Advice from the Maternity Clinic - common questions answered
Maternity care providers understand that women and their families have many questions about pregnancy and the time shortly after birth. Some may be reluctant to ask their questions, afraid that they might bother the doctor or nurse with something routine or possibly trivial. Although a question may be common, it is still important that you have an answer. Clinic staff want all of your concerns answered. Ask your questions, regardless of how normal they might seem. Following are examples of questions often asked and the answers to them.
Assisted Birth - the use of forceps and vaccuum extraction
Childbirth is a very natural event. However, sometimes babies need help getting through the birth canal. This is called assisted vaginal delivery. Although many expectant mothers have high hopes for natural birth, needing extra help does not reflect failure. Being open-minded about birthing methods can help women cope with challenges they may face during birth.
Breastfeeding - it's wonderful! As an experienced family doctor, I have counseled and coached literally hundreds of women through their learning period of breast-feeding and encouraged them by telling them the benefits and satisfaction.
Birthing Etiquette - minding your manners in a sensitive situation
Not so long ago, a father’s expected role during birth was to pace the hall outside the delivery room. Expectant mothers turned to their doctors and other hospital staff for both medical advice and support. The entire process was a private event between a woman and her health care providers. Times have changed and the process of childbirth has evolved. Childbirth is more patient-centred and the arrival of the Internet has exposed parents to a greater number of options. Even more, childbirth is no longer just a medical procedure, but is often an event with many social overtones. Changes in the way we handle birth have led to a need for birthing etiquette. This term is unfamiliar, since until now it was not really necessary. Like anything else, rules about acceptable behaviour exist for the process of birth.
Birthing Plan - a team approach to giving birth
In an ideal world, childbirth would go without a hitch. Each of us would have a perfect labor and delivery. Life and, unfortunately, obstetrics often do not follow the desired course. Instead, unforeseen events often force a change of plan. An approach to birth and delivery called a birthing plan will help a couple and their doctor work as a team toward the safe delivery of a healthy baby and the well-being of the mother.
Birthing Partners – How to offer support during labour
It is an honor to be asked to be part of a team to support a woman about to give birth. Most people are excited and somewhat fearful when they are invited to be included. They may feel overwhelmed and confused about what they can do to help the mother-to-be. They may worry about fainting or finding the birthing process repulsive. Friends and relatives may have told stories with gory details about long and difficult labors.
Building a Better Baby - good choices for the best outcome
Conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and child development are all amazing, complex processes. Anything that is complicated allows the chance for something to go wrong. Fortunately, it does not happen very often when developing a baby. Still, certain choices can lessen the risk and improve your chances of having a healthy child.
Building a Healthy Baby - how micronutrients help
The creation of a new life is an incredibly complex process. It involves the joining of two half cells, the sperm and the egg. These grow into groups of cells that become the heart, the fingers, the eyes and every other inch that makes a healthy baby.
Caring for Mom after Baby Comes Home
Caesarean section (c-section) is a valuable way to resolve some complications of pregnancy and labour. There is no doubt that it has saved lives and preserved the health of many women and their babies. However, the caesarean rate in Canada continues to increase, with no real improvement in the health and well-being of mothers and babies. The growing rate may be due to the increasing age of new mothers, the higher rate of overweight women giving birth, more multiple births (twins and more), or other causes of high-risk pregnancies. A very small number of caesareans are due solely to the personal choice of women.
Caesarean Section by Request - Discussing the Pros and Cons
Caesarean section (c-section) is a valuable way to solve some complications of pregnancy and labour. There is no doubt that it saves lives and preserves the health of many women and their babies. However, the caesarean rate in Canada is increasing, with no real improvement to the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies. This may be due to the increasing age of new mothers, the higher rate of overweight women giving birth, more multiple births (twins and more), and other causes of high-risk pregnancies. A very small number of caesareans are due solely to the personal choice of women.
Cord Blood Banking - how a new life can save lives
If you are expecting a baby, you might want to consider cord blood banking. In cord blood banking, blood is collected from the placenta and the baby’s umbilical cord after birth and stored under controlled conditions in case it is needed in the future.
Current Trends in Birthing Procedures - what Canadian statistics show
If you are pregnant or hoping to bear children within the next few years, recent trends in childbirth may be of interest to you. In 2004, two reports called Giving Birth in Canada
examined trends and regional differences in maternity care across Canada. In publishing these reports, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collected information from a variety of sources..
Smoking and Pregnancy - How smoking harms your baby's health
Cigarette smoking is the largest and most important known risk factor that can be changed to avoid low birth weight and its complications. It is well established that cigarette smoking during pregnancy is the leading or main cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS / crib death).
Drinking During Pregnancy - Alcohol can affect your child
These days, most people know that alcohol and pregnancy are not a good mix. Still, some wonder if it’s okay to drink a small amount during pregnancy. How seriously could alcohol affect your baby?
Exercise During Pregnancy - Use common sense while staying fit
Many women start or continue exercising during pregnancy. If there are no medical or pregnancy complications, regular exercise is very helpful. The changes that take place in the body during a normal pregnancy can cope with the demands of regular moderate exercise. Most women can exercise to maintain and improve their fitness throughout their pregnancies. Such exercise should not harm mother or baby, or create problems for the pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - alcohol can ruin your baby's future
The drinking of alcohol by a woman during any stage of her pregnancy can seriously affect her baby’s entire future. The severe effects of this powerful substance cannot be underestimated. When a baby is exposed to alcohol before birth, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) can be the result. Fortunately FAS is totally preventable. It is never too late to quit drinking. Outcomes can be improved by stopping drinking at any stage of pregnancy.
Folic Acid - Giving babies a better start
In 1998, unborn babies across Canada were given the chance for a brighter beginning. The B-vitamin called folic acid was added to all grain products. As well, any women who could possibly become pregnant were advised to take vitamins that included folic acid (also called folate). These national government decisions were made at a time when studies around the world had proven that folic acid helps prevent birth defects.
Forceps and Vacuum Extraction - When baby needs help
Childbirth is a very natural event. There are times, however, when some assistance is necessary to help the baby through the birth canal. This is called an assisted vaginal delivery.
Genetic Markers - prenatal tools that help assess the risk
Between two and three per cent of all babies born will have some type of abnormality. This may be considered fairly minor like an extra toe, or major like a life threatening heart abnormality. Some abnormalities are the result of a problem with the chromosomes. Chromosomes are the part of each cell that contains a person’s genetic or inherited traits.
Genetic Testing - information to help with making a difficult decision
The first reactions most parents have after news of a pregnancy are excitement and anticipation. Along with these feelings is often a secret, unspoken prayer that the baby will be born healthy.
Gestational Diabetes - a concern for both mother and baby
During your pregnancy, your doctor will watch for conditions that could harm you and your baby. Diabetes, a disease in which blood glucose levels are too high, is one potential problem. Diabetes that develops during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. It may happen because the pancreas is unable to release enough insulin, because the body is unable to use available insulin, or both. In Canada, diabetes in pregnancy affects almost four per cent of pregnancies. The rate is as high as 18 per cent in First Nations populations. Gestational diabetes often resolves once the baby is born, and is thought to be a hormone problem.
Group B Streptococcus and Pregnancy
Group B Streptococcal Disease. Infections in newborn babies are rare in Canada. If a severe bacterial infection does occur in a newborn, the most likely cause is Group B Streptococcus (GBS).
Using Natural Health Products and Herbs in Pregnancy - what is safe for your baby?
Most newly pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy want to do what’s right for their child. They often take a close look at their diets, and if smoking, try to stop. As well, they often make sure that none of the medications they take will harm their unborn child. Some women may think switching from a drug to a ‘natural’ health product or herb will be a better alternative. While some natural health products are safe to take in pregnancy, others can hurt an unborn child. Just because they are natural does not make them safe.
High Blood Pressure (Gestational Hypertension) in Pregnancy
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about 10 per cent of pregnancies. High blood pressure that begins in pregnancy is called Gestational Hypertension (GHTN). Through the years, different terms have been used for GHTN. Some may remember the term toxemia which is no longer used to describe the severe condition.
Induction of Labour
When a woman becomes pregnant, she is given an estimated due date of 40 weeks (280 days) after her last normal period.
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) - Small babies can have big problems
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) means that an unborn baby is growing more slowly and is smaller than most babies are at the same age. Another term for IUGR is ‘small-for-dates’. Though the old term Intrauterine Growth Retardation is sometimes used, it is misleading. The word retardation may make some parents worry that their baby will be mentally slow. Remember, retardation refers only to a slowing of the growth of the baby. Three to 10 per cent of all unborn babies are growth restricted.
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a technique that gives infertile couples the chance to achieve a pregnancy.
Low Birth Weight Babies - why little babies can have big problems
'How much did your baby weigh?' A mother often hears this question when her baby is born. Babies are weighed shortly after birth to help make certain that they are healthy. Low birth weight (LBW) babies weigh less than 2500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces). Very low birth weight babies (VLBW) weigh less than 1500 grams (3.3 pounds). Low birth weight can mean health problems for life. Happily, learning more about the condition may help in avoiding it.
Managing Your Own Labour
Labour, ending with the normal delivery of a baby, is one of life’s most magnificent events. Professionals have a role during the birthing process to ensure that all progresses normally. If all is well, nothing is needed from them. The labouring woman and her support team manage the event to themselves, with helpful advice as needed
Medications and Pregnancy - what is safe to use?
Along with the joy and excitement of being pregnant come discomforts and complaints. Pregnant women use over-the-counter (OTC) medication one and a half times more than prescription drugs. One reason for this may be that OTC drugs are easy to buy. Another reason is that many people don’t regard products they buy without a prescription as medications. Similarly some people assume that because a herbal remedy is 'natural' it is not a medication. These are false beliefs. Both OTC drugs and herbal remedies are medications and many of them are not safe in pregnancy.
Miscarriage - understanding and coping with a sad reality
Losing a pregnancy can be devastating. Although most women never think they will lose a baby, it happens often. Miscarriage affects as many as 20 per cent of pregnancies. Eighty per cent of these happen in the first 13 weeks (the first trimester) of pregnancy. Happily, most women become pregnant again naturally. Only one per cent of all women experience more than three miscarriages in a row.
Monitoring Your Labour - Tracking mom and baby’s health
During labour, your caregivers want to be sure that all is going smoothly. They usually monitor progress in three ways – by checking on the baby’s heartbeat, that the mother is doing well, and that labour is progressing normally.
Morning Sickness - nausea and vomiting in pregnancy
More than half of all pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Morning sickness is the term often used to describe it. Although usually worst first thing in the morning, it can last all day. Some doctors believe this nausea signals a healthy pregnancy and a lower risk of miscarriage. However, just because morning sickness is common does not mean it has to be endured or left untreated.
Not Your Mother’s Pregnancy - Evolving ideas about pregnancy and birth
If you are pregnant for the first time, you probably know that every mother, including your own, wants to share her pregnancy story with you. You may also be watching birth shows on TV or reading about people’s pregnancies on the Internet. These stories can be fascinating. They might help prepare you for pregnancy and labour by giving you an idea of what it will be like. This is especially true if the women are sisters or friends close to your age who had their babies in Canada. However, stories from older women can be a bit confusing. How do you know whether things have changed since they had their babies? If a woman who had her baby in another country tells you something, you may wonder – would it be done differently here?
Pain Relief in Labour - how to manage it
Some medical schools teach their students not to refer to labour contractions as labour pains because this may make a woman think labour is painful. Most women in labour figure this out for themselves, although it is a unique experience for each person. For some women, labour pain may feel fairly minor. For others, it may be very painful. Managing this pain is not just the act of administering the appropriate drugs at the appropriate moments. It is an entire management plan.
Pelvic Floor Issues in Childbirth - will a planned c-section prevent problems?
After childbirth, a woman’s life is never the same again. Becoming a mother forever changes her personal, work and social life. What about her physical health? Does childbirth permanently affect the body, and are these changes a problem? As interest in the quality of life after childbirth increases, the controversy about childbirth’s effect on the pelvic floor is also rising.
Planning Pregnancy - being prepared makes a difference
Planning for parenthood is an exciting time for most couples. With improved family planning choices, most couples choose to have babies when the time seems best for them. What many people fail to think about is the state of their health before pregnancy. By including your family doctor in your advance planning, you will be taking the first step towards having a healthy baby.
Planning a Pregnancy? - Your weight matters
We often talk about how much weight a woman should gain while pregnant, but what about before pregnancy? A woman's starting (pre-pregnancy) weight affects her pregnancy. In many ways, her weight before pregnancy is even more important than how much she gains while pregnant.
Preparing for Parenting - it can help avoid future problems
In bygone years, parents did not give much thought to birth preparation, childbirth technology or childrearing ideas; babies just came. In today's more complex and constantly changing world, parents are besieged by advice from every direction. There seem to be enough rules to boggle the minds of even the most health conscious. The result is a range of options for parents who want to take an active, informed role in their own care.
Very few babies are born on their due date, at 40 weeks of pregnancy. Most are delivered within two weeks before or after this date (at 38 to 42 weeks of pregnancy). The time when there is concern about a baby arriving too early is if birth occurs at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy. This is called a preterm birth and in Canada, 6 per cent of births fall into this category.
Postpartum Depression - Treatment helps the whole family
The early days of motherhood are meant to be happy ones. We imagine that new moms spend blissful days getting to know their babies. Yet for one in five Canadian women, this is not how motherhood unfolds. Although postpartum depression (PPD) is the most common mental health problem diagnosed in women, it is often unrecognized and untreated.
Postpartum Repetitive Strain Injuries - Caring for an infant can be hard on your body
It has been eight weeks since you gave birth to your bundle of joy. The haze caused by lack of sleep and hormone changes is slowly lifting. Your body is healing from the trauma of delivering what felt like a watermelon sprinkled with cayenne pepper. You see glimpses of your body’s pre-pregnancy shape when you glance in the mirror. You have considered exercise and maybe even intimacy, but what is this? A new, unexpected ache in your shoulder, a hint of the same in one hip, and a strange discomfort in your wrist - why?
Pregnancy and Nutrition
The responsibility for creating another human being is awesome. We know now that what a woman does during pregnancy, and even before, including what she drinks, eats, smokes or even breathes, can have an impact on the health and future of her baby. Some things are beyond a mother-to-be’s control but most certainly she can choose foods to eat which will give her baby a healthy start on life’s journey.
Pregnancy Care - Understanding the roles of obstetricians, family doctors and midwives
So you are expecting a new addition to your family... congratulations! One of the first decisions you must make is whom you will ask to care for you during your pregnancy. Everyone involved wants both mother and child to be healthy. A satisfying pregnancy and birthing experience are also mutual goals. Several health professionals can help you during pregnancy and birth. It is up to you to choose someone whose attitude and approach suit you.
Prenatal Classes - learning about labour and delivery
Attending prenatal classes is an important part of getting ready for your baby’s arrival. These classes complement the care given by your doctor or midwife during pregnancy.
Questions About Pregnancy - answers to common queries
When you become pregnant, you suddenly worry about the safety of things you've never thought twice about doing. Can I paint the baby's bedroom? What about nail polish and hair dye? Can I travel by airplane? Is it okay to exercise? Maternity doctors and midwives hear questions like these everyday.
Recreational Ultrasound - does it create a problem?
When ultrasounds are ordered for medical reasons, some ultrasound clinics give parents-to-be the option of taking home pictures or videotapes made at this time. It’s generally agreed that parents should be able to purchase these keepsakes if they choose. Still, some professionals see problems with this practice. The quality of the service may be put in question.
RH Disease - it can affect your baby's health
When a woman becomes pregnant, knowing her blood type can help protect her unborn baby’s health. Antigens (small sugar-proteins attached to blood cell walls) determine ABO blood type. Type A blood has the A antigen on its blood cells, B type blood has the B antigen, AB type blood has both A and B antigens, and O type blood has neither one. We also pay attention to Rh, another type of antigen. Rh-positive blood, such as O-positive or A-positive, has an Rh antigen called D on the red cell wall. Rh-negative blood, such as O-negative or A-negative, does not have the D antigen.
Ruptured Membranes Before Labour - what to do if your water breaks early
Before birth, a growing baby floats in a sac of fluid inside the uterus. The sac is a double layer of membranes acting as a barrier to infection and contamination. The membranes also keep a good amount of fluid around the baby. The baby ‘breathes’ this fluid and uses the space it creates to stretch and grow. Towards the end of pregnancy, the membranes change and become more at risk of breaking. About 80 per cent of the time, the water breaks after the start of labour. For some women, it happens before labour begins. In this case, it is called prelabour rupture of membranes or PROM.
Serious Infections During Pregnancy
Congratulations on your pregnancy. The months ahead will be a time for excitement and planning for the new arrival. During this time, eating wisely and following a healthy lifestyle are especially important.
Sexuality During Pregnancy - answers to many common questions
Congratulations! Discovering that you are pregnant is exciting. Still, you may have many questions. Love and sexuality created this situation, so it is not surprising that you may want to continue expressing intimacy. At the same time, you want the best for your child-to-be. Questions about sexual issues and pregnancy are common. Don't be shy to talk about these concerns with your partner and your doctor.
Skin Changes in Pregnancy
During pregnancy there are dramatic changes to a woman's skin. Skin stretches, pigmentation changes, and even hair behaves differently. Certain conditions of the skin may also develop or change.
Small-for-Dates Babies – what parents should know about intrauterine growth restriction
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) means that an unborn baby is growing more slowly and is smaller than most babies are at the same age. Another term for IUGR is 'small-for-dates.
Travelling When You're Pregnant
Travel to distant and interesting places has become an easy venture. Many people begin planning the next vacation as soon as they arrive home from the present one. For others, business travel takes them far from home.
Unexpected Bleeding During Pregnancy - Understanding this common problem
Many pregnant women visit the doctor because of unexpected bleeding. Fortunately, most of the time it turns out to be no risk to either the mother-to-be or the unborn baby. However, to be sure that all is well, a history and a physical exam (sometimes including special tests) must be done.
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC)
Once a caesarean section, always a caesarean section. That was the belief once held by doctors and society in general about women who had once given birth by caesarean section.
Your Health Care Provider in Pregnancy
So you are expecting a new addition to your family ... congratulations! One of the first decisions you will need to make is whom you will ask to care for you during the pregnancy.
When Baby Comes Home - Looking after baby, taking care of mom
Soon your baby will arrive and you will start a new life together. Will you be ready? The truth is, even if you have checked everything twice, it is still hard to be totally prepared. Questions pop up in the early days, both for first-time parents and with second, third and fourth babies. Most of the concerns new parents have are similar, and revolve around feeding, sleeping and general care.
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