Some women feel anxiety regarding the pain of labor. Some women may feel certain one way or another regarding the use of an epidural. This is an important preference to communicate to the care team. Women should also know what other pain management options are available. Breathing techniques, massage, laboring tubs, or nitrous oxide are all pain management options that many hospitals offer.
2. What to do about cord blood
The blood in the umbilical cord contains many blood-forming cells which may have the potential to save someone else’s life. This blood is discarded if parents don’t opt to have the blood donated. To reduce the overwhelm of the delivery day, parents can decide ahead of time whether or not to donate the cord blood.
3. The atmosphere of the room
Women should think through the desired labor environment ahead of time. For example, which family members are welcome in the labor room? Is there certain music that will make the laboring woman more comfortable? Should the lights be dimmed? Are photos and videos welcomed or not preferred? Making these decisions ahead of time and communicating with all family members can help decrease stress on the day of the delivery.
4. Cord clamping
Immediately after the birth of the baby, the umbilical cord may be clamped right away or after 30-60 seconds. This delayed cord clamping can offer a few extra pulses of blood to the baby. This extra blood can prevent anemia in the first 6 months of the newborn’s life. In 2016, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology officially made a recommendation for parents to opt for delayed cord clamping.
5. Skin-to-skin contact
More and more hospitals give women the option of skin-to-skin contact with the baby immediately after birth, even in the case of cesarean delivery. Babies who have skin-to-skin contact are shown to stay warmer, cry less, and have healthier blood sugar levels. If there are any delivery complications, parents are encouraged to hold the baby as soon as possible. This contact is also important for bonding and keeping the baby calm.
Making a birth plan
Having a baby is an overwhelming, exciting, joyful event. While the labor and delivery day is never guaranteed to go exactly according to plan, making some decisions ahead of time can help make the experience go more smoothly. Pregnant women should discuss any birth plans and preferences with the healthcare provider prior to delivery.