Your Guide to Giving Birth | Fit Pregnancy

Your Guide to Giving Birth

Everything you must know to prepare for the big day


After the baby is born Within 30 minutes you'll be asked to push again to deliver the placenta, which usually comes out easily. If you've had an episiotomy, your doctor will then stitch you up. And you'll get to hold your baby for the first time. - A.L.K.

If you have a C-section Whether or not your C-section is planned, here’s roughly what you can expect. > A nurse will start an IV containing saline solution and, in some cases, an antibiotic. Unless the C-section is an emergency, the anesthesiologist will administer an epidural so you won’t feel anything below your belly button (though you’ll be fully awake). Otherwise, you may receive a general anesthetic. > Your doctor will drape the area around your belly, then cut through the skin, muscles, uterus and amniotic sac. “You feel almost nothing—maybe a little pressure and some tugging,” says Gloria Bachmann, M.D., chief of the OB-GYN Service at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. Minutes later, the doctor will lift the baby out and bring her up to your head for you to see. Then the doctor will remove the placenta and stitch you up. The entire process will take 40 to 90 minutes. > In the recovery room, nurses will monitor your blood pressure, breathing and heart rate. (You might become nauseated and start vomiting at this point; this is normal.) After an hour or so, you’ll be moved to your room and reunited with your baby, and you’ll probably be able to breastfeed at this time. > In the following days and perhaps weeks, you’ll experience gas pains and pain at the incision site. Like women who deliver vaginally, you’ll need to wear pads for several weeks to absorb the blood-tinged fluid that will flow from your uterus as you recuperate. — a.l.k.

What is fetal distress? Though it has no universally agreed-upon medical definition, fetal distress is generally characterized as a slowing (“deceleration”) of the baby’s heart rate at times during labor when it shouldn’t, or a deep slowing for longer periods than most doctors are comfortable with. In many cases, doctors have plenty of time to consider their options, which include vacuum extraction, delivery with forceps or simply untangling the umbilical cord from around the baby’s neck. But when fetal distress occurs suddenly—the uterus is rupturing, for example—doctors have only minutes to get the baby out to avoid possible brain damage or even death. When there’s any likelihood of this, doctors tend to err on the side of caution and perform a C-section. Sometimes babies who are stressed in utero pass their first stool (meconium) while still in the birth canal. If it’s inhaled, a lung infection or pneumonia can result. In such cases, the baby’s mouth is suctioned as soon as the head is delivered. — L.R.S.

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