How Can I Experience Childbirth Without Fear?
As a mother-to-be, it is likely that you will experience various emotions on the day your baby decides to enter the world. You may feel excitement or panic when your water breaks, and then overwhelmed, afraid, anxious, or stressed, as the moments move you closer to birthing your child.
Having an experienced doctor who specializes in pregnancy and childbirth can help ease your tensions and fears on the day you give birth. At Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn, we strive to accommodate, reassure, and guide you through all stages of childbirth.
What Are The Stages Of Childbirth?
Every childbirth is unique. Your childbirth process and experience may be different from your friends’ childbirth experiences or even from your own previous childbirth experiences, but in general, you can expect childbirth to occur in three stages:
- Stage 1 – the first and longest stage, occurring in three phases:
- Early labor phase – the first and longest phase. Contractions begin and pain is minimal. The passage that connects your vagina to your uterus, also known as the cervix, begins to dilate.
- Active phase – the cervix dilates quicker. Contractions are more frequent and painful.
- Transition phase – the cervix has fully dilated. Contractions are most frequent and painful in this phase.
- Stage 2 – the pushing stage, during which the cervix completely opens. Your doctor will instruct you to push. Your pushing, combined with the power of your contractions, will help move your baby down the birth canal and into the world.
- Stage 3 – the uterus continues to contract and pushes out your placenta.
What Are The Possible Complications Of Childbirth?
Childbirth complications can occur during any of the stages mentioned above and maybe more common among high-risk pregnancies. Being aware of these potential complications will help you to be more mentally prepared should a problem arise. Childbirth complications can include:
- Water breaks before eight months
- Delivery takes longer than normal (prolonged labor)
- The baby is in an improper position, such as feet-first (abnormal presentation)
- Tearing of the vagina and surrounding tissues occurs during childbirth
- Excessive bleeding from damage to the uterus occurs during childbirth
- Umbilical cord gets tangled around the baby’s neck or other body parts
- Umbilical cord gets compressed, depriving the baby of oxygen and blood flow (umbilical cord compression)
- Umbilical cord comes out before the baby (umbilical cord prolapse)
- Heart rate of the baby is abnormal
- Baby does not receive proper oxygen (perinatal asphyxia)
- Baby’s head comes out, but the shoulder(s) is/are stuck (shoulder dystocia)
What Our Patients Have To Say
“Dr. Weprin delivered our first back in 1999, Dr. Wood our second in 2001, Dr. Huey our third in 2003, and Dr. Weprin our fourth in 2006. For most of my appointments over the years, I saw Jill. This office was amazing – they treat you as family. I highly recommend!” -Sylvia B.
What Can I Expect After Childbirth?
As with any trauma to the body, you may experience various side effects after childbirth. Side effects may include:
- Vaginal soreness
- Vaginal discharge
- Tender breasts
- Hair loss
- Skin changes
- Mood changes
- Weight loss
What Are My Options For Childbirth?
When it comes to childbirth, there is more than one way to bring your baby into the world. From the physical location to preferred methods of birthing, you have a range of options available to you.
Common birthing options include:
- Natural childbirth
- Medicated childbirth
- Childbirth center
- Epidural anesthesia
- Cesarean delivery
- Vaginal birth after cesarean
How Can I Prepare For Childbirth?
Whether your baby decides to come right on time, early, or late, taking steps to prepare for childbirth is a great way to help make your delivery date feel less unpredictable. To help you prepare for childbirth you can:
- Sign up for childbirth preparation classes
- Speak with a childbirth educator
- Engage in safe levels of exercise to prepare your body
How Can I Plan the Childbirth Experience that I Want?
Your birth plan is your preferences put into action. It includes the kind of pain relief you want to have, the amount of freedom of movement during our labor, the environment in which you'd like to deliver your baby, and more. The best way to plan the childbirth experience you want is to start by writing down all of your preferences. Initially, these may look like questions ("what kind of pain relief is available?"). As you discuss them with your doctor and partner, they morph into a clear list of do's and don'ts within parameters that keep you and your baby safe and healthy through the process. As you think about creating your birth plan, consider:
- Who you'd like in the delivery room?
- What birthing positions feel best for you?
- Would you like music to be playing in the birthing room? Aromatherapy?
- Who will clamp the cord and when?
This is a very short list of considerations to get you started as you plan your ideal childbirth experience. We are here to answer questions that can help you gain clarity!
How Do I Know if I'm in Labor?
Your onset of labor may differ from any that you've heard before, as well as from what is typically depicted in movies. Your labor may begin slowly with mild cramping that gradually progresses to frequent, consistent contractions. When it comes to contractions, true labor (as opposed to Braxton Hick's) is indicated by ongoing cramping regardless of position. If your contractions stop when you change positions, you're not likely in labor just yet. You can feel confident that your labor has begun when your contractions are consistent and progressive in terms of duration and timing.
When is it Time to go to the Hospital?
When your contractions are five or more minutes apart, you may be considered to be in early labor. Early labor can last several hours or even days, so it can be difficult to determine when you should go to the hospital. You and your doctor will have conversations about this well in advance of your anticipated delivery date. The timing of going to the hospital will depend on various factors related to your pregnancy and medical history. For example, if the doctor knows your baby is breech, they may instruct you to head to the hospital as soon as your contractions get consistent. If this is a subsequent pregnancy, you may be advised to go to the hospital earlier during your labor. For initial pregnancies, it is generally recommended to at least call the doctor or hospital for advice once contractions are about four minutes apart and are strengthening. With or without consistent contractions, you should leave for the medical center if your water breaks or you notice bleeding.
How Can I Tell if My Water has Broken?
Dramatizations of water breaking tend to be exaggerated. When your water breaks, you may not feel anything near a gush. Instead, you might feel wetness or a slight, continual leak of fluid. Your water may leak out a little at a time every few minutes. It isn't uncommon to mistake leaking for urine. If you have questions about wetness that you're noticing, don't hesitate to contact the doctor or hospital. Your care team can guide you in determining your best next step. The doctor may decide that it's best for you to have a test to measure your amniotic fluid or your cervical dilation.
Can I Eat and Drink While I am in Labor?
The guidelines regarding eating and drinking during labor have changed somewhat in recent years. It is now deemed acceptable to eat certain foods, like toast and applesauce or light soup, during early labor. You may also be allowed to continue drinking clear liquids, and maybe even a carbonated beverage, through your early stages of labor. It is important to talk to your care team both at the doctor's office and at the hospital so you know what to expect. Eating and drinking can be an essential aspect of the birth plan that you and your team create together.
When Can I Ask for an Epidural? How Soon Will I Get It?
You can request an epidural nearly anytime during your labor. However, there are circumstances that may influence the timing of this analgesic. For example, your doctor may prefer that you wait until you are in active labor to receive your epidural. This simply means that your progression has been confirmed and your cervix is dilating. We don't want to administer an epidural too soon and end up sending you home because you're not really in labor! The next factor that you and your team will consider is how long it takes to receive the pain relief you've requested. In general, it can take a little over an hour from the time the epidural is requested to the time you're feeling its effects. In most hospitals, the anesthesiologist has 30 minutes to get to the room to begin the epidural. Then, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to administer the local anesthetic that enables the epidural to be given, clean the site, and set up the epidural. Then, it can take about 15 minutes for the effects of the medication to develop.
To give you peace of mind, it may be beneficial to talk to your doctor about your pain relief preferences and questions early on in your pregnancy. Our goal is to provide you with the information you will need to make the best decisions about your labor and delivery.
What Happens if I Need to Have a Cesarean Birth?
Cesarean births are surgical in nature. The doctor delivers the baby through an incision in the lower abdomen. C-sections may be planned or unplanned. An unplanned C-section is called an emergency C-section and may occur if the baby is having some type of difficulty. Irregular or decreased heart rate is an example of a reason a doctor may perform an emergency C-section. If you need this type of delivery method, rest assured that your entire medical team is extraordinarily capable of handling your and your baby's health and safety. If you've already had an epidural, the anesthesiologist can quickly and calmly administer medication that will numb the bottom portion of your body. In doing this, you can remain awake for your baby's delivery but feel nothing. In some instances, C-sections require general anesthesia, but this is less common.
We want you to feel confident going into your labor and delivery knowing that your care team has your best interest in mind and that they have the training and experience to handle unforeseen situations. Talk to your doctor as early in your pregnancy as you'd like about the potential for a Cesarean birth and how that may be handled.
Schedule A Consultation
If you would like to learn more about our childbirth options and services, schedule an appointment with an Ob/Gyn specialist at Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn. With specialized care and cutting-edge treatments in obstetrics and gynecology, Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn offers a wide variety of gynecologic and obstetric services from leaders in Ob/Gyn research development. Call 937.771.5100 or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment.