Aside from selecting the nursery colors and choosing a name, there are important factors for mothers to think about before giving birth. Let’s address just a few of them.
Who will be assisting your delivery?
One of the first things a mother should decide is who will be providing care, during the delivery. Do you want to use a midwife or doctor? Midwives are often capable of providing quality care. There are also times when a midwife is not the best decision. She should use a doctor if she has a high-risk pregnancy since there is a greater possibility that she will be having a cesarean section. Regardless of the practitioner, consider the experience and training of your provider. They should make their patient feel comfortable and take the time to answer all her questions.
How would you like to handle pain management during labor?
While circumstances can quickly change during labor and following an exact plan does not always work out, it is important to at least have an idea of how you would like to manage pain during the labor process. Some women want to receive an epidural as soon as they start to feel any discomfort, while others want to labor naturally for as long as possible before getting the epidural. For both scenarios, it is important to note that there are pros and cons to an epidural. An epidural can take away much of the pain experienced during labor, and it is especially helpful at giving mom a break when she has reached the point of exhaustion. Conversely, it is not a foolproof solution. In approximately 5-10% of patients, the epidural only provides relief in certain areas or maybe just on one side of the body. Additionally, since the mom-to-be is unable to move at this point, an epidural can slow down the progress and efficiency of labor.
Other pregnant women go into labor with the ultimate goal of delivering the baby without any type of pain medication. For patients who decide to take this route, it can be helpful if a doula is present or the significant other has received training on various coping techniques, like massage or music therapy. Research actually shows that women who are supported during labor have a more successful outcome. There are fewer cesarean sections, there is less fetal distress and the mother tolerates the pain much better when she is surrounded by strong emotional support.
What are your physician’s thoughts about cesarean sections?
Even though you may not go into labor with the intentions of having a cesarean section, this procedure is always a possibility. According to the CDC, the cesarean section rate was at 32.7% in 2013. Talk to your physician, and find out under what circumstances he or she would consider a cesarean section. Educate yourself about the different types of c-sections, and also talk to your doctor about all of the pros and cons associated with this procedure. It is a major surgery, so you should be informed about the process, just in case.
Do you want to breastfeed or formula feed immediately after birth?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months, and they are encouraged to continue this practice until at least 12 months. In many cases, mothers have the opportunity to begin breastfeeding their babies within minutes after birth, and there are benefits of taking advantage of this innate ability. Antibodies are passed from mother to baby during breastfeeding, and these help boost their immune systems and fight off infections. Additionally, breast milk is specifically designed for a baby’s digestive system, and it naturally contains most of the vitamins and minerals that a newborn needs. The skin-to-skin contact that occurs during breastfeeding is beneficial for both mom and baby, and breast milk has the unique ability to alter its composition based on what the baby needs in that moment.
The reality, though, is that breastfeeding is not for everyone. Some mother’s do not feel comfortable with it, others cannot breastfeed because of certain medical conditions, and some prefer the flexibility of formula. Getting a baby to breastfeed properly can be a daunting and painful process. The option to formula feed provides mom with a convenient and flexible option, since anyone can give the baby a bottle.
Doctors and nurses will respect any decision that you make, so you will just need to let them know how you want to proceed once the baby is born. If you want to start out breastfeeding for even just a little while, they will put the baby on your breast as soon as possible. If formula is your feeding method of choice, they will happily bring you a bottle to give to baby.
There is no such thing as a silly question, so you might as well put it all on the table before entering into one of the most important experiences of your life.
About the Author:
Dr. Charles Bowers is a well-known retired OB/GYN with over 30 years of experience in the field of medicine. Dr. Bowers now uses his knowledge at Ross Feller Casey, LLP as a medical forensic evaluator.