Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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Most pregnant women assume their babies will arrive right around their due date, give or take a week or so. Although that’s usually the case, a growing number of babies are being born prematurely, at fewer than 37 weeks gestation. Between 1981 and 2001, there was a 27 percent increase, to about 476,000 births per year. Currently, premature births in the United States account for 1 of every 8 births, according to the CDC.
If you deliver vaginally at 38 weeks-plus and your baby looks great and is nursing well--assuming you're breastfeeding--both of you can leave the hospital within six to 12 hours of delivery (depending on your hospital's policy and your own health, of course). One caveat: Since you probably won't have the benefit of a visit by the hospital's lactation consultant, I believe an early discharge mandates a follow-up house call by a consultant on the second or third day to make sure you and your baby are doing well.
Hospitals function best on routines. However, it seems your hospital wants to take your baby and tabulate his "numbers" far too often. If you have a premature or sick baby, these interventions are necessary. If not, your baby is much better off in your room, being held in your arms and nursing often. Healthy full-term babies almost never need to go to a nursery and can stay with their parents 24 hours a day.
Research shows that routine clamping of the umbilical cord immediately after birth, rather than waiting for the cord to stop pulsating, deprives the baby of red blood cells and iron stores. A literature review in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health looked at nine studies that had been done over the past 20 years. This research suggested that immediate clamping may reduce the amount of red blood cells a baby receives by 50 percent.
"I was happy to be in my own bed. But let's face it: Birth without drugs sucks." —Mardi Douglass, Seattle
"The benefits of epidurals outweigh the risks," says researcher Siranda Torvaldsen, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney, "and it's important that women feel supported in whatever decision they make." However, one risk to infants has recently emerged: Anecdotal reports had indicated that epidurals leave babies with a reduced ability to suckle in the first week of life; Torvaldsen's research found that epidurals were indeed linked to short-term problems with breastfeeding.