What Your Healthcare Provider Will Do
Now that you know some of the most common problems that can arise in the delivery room, you can better understand what healthcare professionals do in these unexpected situations.
In cases where a mother's and/or baby's life may be at risk, such as with shoulder dystocia or breech presentation, outside help is usually brought into the delivery room. The level of backup at each hospital varies, says Dr. FitzSimmons, and can range "from neonatologists to residents to nurses trained in neonatal resuscitation."
In cases of fetal distress, you may simply be asked to change position or to stop receiving medications such as an epidural to see if your baby's condition improves, says Weiss. However, if the baby's heart rate drops dramatically or meconium staining is detected, immediate action with the use of forceps, vacuum extraction, episiotomy, or C-section may be required.
What You Can Do
There's no real way to prepare for problems in the delivery room, but you can educate yourself. Many times, complications in labor can be predicted depending upon your individual risk factors, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or obesity. Discuss your risk factors with your doctor so that you can make informed decisions about anesthesia and such. "It is relatively more difficult to make decisions in a time of stress when an issue has not been explored previously," says Dr. FitzSimmons.
Weiss recommends choosing your practitioner wisely. Doing so is a "great way to avoid unnecessary interventions," she says, adding that finding a doctor who sees pregnancy and birth as a normal event can really help you take a calm and collected approach to the birthing process. Good practitioners strive to keep labor and birth as normal and natural as possible. "[Practitioners] view themselves as lifeguards waiting in case of an emergency," she adds.
Maintain an open line of communication with your healthcare provider. Compile a list of questions you have about the delivery process, your risk factors, and your options. Going over your concerns with your doctors before the birth should help build a level of trust over time, Dr. FitzSimmons explains. This is invaluable in the delivery room when quick decisions must be made.
In the end, there are times when all the planning in the world can't prepare you for what will happen once your baby's birthday finally arrives. "Sometimes, you just have to do the best you can and leave it go at that," says Dr. FitzSimmons. So prepare yourself as well as you can and take each moment of delivery one step at a time.