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The Birth Process

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What Happens During Labor?

The first part of the birth process is labor. During labor there are contractions, which causes the cervix to dilate. This stage of labor lasts the longest (between 12-18 hours for a first child). The beginning of this stage is marked by the dislodging of the cervical mucous plug, which is caused by the onset of contractions. After the mucous plug is dislodged, the amniotic sac may rupture, causing the "water to break." After several hours of contractions, transition usually occurs. This is the part of delivery most often depicted in movies. The mother can feel sick, shaky, and cold. She may become angry, abusive, and weepy, which is why all those nasty things are said in the movies. Then the mother begins to push, and will have to push from anywhere between 30 min. to 2 hours for a first child. The mother bears down on the child and the child is born. The process isn't quite finished yet. After a few more contractions, the placenta is pushed out as well. This part is rarely seen in movies because it can be messy and is not the main focus of the delivery. At this point, the baby's lungs are clearing out the fluid and is learning how to breath on his/her own. When your baby cries, this is a good sign because it means he/she is breathing on his/her own. This is an average case of pregnancy. Not all pregnancy will go according to this schedule.

Methods of Delivery

There are several ways one can give birth. Medication is when an epidural is used or a general anesthetic. An epidural is preferred because a general anesthetic can harm the baby. An epidural is placing an IV into the bottom of the spin to numb just the waste down. Some people opt for natural child birth, where there is no pain reliever used and there is a decreased fear through education. Prepared childbirth uses breathing techniques to aid in focusing and staying calm during the pregnancy. C-section is a surgical technique that is sometimes neccesary to safely deliver the baby, such as when the baby is in a breech or transverse position. There are also other less common techniques used, such as hypnosis or hot tub births. Some people play music in the delivery room or focus on a picture when they are in the midst of a contraction.

Sometimes Things Go Wrong: Complications in Pregnancy and ChildBirth

There are chances of miscarriage early in pregnancy, in which the woman may not even realize she has been pregnant and has had a miscarriage. When miscarriage happens later in pregnancy is when it is noticed. Miscarraige can be caused by chromosomal abnormalities, toxins, drugs, or problems with the placenta. Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition in which the mother cannot produce enough insulin to handle her blood sugar intake. If treated this condition is non-threatening. Toxemia occurs when the woman's blood pressure becomes elevated. Again, it is nonthreatening if caught in time. Premature labor can occur around 37 weeks into the pregnancy, and a big concern is that the child will be underweight. Fetal Stress can cause the baby to have a lack of oxygen (anoxia), in which the child must be delivered immediately, usually by C-section.

Not all babies are born bouncing baby boys/girls. One thing to watch out for is how much weight you gain while pregnant. Low birth weight for children can be dangerous. Baby fat is used to regulate the baby's temperature. As the baby gets older, it is normal for the baby fat to be lost. Don't be surprised if your child loses a bit of weight at first. Another concern about your child could be Down's syndrome. 1 out of 600 children are born with Down's syndrome. Down's Syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome number 21. Down's Syndrome is characterized by several physical features, such as broad necks, thick tongues, folds of skin over the eyelids, and have a short body build. Children with Down's Syndrome normally have heart defects, intestinal blocks, and vision imparments. Spina Bifida is another concern with newborns. Spina Bifida is caused by incomplete closure of the neural tube. This condition can be corrected by surgery, depending on how severe the damage is.

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Hypnosis and Child Birth
Advantages of Water Birth
Complications of Childbirth
Things to Know for Child Birth
Choices During Labor