It usually starts after you notice that your cycle is a bit late, which naturally leads to the purchase of a pregnancy test. After those two lines appear on the stick, a woman’s life changes forever. This article is dedicated to the journey that a mother and child go through; some may just be starting the journey, others may be well along their way. Wherever you happen to be, this article includes useful tips to help you along your journey.
The Prenatal Period
Once you find out you are pregnant, it is important to get early and regular prenatal care. It is important to discuss with your physician any medications you are using, since some may not be safe during pregnancy. You need to ensure your vaccinations are up to date, and that you take your flu shot. It is also very important to start a multivitamin containing 400-800 micrograms of folic acid. Your obstetrician will conduct routine ultrasounds during the pregnancy, and request certain blood tests. It is also important to remember to eat healthy, stop smoking, and get at least 2 hours of activity during the week. Do not eat any raw or undercooked foods, and wash vegetables and fruits well before eating them. Finally, if you are around cats regularly, mention this fact to your physician.
This can often be a very exciting and stressful time. Whichever birth plan you choose, it is important to remember that right after delivery, if everything went smoothly and mother and baby are both up to it, to try to have immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby. This is when the baby is placed on the mother’s chest right after birth, since it helps keep the newborn warm and allows bonding between mother and child. Also, during this time the mother can feed her newborn for the first time.
Some women prefer having the most natural birth possible. This usually entails an un-medicated approach during labor, and minimal routine interventions and monitoring. If this is a route you prefer to take, make your desires clear to your obstetrician. Coming up with a birth plan is very helpful, and having a supportive partner goes a long way. Other things to focus on include breathing and visualization exercises, and positioning and movement; topics often discussed in childbirth classes.
The epidural is usually administered when the woman is in active labor, which is usually when she is about 4-5cm dilated and is having regular contractions. In the doses given, the drug in the epidural is unlikely to affect the newborn and make him drowsy. The epidural is a very effective form of pain relief during labor, and it allows you to remain clear-headed throughout the process.
The Neonatal Period
The benefits of breastfeeding have been proven time and time again, and include protection against certain infections, obesity, allergies, and even certain types of cancers. For this reason, the best nutrition a mother can provide to her newborn is breast milk. This process can sometimes be difficult to start at first. After about four days, the breast milk quantity will increase and also become whiter in color. A mother needs a healthy, well-balanced diet while breastfeeding and can have up to 200 mg of caffeine a day (two mugs of tea, two mugs of instant coffee, or one mug of filter coffee).
Do not be surprised when your newborn sleeps for most of the day, a baby needs about 16 to 17 hours of sleep a day. During the first few weeks of life, your newborn will also not stay asleep for more than two to four hours at a time. However, gradually the sleep patterns of children will improve; and usually around 4-6 months (sometimes even earlier) most infants will sleep for longer stretches at night.