We are completely bombarded with information and education in our society today about all sorts of different topics. How then could I have not known some really crucial information about pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care during my first pregnancy? Well, I don’t know! However, I will share the things I somehow missed with you in hopes that you are better prepared than I was when it comes time for you to have a baby.
1. Your pregnancy and child birth experiences may not be like your mom’s.
Ok, this probably sounds silly, but I guess I bought into the old-wives’ tales that your pregnancy generally follows the same pattern as your mothers. As much as I loved having my mom involved in my pregnancy and childbirth, our pregnancies couldn’t have been more different. My mom loved being pregnant and was never sick for more than a few weeks with each pregnancy. I was sick for the first 7 months with my first child and therefore did not love being pregnant! My mom gave birth naturally to my brothers and I with little problems (not to mention delivering me breach without drugs!). I labored all night, eventually with drugs, and ended up only 6 cm and a baby with a dropping heart rate. This brings me to my second point…
2. During childbirth classes, pay attention to the C-section information.
More than 32% of American babies are delivered by Cesarean Section (childbirthconnection.org). Many of these are emergency C-sections, giving the mother little time to wrap her mind around what is going on before being wheeled off to the operating room- that is unless she has prepared herself for the possibility of this outcome before hand. The birthing classes my husband and I attended did cover C-section deliveries briefly, but I payed little attention thinking surely I would be able to deliver vaginally. When news of my impending C-section came, I was shocked, upset and half asleep as they operated. If I had better prepared myself I think the birth of my firstborn would have been much more monumental and exciting. Be prepared for whatever circumstances may occur during delivery by studying up on both vaginal and cesarean deliveries!
3. Be prepared for negative comments.
I still vividly remember leaving the family dinner table in tears as some of the older members of my husband’s family voiced their disapproval of the name we had chosen for our son. Of course now that our baby is almost 7, everyone loves him and his name, but it wasn’t so easy at first. I was surprised at how free many people- even strangers- felt sharing their opinions regarding how I should and shouldn’t do things related to pregnancy- many with negative undertones. Be prepared for this and figure out ahead of time how you will handle it before you have an emotional breakdown (on account of your hormones, or course)!
4. Ultrasounds can be misleading.
You have probably heard stories of pink nurseries waiting at home while a baby boy is being placed in the arms of very surprised parents. Ultrasounds are not fool-proof and can be misleading in several areas, not just the baby’s gender. In our case, my son’s ultrasound’s readings showed a possible case of down syndrome. As a result we were scheduled for a second, more advanced ultrasound a few weeks later showing no health problems in our baby. Apparently his organs had not been developed enough and showed false-positive results for several birth defects. According to one article, this is a fairly common occurrence and can really go either way. Ultrasounds are subject to human error and can show either false-positive or false-negative results (Livestrong.com). Be sure your doctor, not just the technician, has the opportunity to go over any results that you are not comfortable with.
5. The Quad Marker Screen is just a screen- don’t bank on the results without further testing.
The quad marker screen is a blood test given to a woman who is pregnant to predict the likelihood of potential birth defects in the baby. This test is only a screen and has a high rate of false-positive results. Because of the uncertainties of the test, after consulting with your doctor you can opt not to have it. According to WebMD.com, 50 out of 1,000 women will have a quad screening that indicates an increased risk for having a baby with a birth defect. Of those 50, only 1 or 2 will actually have a baby with a birth defect (WebMD.com). Just be aware of the inaccuracies of this test before agonizing over the results which very well could be proven incorrect after further testing.
Please come back for part 2 next Wednesday!