MRH Living Well: Delivery Day Just Around the Corner? Here’s What to Expect
July 21, 2017
If you are in your last few weeks of pregnancy, you're likely feeling a mix of excitement and apprehension, and your head is probably spinning with questions about labor, like, "How do I know when it is starting? What are contractions like? What do I do if my water breaks? What will it be like at the hospital?" If so, here's a quick rundown on what to expect on delivery day.
"For women who are finding it hard to wait in those final days, I remind them that each and every one of the final days are important for their baby's maturity, especially for the brain and lungs, which helps them take it one day at a time," said Dr. Scott Ellis, OB/GYN with Memorial Regional Health.
For the last two weeks, eat light, as pressure on your stomach can increase feelings of nausea. Also, keep exercising as long as you can as it gives you increased stamina during labor and delivery.
Prepare your nipples for breastfeeding by washing them with a washcloth, and preregister at the hospital at around 36 weeks.
Two items on the watch list in the final days are continued steady fetal movement and swollen ankles. If you notice a decrease in your baby's movements from the norm, call your doctor immediately.
You should feel about 10 movements per hour. Do the same if you notice discharge or bleeding. While swollen ankles are common and usually not a concern, they can indicate problems with the pregnancy so your obstetrician will check your swelling during your final appointments. Whenever you are concerned, call your doctor.
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"I believe in a maternal sixth sense. If you think something isn't right, call me. I have had women get that feeling and come in, and low and behold something wasn't right," Ellis said.
If you watch a lot of movies, you might believe that your water always breaks before you make it to the hospital. That's actually not true.
More often it doesn't and your doctor has to break it during delivery. It's hard, even for doctors, to predict the exact time labor will start. Watch for extra pressure on your vagina, and of course, contractions.
If you are unsure whether or not you are having true contractions, Dr. Eileen Joyce, OB/GYN with Memorial Regional Health, says that if you can walk and talk through contractions, they are just preliminary or Braxton Hicks.
If you have to stop, it's real labor starting. Call your doctor, or go in to the hospital and have the delivery room nurses check you, if you are not sure.
Once your contractions are about 5 to 7 minutes apart consistently for an hour, it's time!
"We offer women many choices when it comes to labor and delivery, and we want them to have the experience they desire," said Joyce, who introduced family-centered C-sections to Memorial Regional Health, and is now the only hospital in the region to offer them.
The MRH birthing center has a variety of aids for labor including jetted tubs, birthing balls, areas for walking, and more. The team encourages women who want to avoid pain medicines to walk, as it really helps to progress labor, but offers epidurals, without a cutoff point, when desired.
Heating pads, hot showers and the jetted tub are all great for pain control.
"I had a patient recently who was so comfortable in the tub she didn't realize how quickly her labor was progressing, because hot water is extremely helpful for pain control. She was in the tub for 15 minutes, got out, and had her baby within two contractions," Joyce said.
Both Dr. Ellis and Dr. Joyce have delivered thousands and thousands of babies. Memorial Regional Health is also pleased to offer a certified nurse midwife as another option for pregnancy and delivery care starting in August 2017.
To make an appointment with a women's health provider, call 970-826-8230.
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