You wouldn’t dream of running a marathon without training first. Such an intense athletic event requires mental, physical and emotional preparation. The same is true for childbirth: Knowing what can happen during labor and delivery—and your options for pain relief—can alleviate your fears and boost your confidence. “Knowledge is power,” says Sheri Bayles, R.N., a certified Lamaze instructor who taught childbirth classes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City for more than 20 years.
What's the difference between preterm labor and preterm contractions? It's all in the cervix, baby. If it changes, it's labor. If it doesn't, it's annoying. Sarah, 34 weeks pregnant with her first baby, has had contractions for a few weeks. They're not painful and yet there are enough of them that she wisely headed to the hospital for evaluation.
Hillary emailed with a subject title reading, “I think my mom is lying to me.” She’s in the “planning to plan” for a pregnancy stage (AKA – not pregnant – never has been). She was chatting with her mom about all that goes into having a baby and asked about her own birth. Hillary’s mom was apparently a “natural woman” and didn’t have an epidural.Here’s the pickle: Hillary thinks her mom is lying about what hurts most, where and when during labor and birth. Mom says contractions hurt more than pushing.
Lena wrote this week with a ton of questions—most of them having to do with peeing and pooping and other messy bodily functions. I love that you wrote, Lena. You're a girl after my own heart because this is the stuff people really want to know but feel way too "refined" to ask. Lena's expecting her second baby in a few weeks and had a rough go of it with her first. It sounds like she had a long labor with a lot of rectal pressure. She felt like she had to poop through her entire labor.
Patti wrote with questions about her granddaughter's birth. She says her daughter pushed for a long time but once her nurse emptied her bladder, she delivered right away. Patti's daughter has some speech problems and she's worried this might've been caused by oxygen deprivation during delivery. It sounds like Patti thinks her daughter pushed too long and this may have had an adverse affect on her granddaughter. Though there's no way for me to know whether Patti's granddaughter's speech problems were caused by a birth injury, I can answer a few questions here.
I had a patient a while back who was caught by surprise when I suggested her labor might last a couple of days before she had her baby. "But why? I'm in labor now, aren't I?" She was contracting but not "in labor." She was uncomfortable but not "in labor." "What's the difference?" she asked. The difference is in the intensity and effect of contractions. Though my patient was pretty convinced the regular, cramps she was feeling was labor, it wasn't until the next day that she knew what I really meant by "in labor."
What happens when you spring a leak? Most of us go through pregnancy worrying about a public watershed moment when our amniotic membranes will break with enough gush and rush to fuel a water park. I was so worried about it when my second was overdue (on the day I graduated from nursing school) that I wore double Kotex to walk across the stage and get my diploma. It happens on TV and in the movies all the time and yet, most of my patients have a much subtler experience. If only it was a simple as they make it seem on soap operas.
Last week I answered Samantha's question about finding a good doctor and hospital and mentioned that both she and Natalie thought their questions were trivial. No they're not. They're the stuff we all think about. Thank you for asking. Believe me, you're only one of about 4 million women wondering the same thing. So, as promised, here's my answer to Natalie's question.
What do you do if you won't go into labor or your labor has stalled? What do you do if your baby has decided never to be born? What if your water has been broken for 24 hours and you still haven't had a contraction? How about if you've been 5 cm for 8 hours and your doctor is talking Cesarean? What do you do? Sounds like it's time for some vitamin P. That's Pitocin—the synthetic version of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that runs around your body to make your uterus contract. Under ideal circumstances, you'll make enough to squirt that baby out on your own.
Not all my time at the hospital is spent delivering babies. Sometimes I'm on "pad-patrol." That's nurse-speak for postpartum mother/baby care. Go ahead—guess what kind of pad I'm talking about. Sometimes I "do outpatients"—pregnant ladies who need medical attention but aren't necessarily in labor. A whole lot of outpatients come to the hospital with an Unidentified Foreign Leak. My job is to "Name That Leak." Most of the time it's pee. I know what you're thinking: "How could they not know they've wet their pants?" They just can't, that's why.
From the moment you discover you’re pregnant, decisions await you. Fortunately, many of them, such as what color to paint the nursery and whether to use cloth or disposable diapers, are not life-changing (though they may seem so at the time). But the big-picture decisions—questions like where your baby will be born, who will deliver her and whether or not you should schedule the birth—can have a profound impact on your pregnancy and delivery, often making the difference between a joyous experience you can’t wait to repeat and a traumatic one you’d rather forget.
1) Should you wait to push? If asked whether they’d like to prolong labor, few pregnant women would say yes. But in some circumstances, waiting to push may be a wise thing to do. Women who receive epidurals may have less complicated deliveries if they delay pushing until after the cervix is completely dilated to 10 centimeters, research indicates. Here’s why: Waiting a few hours before pushing allows the continuing contractions to help propel the baby into the pelvis.
Lisa Hickey never expected to give birth in a 1993 Toyota Camry on an on-ramp to Interstate 90, but that’s what happened. Early on a July morning in 2003, Hickey, 31, of Natick, Mass., went into labor with her second child. Her husband drove her and her 22-year-old sister, who planned to watch the delivery, to the hospital in Boston. When Hickey’s doctor found she was only 4 centimeters dilated, he estimated that the baby wouldn’t arrive for a long time and sent them home.