Category: Labor & Delivery
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5 Truths About Labor You May Not Have Heard

Truth about Childbirth from moms. You’ve seen the birth class video and practiced your breathing, but there are still some things about labor that might surprise you. Moms deliver the real deal.

1. The best patient advocate is you. "The person administering my epidural just wasn’t getting it right," recalls mom of one Elizabeth Deveney-Frazier of Cohasset, Massachusetts. "I could feel the needle, feel the pressure—all the things they say you aren’t supposed to feel. I spoke up and requested someone else. You can’t worry about being that patient when it’s your well being and your baby’s."

2. You can’t control your baby’s arrival, so relax!. "I had this long list of things to get done right up to my due date, and I had it in my mind that I would finish," recalls Marie Alfonso, a mom of one in Brooklyn, New York. "Then my water broke during a staff meeting, which wasn’t part of the plan!" Try to have tasks finished up well before your due date. The more well-rested you are when you go into labor, the better.

3. Labor: the toughest job you’ll ever...sleep through.. Contrary to what you may have seen in the movies, labor isn’t all agony, all the time. "After my epidural, I had a completely pain-free labor," says Marina Daly, a mom of one from Tampa, Florida. "The entire process was 10 hours long and I spent it napping and watching the Food Network. The nurses actually had to wake me up when it was time to push."

4. You can always change your mind—and meds. ."Both my mother and mother-in-law told me natural childbirth was a beautiful thing, so I gave it a try," says Lorra Brown, a mom of two from Ringwood, New Jersey. "At first I worked through the pain with breathing and relaxation techniques, but hours later, I went for the epidural."

5. Bonding can happen anytime. ."After I had a c-section, I couldn’t hold my baby right off and was worried I’d missed my chance to connect with him," says Lynn Whitlock, a mother of two from Minneapolis, Minnesota. "A few hours later the nurses brought him to me, and there was that click. The delay didn’t matter—it was still a great moment."

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

What Makes A Delivery Go Well?

Mothers provide pregnancy tips for the labor process and explain how delivering your baby can be less stressful.

See why these women’s birth days went so right—and pick from their tips to help make your own labor less...laborious.

Tune out. "When I delivered my twins, I brought an iPod loaded with my favorite songs, everything from indie rock to Johnny Cash hymns. Best decision ever. It was like bringing my best friends into the delivery room to comfort me like only they knew how."

—Angela Vincent, mom of four, Los Angeles, CA

Take a breather—lots of them. "I took prenatal yoga, and that allowed me to have a very successful delivery. I was skeptical at first but through relaxing and deep breathing I was able to work my way through each contraction without letting the pain make my body too tense to do its job. Using these techniques, I had three labors that were drug- and intervention-free."

—Jackie Kaufenberg, mom of three, Olivia, Minnesota

Cool off quick. "Ask for an ice pack to put in your underwear immediately after delivery to reduce swelling and pain. I didn’t get to use this technique myself because I had a C-section, but I have prescribed it to thousands of patients, and it helps!"

—Dr. Jennifer Gunter, M.D., author of The Preemie Primer

Hit the shower. "I tell everyone I know to take a warm shower during labor. I’ve done it myself through three natural deliveries. It helps you to relax and feels wonderful."

—Katie Bulger, mom of three, Clarksville, Tennessee

Sit up. "After I had an epidural, my nurses adjusted the bed so I was sitting completely upright with my legs down on a little stool. The nurses explained that this would allow gravity to help with the labor. I went from six centimeters to ‘We can see the head’ in about an hour and a half. I guess mom was right when she told me to sit up straight!"

—Mindy Airhart, mom of two, New Orleans, Louisiana

Get to know the team. "The practice I attended made sure to introduce me to everyone on the staff through the course of my pregnancy, down to the nurses. When I arrived for my delivery, the on-call nurse was one that I’d already met. That made it so much easier and more comforting. If your doctor’s office doesn’t do these meet and greets, ask them to."

—Darneisha Calixto, mom of one, Washington D.C.

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

Bringing Home Baby: 4 Tips for Your Hospital Homecoming
I’ll never forget the day we brought our newborn son home from the hospital. He looked impossibly small in his brand-new car seat and his feet stuck out from under his tiny cotton gown. I sat in the backseat with him on the ride, and when we pulled into the driveway of our little while house the whole family greeted us on the porch.
11 Moms Share the Funny Moments When Their Water Broke

By Mary Fischer, CafeMom

After hearing about the pregnant radio show host whose water broke on the air out in Denver, I have to admit feeling like I kind of got gypped when I had my son seven years ago. I wound up being induced 10 days early because he was getting too big, so the doctors broke my water with one of those funky little sticks instead of it happening naturally. (Oh yes, it was just as pleasant as it sounds.)

It would've been so cool to reminisce about where I was and what I was doing when the water started flowing. Since I don't have a good story to tell, I thought it would be fun to check with other moms to see what kind of laughable moments they had. (So I can live vicariously through them.)

Get ready to chuckle after hearing these 11 water breaking stories moms will never forget!

  1. 'I was at a bar at a 30th birthday party. I was so embarrassed as I didn't have a single contraction leading up to this point and just prayed that I didn't wet my pants, lol! Thank goodness it was fall and I could wrap a jacket around my waist as we exited.' -- Jenny
  2. 'They broke it for me the first time around, second time it happened in the car on the way to the hospital. I just said to my husband, 'Sorry, I'm getting the car all wet.' Ha. I felt bad but it was just trickling. Not a gush.' --Wendy
  3. 'I had just gotten up at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom, waddled back to bed, and then thought, 'Hmmm ... I just peed ... and now I'm peeing again?!' But yeah, it was my water breaking. In the bed.' -- SarahIn the Trenches of Mommyhood
  4. 'I was going up the stairs with a basket of laundry.' -- Tressa
  5. 'We were regulars at the Memphis Tiger basketball games and sat right next to the student section. We had made friends with some of these students and they all had come to know me as the pregnant girl. As soon as the team announcements began, I stood up and my water broke. I didn't want to alarm anyone, so I slowly started gathering my things and my water continued to run down my leg (it was a high break -- so continuously leaking). As soon as the lights came back on, my family and I started leaving in single file and the student section stood up and clapped for us (knowing full well by this time what going on due to the massive amounts of water down my jeans). I waved to them all and went on to the hospital.' -- Morgan
  6. 'I remember exactly where I was. I had just dropped J at daycare, was walking to my car and was like 'eh, that's a bit wet,' drove home, finished packing my bags, all the while leaking fluid all over the house with the dog following me around. I drove to the doctor and walked in with a towel between my legs. The poor women in the waiting room were gasping. The doctor comes in and goes, 'Why are you here, go to the hospital!?!' I told them I had called the office and they told me to come in. My husband met me at the doctor's office and then we went to the hospital, got checked in, and four hours later, my son was born.' -- Anonymous
  7. 'I was at a Michaels craft store in line. I finished my purchase and then drove myself to the hospital. Was admitted and had her the next day. I'll never forget the dude in line before me -- his face was priceless, and he let me cut in line.' -- Kristen, Mommy in Sports
  8. 'I was in line at Home Depot for one, and on a dance floor with my husband's co-workers with number four, and at his Christmas party for another one!' -- Buffy
  9. 'With my middle child I was in church and my pastor was delivering the sermon. I was so embarrassed. Imagine walking out of a quiet church with your shoes squeaking from the water collecting in them!!' -- Jocelyn
  10. 'My water broke at home in the bathroom. Since the child birth teacher suggested smelling to make sure it's not urine, I went in to my husband who was sleeping, put my underwear in his face, and said, 'Smell this.' And he said, 'Get out of my face.' I stood in awe for a moment until he sat up and said panicked, 'Is it time?!'' -- Kristen
  11. I was so nervous it would break in public, but it broke when I was in labor. I had an epidural already, so I said, 'I either wet the bed, or my water broke ...' Turns out I did not wet the bed.' -- Maggie

Do you have a funny water breaking story you'd care to share?

How to Be a Dad Blog: Things You Should Bring but Will Probably Forget
<p>We can all remember what it was like when we first became parents, sort of.</p>

<p>Actually, only some of us can. The rest of us might only recall a fragmented series of half-remembered blurs. It’s pretty exciting, so it’s understandable that you might forget a few things in the flurry of the moment. Sure, we remember the important stuff like seeing and hearing our little one for the first time, but from then on out, memory can get a little iffy for things like the straw for your kid’s juice box, their shoe size, or even the kid’s name for a second.</p>

<p>I’ve personally lost count of how many times I’ve lost count and I’ve forgotten… um… something? </p>

<p>Maybe it’s their adorableness that makes a grilled cheese sandwich of our memories, or the loss of sleep and sudden, complete change of our lives. Who knows, but it’s totally normal. So, don’t worry about things slipping your mind or break dancing on the tip of your tongue forever.</p>

<p>Here are some things you might want to try and remember to bring when the baby starts to come and before you become parents. If you already have kids, consider this short list a reminder of some things you can’t even remember that you might have forgotten to bring the first time around.</p> <p>PAPERWORK</p><p>The baby is coming, however long it takes, but having your ID, insurance and medical papers with you will actually ease the process. You might want to write your birth plan on your body if you’ve made one, just in case you lose or forget it in 10 seconds.</p><p>CLOTHES</p><p>Wherever you’re having the baby, bring a change of clothes. Several. Okay, just grab suitcases stuffed with your entire wardrobe. It can take a while and sweating is not an uncommon occurrence during delivery. For goodness sake at least bring underwear! Double-up if you have to. Yikes.</p><p>FOOD</p><p>The amount of nervous energy even dad-to-be will expend tapping a foot or gripping an armrest is close to 1,000 calories per centimeter of dilation. Bring a satchel of food, but avoid strong-smelling ones. Follow the elevator/movie theater rule on smells and loud crunching sounds. (The sound of cattle munching on pop rocks is not a fitting background noise for the birthing area.)</p><p>CELLPHONE CHARGER</p><p>Why isn’t this just “cellphone?” Because it’s the charger we always forget, right? Plus, the charger acts like a reminder rubber band for the phone. You should probably bring a portable generator as well just in case you get stuck in an elevator or stranded on a desert island.</p><p>CAMERA</p><p>It’s up to the mom. If she wants you to put your phone under a car tire, so there isn’t even the slightest chance it could go off and capture anything during delivery, then put it in reverse, bucko. If your phone can’t take pictures, you probably need to say goodbye to your flip phone or pager and say hello to this century; you’re going to want to document all the amazing things your new baby does without a tripod or a camera that needs a shoulder strap.</p><p>CONTRACTION APP</p>
<p>If you are having a baby naturally, there is no cooler thing than emailing all your friends a record log of your wife’s contraction history. They’ll absolutely love it and so will she. Come to think of it, post it on Instagram, too! Fun for everyone, on the entire planet…right? But really, this app can come in handy when you are deciding when exactly to leave for the hospital, and you won’t want to be bothered with the old school method of counting and reading time.</p><p>PUSH GIFTS</p><p>Nothing says ‘I love you, champ, you’re doing great’ like getting a gift after each big push. There are, however, a lot of pushes, so keep it simple and cost-effective. Even if it’s just cheesy puffs or her favorite candy. If she wants, you can make a game of it and she can try to catch them in her mouth.</p><p>HAND PUPPETS</p><p>Labor can take a long time, so relaxation and stress relief is important. Everyone loves a puppet show, so dad can keep mom and the nurses/midwives entertained. Throw a couple of extra tube socks and a magic marker in your bag and you’re set. <p>Showtime!</p><p>You’re probably going to forget some or all of these, so print this out and make a hat out of it or something, just in case. And, maybe even add a bunch of other useful points not listed here. Check out Huggies Mommy Answers [link] for more information and articles, it’s a great resource for new parents. </p>

<p><em>About How to Be A Dad</em></p>
<p><em>How To Be A Dad (HTBAD) is a not so much a “how-to”, but a “how-not-to” entertainment website for parents… or anyone who’s ever had parents really. Follow Andy Herald and Charlie Capen, two sleep-deprived friends with nothing left to lose but their sanity as they learn to be dads and try to look smart doing so. They’re not experts, but that isn’t gonna stop them from pretending. You’ve been warned.</em></p>
10 Creative Ways to Start Spreading the News
1 Simple Thing to Do in the Delivery Room to Make Breastfeeding Easier

By Mary Fischer, CafeMom

If you are planning on breastfeeding your baby, odds are good you're pretty passionate about your choice. You want to do everything possible to ensure it's an easy transition and a positive experience for both you and your newborn.

And while there is plenty of info out there to help you learn as much as you can about seamlessly getting your baby on the boob, there may be one simple thing you can do right after giving birth that will help you get off to a good start. According to a new study, skin-to-skin contact in the delivery room between mom and baby is linked to an increase in exclusive breastfeeding.

Yep. That's it. A mom's intention to breastfeed, coupled with having her newborn placed in her arms for skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, increases the chances of breastfeeding being a success.

Huh. I guess that makes sense. So much of breastfeeding involves bonding and connecting with your infant. It only seems fitting that having that experience right from the start would make learning to breastfeed easier for both mom and baby.

Hold up -- maybe that's where I went wrong when I had my son. I only breastfed him for a couple of weeks (long story) -- but I guess I should note that I did not have skin-to-skin contact with him after his birth.

No, it wasn't by choice. (Gah. I'm not that horrible.) 

You see, I was in labor with my little guy for about 24 hours, and somewhere towards the end, I suddenly spiked a fever. They weren't sure what was going on, so as soon as he came out, the nurses whisked him away to check him over and make sure he was ok. Turns out he was just fine, and several minutes later, he was presented to me all swaddled up like a little burrito. 

And while I do remember getting a brief lession in how to breastfeed, there was definitely no skin-to-skin stuff involved. I didn't have the heart to unroll him from his cozy little bundle.

But I wonder if I had ... is there a chance breastfeeding would've come more naturally to me? I guess there's really no way to know for sure, but it's possible that it could've had some sort of a positive impact.

Oh well, there's really nothing I can do about it now -- but if you're having a baby in the near future and have your heart set on breastfeeding, you should definitely put this little trick in your back pocket and give it a shot if your birth experience allows for it. (Every little bit helps when it comes to offering the boob.)

Are you hoping to breastfeed your baby?

6 Tips for Finding the Right Midwife

By Adriana Velez, CafeMom

If you're looking for a midwife or doula, especially if you're new to your area, where do you begin?

Here are some tips for finding the right midwife practice for you.

  1. Online search. Let's just get the obvious one out of the way first. You can start by googling "midwife practice" and the name of your city. That's a great start, but you'd probably like to get some more personal feedback on what's out there, right?
  2. Networks of like-minded women. Look up your local La Leche League and see what recommendations their members have. See if there's an attachment parenting group nearby. These groups will probably have Facebook groups where you can post a request for recommendations and then follow up with more questions.
  3. Check community boards. Not everyone who wants to find a midwife is a total granola. But chances are, you'll find ads for midwife practices at health food stores, nursing supplies stores, yoga centers ... you get the idea.
  4. Check out professional organizations. The American College of Nurse-Midwives website has a practice locator. You can also call them at (888) 643-9433.
  5. Ask your insurance company. The stark reality now -- most of us will need insurance to cover most of the costs for delivery. Most health insurance companies have an online directory of midwives whose care they cover.
  6. Do an interview. Once you've got a few options, it's a good idea to come in for an interview to find out if the practice is a good fit for you. BabyCenter has a printable midwife interview sheet to help you. And be flexible! You may not find exactly what you want, but you can probably come close.

Do you have any other suggestions for finding a midwife practice?

Childbirth Isn't as Scary as You Think

By Lisa Fogarty, CafeMom

Sopranos actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler recently said the most refreshing thing I've heard about labor and delivery in a long time. Jamie-Lynn wasn't the least bit afraid of giving birth to her son! Granted, she sings the praises of her doula, whom she credits with calming her nerves. According to Jamie-Lynn, her doula told her to prepare for the level of pain she expected to experience, double that, and then anticipate how she'd react if that happened. Sounds like pretty simple advice, doesn't it? But it worked because the actress' anxieties about birth melted!

You may be asking yourself how on earth this could be possible or questioning this woman's sanity. You may even find yourself disliking her for not doing what most women have been taught to do, which is spend the weeks prior to giving birth frozen in a complete state of fear and then spend a few weeks after birth telling everyone about the great agony you were forced to endure. 

I apologize in advance to anyone who really did go through childbirth hell. I know it happens. Often. But in my experience with my firstborn, there were five major things I was terrified of happening that either didn't take place or weren't a big deal when they did. 

I thought I would be in agony for 18 hours. In reality, I was in labor for this long, but only felt pain for maybe an hour during the pushing process. I opted to get an epidural, so of course that had everything to do with it. But this isn't a decision I regret. I was able to read magazines and talk to my husband without wanting to kill him.

I thought I'd hear other women screaming. The birthing room was almost as quiet as a tomb. And I think I would have preferred to hear the sounds of women -- which I expected -- instead of the unceasing and scary beep, beep, beeps of the heart monitors. 

I feared I wouldn't know when to push. I kept asking the nurses, "Is it time yet?" And they kept insisting I'd know when it's time. And boy, did I. The sudden pressure on my lower abdomen and need to push came on like a tidal wave.

I was scared everyone would see me poop on the bed. I still don't know if this happened because I have an amazing husband who just keeps insisting it didn't. But when you're in the moment -- trust me -- poop will be the last thing on your mind.

I didn't think I could spread my legs far enough to deliver a baby. Yeesh, I could've used a doula to tell me that this is not how women give birth. I had no idea I'd be asked to lift my knees to my chin for an hour and a half. You can bet I'm doing prenatal yoga now to prepare for my second delivery. 

Were you pleasantly surprised by anything during childbirth? 

Inducing Labor Just Got Riskier

By Michele Zipp, CafeMom

We don't take bread out of the oven before it is ready. Why on Earth do we do it to babies? There are definitely very good reasons some mothers must induce and give birth before it's time -- and in those cases it can save lives. But for all the other times, it can actually put lives at risk. The final weeks of your pregnancy is a critical time for baby's growth.

There are many risks that come with early delivery. A new study has shown that even giving birth a week before baby is considered full-term carries a much greater risk than you may have expected.

Full-term is considered 39 to 41 weeks; early-term 37 to 38 weeks, and preterm is anything before 37 weeks. Many of us get out of that preemie range with a sigh of relief but we still want to keep baby inside until at least 39 weeks and it's due to this alarming statement: Morbidity rates were lowest at week 39 to 40.

More from The Stir: Inducing Labor Could Hurt Your Baby More Than You Know

That's enough of a statement for me to champion waiting and saying no to Pitocin (which could be harmful to your baby). But there's more.

Dr. Shaon Sengupta, MD, MPH, and her team of researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that those early-term babies -- born at 37 to 38 weeks -- had a 64 percent greater chance of being in the NICU, and more than four times the risk of intubation or problem with breathing. Sengupta urges doctors to 'recognize early term (37 to 38 weeks) neonates as a higher-risk group.' She adds that the risk 'is more profound with cesarean section deliveries but exists for vaginal deliveries as well. At this point, it is a matter of targeting elective C-section and induced labor and establishing clear and consistent indications in nonelective cases.'

Elective c-sections are thankfully starting to get banned in hospitals across this country, but until they are banned in all, and some doctors stop pushing cesareans on women, our infant mortality rates will be higher than they should be. And for a country that is so advanced, we sure are lacking in the maternal and infant care department.

Are you concerned about your doctor wanting to induce? What do you think of these findings?

Pregnant With Twins? You May Not Need a C-Section After All

By Mary Fischer, CafeMom

Of the moms you know who've had twins, did any of them have a natural birth? I honestly can't think of one twin mom I've ever bumped into who hasn't had a C-section to deliver them. It isn't surprising since the assumption seems to be that it's the best route to go when dealing with more than one baby.

But a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that twin births can be vaginal, and that delivering via C-section isn't always necessary as long as things are progressing normally.

Of the 2,804 women who were studied, only 44 percent of those who planned a vaginal birth wound up having a C-section. Moms who had scheduled C-sections, however, had them 91 percent of the time.

And while there are some expectant moms who are probably much more comfortable delivering twins via C-section, there are likely many who would much rather have a vaginal delivery but assume it's either too risky or not possible.

I mean, yeah, there's always the fear that one of the babies will be breech, or some other complication will pop up and a C-section will wind up being necessary anyway. Still, shouldn't moms-to-be at least have a shot at going for a vaginal delivery if that's what they believe is best for them? 

This study is such great news for women who are hoping for a more natural birth experience, and if nothing else, hopefully it will help them choose the right doctor to deliver their babies. If a vaginal birth is important to you and yourOBGYN tells you he/she would rather just plan a C-section and call it a day -- it might be a red flag that you need to get a second opinion and find a doc who is a little more in line with honoring your wishes.

The experience of giving birth is so powerful and emotional, and every mom deserves to carry out her delivery the way she wants to -- whether she's pregnant with one baby or two.

Are you expecting twins, and if so, are you planning a C-section?

Fewer Moms Having C-Sections Before 39 Weeks
<img src="" height="333" width="500">

<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Moms can be convinced to change their minds about having their babies before they are at full term, according to a study released this week in the journal Obstetrics &amp; Gynecology. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">For years, medical groups have been encouraging moms to wait until their baby has remained in utero for 39 weeks. At the same time, the number of women choosing to induce labor or have an elective cesarean section for non-medical reasons has been rising. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Just last month, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reiterated its recommendations, encouraging moms to avoid early elective deliveries. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><span style="font-weight: bold;"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">The study </span></font></span></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Twenty-five hospitals in California, New York, Florida, Illinois and Texas implemented what's called the Big 5 State Prematurity Initiative, a program that used a tool kit designed to help hospitals eliminate elective deliveries of babies before 39 weeks of gestation unless medically necessary. Thirty-eight percent of births in the United States occur in these five states. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In just one year, there was a remarkable decrease. "These 25 hospitals overall saw an 83% drop in early-term deliveries," said Dr. Edward McCabe, a pediatrician and medical director for the March of Dimes Foundation, which developed the tool kit and partly funded the study. In January, nearly 28% of babies were born at 37 or 38 weeks, but by December, that number had dropped to 5%. There was a corresponding increase in births at 39 to 41 weeks, McCabe said. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">A cultural change has to occur for more hospitals to help mothers wait just a little longer, he said. With this tool kit, labor and delivery nurses were empowered to tell moms-to-be if there was a medical reason to deliver the baby before 39 weeks. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><span style="font-weight: bold;"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Why women deliver early </span></font></span></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Often it can be a matter of convenience. A doctor may be going out of town, and the mother may want to ensure that doctor delivers her baby. Or grandma and grandpa may be coming a little earlier than the due date. Some couples may even try to have their baby before the end of a year, so they can claim a tax credit. They may think that it's OK, because they've been told or have heard that 37 weeks of gestation is full term. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><span style="font-weight: bold;"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">What is full term? </span></font></span></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">"It wasn't until recently that we recognized that there are more complications and mortality at 37 weeks," McCabe said. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">"Important growth and development occur throughout pregnancy&nbsp; — all the way through the final few weeks," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "If the mother is healthy, current research indicates that delivery should not be scheduled before 39 weeks' gestation." </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">According to a 2007 CDC study, infant mortality risk for babies born at 37 or 38 weeks is 1.5 times higher than babies born at 39 to 41 weeks. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">"That's a 50% higher risk of infant mortality," McCabe said. Mortality at 39 to 41 weeks is very low, he said. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In 2009, researchers showed that delivering a baby a week or two before 39 weeks, or even three or four days before that milestone is reached, can have a significant impact on the child's health. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">For one, babies need every extra day for their lungs to mature. McCabe said he hopes more hospitals will consider banning elective inductions and C-sections unless medically necessary. One way for this to change is to make it clearer what full term really is. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">"The nomenclature is changing," he said. "Thirty-seven and 38 weeks are now considered 'early term.' It's not yet official, but there is a movement toward calling 39 to 41 weeks full term. It's in the literature; people are using it." </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">It's hard to say exactly how many women choose to induce labor before 39 weeks. In 2008, 23% of babies were born because the mother's labor was induced, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It's unclear, however, how often labor was induced before full term, as the data is gleaned from medical records that don't specify at what gestational age a baby is born. </span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Data from a 2006 report from the National Institutes of Health found an estimated 2.5% of all babies in the United States were delivered by C-section at the mother's request.</span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><br></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Source: CNN <br></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Image: 3pix Studio Associato di Garelli, Maccolini e Piana / Getty Images<br></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><br></span></font></p><p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><br></span></font></p>
Health Tip: Considering a Birthing Class?
A birthing class can help settle any pre-birth jitters and prepare first-time couples for the pending arrival. The American Academy of Family Physicians says a birthing class can:

- Help parents learn about how a baby develops.
- Explain warning signs of a potential problem.
- Help parents develop a birth plan.
- Describe pain management, breathing and relaxation techniques.
- Suggest how partners or birth coaches can help.
- Describe how to identify when labor begins, and what to expect throughout the labor and delivery process.
- Instruct parents about caring for and bonding with a newborn.
Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Source: HealthDay

Having Twins: Slower Labor Is Normal In Twin Pregnancies
Labor takes longer in women pregnant with twins, a new study shows, suggesting that these mothers and their doctors could wait a few more hours before opting for cesarean delivery. 

Using a national database of labor and delivery information from several clinical centers, the researchers found that twins required about one to three hours more than single babies to complete the first stage of labor. During this first stage, the cervix opens until it is wide enough for the baby to pass through; the second stage of birth is the actual delivery of the baby. "

Our data supports the suspected findings that labor progression of twin gestation is prolonged, compared to a singleton gestation," said study researcher Dr. Heidi Leftwich, a maternal-fetal medicine fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "Doctors could let twins labor longer before calling it 'failure to progress.'" 

The researchers compared about 900 twin pregnancies with 100,500 singleton pregnancies that served as controls. [9 Conditions That Pregnancy May Bring] 

The researchers measured the time it took for women's cervixes to dilate 1 centimeter as a gauge for labor progression, and adjusted the results for confounding factors such as weight of the baby, mother's age and weight, and whether this was her first time giving birth. 

In twin pregnancies, it took an average of 12.7 hours for the cervix to progress from 4 centimeters to fully dilated, at 10 centimeters. In singleton pregnancies, this took an average of 9.6 hours. "Women who are pregnant with twins should anticipate that their labor may take longer than if they had a singleton gestation," Leftwich said. 

In deciding whether to recommend a cesarean delivery, physicians look at how a woman's labor is progressing using a tool called the "Friedman labor curve." The curve shows the average time it takes for a woman to progress to 10 centimeters of cervical dilation and deliver the baby, and allows doctors to determine whether a patient is having a normal labor pattern. 

This labor curve, however, may be outdated. It was devised in the 1950s and experts say it may not be a good estimate for the contemporary population. Today, both women and newborns are heavier on average compared to past decades, and more women use epidurals for pain relief. Such factors may affect labor progression. 

Moreover, labor progress in twin gestations was not addressed in Friedman’s original work in developing the curve. 

The researchers also found twins weighed on average 1.7 pounds (800 grams) less than singletons. Women with twins were more often older, and were more likely to deliver preterm. Twin gestations were almost twice as likely to have cesarean births. 

It is not entirely known why twin labors take longer. One hypothesis that an overextended uterus may not function quite as well as it does in a singleton pregnancy, Leftwich said. There are other reasons that a C-section may be recommended; for example, one or both twins may be out of position. 

"The decision for a cesarean delivery shouldn't be only based on the strict definition of labor progression," Leftwich said.

© 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.     

Source: Huffington Post
Postpartum Care: What to Expect After a Vaginal Delivery
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<font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Pregnancy changes your body in more ways than you might have guessed, and it doesn't stop when the baby is born. After a vaginal delivery, taking good care of yourself is an essential part of postpartum care. Here's what to expect.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Vaginal soreness</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
If you had an episiotomy or vaginal tear during delivery, the wound might hurt for a few weeks. Extensive tears might take longer to heal. In the meantime, you can help promote healing:</span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><strong style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></strong></span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><strong style="">Soothe the wound.</strong> Cool the wound with an ice pack, or place a chilled witch hazel pad — available in most pharmacies — between a sanitary napkin and the wound.</span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><strong style=""><br></strong></span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><strong style="">Take the sting out of urination.</strong> Pour warm water over your vulva as you're urinating. Press a clean pad firmly against the wound when you bear down for a bowel movement.</span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><br></span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Keep the wound clean. Use a squirt bottle filled with water to rinse the tissue between the vaginal opening and anus (perineum) after using the toilet.</span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><strong style=""><br></strong></span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><strong style="">Sit down carefully.</strong> If sitting is uncomfortable, sit on a pillow or padded ring.</span><br><br></font></div><div class="nc_section"><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
While you're healing, expect the discomfort to progressively improve. Contact your health care provider if the pain intensifies, the wound becomes hot, swollen and painful, or you notice a pus-like discharge.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Vaginal discharge</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
You'll have a vaginal discharge (lochia) for a number of weeks after delivery. Expect a bright red, heavy flow of blood for the first few days. If you've been sitting or lying down, you might notice a small gush when you stand up. The discharge will gradually taper off, changing from pink or brown to yellow or white. To reduce the risk of infection, use sanitary napkins rather than tampons.

Don't be alarmed if you occasionally pass small blood clots. Contact your health care provider if:<br></span></font><ul><li><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">You soak a sanitary pad within an hour while lying down</span></font></li><li><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">The discharge has a foul odor</span></font></li><li><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">You pass clots larger than a golf ball</span></font></li><li><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">You have a fever of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher</span></font></li></ul></div><div class="nc_section"><ul>
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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Contractions</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
You might feel contractions, sometimes called afterpains, during the first few days after delivery. These contractions — which often resemble menstrual cramps — help prevent excessive bleeding by compressing the blood vessels in the uterus. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, these contractions tend to be stronger with successive deliveries. Your health care provider might recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever if necessary.

Contact your health care provider if you have a fever or if your abdomen is tender to the touch. These signs and symptoms could indicate a uterine infection.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Urination problems</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
Swelling or bruising of the tissues surrounding the bladder and urethra can lead to difficulty urinating. Fearing the sting of urine on the tender perineal area can have the same effect. Difficulty urinating usually resolves on its own. In the meantime, it might help to pour water across your vulva while you're sitting on the toilet.

Contact your health care provider if you have any symptoms of a urinary tract infection. For example:<br></span></font></div><div class="nc_section"><ul><li><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">It hurts to urinate</span></font></li><li><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">You don't think you're emptying your bladder fully</span></font></li><li><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">You have an unusually frequent urge to urinate</span></font></li></ul><ul>
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Pregnancy and birth stretch the connective tissue at the base of the bladder and can cause nerve and muscle damage to the bladder or urethra. You might leak urine when you cough, strain or laugh. Fortunately, this problem usually improves within three months. In the meantime, wear sanitary pads and do Kegel exercises to help tone your pelvic floor muscles.

To do Kegels, tighten your pelvic muscles as if you're stopping your stream of urine. Try it for five seconds at a time, four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Hemorrhoids and bowel movements</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
If you notice pain during bowel movements and feel swelling near your anus, you might have hemorrhoids — stretched and swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum. To ease any discomfort while the hemorrhoids heal, soak in a warm tub and apply chilled witch hazel pads to the affected area. Your health care provider might recommend a topical hemorrhoid medication as well.

If you find yourself avoiding bowel movements out of fear of hurting your perineum or aggravating the pain of hemorrhoids or your episiotomy wound, take steps to keep your stools soft and regular. Eat foods high in fiber — including fruits, vegetables and whole grains — and drink plenty of water. It's also helpful to remain as physically active as possible. Ask your health care provider about a stool softener or fiber laxative, if needed.

Another potential problem for new moms is the inability to control bowel movements (fecal incontinence) — especially if you had an unusually long labor. Frequent Kegel exercises can help. If you have persistent trouble controlling bowel movements, consult your health care provider.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Sore breasts and leaking milk</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
Several days after delivery, your breasts might become heavy, swollen and tender. This is known as engorgement. To ease the discomfort, nurse your baby or use a breast pump to express milk. You might also want to apply cold washcloths or ice packs to your breasts. Over-the-counter pain relievers might help, too. To help prevent nipple pain, make sure that your baby latches on to your breast correctly. If you're unsure or every feeding is painful, ask a lactation consultation for help.

If your breasts leak between feedings, wear nursing pads inside your bra to help keep your shirt dry. Change pads after each feeding and whenever they get wet.

If you're not breast-feeding your baby, wear a firm, supportive bra. Compressing your breasts will help stop milk production. In the meantime, don't pump your breasts or express the milk. This only tells your breasts to produce more milk.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Hair loss and skin changes</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
During pregnancy, elevated hormone levels put normal hair loss on hold. The result is often an extra-lush head of hair — but now it's payback time. After delivery, your body sheds the excess hair all at once. Within six months, your hair will most likely be back to normal. In the meantime, shampoo only when necessary, and find a hairstyle that's easy to maintain. Avoid curling irons and harsh chemicals.

Stretch marks won't disappear after delivery, but eventually they'll fade from reddish purple to silver or white. Expect any skin that darkened during pregnancy — such as the line down your abdomen (linea nigra) — to slowly fade as well.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Mood changes</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
Childbirth triggers a jumble of powerful emotions. Mood swings, irritability, sadness and anxiety are common. Many new moms experience a mild depression, sometimes called the baby blues. The baby blues typically subside within a week or two. In the meantime, take good care of yourself. Share your feelings, and ask your partner, loved ones or friends for help. If your depression deepens or you feel hopeless and sad most of the time, contact your health care provider. Prompt treatment is important.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Weight loss</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
After you give birth, you'll probably feel flabby and out of shape. You might even look like you're still pregnant. Don't worry. This is perfectly normal. Most women lose more than 10 pounds during birth, including the weight of the baby, placenta and amniotic fluid. In the days after delivery, you'll lose additional weight from leftover fluids. After that, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you gradually return to your pre-pregnancy weight.

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<p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">The postpartum checkup</span></span></font></p><font size="4"><span style="font-family: Arial;">
About six weeks after delivery, your health care provider will check your vagina, cervix and uterus to make sure you're healing well. He or she might do a breast exam and check your weight and blood pressure, too. This is a great time to talk about birth control, breast-feeding and how you're adjusting to life with a new baby. You might also ask about Kegel exercises to help tone your pelvic floor muscles.

Above all, share any concerns you might have about your physical or emotional health. Chances are, what you're feeling is entirely normal. Look to your health care provider for assurance as you enter this new phase of life.
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