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Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 40 (part 3) - Your Labor Coach, Vaginal Delivery of Your Baby

- 9 Bad Habits That Can Cause Miscarriage
- How to have natural miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy

6. Your Nutrition

In the past, women in labor have only been allowed sips of water or a few ice chips to relieve thirst. This was because of concerns about vomiting and inhaling vomit into the lungs (aspiration) during labor and the risk of problems if anesthesia was needed for a Cesarean delivery.

ACOG has recently issued new guidelines. The new recommendations state if you have a normal, uncomplicated labor, you may drink modest amounts of clear liquids, such as water, fruit juice without pulp, carbonated beverages, clear tea, black coffee and sports drinks. If you have any risk factors, such as morbid obesity or diabetes, or if you may be at risk for a delivery involving forceps or a vacuum extractor, your fluid intake may be limited or curtailed.

If you’re scheduled for a Cesarean delivery, you may drink clear liquids up to 2 hours before anesthesia is given. Don’t eat solid food for 6 to 8 hours before surgery.

If your labor is long, your body may be hydrated with fluids through an I.V. After your baby’s birth, if everything is OK, you maybe able to eat and drink without much restriction.

7. You Should Also Know

Your Labor Coach

Your labor coach may be one of your most valuable assets during labor and delivery. He (or she) can help you prepare. He can be there to support you as you go through the experience of labor together. He can share with you the joy of the birth of your baby.

Dad Tip

Baby can come at any time. When your little one decides to make his or her appearance, be sure you take care of some things your partner might forget about. If she works outside the home, be sure to call her workplace and let them know she’s at the hospital. Find out if she has any appointments or plans you may need to change for her. Ask her what might need to be done at home to finish preparing for baby’s arrival.

In most instances, your partner is your labor coach. However, this isn’t an absolute requirement. A close friend or relative, such as your mother or sister, may act as your labor coach. Or you may choose the services of a doula. Ask someone ahead of time; don’t wait until the last minute. Give the person time to prepare for the experience and to make sure he or she will be able to be there with you.

Not everyone feels comfortable watching the entire labor and delivery. This may include your partner. Don’t force your partner or labor coach to watch the delivery if he or she doesn’t want to. It’s not unusual for a labor coach to get lightheaded, dizzy or pass out during labor and delivery. On more than one occasion, coaches or partners have fainted or become extremely lightheaded just from talking about plans for labor and delivery or a Cesarean delivery!

An important role of the labor coach is to make sure you get to the hospital! Work out a plan during the last 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy so you know how to reach your coach. It’s helpful to have an alternate driver, such as a family member, neighbor or friend, who’s available in case you can’t reach your labor coach immediately and need to be taken to the hospital.

Before going to the hospital, your labor coach can time your contractions so you’re aware of the progress of your labor. Once you arrive at the hospital, you both may be nervous. Your coach can do the following to help you both relax:

• talk to you while you’re in labor to distract you and to help you relax

• encourage and reassure you during labor and when it comes time for you to push

• keep a watch on the door and protect your privacy

• help relieve tension during labor

• touch, hug and kiss (If you don’t want to be touched during labor, tell your coach.)

• reassure you it’s OK for you to deal vocally with your pain

• wipe your face or your mouth with a washcloth

• rub your abdomen or back

• support your back while you’re pushing

• help create a mood in the labor room, including music and lighting (Discuss it ahead of time; bring things with you that you would like to have available during labor.)

• take pictures (Many couples find photographs taken of the baby after the delivery help them best remember these wonderful moments of joy.)

It’s all right for your labor coach to rest or to take a break during labor, especially if labor lasts a long time. It’s better if your coach eats in the lounge or hospital cafeteria. A labor coach should not bring work into the labor room—it shows little support for the laboring woman.

Many couples do different things to distract themselves and to help pass time during labor. These include picking names for the baby, playing games, watching TV or listening to music.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your coach’s participation in the delivery, such as cutting the umbilical cord or bathing baby after birth. These things vary from one place to another. The responsibility of your healthcare provider is the well-being of you and your baby—don’t make requests or demands that could cause complications.

Decide ahead of time about who needs to be called after baby’s birth. Bring a list of names and phone numbers with you. There are some people you may want to call yourself. In most places, a telephone is available in the labor and delivery area, or you may be able to use your cell phones.

If you want to be with your partner when friends or relatives first see the baby, make it clear. In most instances, you need some cleaning up. Take some time for yourselves with your new baby. After that you can show baby to friends and relatives, and share the joy with them.

Some couples choose to bring young children to see the birth of a new brother or sister. Ask your healthcare provider’s opinion ahead of time. The delivery of the baby might be exciting and special to you and your partner, but it may be frightening to a young child. Many places offer special classes for older siblings to help prepare them for the new baby. This may be a better way to help your older children feel they’re part of the birth experience.

Vaginal Delivery of Your Baby

We have already covered Cesarean delivery in Week 37. Most women don’t have to have a Cesarean delivery—they have a vaginal birth.

There are three distinct stages of labor, as we’ve previously discussed. In the first stage of labor, your uterus contracts with enough intensity, duration and frequency to cause effacement and dilatation of the cervix. The first stage of labor ends when the cervix is fully dilated and sufficiently open to allow the baby’s head to come through it.

The second stage of labor begins when the cervix is completely dilated at 10cm. Once full dilatation is reached, pushing begins. Pushing can take 1 to 2 hours (first or second baby) to a few minutes (an experienced mom). This stage of labor ends with delivery of the baby. One study showed women who were able to bite down on a mouth guard had a significantly shorter second stage of labor than women who didn’t use a mouth guard. Some experts believe a woman using a mouth guard can push harder and, therefore, shorten the second stage of labor.

The third stage of labor begins after delivery of the baby. It ends with delivery of the placenta and the membranes that have surrounded the fetus. Delivery of the baby and placenta, and repair of the episiotomy (if you have one) usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Following delivery, you and the baby are evaluated. During this time, you get to see and to hold your baby; you may even be able to feed him or her.

Depending on whether you deliver in a hospital or birthing center, you may deliver in the same room you’ve labored in. Or you may be moved to a delivery room nearby. After birth, you will go to recovery for a short time, then move to a hospital room until you’re ready to go home.

You will probably stay in the hospital 24 to 48 hours after delivery, if you have no complications. If you do have any complications, you and your healthcare provider will decide what is best for you.

Studies show if you wait about 3 or 4 minutes before cutting the umbilical cord, the extra blood flowing to your baby increases his or her iron levels for the first 6 months of life.

8. Exercise for Week 40

Stand with your feet slightly apart and your knees soft. Cross your chest with your right arm. With your left hand, gently push your right elbow toward you. Pat yourself on the back for a pregnancy job well done! Hold stretch for 10 seconds; repeat 4 times for each arm. Provides a good stretch for the upper back.

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