All About You
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As your body prepares for delivery, you may notice more frequent rounds of Braxton Hicks contractions during which your abdomen tightens and relaxes. You'll also experience times of more intense contractions that may or may not become regular. During your office visit, your healthcare provider will tell you if your cervix is thinning and opening as it prepares for childbirth.
Bringing Home Baby
You're due to deliver your baby this week … but keep in mind that chances are this won't be the week you give birth. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), "only five percent of babies are born on their due dates." More likely, your baby will be born somewhere between 38 and 42 weeks, instead of on her exact due date. Hang in there! Baby will be here soon enough.
Depending on whether you have a vaginal birth or a Cesarean section, you'll spend at least a night or two at the hospital before returning home with your newborn. There are a few things you should do to prepare for your baby's homecoming—and remember, as you are recovering from the birth, you deserve a little babying, too.
Before you can bring your baby home from the hospital, there are a few things you should do.
Bring a car seat. You won't be allowed to take your baby home from the hospital in a car without a properly installed car seat. There are a variety of styles, models, and price ranges to choose from when it comes to buying car seats. Pick a seat you're comfortable with—your baby will spend a lot of time there.
Add your baby's name to your health insurance. Your provider will likely give you several days to add your baby's name to health insurance, but before you get too exhausted from nightly feedings and diaper changes, contact your insurance company to include your baby in your policy.
Schedule your baby's first in-office, pediatrician visit. Your baby will need to start seeing her pediatrician soon after she's born. In fact, the pediatrician may have visited with you and your baby in the hospital. Depending on your infant's pediatrician, he or she will want to schedule an appointment one or two weeks after birth.
Purchase newborn basics. Stock your home with baby essentials such as diapers, onesies, blankets, wipes and burps cloths. Pack a small baby bag to bring with you to the hospital filled with these items. Pediatrician's views on how best to clean your around your baby's umbilical cord vary (some recommend cotton-tipped applicators and rubbing alcohol, and some recommend mild soap and water).
Consult with a lactation specialist. If you plan to breastfeed, visit with a lactation consultant (often there's one on staff at the hospital) before you go home. She can help you find successful positions for feeding your baby and assist you with any breastfeeding issues that might pop up.
Understand your healthcare provider's instructions. Depending on your delivery, your provider will have specific instructions for you on caring for your recovering body. Following a vaginal birth, you'll most likely be given medications and pads to keep your vaginal area clean and free from infection. If you had a C-section you will have a longer hospital stay than with a vaginal birth. The incision along your abdomen will be very sore. Your doctor may give you different medications to help soothe the pain. Also, you may have to nurse your baby lying down on your side instead of sitting up. Your provider will also review what activities you may safely do now and when you may resume more strenuous activities.
"The advice I give my patients recovering from childbirth is, 'If something hurts, stop doing it,'" says Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey PhD, and a certified nurse midwife. "Listen to your body."
Enlist friends' help. Take time to recover. Allow friends to help you with meals, cleaning, and anything else you need. You should also sleep as much as possible for a faster recovery. "The rule of thumb is that whenever your baby sleeps, you should sleep too," says Dr. Bailey.
Relax! Let the housework slide and keep meals simple for the first few weeks after you bring your baby home. Your job is to recover from 40 long weeks of aches, pains, and miracles that have made you a proud mommy!