Giving Birth
Do’s and Don’ts

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
The Giving Birthing to Your Baby Do’s and Don’t
The birth of a baby is one of the most magical and remarkable days in a woman’s life. As you look back upon that day, it will seem as though it flew by in mere seconds, but at the time that it is happening, it might feel as though the whole delivery is occurring in slow motion. Perhaps the anticipation of the day you get to meet your son or daughter for the first time is what makes that day feel so laborious (no pun intended).
In the meantime, it may behoove you to get ready for the birth of your baby by learning as much as possible about the labor and delivery process. There are a lot of misconceptions about what actually takes place on the day the baby is born, as well as how it is handled by the medical team. You can only make decisions based on what you know; therefore you should equip yourself with as much qualified information as possible to make sure the birth of your baby runs smoothly. Ultimately, having a baby should be a joyful experience.

It is essential to know a few “do’s and don’ts” about the labor and delivery process.

DO'S of Giving Birth

Do: Research/Plan Ahead
Doing your own research, asking your doctor the right questions and creating a flexible plan for your baby’s delivery will ensure a smooth process. From the moment a woman discovers she is expecting, the opinions and advice of others will come pouring in. Some of these opinions are not suitable for every woman, which is why she should find trusted sources to give her the assurance she needs. Reading is essential, especially for first-time moms. As she is faced with many decisions regarding her newborn, the well-researched mom will be better equipped to determine the best choices for herself and for her new baby.
Do: Communicate Your Needs
Your partner, the medical team and your doctor are not mind readers. If you have a personal vision for your labor, such as whether or not to receive epidural, natural delivery or cesarean, pain medication or none, etc. then you must communicate these issues before you are actually going through with the birthing process.

When you are in pain is not the time to express those needs, although no one can predict any complications that could arise at the last minute. Just like riding a motorcycle, you should wear a helmet and protect yourself from any unforeseen circumstances that may arise! Have a backup plan, just in case.

Do: Participate in Lamaze or Yoga Classes
There are many benefits of taking childbirth classes. Many women experience easier labor and delivery as a result of learning breathing techniques, practicing meditation and relaxation, as well as the exercise aspect. You will also meet other expectant mothers, which can become a strong support system during your pregnancy. The instructors also give you valuable insight and assistance.

Do: Get to Know Your Body to Recognize Contractions
It is common for first-time mothers to rush to the hospital at the sign of their first contraction, but you should wait until they are less than ten minutes apart. Most women have contractions for ten to twenty (or more) hours before the baby’s arrival, which means they should keep occupied until the contractions become more intense or until the water breaks. Don’t wait until the last minute, but don’t drive at breakneck speeds to get to the hospital only to discover that it is a false alarm or too early, either. Count the minutes in between your contractions to know when it is the right time to go.

Do: Keep Moving During Labor
Most women lie in bed while enduring labor pains, but this is not the best method. It may be easier for a woman to endure the delivery process to keep moving, either through the help of her partner or by walking slowly around the room. You could also bring an exercise ball or try doing some light squats and yoga exercises to open up the hips and help the baby move through gracefully.

Do: Have a Coach or Doula by Your Side
A doula can help you get through the birthing process, even if your partner is present. This is a woman who is professionally trained to offer emotional support, as well as pulling you through the physical difficulty of childbearing. Having a doula, midwife or birthing coach present can make your delivery more memorable, pleasurable and safer for you and your baby, especially if you plan on having a natural childbirth.
Do: Delay the Cord Cutting for at Least Two Minutes
Science has revealed that the blood in your baby’s umbilical cord offers an abundant source of iron, which is something the baby cannot produce on its own for a few months. Traditionally, the medical team cuts the cord almost immediately upon birth, but you can ask them to wait at least two minutes so that the baby can extract as much iron as possible before the umbilical cord is snipped.

Do: Create the Skin-to-Skin Connection With Your Baby Right Away
Most hospitals take the baby away from its mother right away, placing the infant in an incubator, where it remains hooked up to a monitor for a few hours. You are the mother and have a right to ask to hold your baby, and it is recommended that you do! Commonly referred to as the “Kangaroo” Method, the concept of putting the naked baby on the mother’s bare chest creates a powerful bond, while promoting breastfeeding and infant-mother attachment right away.

Do: Give Breastfeeding a Chance
It may take your baby a day or two to learn how to latch on, but some new mothers give up too easily on breastfeeding because they are afraid the baby will starve. Breastfeeding is natural and there are many benefits of breastfeeding, both for the baby and the mother. It builds up the baby’s immune system, helps the mother recover quickly, as well as strengthening the bond between them. Babies who breastfeed have a higher IQ than those who do not, studies reveal. Plus, formula is expensive, so opt for nature’s abundant source and choose breast milk; if you are able to do so.

Don'ts of Giving Birth

Don’t: Elect an Episiotomy
Some outdated practices still include giving a woman an episiotomy, which is an incision that enlarges the vaginal opening. Why did doctors do this? Many believed that it would prevent mothers from getting incontinence or having a rip that would be difficult to fix. Others believed it would prevent fetal head trauma by lessening the need for forceps, while improving healing. This is false!

Episiotomies are very risky and can lead to increase of blood loss, infection, clotting or other objectionable side effects. The only reason to have an episiotomy is if your baby is in distress or if the labor persists, whereupon this type of incision can speed up the baby’s ability to come out of the womb. It should not be done as a routine procedure, so ask your doctor and express your desire that it should be done only as a last resort.

Don’t: Schedule Early, Induced Labor
Although this is becoming more common with today’s modern technology, getting induced early poses more risks to both the baby and the mother. Mainly, this is becoming a common practice for convenience’ sake, because doctors can schedule other things around the patient’s delivery. Some studies have pointed to an increase in complications among newborns who were delivered too early, so this should only be an option out of medical necessity, rather than opportuneness.

Don’t: Choose a C-Section Over Natural Birth
Some women opt for a caesarean because of personal reasons, such as wanting to get tubes tied, or doctor going on vacation, or because they are afraid they will be too “loose” down there after having a baby naturally; or just because they heard from another mother that it was easier. This is actually not true, and can harm the baby.

The C-Section should only be used as an emergency measure. It requires major abdominal surgery, with more blood loss and longer healing time. It can be very painful to recover from a C-Section, whereas women who give birth naturally often bounce back quickly. Your stomach muscles can heal, meaning less likeliness of having that “pooch” and some ugly track marks where the incision is made, typically just at the bikini line.

The other reason is for the baby’s sake. Babies born by caesarean are far more likely to spend time in NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) due to fluid in their lungs, etc. than babies born vaginally. By all means, give a natural childbirth your best attempt!

Don’t: Rush to Say ‘Yes’ to an Epidural Without Knowing the Risks
Understandably, childbirth is uncomfortable and painful. Despite the many mothers out there who will tell you to willingly get an epidural – without knowing what it entails – you should be informed. The epidural numbs the lower half of your body, and if done too soon, it can double the chances of needing a C-Section delivery. An epidural can also leave intense side effects, such as itching, shaking, coldness, maternal fever, or a migraine headache. For the baby, it could double the chances of having to use forceps or lead to head trauma, vacuum extraction or increased chances of the baby not lining up properly to exit the womb. The epidural is administered through a long needle in your spine, so if done improperly, can damage your spine. Be careful!
Don’t: Take Pain Medications Without Fully Understanding the Effects
Your doctor might offer opioid narcotics to help you ease through the pain, but do not readily accept them until you know what they can do. Some common pain meds include Nubian, Stadol or Demerol, which are supposed to dull your brain’s perception of pain. Some of these come with side effects, such as nausea, drowsiness, plummeting blood pressure, vomiting or headaches. They could also affect your baby and make your newborn unresponsive upon arrival. No matter what the medical team says, it is up to you. Use caution.

Don’t: Be Discouraged if Things Don’t Go As Planned
Just like you can’t predict the weather, you cannot predict the things that may happen during childbirth. Sometimes you just have to “roll with the punches” and remain positive, flexible and less rigid. Things will work out for the best.

There is no question, having a baby is a life-changing event. Every woman has her own personal reasons for the choices she makes, but the best thing is to go with what your heart tells you to do in all matters, including the delivery and labor of your baby.


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