Column: Labor and delivery for first-timers

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Commentary by Ashley Perkins, DO, IU Health Physicians Women’s Health – Eagle Creek

 

If you’re pregnant for the first time, you may be learning about childbirth from friends and relatives. However, as you prepare for labor and delivery, there are likely some things you don’t know or haven’t yet been told. Here is some information I often share with first-time expectant moms:

Dietary restrictions during labor – Women are usually limited to a clear liquid diet while in labor. If you’re hungry, or between meals, when contractions begin, consider eating a small, healthy snack before leaving for the hospital. Once you arrive, you’ll likely be offered ice chips and other clear liquids until delivery.

Pushing prep – Pushing is hard work, and it can go on for a long time, especially with a first pregnancy. In fact, stage two of childbirth, often referred to as the pushing stage, can last up to three hours if you’ve had an epidural or two hours without one. Staying fit during pregnancy can help improve your stamina and boost your physical strength for this part of delivery.

Your doctor and the delivery – It’s likely your doctor will not be at the hospital while you’re in labor. The labor and delivery care team will care for you and keep your doctor informed of your condition and progress. Rest assured; your doctor will arrive in plenty of time to deliver your baby.

Labor pain relief – While there are a variety of ways to manage labor pains, some tips for women include taking a warm shower to ease lower back pain, bouncing on a birthing ball, listening to soothing music and deep breathing. Massage from a partner also may help. Some hospitals offer nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” to help women relax during labor. Talk to your doctor about other methods for managing labor pain.

Ashley Perkins, DO, specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Women’s Health – Eagle Creek. She can be reached by calling the office at 317-329-7022. For more health information, subscribe to Strength in You at iuhealth.org/StrengthInYou.

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