Prenatal Care Tips

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What types of childbirth classes can I choose from?

Childbirth Classes

With the number of classes available on childbirth, women have many options to choose from to help with labor and delivery. You can try Lamaze, Bradley, or hypnobirthing, just to name a few. The Lamaze childbirth classes support birth as a natural and healthy process. This method emphasizes that women have a right to have childbirth free of medical intervention, but they do not advocate against medical pain relief during labor. The Bradley method fully supports childbirth as a natural process and encourages women to diet and exercise during pregnancy and use breathing techniques to manage pain during labor. Hypnobirthing is lesser known, but growing in popularity. This method stresses using your mind to achieve a state of relaxation and eliminate fear, tension, and pain during childbirth.

   
What should I pack for my due date?

What to Pack

A few months before your expected due date, pack your bags to get ready for labor and delivery. It always helps to be prepared. When you're ready to go to the hospital, you can just grab your bag and go. To make things easier, pack one bag for you and a separate one for baby. Here's a list of essentials to bring:

For You
• Copy of your labor and deliver (birth) plan
• Insurance cards
• Bathrobe
• Cotton, machine washable pajamas
• Cosmetic bag with toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, and lip balm.
• Comfy slippers
• Sanitary pads (for any post delivery bleeding)
• Going home outfit
• Nursing bras and pads if you plan to nurse

For Baby
• Going home outfit
• Car Seat
• Spare diapers, bottles, formula (Many hospitals give out free samples, but pack the essentials just in case)

   
If I decide to get an epidural, what can I expect?

The Epidural

Labor and delivery can be a daunting event. It helps to know what you can expect before you give birth. If you're considering an epidural, it's a relatively straightforward procedure. A physician will give you a local anesthesia and insert a catheter into your back. You'll then feel the effects of the medication after 10 to 20 minutes. If you elect to get an epidural to ease pain during childbirth, you'll be more relaxed, the contraction pains will diminish, and you'll be alert and active during the birth process.

   
How do I time labor contractions?

Timing Labor Contractions

Timing labor contractions is just a matter of watching the clock. If you think you are going through , time them from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next one. Then keep track of how long each contraction lasts. If this is your first baby, and the contractions last about a minute, are three to five minutes apart, and have been going on that way for at least an hour, you're ready to go to the hospital.

If this isn't your first baby, you can expect your labor contractions to be less frequent. An hour of contractions lasting about half a minute, eight to ten minutes apart, means you should get to the hospital.

Always check with your doctor to determine the proper timing techniques.

   
Why is it so important to take prenatal vitamins?

The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins

Though it may be tempting to forgo taking those daily pills, prenatal vitamins are an important part of prenatal care. You need a to maintain a well balanced diet to support your body's changes and your baby's growing needs. Vitamins like folic acid are essential to your baby's brain development and your heath as well. You need iron because of your increased blood supply needs and the needs of the baby and placenta. A deficiency could mean you'll get anemia. So don't skimp. It's best to be sure that you're maintaining your nutritional needs rather than risking any deficiencies.

Always check with your doctor to find out what vitamins are best for you.

   
What can I do to alleviate morning sickness?

Solution to Morning Sickness Woes

Is that queasy feeling from morning sickness getting you down? Don't let morning sickness take over. You can take some steps to ease your ailments. Here are some ways to help lessen your discomfort:

• Eat smaller more frequent meals, rather than letting yourself go hungry.

• Drink plenty of fluids.

• Take your prenatal vitamins with a meal, not by itself.

• If a food makes you feel sick, avoid it. Don't eat it and don't be around it.

• Take it easy and get plenty of rest. Exhaustion plays a role in how you feel too.

• Get a wristband for nausea.

• Some women swear by slices of lemon or ginger candies.

   
How will I know when I should go to the hospital to deliver?

When You Should Go to the Hospital

Wondering when you should go to the hospital for labor and delivery? Look for any of these signs:

• Your water breaks.
• You experience heavy bleeding much like a menstrual flow.
• You suspect you're having labor contractions.

Anytime you suspect anything may be amiss or if you notice a significant decrease in your baby's movements, don't hesitate contact your hospital or doctor immediately.

   
What vitamins and minerals are in a typical prenatal vitamin?

What's in a Prenatal Vitamin?

A prenatal vitamin contains a host of supplements to help keep you and baby strong during the pregnancy. What's in them may vary slightly based on the brand or manufacturer. Here's what is in a typical prenatal pill: Vitamin A, D, E, C, Folic Acid, B1, B2, Niacin, B6, B12, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Thiamin, and Riboflavin.

Hint: Some prenatal vitamins on the market contain stool softeners for constipation. It's a problem common in pregnant women, so look for it on the label.

Always check with your doctor to find out what vitamins you might need.

   
Can I let my hospital know my preferences for labor and delivery ahead of time?

The Labor and Delivery Plan

Well before you're ready to give birth, check with your hospital to see if they have a labor and delivery plan. If not, ask them if they'll keep one on file for you. A labor and delivery plan outlines all of your preferences for when you give birth and after. You decide who you want to be with you, what medications you prefer taking or not taking, and the type of environment you want. It's much easier to plan ahead now then when you're in the midst of giving birth!

   
What is Braxton-Hicks?

Braxton-Hicks

Braxton-Hicks contractions are also known as false labor. It can occur frequently before your due date. They aren't the real thing, but they may give you a false alarm. You'll know that it's Braxton-Hicks because rather than the fairly consistent timing of real contractions, they occur irregularly and inconsistently. They also tend to happen when you're tired and go away or decrease when you get rest. The contractions may go away when you take a shower, move to a different position, or change activities.

   
What alternatives do I have to delivering at a hospital?

Alternatives to the Hospital Birth

If you're thinking about alternatives to labor and delivery at a hospital, there are options available for you. Some women opt to go to a birth center to deliver their newborn. Birth Centers offer a comfortable environment more akin to the atmosphere of home than a hospital. You'll have access to a midwife, basic medical care, and nurse with the insurance of a nearby hospital and doctor on call in case an emergency should arise. Birth centers are ideal for women with low risk deliveries.

Other women decide that they want to give birth at home. This option is for those who are truly interested in controlling their birthing experience. Women who decide to deliver at home typically have a midwife in attendance to assist. It is rare for a doctor to attend a homebirth where there are no complications, but you might find one who will.

Before you decide on an alternative birthing method, make sure that you do your research and consult a doctor to examine your health to make sure that the option is a viable one for you.

   
What can I do to get more comfortable when I start to go into labor?

Comfort Measures During Labor

When your labor contractions have begun, you can take some steps to make the experience more comfortable. Here's some ideas to help relax you during your childbirth experience:

• Play meditative or relaxing music.

• Go for a leisurely walk.

• Spend some time in a warm shower.

• Practice breathing techniques.

You can also ask your doctor or midwife for other tips.

   
I'm in my first trimester. Is it normal to feel nausea at night?

Sick Morning, Day, and Night

It's normal to feel off-kilter throughout the day during your first trimester. Morning sickness is a bit of a misnomer. Morning sickness is a common complaint of pregnant women. And it's no wonder. Between 60 percent to 80 percent of pregnant women experience this ailment. Experiencing nausea and vomiting any time of the day – morning, noon, or the middle of the night is common.

   
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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.