Your Guide to Becoming a Mother
Get your baby off to a safe start.
((First look)) If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, chances are you’ll have your first (and, perhaps, only) ultrasound at about 18 weeks. At that point, the baby’s gender usually can be determined; certain birth defects, including Down syndrome and spina bifida, also may be detected. The due date can be fine-tuned, and the doctor can determine whether it is a multiple pregnancy and check on the health of the placenta and the fetus’s organs. ((First hiccups)) Anytime from about 20 weeks on, you may notice little popping feelings in your abdomen when the fetus has hiccups. Some have a lot; others have none.
((First step toward the exit, aka “dropping” or “lightening”)) Some babies move lower in the mother’s pelvis a few weeks before delivery, some just as labor starts and some not at all. When this happens, you may experience less indigestion and find it easier to breathe, but you may also feel more pressure on your bladder and rectum.
Meet the newborn
>>Just after birth, your baby undergoes a series of procedures to test and protect his health. First, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, and the baby’s mouth is suctioned to reduce the chance that he will inhale fluids. Then, nurses administer the Apgar test twice—at one and five minutes after delivery. The baby receives a score of , 1 or 2 in five areas: heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes and color. Most babies receive total scores of 7, 8 or 9 after a normal, healthy delivery; those with low scores may need treatment such as resuscitation or require time in the intensive-care unit. Your baby will also receive a vitamin K injection, which helps with blood clotting, as well as antibiotic eye drops. A few drops of his blood will be taken, and his hearing will be tested before he goes home. In a day or two (three or four, if you’ve had a Cesarean), you’ll be sent home with your newborn. Here’s the poop on, well, his poop and other things to expect.
The poop>> Black, tarry- looking stools are normal for a few days, then change to watery, mustardy ones (for breastfed babies). They occur anywhere from once to several times a day. What to watch for: If your baby doesn’t poop, is very gassy, pushes noticeably to pass a stool or pulls up his legs and cries, call your pediatrician.
The diapers>> By the time you leave the hospital, your baby should have wet diapers about 12 times a day. What to watch for: Too few wet diapers could indicate that the baby isn’t getting enough breast milk or formula or has a urinary-tract problem.