Women's Health Source for Pregnant Wives
First-time mothers-to-be often have lots of questions and even some worries: How will I know I'm in labor? Will it hurt? Will my baby know how to breast feed? How do I care for a newborn? Classes to prepare you for childbirth, breastfeeding, infant care, and parenting are great ways to lessen anxiety and build confidence. In some cities, classes might be offered in different languages.
Birthing classes often are offered through local hospitals and birthing centers. Some classes follow a specific method, such as Lamaze or the Bradley method. Others review labor techniques from a variety of methods. You might want to read about the different methods beforehand to see if one appeals more to you than others. That way, you will know what to sign up for if more than one type of birthing class if offered. Try to sign up for a class several months before your due date. Classes sometimes fill up quickly. Also, make sure the instructor is qualified.
Most women attend the class with the person who will provide support during labor, such as a spouse, sister, or good friend. This person is sometimes called the labor coach. During class, the instructor will go over the signs of labor and review the stages of labor. She will talk about positioning for labor and birth, and ways to control pain. She also will give you strategies to work through labor pains and to help you stay relaxed and in control. You will practice many of these strategies in class, so you are ready when the big day arrives. Many classes also provide a tour of the birthing facility.
Like any new skill, breastfeeding takes knowledge and practice to be successful. Pregnant women who learn about how to breast feed are more likely to be successful than those who do not. Breastfeeding classes offer pregnant women and their partners the chance to prepare and ask questions before the baby’s arrival. Classes may be offered through hospitals, breastfeeding support programs, La Leche League, or local lactation consultants. Ask your doctor for help finding a breastfeeding class in your area.
Did you know? Some hospitals and birthing centers offer sibling classes for soon-to-be brothers and sisters. These classes often help small children get ready for a new baby using fun games and activities.
Many first-time parents have never cared for a newborn. Hospitals, community education centers, and places of worship sometimes offer baby care classes. These classes cover the basics, such as diapering, feeding, and bathing your newborn. You also will learn these basic skills in the hospital before you are discharged.
In some communities parenting classes are available. Children don't come with how-to manuals. So some parents appreciate learning about the different stages of child development, as well as practical skills for dealing with common issues, such as discipline or parent-child power struggles. Counselors and social workers often teach this type of class. If you are interested in parenting programs, ask your child's doctor for help finding a class in your area.
Choosing a Doctor
Your OB or midwife is monitoring the health of your unborn baby. But as soon as your baby enters into this world, your baby will need his or her own doctor. Start looking into a doctor for your baby several months before your due date. Deciding on a doctor and figuring out health insurance before your child's birth saves time and gives you peace of mind as you near labor. Also, if you deliver early, somebody you know and trust will be at the ready to care for your new child.
One of the most important things you need to do before giving birth is decide on a doctor for your baby. Babies need frequent checkups, vaccines, and they sometimes get sick. So don't wait until you need a doctor to make a choice. Doctors that care for babies and children include:
- Family physicians
Some nurses with special training also can care for your new baby. They are called pediatric nurse practitioners. Many medical offices have both nurse practitioners and doctors on staff.
To help you choose a doctor for your baby:
- Call your health insurance company for a list of doctors covered under your plan.
- Find out where they trained and how long they've been in practice. Some insurance companies and hospitals have this information. Details on some doctors can be found using Doctor Finder on the American Medical Association website.
- Request an interview with the doctors you like best.
- Find out about their office hours and how they handle concerns and emergencies after office hours.
- Find out who else in the office can see your child if your doctor is out.
- Get recommendations from other patients.
If you deliver at a hospital where your baby's doctor normally sees patients, she will see the baby right after the delivery. If not, a pediatrician on staff at the hospital should see your baby right after the birth. Then you can call your baby's doctor to schedule a visit a few days after birth. Remember to get your baby's medical records before leaving the hospital. Your baby's doctor will need them.