Posts Tagged ‘birth’

Eating during labor

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Woman in laborYou may have heard a news report saying that it is okay for a pregnant woman to eat a light meal during labor. In fact, they even said it may be a good idea for some women, based on new research from Canada (not yet published). But, don’t rush out for a cheeseburger on your way to the hospital; you need to know all the details.

Current medical guidelines say that a woman should not eat solid food once she is in labor. The reason is to protect her from aspirating (breathing) food into her lungs. If a woman eats and then needs an emergency C-section, she could be at risk of aspirating during the surgery. Aspiration may lead to pneumonia, too. So, not eating any solid foods during labor is a guideline to protect the mother. (It is also the rule for scheduled C-sections and other surgeries.)

Labor is physically demanding, even grueling. A particularly long labor can leave a woman totally exhausted and lacking in energy, especially for when she needs to push. A little bit of food may go a long way in boosting her energy level. And, this study found that due to medical advances in anesthesia, eating a little bit of light food would probably not have a bad effect on a woman in labor.

The Canadian review looked at 385 prior studies and concluded that anesthesiologists and obstetrical doctors (OB/GYN) should work together to identify women for whom a light meal may be beneficial. They emphasized that doctors must identify women at low risk for aspiration – this is extremely important. And, each woman needs to be assessed individually.

But what does ACOG say?

As of the writing of this blog post, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) has not changed their position on eating during labor. Their position remains that “solid foods should be avoided in laboring patients.”

How about liquids?

ACOG says “Although there is some disagreement, most experts agree that oral intake of clear liquids during labor does not increase maternal complications…modest amounts of clear liquids may be allowed for patients with uncomplicated labor.” So, if you can’t eat solid foods, clear liquids (such as broth) may help increase your energy level. But whether it is safe for you to drink anything at all is something you should discuss with your prenatal health care provider.

What’s the bottom line?

Remember, this study has not been published yet, and ACOG has not changed its guidelines.

As with all medical procedures, talk with your health care team to determine what is best for you.

 

What is a full-term pregnancy?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

pregnant-belly2The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine has issued a new opinion that defines the length of a full-term pregnancy. This includes the following definitions:

• Early Term: Between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days
• Full Term: Between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days
• Late Term: Between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days
• Postterm: Between 42 weeks 0 days and beyond

We welcome this opinion. The following statement was issued today by March of Dimes Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Edward R.B. McCabe:

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine’s definition of a full-term pregnancy as 39 and 40 completed weeks of gestation is a welcome guideline that eliminates confusion about how long an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy should last. This new definition acknowledges that the risk of adverse health consequences for babies changes at each stage of pregnancy. Babies born at 39 to 40 completed weeks of pregnancy have the best chance of a healthy start in life. The March of Dimes calls on all health care professionals and hospitals to embrace and apply the definition of full-term pregnancy and move as quickly as possible to implement it in practices and policies.”

What causes back labor?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

back painAsked about back labor, Dr. Siobhan Dolan answers the question in her new March of Dimes book, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

“Babies are usually face-down (looking toward the mother’s spine) as they move into the pelvis. But sometimes a baby is face-up (looking toward the mother’s belly) instead. This can cause intense back pain during labor and is called back labor. If you’re having back labor, your provider may try to rotate your baby by having you change positions, although that doesn’t always work. Sometimes babies rotate (either in response to a mother’s changed position or on their own), and sometimes unrotated babies are delivered face-up.”

Dr. Dolan’s book includes a section on coping with pain through relaxation techniques and with pain medications. It’s good to know about both options. You can read more about the book at this link.

What is the breech position?

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Dr. Siobhan Dolan discusses the breech position in the new March of Dimes book, healthy mom, healthy baby.

“Babies typically move into a head-down position during the last month or so of pregnancy. But some don’t, meaning that when labor starts, they are positioned to be born feet-first or buttocks-first. This is called the breech position. Having a breech baby is most likely to happen when a woman goes into labor early, has had previous pregnancies, is pregnant with more than one baby, has a condition in which there is too little fluid in the amniotic sac, or has problems or abnormalities with the uterus or placenta. Sometimes it happens for no identifiable reason.

“If your baby is breech, your provider may recommend a procedure called an external cephalic version. In this procedure, a provider places his or her hands on your belly and tries to move the baby into a head-down position from the outside of your body. This can be uncomfortable, and it may not work. Sometimes a “version,” as it is often called, is attempted more than once. Delivering a breech baby vaginally is risky, especially for mothers having their first delivery, so if your baby can’t be moved out of the breech position, your provider will likely recommend a c-section.”

Learn more about healthy mom, healthy baby, read excerpts from the book, even order a copy at this link.

Why a birth plan is important

Friday, July 27th, 2012

pregnant-bellyYou don’t have to have a birth plan. But having one is a great idea! It helps things run much more smoothly when delivery day finally arrives. A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby’s birth. It tells your health care provider how you feel about things like who you want with you during labor, what you want to do during labor, if you want an epidural, spinal block or narcotics for labor pain, and if there are special religious or cultural practices you want to have happen once your baby is born.

If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, fill out a birth plan with your partner. Here’s a handy list of questions to consider and answer together. Start discussing a plan with your provider at your first visit. If you disagree on important issues (vaginal birth after a c-section (VBAC) or not, natural methods or drug relief for childbirth pains…) you will have plenty of time to choose another provider, if necessary. And share your birth plan with the nurses at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby. Share it with your family and other support people, too. It’s best for everyone to know ahead of time how you want labor and birth to be.