After the nine months of anticipation, you are finally ready to deliver your little bundle of joy. If you are going to be a first-time mum, here are a few things you should know. About six to eight weeks in your pregnancy, you probably would have noticed sporadic uterine contractions. These are called Braxton-Hicks contractions. For most women, these are mild enough to be ignored, but if they are making you uncomfortable, you should contact your obstetrician.
Labour is different for every woman, with pain ranging from mild to extreme. If your labour does not start on its own, your obstetrician (OB) can use medication and other techniques to bring on (or induce) contractions. Once your labour starts and you are in the hospital, your OB might offer you an epidural. An epidural delivers continuous pain relief to the lower part of your body while allowing you to remain fully conscious. Medication is delivered through a catheter, a very thin, flexible, hollow tube that is inserted into the epidural space just outside the membrane that surrounds your spine.
You can, of course, opt for natural childbirth without an epidural too. During labour, your OB and nurse will check your baby’s heart rate to keep tabs on your baby and see how she is tolerating the contractions. This is called foetal monitoring. It is usually done with an electronic foetal monitor or a handheld Doppler device or a stethoscope-like device called a foetoscope.
Once you are fully dilated (the cervix has opened up to about 10 cm), you are ready to deliver. An episiotomy is a surgical cut in the muscular area between the vagina and the anus (the area called the perineum) made just before delivery to enlarge your vaginal opening. Obstetricians make it to speed up the delivery and to prevent the vagina from tearing, particularly during a first vaginal delivery.
A lower (uterine) segment Caesarean section (LSCS) is the most commonly used type of Cesarean section used today. A C-section is usually done if the baby’s head is too large for the mother’s pelvic opening, the baby is presenting bottom or feet first (breech) or is lying sideways (transverse) and is not able to be turned, the cervix is blocked by the placenta (placenta previa), the baby develops stress during labour, or for other reasons such as multiple babies, mothers with high blood pressure, etc.
The mother is given spinal or epidural anesthesia for the procedure or may have a general anesthetic. A horizontal cut is made through the abdomen into the lower end of the uterus. These incisions heal better and are less likely to be associated with complications in future pregnancies. The baby is born through the incision – head first. Forceps might be used to help lift out the baby’s head. Amniotic fluid is wiped from the baby’s nose and mouth before its body is lifted free from the uterus. The placenta is then removed. The patient is then given an injection of oxytocin to make the uterus contract and minimize blood loss. The uterus, tissue layers and overlying skin are then stapled or stitched together.
Once the baby is delivered, she will be tested for APGAR scores (Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration). It is a simple assessment of how a baby is doing at birth, which helps determine whether your newborn is ready to meet the world without additional medical assistance. It is done at one minute and five minutes after your baby is born. If your baby scores between 7 and 10, it usually means she is in good shape and does not need more than routine post-delivery care.
You have survived nine months of pregnancy. You have made it through the excitement of labour and delivery, and now you are ready to head home and begin life with your baby. Here are few things you should know:
- Wash your hands frequently before handling your baby. Make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands.
- Be careful to support your baby’s head and neck. Cradle the head when carrying your baby and support the head when carrying the baby upright or when you lay your baby down.
- Be careful not to shake your newborn.
- Diaper rash is a common concern. Typically, the rash is red and bumpy and will go away in a few days with warm baths, some diaper cream, and a little time out of the diaper. Most rashes occur because the baby’s skin is sensitive and becomes irritated by the wet diaper.
- The baby’s navel area should not be submerged in water until the cord stump falls off and the area has healed. Consult your doctor if the navel area becomes reddened or if a foul odor or discharge develops.
- Swaddling works well to calm the baby during their first few weeks. Proper swaddling keeps a baby’s arms close to the body while allowing for some movement of the legs. Not only does swaddling keep a baby warm, but it seems to give most newborns a sense of security and comfort. Swaddling also may help limit the startle reflex, which can wake a baby.
- Babies often swallow air during feedings, which can make them fussy. You can prevent this by burping your baby frequently.
- It is important to place babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of them suffocating during sleep. Make sure there are no stuffed animals or fluffy blankets near your newborn. Also, be sure to alternate the position of your baby’s head from night to night (first right, then left, and so on) to prevent the development of a flat spot on one side of the head.
- Many newborns have their days and nights mixed up. They tend to be more awake and alert at night and sleepier during the day. One way to help them is to keep the stimulation at night to a minimum. Keep the lights low and reserve talking and playing with your baby for the daytime. When your baby wakes up during the day, try to keep her awake a little longer by talking and playing.
Don’t Forget Yourself
Don’t forget to pamper yourself too. Once you are home, you must rest so as to heal properly. Get enough sleep and walk a little each day. Avoid strenuous activities for 6 weeks or until your doctor says it is okay. Do not lift anything heavier than your baby. Hold a pillow over your incision when you cough or take deep breaths. This will support your belly and reduce your pain. You may shower as usual. Pat the incision dry when you are done. You can eat a normal diet, drink plenty of fluids. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements.
We’re Here to Help
And remember, that we, at Medi Assist, are here to make your hospitalization experience as hassle-free as possible by assuring you a completely cashless hospitalization. Just concentrate on recovering quickly and getting back home to be among your loved ones; and leave all your insurance claims-related worries to us.
We hope you have a happy and healthy motherhood!