The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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6. Get into warm water
Doing so can naturally facilitate labor and ease pain. You can climb into a tub for a few hours, then get out to have the baby. Or you may decide on a water birth. For information, visit www.waterbirth.org.
Whatever happened to birth plans?
Yesterday’s pages of written instructions are giving way to wish lists that outline what expectant moms would like to happen during labor. Here are a few other areas in which women are becoming more flexible about giving birth: Then No fetal monitoring No IV for drugs No epidural Now Sporadic fetal monitoring Heparin lock (a needle is inserted in case you need an IV, but you aren’t attached to anything) “Going with the flow” and seeing how you feel — M.J.H.
HOW would you like to give birth?
Planning can help you have the kind of childbirth experience you want. Here are some of the decisions and dilemmas women wrestle with most, and information to put them in perspective.
Scheduling your delivery
More women are choosing their baby’s birth date for a variety of reasons, including fear of the unexpected, work considerations and vacation schedules for school-age children. But scheduling an induction or a first-time C-section isn’t without risk—or debate.
Inducing labor with drugs is one way to help ensure that childbirth occurs in a specific 24- to 48-hour period. In 2001, nearly 21 percent of babies were delivered after labor was induced—up from 8 percent in 1989, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). This does not mean that inductions are always safe. According to Michael F. Greene, M.D., director of maternal-fetal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, induction increases the chances of a C-section by 50 percent and should only be done when risks of continuing the pregnancy, such as having high blood pressure or being two weeks overdue, exceed the risk posed by inducing labor. “ACOG is against inducing labor just because you want the baby to be a Sagittarius,” Greene says.
Induction isn’t always successful, either. Hormones such as oxytocin are released when labor starts naturally. But administering Pitocin, the synthetic version of oxytocin, does not guarantee that labor will necessarily begin or progress easily. In fact, if Pitocin is given too aggressively, extremely frequent and intense contractions can result.
Some doctors say that women who are determined to schedule labor are better off planning C-sections instead of inductions. This is because a scheduled Cesarean often is easier on the body than a long, induced labor that may end with an emergency C-section anyway.