The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Trends we like
Labor massage Licensed massage therapists (LMTs) certified in perinatal massage are increasingly being called upon to ease labor pains. “We facilitate normal birth by reducing the fear-tension-pain cycle that leads to medical interventions,” says Stefanie Masters, a massage doula and licensed massage therapist in Port Washington, Wis. Most hospitals that allow doulas also welcome labor massage therapists; find one at massagedoula.com.
Hospital water birth More hospitals are offering this option, which promotes relaxation and mobility and reduces pain. “Low-risk water birth patients often have shorter, easier deliveries with the added safety of being in a hospital,” says Kathie Hill, C.N.M., a certified nurse-midwife at Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Ore. While most water births are attended by midwives, some obstetricians attend water births, too.
Obstetric hospitalists Following Europe’s lead, some American hospitals are hiring hospitalists (aka laborists), board-certified OB-GYNs who may have an extra certification and only monitor labors and deliver babies. Since they don’t have to see office patients or be on call at night while juggling family responsibilities, hospitalists are less fatigued and possibly more patient with normal labor changes that may look “suspicious” but often resolve themselves. While women don’t deliver with their “own” doctor, “They become comfortable with us quickly and appreciate having a doctor immediately available,” says Steven Clark, M.D., medical director for the Hospital Corporation of America’s Women and Newborn Services in Utah.
Trends we don’t
“Freebirthing” It’s estimated that a few thousand women in the U.S. every year choose to give birth at home without a doctor ormidwife present. That’s dangerous, says home-birth midwife Jennifer Gagnon, C.N.M., of A Woman’s Place Birth and Health Resources in Chicago. “You can’t stop your own hemorrhage. Home birth is safe for selected low-risk women with a qualified attendant who knows when to transfer to the hospital.”
Breathe, push, tweet! “Texting and posting distract from being ‘present’ at your child’s birth,” says Desiree Bley, M.D., an OB-GYN in Portland, Ore. “You silence your phone during movies; do the same until after
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