How is Labor Induced?
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If your baby needs some encouragement to speed along the delivery, here are some of the ways that doctors commonly induce labor.
Transcript: If your doctor has decided to induce labor, you might want to know how it's done. During a natural labor,...
If your doctor has decided to induce labor, you might want to know how it's done. During a natural labor, the lower end of the uterus, called the cervix, softens. This process is called ripening. Next, the cervix thins out, or effaces, and opens, or dilates. The cervix must be fully effaced and dilated for a baby's head to come through. To induce labor, this process is speeded along in one of the following ways. Your doctor may insert a finger into your vagina and move it back and forth to separate the membrane that connects your amniotic sac to your uterine wall. Following this procedure-which is called stripping the membranes-your body releases prostaglandin hormones, which can lead to the start of your contractions. Your doctor may also choose to ripen your cervix by giving you manmade versions of prostaglandins to take by mouth or vagina. The cervix can also be ripened with a balloon-like device, which is inserted into the vagina and then filled with water. This causes the cervix to expand. If your cervix has already started to open, your doctor may move your labor along by using a plastic hook to manually break your amniotic sac, which should lead to contractions. As a final method of labor induction, your doctor may decide to give you an intravenous dose of Pitocin. This drug is an artificial form of the hormone oxytocin, which also occurs naturally in the body to trigger and strengthen contractions. With the exception of stripping the membranes, which is done in a doctor's office, all of these procedures are done in the hospital. If you still don't go into labor after your doctor tries one of these methods, however, you will probably need to have a C-section.More »
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Not every pregnancy goes as smooth as expected. Find out about the most common pregnancy complications in this video.
Transcript: Pregnancy complications are rare, but they DO happen. And when you consider all the parts that contribute...
Pregnancy complications are rare, but they DO happen. And when you consider all the parts that contribute to a pregnancy...fetus, amniotic fluid, placenta, umbilical cord...it's amazing that they don't happen more often! One group of complications stems from the amniotic fluid. Oligohydramnios, which occurs in four to eight percent of pregnancies, is a condition in which there isn't enough fluid surrounding the baby. On the other hand, when there is TOO MUCH fluid in the amniotic sac, the condition is called hydramnios or polyhydramnios. Both rarely have symptoms, and will be discovered during a standard prenatal exam. While many women with oligohydramnios or hydramnios will go on to have healthy babies, both CAN lead to difficult births or even birth defects. For this reason, women with oligohydramnios should drink plenty of water. Moms-to-be with extreme hydramnios may need to undergo a procedure called therapeutic amniocentesis, whereby fluid is withdrawn from the amniotic sac. In one to two percent of pregnancies, the amniotic sac may become infected with bacteria. The main symptoms of chorioamnionitis, as this is known, are a fever in labor and vaginal leaking of odorous amniotic-fluid. Generally, women diagnosed with chorioamnionitis are given antibiotics. Once born, the baby will also likely take a course of medication. Another pregnancy complication is pre-eclampsia, which is a sudden onset of high blood pressure and swelling. Five to ten percent of pregnant moms experience pre-eclampsia. Once pre-eclampsia is diagnosed, bed rest may be able to prolong the pregnancy if the baby is premature. If left untreated, this condition can lead to pregnancy seizures called eclampsia, a serious condition which occurs in one of 2,000 pregnancies. Eclampsia can be life threatening to the mother and requires immediate delivery of the baby. Gestational diabetes affects four to seven percent of moms-to-be. This condition occurs when a woman's body doesn't produce enough insulin to keep up with higher demand, resulting in increased blood sugar. Generally, gestational diabetes can be controlled with diet, exercise and blood sugar monitoring, but if left untreated, the baby can grow too large and cause delivery difficulties. In about one in 300 labors, the umbilical cord will jump the gun and slip through the cervix before the baby. Known as cord prolapse, this can have serious consequences, because the cord is the baby's breathing supply. After a cord prolapse, a baby will generally need to be delivered very quickly, typically via emergency C-section. Another complication, which strikes one in 200 pregnancies, is placenta previa, whereby the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix. Placenta previa is diagnosed in routine ultrasounds and can manifest as bleeding late in a pregnancy. The condition is managed with a scheduled C-section prior to the onset of labor. While these and other complications CAN occur, they are rare, and not something to worry about. With monitoring and healthy habits, there is every likelihood that you will deliver a healthy baby!More »
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Sometimes, there are delivery complications with mom during labor. Learn about the most common, and what your delivery team will be on the lookout for.
Transcript: Most deliveries go off without a hitch-but there are times when a mother will experience childbirth complications....
Most deliveries go off without a hitch-but there are times when a mother will experience childbirth complications. One of the common reasons why a mom might have trouble during labor involves problems with the baby's placenta. One such condition, placenta previa, occurs when the placenta at least partially-and sometimes fully-covers the mother's cervix. Placenta previa is a problem because the cervix is the baby's entryway into the world. Frequently, a mother with placenta previa will need to be on bed rest until it is time to give birth via a planned cesarean section. Called placenta abruptio, this condition is usually very serious,and can result in fetal distress or even death, if the baby is not delivered immediately. If the baby is mature enough to be born after a placental abruption, an emergency c-section may be necessary. Unfortunately, it is not just the placenta that can negatively affect a birth. Occasionally, the mother's uterus will tear, usually at the site of a prior c-section. A uterine rupture in labor usually leads to an emergency cesarean. This situation usually requires that the mother receive a blood transfusion and stitches, as well. Sometimes, the damage to the uterus will be so great that the mother will also need a full hysterectomy to stop the bleeding. During labor, it is also possible for a mother's body to react inappropriately to her baby's exit. For example, on some occasions, the cervix will not open and thin quickly enough for a safe birth. When the cervix stalls, a doctor will often administer drugs to get the process moving, or may decide to do a c-section. Other times, a mother may become exhausted from pushing so much and so hard, and may become too tired to deliver her baby. If the baby is ready to be born and the mother cannot push, a c-section or forceps delivery may be required to ensure a healthy delivery. While any of these problems can impede birth, your doctor will monitor you closely to deal with them quickly should they occur in your delivery.More »
Last Modified: 2012-10-18 | Tags »
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While not that common, delivery problems with baby are possible, such as a breech birth. Learn more about common complications, and what to be on the lookout for.
Transcript: No matter how careful you are during your pregnancy, there is always a chance that your unborn baby will...
No matter how careful you are during your pregnancy, there is always a chance that your unborn baby will experience a problem during delivery. In about three percent of pregnancies, the baby is not in the correct birthing position. Doctors use the term "breech" to refer to a baby that is ready to emerge buttocks first. In some breech cases, a doctor can manipulate the uterus to get the baby to turn over to a more favorable, head first, position. If this is not successful, your doctor will typically deliver your baby via caesarean section. Sometimes, a baby grows too large to comfortably fit through the birthing canal. Babies weighing more than 9 pounds and 15 ounces are considered to have macrosomia, the term for a larger than average baby. In some cases, a macrosomic baby can be born naturally, although there is a greater risk of tearing or blood loss. In rare cases, a large baby can get stuck behind the pubic bone, a problem that can result in injury or death to the baby, which is why some doctors schedule a c-section for macrosomic babies. While both of these issues can frequently be observed prior to delivery, sometimes a seemingly ordinary birth will become problematic. During birth, it is possible that the baby's umbilical cord will emerge wrapped around his neck. Although this is good cause for caution, it is usually possible for a doctor to unwrap the cord prior to the birth's conclusion. It may become necessary to cut the cord to untangle it, which makes immediate birth important. More serious is when the umbilical cord passes through the uterus before the baby. Known as cord prolapse, this can make it impossible for the baby to get oxygen, resulting in brain damage or death. For this reason, a cord prolapse will usually result in an emergency c-section. Because so many things can occur to make birth difficult, your baby will be carefully monitored during labor and delivery. If your baby shows signs of fetal distress, or a lowered heart rate, your doctor will likely make the decision to speed up the delivery of your baby.More »
Last Modified: 2012-10-18 | Tags »
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If labor and delivery with an obstetrician sounds too clinical and detached for you, watch this video to learn what delivery with a midwife may be like. Learn the facts on midwives in this video.
Transcript: If using an obstetrician sounds too clinical for your delivery, a midwife may be an excellent alternative....
If using an obstetrician sounds too clinical for your delivery, a midwife may be an excellent alternative. Although midwives deliver less than 10% of all babies born in America, the percentage has been steadily growing since the 1970s. Midwives have the philosophy that pregnancy and birth are natural events, and typically do not make use of pain medications or advanced monitoring technologies. Instead, they focus on supporting the mother-to-be as nature takes its course. There are many different types of midwives who can assist with labor and delivering your baby, either at a hospital or in your home. Most midwives can also perform gynecological exams and provide prenatal care. Perhaps the most educated of this set are certified nurse-midwives, or CNMs. CNMs are trained as both midwives and nurses and have to pass a licensing exam from the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Certified professional midwives are similar to CNMs, but without the nursing training, and are certified by the North American Registry of Midwives... Direct entry midwives, on the other hand, largely attain their education through an apprenticeship. While a midwife can be a good choice in many cases, there are some situations in which a mom-to-be should opt for a doctor instead. For example, most midwives are not qualified to handle multiple births or high-risk pregnancies. They also cannot deliver pain medications and are unable to perform C-sections or administer emergency services. For this reason, choosing to have a midwife-assisted birth should only be done after careful consideration.More »
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A doula can provide you with emotional and mental support during labor and delivery. Watch this video to know about delivery with a doula by your side.
Transcript: Are you giving birth as a single mother? Do you worry that your partner may not be able to offer enough...
Are you giving birth as a single mother? Do you worry that your partner may not be able to offer enough support during delivery? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then a doula-the Greek word for "women's servant"-may be for you. A doula is a non-medical assistant who is trained to provide emotional, mental and physical support during labor and delivery, but who does not replace your doctor. Some doulas also offer breastfeeding consulting, newborn care assistance, and further support postpartum. During labor and delivery, your doctor and nurses will be concerned with both your baby's health and your well being, a doula will focus entirely on you. Having this kind of personal, undivided support during labor can be a great relief to some women. Generally, the doula/patient relationship begins a few months before the birth, as the doula helps to devise a birth plan. While doulas do not provide medical care, they are knowledgeable in the medical aspects of birth, allowing them to help patients understand the process. During delivery, a doula can provide comfort and pain relief using any number of methods, like massage and breathing exercises. Note that a doula will never replace your partner if you have one, but she will help him or her to participate and soothe you. The most important thing to know about a doula, though, is to make sure you choose one with whom you feel comfortable and confidentMore »
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It's important to be totally prepared for your baby's delivery. Get a checklist for hospital delivery by watching this video. m
Transcript: You've given a ton of thought to your new baby. But do you know what to expect on delivery day? Once...
You've given a ton of thought to your new baby. But do you know what to expect on delivery day? Once you arrive at the hospital to give birth, you will check into the labor and delivery unit. After you change into a hospital gown, your nurse will hook you up to a monitor that tracks your contractions and your baby's heart beat. will then start an IV, draw blood, and request a urine sample for testing. At this time, you'll want to tell the nurse about your delivery plan, whether you intend to breastfeed, and if you plan to participate in cord blood banking. Throughout early labor, the nurse or doctor will perform regular checks of your cervix to see how far it has dilated. If you choose, a doctor or anesthesiologist can also give you pain medication during the labor and delivery. Your partner can stay with you throughout the process, except if and when you receive an epidural, or if and when you are prepped for a C-section. Now you know what to expect from your hospital stay, so you can arrive there feeling confident.More »
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So, you've delievered your baby. But what next? Find out more about your hospital stay after birth by watching this video.
Transcript: So now that you've delivered your little one, what can you expect from the remainder of your hospital...
So now that you've delivered your little one, what can you expect from the remainder of your hospital stay? Congratulations! You're now ready to begin getting to know your new addition, and bonding with your baby. If you plan to breastfeed, you will usually start doing so within one hour of delivery. To help you get the hang of nursing, the hospital will send a lactation consultant to your room. Post-delivery, your doctor will come to check on you at least once, while nurses will monitor you around the clock. Provided your baby is healthy, you will be able to keep her with you for the rest of your stay. You'll also have the option of sending the baby to the nursery when you need a rest. Within 48 hours of a healthy vaginal delivery, and 96 hours of a healthy C-section, you and your new family will be able to leave the hospital. Remember, you need to install an appropriate car seat IN ADVANCE, as some states require this before you can drive home!More »
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Every woman goes through various physical changes after giving birth to a baby. Click here to find out what they are and how to deal with your post-partum body.
Transcript: You expected to lose weight after your baby was born, but not your hair... After you give birth, you'll...
You expected to lose weight after your baby was born, but not your hair... After you give birth, you'll notice a lot of changes! For starters, even though you won't lose all your pregnancy weight immediately, your body will get you off to a good start. Immediately following the birth, on average, you will shed a seven-pound baby, two pounds of placenta, and two pounds of amniotic fluid. Plus, all the extra water that you retained during your pregnancy will now be looking for a way out. For this reason, you'll produce a HUGE three quarts of urine a day, causing more weight loss. Because you're producing so much urine, you'll probably urinate more often than you're used to, although this won't last for long. Post baby, you may also notice that you're losing a lot of hair-even handfuls of it! Rest assured, however, that this temporary side effect is just the result of your decreasing pregnancy hormones. The first couple of months with your new baby can require a real adjustment. Hang in there though -most of the post partum effects will subside within the first year.More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-02 | Tags »
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There will be changes in your sex lives after you become parents but it doesn’t have to be any less exciting. Click here for more details about your post-partum sex life.
Transcript: Saying hello to a new baby does not mean saying goodbye to a great sex life! Immediately after a vaginal...
Saying hello to a new baby does not mean saying goodbye to a great sex life! Immediately after a vaginal delivery, your vagina will be stretched out, sore and bruised. Because you need time to heal, most doctors recommend waiting until your six-week checkup before resuming intercourse. When you do get back in the bedroom, you may notice that you produce less lubrication than you did pre-baby. This is due to lower levels of estrogen in your body, something which will be even more pronounced if you're breastfeeding. Luckily, a water-based lubricant will help with vaginal dryness. If things still feel "stretched out" post delivery, you can tighten up with Kegel exercises. To do a Kegel, imagine that you're trying to stop a flow of urine midstream. If you repeat it often, that squeeze and lift will tighten your vagina. Once you work past these early difficulties, though, note that you will need to use birth control. Your period won't start right away - it could take two months to a full year post-baby - but that doesn't mean you're not ovulating! Most doctors recommend using a condom, as a diaphragm can slip around inside your post-pregnancy vagina, and an IUD can't be installed until you've healed. In addition, hormonal birth control is not encouraged if you're breastfeeding, because the hormones can contradict milk production. Getting used to sex post-baby may take some time. But, just like when you were making your baby, practice will make perfect!More »
Last Modified: 2012-09-26 | Tags »
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Figuring out your birthing plan can seem daunting, especially as the end of your pregnancy approaches. Watch this video to find out more about the pros and cons of birthing options.
Transcript: Today, pregnant women have more delivery options than ever. Where and how you have your baby are largely...
Today, pregnant women have more delivery options than ever. Where and how you have your baby are largely up to you, so get to know your options, and work with your doctor to create a plan for "D"-Day! When planning your pregnancy, one of your first considerations will be birthing location. Most women in the United States choose to give birth in a hospital, usually overseen by an ob-gyn. This environment is always recommended for high risk pregnancies and women carry multiples. It's also the only place that offers cesarean sections and epidurals. Of course, hospitals have their drawbacks. You're not likely to have much privacy and you may be bound by hospital policies that you don't like...such as occasional separations from your baby. For these reasons, some women choose to deliver at home. This option, which is usually overseen by a certified midwife, offers you the most control, and allows for you to be comfortable in familiar surroundings. This is not, however, a good option if you live further than 30 traffic-free minutes from the nearest hospital or if you have a high risk pregnancy. If you're looking for a "happy-medium" for your delivery, you may want to consider an independent birthing center staffed by certified nurse-midwives or doctors. These centers can be associated with hospitals, but are cozier and less expensive. Like a home birth, though, birthing centers don't offer pain relief or C-sections, so they aren't for everyone. Once you know WHERE you'll deliver your baby, you'll want to decide HOW you'll do so... via natural childbirth, or with pain medication? Will you require a C-section? Your doctor will discuss these options with you as you create your birthing plan. You may even decide to have a water birth, where you labor in a tub that is kept at body temperature. As your child is delivered, your baby will be pulled into the water, which is similar to the amniotic fluid he or she is accustomed to. Some doctors believe that water births are less stressful for babies. They are only an option for low-risk pregnancies, however, and are not always available in hospitals. If you and your doctor decide that a vaginal birth is best for you, you'll also have options about the best positions in which to labor and deliver. You can choose from any number of positions, including standing, squatting, sitting, or lying on your side. You can even use aids, like birthing balls, which are easier than squatting. No matter what position you choose to labor and deliver in, remember that it must be comfortable for YOU. There is no right or wrong way to bring a baby into this world! Whether you're preparing for your first baby or are an experienced pro, having a birthing plan can help ensure that your child enters the world in the way you envisioned!More »
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A Cesarean section delivery often occurs if there is a labor or pregnancy complication. Get details on what happens during a C-section.
Transcript: If your baby is delivered by cesarean section, you're not alone: About 30 percent of babies born in the...
If your baby is delivered by cesarean section, you're not alone: About 30 percent of babies born in the United States make their arrival this way! So why might a C-section be necessary? Some women walk into delivery already slated to have a cesarean. These high-risk moms may have placenta problems, a breach presentation baby, a multi-fetal pregnancy or have had previous uterine surgery. Women who are HIV-positive or who have an active genital herpes infection may also require a C-section, so as not to pass the virus on to the baby. More frequently, though, a C-section is not scheduled in advance. If a woman's cervix doesn't dilate properly, or if the baby's head is too large to fit through the pelvis, a cesarean section becomes necessary. Other in-the-moment problems can also lead to emergency C-sections, such as fetal distress, a ruptured uterus, or a too-exhausted mom. So what happens during the procedure? First, anesthesia is administered. Most often, you'll get an epidural or spinal block, which numbs the lower half of your body, while still keeping you awake. If you're having an emergency C-section, there may not be enough time to numb you, in which case you'll be put to sleep with general anesthesia and wake up with a baby! Once numb, a catheter will be placed in your bladder and a drape will rest on your abdomen. This is so you don't have to see the incision. The doctor will make a horizontal cut just above your pubic hair line to start your C-section. Then, your baby will be lifted from your body, no worse for wear, and without the pointy cone-head of babies born vaginally. Your surgeon will then cut the umbilical cord and stitch you up, a procedure that can take up to thirty minutes as each layer of tissue is mended. The recovery from a cesarean section usually begins with three days in the hospital followed by six to eight weeks of rest at home. Because a cesarean is a major medical procedure, your mobility may be limited as you recover initially. You may also experience similar symptoms to moms who deliver vaginally, including cramping in your uterus, bloody discharge, and fatigue. Of course, as you wait for your post-surgical symptoms to pass, you can enjoy getting to know your new arrival, a worthwhile reward if ever there was one!More »
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Lots of women opt for vaginal delivery when considering birthing options. Watch this video to learn more about the ups and downs of vaginal deliveries.
Transcript: Delivering your baby is a rush, but it can also be a little bit scary. Remember that babies have arrived...
Delivering your baby is a rush, but it can also be a little bit scary. Remember that babies have arrived vaginally since the dawn of time, and that two-thirds of American babies still debut this way! The first-time mom can expect to labor for about fourteen hours, while repeat moms tend to take around eight. But because labor CAN last a few days, it helps to be prepared! Childbirth begins with labor, a three-stage process. The first stage of labor has 2 phases, latent and active phase. Latent labor is the longest phase and lasts from a few days to a few weeks. During latent labor, your cervix will dilate about three centimeters, a process that results in mild, brief contractions, which are spaced five to twenty minutes apart. Your amniotic sac MAY rupture now, but it's more likely that your water will break once you're in the hospital. Expect to notice discharge, known as the bloody show, and to experience back aches and cramping. At the end of latent labor, the active labor phase begins and you'll head to the hospital. During active labor, which usually lasts for several hours, your contractions will strengthen and occur about every three minutes. Try to stay as comfortable as possible during this period. Don't be afraid to ask for a back rub, or for help walking through a contraction. During the active phase of labor, you'll start your breathing exercises, if you plan to use them. If you're having a medicated birth and have not yet done so, you might ask for pain-relief now. At this point your cervix will open past four centimeters and labor will quicken. The result is very strong contractions which last about a minute and are spaced quite closely together. This part of your labor can be VERY intense, and you may experience nausea, fatigue, chills or sweats, and strong pressure in your lower back and rectum. Once your cervix is fully-dilated to ten centimeters, your labor will end and it will be time for stage two of childbirth: the delivery! To push your baby through the birth canal, a process that can take 60 minutes to several hours, you'll get into your preferred birthing position. Following the instructions of your doctor, you'll push as if you're having a bowel movement with each contraction. And don't worry: Your bowels and bladder may empty, or you may vomit, and that's normal! Between contractions, you'll rest and conserve your energy for that next push. Soon, your baby's head will appear, or crown. Once the head emerges fully, your doctor will suck mucous out of your baby's nose and mouth, and then guide him or her the rest of the way. The umbilical cord will be cut and your baby will be in your arms! But YOU'RE not done! It's time for stage three of childbirth: delivery of the placenta. This usually doesn't last longer than 20 minutes and is accompanied by mild contractions. Once the placenta is delivered, your doctor will stitch up any tears and you'll be free to nurse and cuddle your new arrival. Congratulations, Mom!More »
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