping the membranes, which is done in a doctor's office, all of these procedures are done in the hospital. If you still don't go into labor after your doctor tries one of these methods, however, you will probably need to have a C-section.More »
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If labor and delivery with an obstetrician sounds too clinical and detached for you, watch this video to learn what delivery with a midwife may be like. Learn the facts on midwives in this video.
Transcript: If using an obstetrician sounds too clinical for your delivery, a midwife may be an excellent alternative....
If using an obstetrician sounds too clinical for your delivery, a midwife may be an excellent alternative. Although midwives deliver less than 10% of all babies born in America, the percentage has been steadily growing since the 1970s. Midwives have the philosophy that pregnancy and birth are natural events, and typically do not make use of pain medications or advanced monitoring technologies. Instead, they focus on supporting the mother-to-be as nature takes its course. There are many different types of midwives who can assist with labor and delivering your baby, either at a hospital or in your home. Most midwives can also perform gynecological exams and provide prenatal care. Perhaps the most educated of this set are certified nurse-midwives, or CNMs. CNMs are trained as both midwives and nurses and have to pass a licensing exam from the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Certified professional midwives are similar to CNMs, but without the nursing training, and are certified by the North American Registry of Midwives... Direct entry midwives, on the other hand, largely attain their education through an apprenticeship. While a midwife can be a good choice in many cases, there are some situations in which a mom-to-be should opt for a doctor instead. For example, most midwives are not qualified to handle multiple births or high-risk pregnancies. They also cannot deliver pain medications and are unable to perform C-sections or administer emergency services. For this reason, choosing to have a midwife-assisted birth should only be done after careful consideration.More »
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If you’re expecting twins or triplets, it is important that you eat healthy and regularly visit your doctor. View this video for information on multiple births.
Transcript: If you're expecting two...or more!...babies, you're not alone. Three percent of pregnant women in the...
If you're expecting two...or more!...babies, you're not alone. Three percent of pregnant women in the United States carry twins. This growing community of mothers of multiples means that you'll be able to reach out for support and advice during your pregnancy. Perhaps your first consideration when pregnant with multiples will be how much you should eat. The good news? It's more than your singularly pregnant sisters! Most doctors recommend eating 300 extra calories per fetus per day. That means that moms-to-be of twins get 600 extra, and moms expecting triplets get 900! But before you reach for the candy bars, remember that those extra calories should come from foods that will nourish your babies. Try to get additional servings of lean protein and dairy. You'll also need plenty of iron and magnesium when you're carrying multiples. Get iron from red meat and spinach, and try whole grains and green leafy veggies for your magnesium. You need that iron to prevent anemia, or your red blood cell count from falling, which is a common problem in multiple pregnancies. Magnesium will help build your babies' strong bones and regulate your blood sugar. Round out that healthy diet by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. This will prevent dehydration, which can lead to dangerous preterm labor. A final hint on bulking up for your babies: You'll probably want to gain between 35 and 45 pounds, nearly twice as much as singleton moms! Most of this weight gain will occur during your second and third trimesters, when you're (hopefully) past that morning sickness phase! When you're pregnant with more than one baby, you need to take a careful approach to exercise. It is VITAL to get the green light from your OB-GYN before working-out. Then, it's okay to engage in gentle exercise, preferably the kind where you're off your feet and your body temperature doesn't raise significantly. Try prenatal yoga or swimming. While you're working out, know when to stop...now is NOT the time to push yourself too hard! If you begin to experience even mild discomfort, stop exercising immediately. A final consideration when you're pregnant with multiples is where and how your babies will be born. Some mothers will have a planned C-section, while others will aim for a vaginal birth. When birthing multiples, most doctors require an epidural, in case an emergency C-section becomes necessary. Most multiple births will take place in an operating room, rather than a standard labor-and-delivery room. This is normal and not cause for alarm! When you're pregnant with more than one, your doctor will want to see you regularly and will take frequent sonograms of your babies. While preparing for more than one baby may seem like twice as much work, keep in mind that the results will be twice as wonderful when they do arrive!More »
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