Giving Birth

Almost all mothers-to-be worry about what to expect during the delivery process. Here are a few things to help you plan for what happens during childbirth and what surprises might come along.

And, just remember - - despite all the blood, sweat, and tears that are all part of childbirth, you’ll quickly get over all that pain once your adorable baby arrives. The most important thing to remember is to expect the unexpected! Now let’s get you ready for what is to come:

Even though you may be experiencing what feels like contractions, some first-time Moms are sent home and told to come back later when your contractions are stronger and closer together. The very first part of labor sometimes includes contractions but no cervical changes. Dilation of the cervix can sometimes last two to three days, although it usually doesn’t take that long! You can help speed up the process if you keep moving around between contractions instead of lying in bed.

Epidurals are sometimes given to block the nerves in the lower half of the body to provide pain relief. You may or may not want to have an epidural. It is important to discuss this with your doctor before your delivery date. Waiting too long to request an epidural may mean your doctor may not be willing to start the process so close to pushing time. Epidurals require you to stay completely still for about 30 minutes while sitting up or lying on your side. If you decide to get an epidural, it means you can’t get up to go to the bathroom during the process, because your nerves will be too numb to control your urine. So, at that point, a catheter will be inserted for you to urinate while in bed. You won’t feel the catheter while your epidural is in effect and it’ll be removed once it’s time to start pushing.

Throughout the labor process your baby’s heart rate will be monitored using electrodes placed on your belly. If at some point the heart rate seems abnormal or cannot be detected, your doctor may attach a monitor onto the baby’s scalp. The electrode will be inserted through your cervix and attached to your baby’s head. Once your baby’s head emerges, the wire will be cut.

Once your baby has arrived, there are more contractions and pushing needed to deliver the placenta. After the umbilical cord is cut, your doctor will tug on it gently and tell you to push again. This might happen right away or take a few minutes. Don’t fret, this part of the birthing process is not usually as uncomfortable as labor.

Right after delivery, your baby will most likely get a shot of vitamin K to help the blood clot. Ointment containing the antibiotic erythromycin will be applied to his/her eyes to prevent blindness caused by certain bacteria that could have been present in the birth canal. No need to worry if their tiny hands and feet appear blue — they’re just getting used to normal oxygenated blood flow and learning to breath on their own. That tint will subside within a few days.

Yes, on occasion dads do faint, but the labor room experts say it’s rare and that most fathers who watch their partners deliver are surprisingly strong. Dads may be a tad bit surprised by how messy things get in the delivery room. It’s a blessing though to watch as dads are overtaken and surprised by the depth of their emotions. Most dads describe their baby’s birth as the most moving experience of their life.