When you’re pregnant, you learn a lot about what to expect. In fact, you could probably fill our entire Women’s Center with all the pregnancy books that are out there. And sometimes, all that information can be a little overwhelming—especially for your first pregnancy.
To get you started we asked Lynn Jeter, our Women’s Support Services Educator, to give us a few of her top tips for moms-to-be about pregnancy, labor and delivery. She’s been an L&D nurse since 1985, has helped deliver thousands of babies, and took over education for labor & delivery and high-risk OB in 2004; so she definitely knows a thing or two about what it takes to have a smooth, successful labor and delivery.
Go natural—or maybe not. Decide what kind of birth you want to have.
You’ve no doubt been hearing more and more lately about women “going natural.” Unmedicated deliveries are becoming increasingly common, and we support all kinds of birth plans at Brookwood Baptist—medicated, unmedicated, water laboring, and more.
You’ll want to educate yourself on the pros and cons of these different birth plans, and one of the best ways to do it is to follow a common bit of Brookwood Baptist wisdom: ask your friends. You no doubt have friends who have labored with the different methods, and their personal experiences will surely help give you an idea of what you might want to do.
Take care of yourself, and your little bundle of joy.
Anything you can do to ensure a healthier pregnancy will help ease your mind when it comes time to welcome that little life into the world. Take care of yourself: make sure you continue to eat healthy, exercise, and get all your vitamins and minerals. (Folic acid in particular is very important in fetal formation.)
Prepare and practice.
Like any major physical undertaking, you don’t want to go into labor unprepared. After all, you wouldn’t run a marathon without stretching—or ever running (yikes). Whether you’re planning a medicated or unmedicated delivery, there are different methods of managing pain that you’ll want to look into (birthing ball, hydrotherapy, ambulation). And of course, the tried and true Lamaze method is great to practice beforehand with your partner. (Don’t miss the “with your partner” bit. You’re in this together!)
Get to know your doctor and nurses.
Along with you and your partner, your doctors and nurses will be a big part of your journey to motherhood—and you’ll feel a lot better going into labor and delivery if you are close and comfortable with them. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and open up to them; let them earn your trust, and it will go a long way towards putting your mind at ease and helping you feel confident when the big day arrives.
Labor is just the beginning. Don’t rush it.
When women first go into labor—especially first-time mothers—their instincts often tell them to go flying to the hospital right away. And while you should definitely get in touch with your physician immediately, you’re probably safe to stay home for at least a little while. The early stage of labor can last a long time, particularly for first pregnancies, and it can be exhausting. In this stage, you’re better off just staying home where you can labor in your most comfortable possible environment.
Your physician will give you specific guidance, but generally you don’t need to leave for the hospital until your contractions are five minutes apart and one minute in duration, for at least an hour. If your contractions are still 20 minutes apart, stay home unless your physician advises you otherwise.
The most important (and wonderful) hour.
The first hour after your baby arrives is often referred to as “The Golden Hour.” This time is very special, and extremely important. This first hour should really just be you, your baby and your partner in the room. First, you need the peace and quiet after all you just went through. Second, it’s a special time for you and your partner to share with your new baby. Third, it’s an important bonding time between parent and child that establishes a crucial connection.
If your new baby has older siblings, let them be the first to join you after The Golden Hour. It will make them feel special too, and help lessen any feelings of rivalry for your attention. After your nuclear family has had their quality time, then other family members can join you to celebrate. This may be a difficult conversation to have with your extended family at first, but hopefully they will understand and respect your wishes for this special time.
Finally: don’t be afraid to ask questions.
It’s a fact: having a baby is a big deal. And if you’ve never done it before, it can be extremely intimidating. Please, please, whatever you do: don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask your friends. Ask your family. And definitely ask us—that’s what we’re here for.