Six Delivery-Day Decisions To Be Prepared For
Congratulations on your pregnancy! While nine months might seem like a long time, factoring in everything you need to get in place before baby arrives can seem daunting, much less what you’re going to do at the time. Heather Bartos, an OB/GYN and physician on the medical staff, suggests making important decisions for that day far in advance, so you’re not caught off guard. Here are the six delivery-day decisions every parent will need to be prepared to make.
1. Vaccination Schedule
Most parents have usually decided on a vaccination preference fairly early on, but certainly that will factor into their pediatrician choice.
“For instance, many pediatricians will not accept patients who choose to not do any vaccinations,” Bartos says, “while others are perfectly fine with a delayed vaccination schedule.”
Picking a pediatrician well in advance is important because even babies who are very healthy still need to see the doctor quite a bit during their first few weeks of life. Some pediatricians’ schedules will vary slightly, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies get checkups at birth and 3 to 5 days after birth, and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24 months. Bartos says she usually recommends parents choose a pediatrician around 32 to 35 weeks into their pregnancy, adding that if you’re having a boy, you should probably decide on whether or not to circumcise around this time as well. Need help finding the perfect pediatrician for you and your family? Use our Find-a-Physician tool to find a pediatrician near you and to learn about what their practice provides.
3. Cord Clamping and Cord Blood Banking
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has now recommended delaying cord clamping for 60 seconds as the preferred method for all low-risk deliveries. Waiting a few extra seconds to cut the umbilical cord after birth allows for extra blood to flow from the placenta to your baby, which has many proven health benefits, including a lowered risk of anemia in the first six months. Discuss your preference with your doctor, but Bartos says delivery may go differently than expected, so be prepared if the cord is clamped sooner than you stated.
Another decision to make by 35 weeks is about cord blood banking, which many parents are opting for. Cord blood banking is the collecting of the blood left in your newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta, which contains potentially life-saving stem cells, and storing it for future medical use.
“Cord blood banking requires a kit that companies send to you, which is then brought to the hospital to collect the blood and the tissue, so this decision needs to be made ahead of time,” Bartos says. Once collected, you can decide whether to donate it to a public bank for anyone who needs it, or pay to store it in a private bank for your family to use if the need arises.
4. Community Support
Taking a prenatal class, whether through a hospital or your doctor’s office, is a great way to be reminded of all the little things you need to consider, so you don’t miss out on anything. Texas Health hospitals offer a variety of classes from childbirth prenatal fitness to preparing the family for your new bundle of joy. Bartos also suggests joining a Facebook group of local moms who can offer tips and insights into the big day. The Texas Health Moms Facebook page allows you to network with other moms, swap ideas and alerts you to upcoming classes.
5. Pack Those Bags
Packing your hospital bag isn’t something you want to procrastinate on! We’ve all watched scenes in movies or on television of the frazzled father frantically packing everything in sight as mom wails in pain at the bottom of the stairs, and although it’s funny to watch, it’s definitely no laughing matter when contractions start. Bartos suggests packing a bag or bags at by 35 weeks just in case. She says most hospitals will have a list to help you out when you go to register, but reaching out to your doctor, friends or even that Facebook moms group can really help clear up what’s necessary and what you can leave at home.
Things to definitely pack:
- Phone and camera chargers
- If you decide to breastfeed: a breastfeeding support pillow and a breastfeeding-friendly tank or bra
- Comfortable clothes and socks
Bartos adds that you shouldn’t panic if you forget something or if your little bundle of joy comes earlier than you can pack that bag; most hospitals carry toothbrushes, pads, mesh panties, baby supplies and any other things new moms might forget!
6. Emergency Plans
Although you’re planning for a perfect delivery, there are times when an emergency situation arises during delivery. Bartos suggests you and your partner stay up to date on your preferences for life-saving procedures like blood transfusions, or who will have medical power of attorney during a life-threatening emergency, so those decisions can be made quickly.
Although planning everything that may or may not happen during delivery can seem like a stressful task, Bartos says to keep it simple and address things as they come up.
“Start doing your planning early, just as if you were buying or building a house,” she says. “Keep a notebook of questions as they come up and try to write down issues, such as pain management (epidural versus natural), and then circle or highlight your choice once you’ve decided. There’s nothing magical about a written birth plan, but keeping your nurse and your physician apprised of your desires will ensure the best possible outcome of what you desire and what’s healthiest for your baby.”
And don’t worry if that birth plan doesn’t go as planned.
“I always say the best birth plan is mom and baby going home together, healthy! And from there, we can decide what the parents want if everything is going safely, Bartos says. “I always try to remind my patients that birth is rarely perfect, so expect the unexpected.”
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