Pregnancy can be one of the happiest times of your life but with it can also come an overwhelming array of questions and concerns about what to expect. When it comes to parenting advice, let’s face it, there’s a ton of information available, but often it’s hard to discern what information is accurate or not. South Shore Hospital’s new Healthy Pregnancy and Parenting blog has been created by a trusted community of expert colleagues from our maternity team as well as other experts throughout our system of care. The main goal of the blog is to disseminate accurate, useful information focused on healthy pregnancy and parenting to the community at large.
The interactive platform of the blog allows readers to engage with our team of experts as well as other readers on a variety of pregnancy and parenting-related topics.
At some point during the third trimester of pregnancy, many expecting women find that their nesting instinct kicks in with a bang. In the latter part of your pregnancy, as the impending birth day gets closer, your excitement and nervousness combine to create an explosion of uncontrollable energy and desire to get stuff done. Nesting can manifest in different ways. You might start by making lots of “to do” lists and then suddenly find yourself shopping for important items, cleaning the entire house, rearranging furniture, and designing the baby’s nursery, all within a short period of time.
As productive and efficient as this burst of accomplishments may seem, unbridled exertion and cleaning during pregnancy are not necessarily risk-free. Heed the following precautions so you can accomplish your nesting goals while keeping yourself and baby safe – a win-win-win!
Take the Load Off
Heavy lifting is not recommended during pregnancy. Non-stop work, without periods of rest, may begin to take its toll and shortness of breath, a common side effect of pregnancy, can become exacerbated if you strain yourself. Leave the heavy lifting to family and friends, rest periodically, and be sure to stay well hydrated while you buzz around in nesting mode.
Household cleaners can also pose a risk. Read labels carefully and avoid products that contain the word “toxic” or “poison” in their description, including many oven, carpet and toilet bowl cleaners. Some products, such as bleach, are not harmful to your baby but may give off potent fumes that cause nausea. When cleaning, wear rubber gloves, don’t mix chemicals, and open several windows to protect yourself and your baby. Whenever possible, use more natural, “greener” products, such as baking soda to scrub your bath and toilet and vinegar to wash your kitchen floors.
The fumes associated with household painting are thought to carry very little risk in pregnancy; nevertheless, taking the following precautions is wise: wear protective clothing, use a mask, make sure the area is well-ventilated, and do not eat or drink in the paint area. Better yet, ask a family member or a friend to paint for you. Stick with latex paint and steer clear of oil-based paints, solvents and thinners.
Nesting can be extremely fun and rewarding—allowing a great deal of satisfaction in knowing you’ve checked off your “to dos” one by one! If you have concerns or questions about the safety of certain products, ask your provider or contact the Pregnancy Exposure InfoLine at (800) 322-5014 or visit www.thepeil.org for more information. You’ll feel more confident if you have answers and just think…that will be one less item on your “to do” list!
You are nearing your due date and beginning to wonder how you will ever get through labor. Maybe you took some classes to prepare, or maybe like most, were too busy with all the other million things you needed to get done. Perhaps you read a book or two. Maybe a family member or friend told you all you need to know to prepare. Regardless, now you are beginning to panic.
Labor, just like the term implies, is work. Yes, it is the hardest work you will do in your life and the most amazing work too. You, like all women, were born to birth. Labor and birth are normal physiological events. Labor is not unlike running the Boston Marathon. You would never just wake up one day, without preparing and decide to just go run a marathon. You would prepare for almost a year by eating well, working out and conditioning and training your body for the event. Perhaps you would look at the course and make a plan or instead, maybe even put together a team of folks to help you along the way. Preparing for labor and birth is much the same.
It helps to find out about labor. Knowledge is power and will decrease the fear of the unknown. Take a class or read about labor (www.childbirthconnection.org is a wonderful resource). Most first time labors are about 24 hours long and most of that time will be spent at home. Often in the beginning of labor, you may feel cramps similar to period pain.
It’s important to know what to expect during early labor and how to help yourself get through it. Let me share some tools with you:
Put together a team of people who have unconditional love for you—people you can really count on. At South Shore Hospital, you can have up to 3 labor support people helping you. If you feel you may not need them all at once, perhaps they can take shifts.
Stay well hydrated. Early labor can go on for a while. Drink a glass or 2 of water, juice or Gatorade every hour. Being dehydrated will cause painful but useless contractions.
Eat if you are hungry.
Try to sleep if you are tired or if it’s nighttime. A heating pad or hot water bottle will ease the pain. If you cannot sleep, walk around.
Stay busy with distractions such as shopping or cleaning.
Ignore the pains until you can no longer walk or talk through them.
If the pain worsens, try a nice warm shower. The warm water will relax you and ease the pain. A long soak in a warm bath will also ease your pain and allow you to relax—even helping labor move along.
If your back hurts, apply an ice pack to the lower back, get on all fours and rock back and forth or stand and lean over the back of a chair. Lower back pain is common and often it helps to have your partner push on the sore area with the heel of his/her hand during a contraction and rub the lower back between contractions. Ice is a natural anesthetic. Try putting a bag of peas in a pillow case and apply it to your lower back.
Try a yoga ball—which makes a nice chair in labor by supporting you in a squatting position to help open the pelvis.
Soft music, dim lights and slow deep breathing will provide further relaxation and encourage your body to open for you to birth your child.
Bottom line: keep Calm and Labor on.
Remember to always call your provider with signs of labor, leaking fluid, vaginal bleeding or any concerns at all. Your provider will help you decide the appropriate time to come to the hospital.
Nitrous oxide, often referred to as “laughing gas”, is an odorless, tasteless gas made for inhalation to provide analgesia. Today, nitrous oxide is used for pain relief by 60% -70% of laboring women in countries across the globe including Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Sweden. Only recently has it begun to resurface in some birthing units across the United States, including here in MA, where only 3 hospitals have implemented the use of nitrous oxide…that is, until now.
South Shore Hospital is the first hospital on the South Shore and fourth overall in the state of Massachusetts to join the ranks of innovative hospitals that are offering nitrous oxide. Providing the option of nitrous oxide for labor patients is yet another example of South Shore Hospital’s commitment to offering choices in childbirth, a list that includes midwifery care (in local practices and through their hospitalist program), a tub for laboring in the water, and the support of Centering group prenatal care.
Most women would agree that labor is no laughing matter. So how does nitrous oxide help improve the experience? Below are some answers to common questions related to nitrous oxide:
How is nitrous oxide used?
The concentration ratio of nitrous oxide found to be safe for use during labor and immediate postpartum is 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen. The gas is self-administered, meaning that the patient holds the mask over her face, on her own, and then naturally releases it as she begins to feel more relaxed; thus providing a safeguard against administering too much nitrous oxide. The gas is fast-acting and quickly cleared as it is eliminated via the lungs. The peak effect of nitrous oxide for the laboring woman occurs approximately 30-50 seconds after inhalation.
What are the effects/benefits of nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide helps laboring women feel more comfortable because it helps generate a state of relaxation and a reduced perception of pain. It does not take all the pain away; however, for many women, it keeps their discomfort level within their threshold of tolerance. Some women are satisfied with nitrous oxide alone; others decide they want a stronger or alternative method of pain relief as their labor becomes more active or if they experience negative side effects from nitrous oxide.
What are some of the other ways nitrous oxide can be used?
In addition to relieving general labor pain, nitrous oxide can be used during forceps or vacuum delivery, manual removal of placenta, repair of perineal lacerations, and additional procedures which may cause the mother anxiety and impact her ability to cope.
What are the side effects?
Some women experience side effects when they inhale nitrous oxide while others do not. Potential side effects associated with using nitrous oxide include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dry mouth, vertigo, tingling of the fingers and toes, and an altered sense of taste and smell. These effects typically subside soon after discontinuing use of the gas.
If you are interested in trying nitrous oxide for pain relief, let your nurse or provider know when you arrive in labor. S/he will give you a detailed explanation of how the gas works and answer any questions you may have.
Great news for expecting women and new moms: Text4baby has just recently launched their own free app. The free text messaging service of the nonprofit, National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, was first introduced in 2010, and the market of female smartphone users exploded from 25% to over 55% of women in the US—indicating it’s clearly time to meet the millennials where they’re at.
I downloaded the app to check it out and found it to be extremely easy to use as I poked around the various features. The information is valuable and straightforward without being overwhelming. Content is broken into two sections: “pregnancy” (from week 4 through 42) and “baby” (from week 1 through 52, or the first year of life).
Three tabs offer an array of valuable features to support you during pregnancy and early parenting. These include:
The Timeline Tab
The “Timeline” tab gives you a weekly update on fetal development along with a “to do” list that corresponds to each week and helps you keep track of all the details related to your lifestyle and self-care during pregnancy. It includes some fun polls that allow you to see how other Text4baby moms respond to a variety of topics, such as pregnancy symptoms, physical changes, baby development and emotional experiences.
The Appointment Tab
The “Appointment” tab lets you know what to expect at each visit with your doctor or midwife, provides detailed information to prepare you for the appointment, and offers the option for you to set a text message reminder for each scheduled visit.
The Topics Tab
The “Topics” tab sends you to a whole library of information on prenatal care, nutrition, health issues, weight, exercise, labor and delivery, community resources and health hotlines. The app notes that the information provided on health issues has been provided in partnership with two organizations: the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Healthy Children.
The app provides the information and organizational support you need right at your fingertips. Convenient, fun, evidence-based, and useful—the free Text4baby app provides a perfect way to stay on track – with your health, your knowledge, and your calendar!