Thursday, May 26, 2011

Special delivery: A comprehensive guide for parents-to-be

(ARA) - If you're an expectant first-time parent, or trying to conceive your first child, you'll likely rely on the support and experience of many people, including your partner, friends, your own parents and medical professionals. But don't be surprised if you still have questions - having a baby is a unique experience and few things can prepare you for all of the changes that pregnancy brings to your body, life and family.

"There are few events in anyone's life that rival the significance - and the joy - of childbirth," says Dr. Myra Wick, co-medical editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy." Produced by Mayo Clinic's pregnancy and fertility experts, the comprehensive guide provides information on all aspects of conception and pregnancy. "You want to do all you can to help ensure a health pregnancy and a wonderful beginning to your child's life."

Your doctor will be a valuable source of information, but don't be afraid to seek out answers on your own, especially for important decisions such as when to begin trying and how to get pregnant, what type of delivery is right for you, and whether to breast-feed. To get you started thinking about these decisions, here's what Wick and the book have to say on some important first pregnancy questions:

Getting pregnant

When is the right time to have a baby? Only you and your partner can answer that question. Some phases of your life, however, may be more conducive to pregnancy and new parenthood than others. The "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" helps you explore the various factors to consider, and also offers plenty of information on how to get pregnant, diet and exercise recommendations to help improve your chances of becoming pregnant, and all of the latest knowledge to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

The C-section question

Cesarean delivery (C-section), a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through an incision in the mother's abdomen, saves the lives of many babies and mothers every year. Doctors may recommend a C-section for many health-related reasons. Sometimes the reasons will be an emergency, such as labor not progressing or the baby experiencing an abnormal heart rate. Other times, a doctor might recommend a planned C-section if you know you will face a serious health obstacle that may make a vaginal delivery dangerous.

Many medical professionals and pregnancy experts are concerned by the growing trend of healthy women choosing to have C-sections with their first babies. These planned C-sections are done to avoid labor or the possible complications of a vaginal birth, or so that the baby can be born at a more convenient time for the parents, doctor, or both. "These C-sections aren't performed for health reasons," Wick says. "Instead, they're done out of fear or wanting to avoid an inconvenience. And those are not good reasons to have a C-section."

When you're considering the decision of an elective C-section, it may also help to keep in mind that once you have one C-section, you may not be able to have a vaginal delivery with subsequent pregnancies. VBACs (vaginal birth after C-section) are possible in many cases, but are not without risks. "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" includes in-depth information to consider about elective C-sections and VBACs.

Breastfeeding basics

To breastfeed or not to breastfeed? It's a question many expectant and new mothers have. Experts agree that in terms of nutrition, breast milk is clearly best for baby, and offers health benefits to mom as well. But breastfeeding may not be possible for all mothers. Formula-feeding shouldn't make a mother feel guilty. If you're undecided about breastfeeding, ask yourself these questions:
  • What does your health care provider suggest?
  • Do you really understand both methods of feeding?
  • Will you be returning to work and how might that affect your feeding decision?
  • How does your partner feel about the decision?
  • How have other mothers you trust and respect made their decision?

A first pregnancy is an emotional and exciting time. Gathering ample information on important pregnancy decisions can help ensure your pregnancy is happy and healthy, with as little stress as possible. For more pregnancy information and insights, visit

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