I almost didn’t make it to the hospital to deliver my baby.
This was my third pregnancy, and unlike my first two babies, my son was coming FAST. Fortunately, I got to the bathroom just as I was starting to push. While I kept asking if I could get an epidural, my room started to overflow with nurses as I was minutes away from delivering my baby boy.
Rewind nine months and I never would have predicted that my birth story would include a nurse delivery without an epidural. It was a far cry from my other deliveries. The thing is, pregnancy and labor is unpredictable. Even for veteran Moms.
Which is why it’s so important to know where to find accurate information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and birth every single time we get pregnant. I love that we’ve been able to partner with The National Partnership for Women and Families and UnitedHealthcare (a Happily Ever Mom sponsor) to bring you these five must-know tips to have a healthy pregnancy and birth!
Pregnancy is often a time of excitement and joy; yet, with so much information to consider, moms-to-be can feel overwhelmed.
That’s why access to appropriate prenatal, post-partum and well-child care is important for mothers’ and babies’ immediate and long-term health.
Five Must-Know Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth
Take responsibility for your health during pregnancy
This one is hard for me!
I have cravings that I never knew were possible (pickles and ice cream anyone?) and I retain a ton of water while I’m pregnant. Regardless of what you face during pregnancy, we’ve got to remember to eat well, stay active, get rest and limit stress as much as possible.
Tip: Share your goals with your maternity care provider and ask for support and suggestions. Your health plan may have free programs and online services that will help you get and stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Choose a maternity care provider and birth setting that best fits your needs
Whether it’s the hospital, a birth center, or your home, you’ve got to be able to answer one question: where will you be most comfortable giving birth?
For me, it’s the hospital. Because of my medical history, I am only comfortable having a baby in the hospital. For others, that answer may be different.
Remember: Where and with whom you give birth can have a major influence on the care you receive, your health, your baby’s health and your satisfaction with your childbearing experience. That’s why it is important to look for a maternity care provider and birth setting that will meet your goals and honor your preferences.
Tip: Find more information on choosing a maternity care provider and birth setting here.
Learn what happens to your body before, during, and after pregnancy and childbirth – and how certain medical procedures can affect you
I thought my water broke at 38 weeks pregnant.
When I went in to the hospital, my water was still intact, but they couldn’t determine a baseline heartbeat for my son. He had dips and spikes in his heart rate that made the nurses nervous. They told me, “We don’t induce babies at 38 weeks unless medically necessary. But, we’ve got to figure out if we need to do that or not.”
They didn’t induce me as my son finally went to sleep. But, understanding what is normal and healthy when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth can help you identify potential concerns and make informed decisions about your maternity care.
Just as the nurses had told me, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises against elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, including cesarean sections unless medically necessary. Get ideas for discussing your preferences with your maternity care provider in advance so you know your options!
Know your maternity benefits and rights at work
I went back to work after my first baby and I had to file paper work with the family medical leave Act (FMLA). With our third baby, my husband had to file for FMLA and the process was very different. Make sure to do your homework about what benefits you’ll recieve!
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enables mothers and fathers who have worked at least one year for a company with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off, while many employers offer full or partial paid leave.
Note: Under the law, you are also guaranteed to get your job back after your leave!
Plan for support once your baby arrives
This one is huge.
Life with a new baby is a big adjustment, and it’s okay to ask for help. If you are planning to breastfeed, start learning what it entails and what support you might need to get off to a good start.
For example, you may want to ask if your birth setting has an on-site lactation consultant. You may want to take a breastfeeding class to build your skills and confidence. Be sure to call your maternity care provider if you have problems breastfeeding, or other unexpected difficulties, when you’re home with your new baby.
What we all need to remember…
Pregnancy, labor and birth, and the early postpartum period are important times for women and families.
By accessing available information and resources, women and new parents can make more informed decisions for themselves and their babies and experience a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Thank you to Debra Ness, president of National Partnership for Women & Families, and Dr. Sam Ho, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare who wrote these 5 tips. The post also highlights personal stories from Katie’s life, owner & writer at Happily Ever Mom.