Expectant moms have more options than ever for their birth plans.
Women have been giving birth since the dawn of humanity, but as times change,
so does the labor and delivery process. The way women give birth today
looks much different than the way their mothers or grandmothers did, and
St. Joseph Health stays at the forefront by offering women the latest
in labor and delivery services. Here are three methods moms can incorporate
into their birth plans:
It used to be that to track the fetal heart rate, laboring moms had to
be hooked up to monitors with unwieldy cords that kept them attached to
the monitor. Now there are systems that make things much easier for mom—and
her medical team.
“Traditional monitors kept moms in bed, attached to the monitor which
is not only uncomfortable but can impede the labor progress,” says
Samantha Abraham, BSN RN, Maternal and Infant Care Manager at
Queen of the Valley Medical Center. “Every time the mom would turn from one side to another, the nurse
would have to come in and reposition the monitor around her belly, which
isn’t very restful when a mom is trying to get some much needed
rest before she has her baby. Because of the multiple wires coming from
the monitoring machine, it also poses a safety risk for nurses to trip
on a wire. With these newer systems, a mom doesn’t have to be attached
to the monitor while laboring in bed.”
Queen of the Valley offers two types of portable fetal monitoring systems.
The Mini Telemetry System is light enough that patients carry the heart
rate and contraction transmitter with them like a purse on their shoulders.
“Moms can walk around with their support person and be mobile during
the birthing process. They are centrally monitored so they can roam the
hallways and pause during a contraction, holding on to the attached hand
rails placed in the hallways, which feels better than going through a
contraction lying in bed,” Abraham says.
The newest addition is the Novii Wireless Patch System. “There are
four little electrodes and a battery pack that sticks to the mom’s
belly,” Abraham says. “There are no wires that are attached
to the monitoring machine, so women really have the freedom to move around.
Also, as long as the transmitter doesn’t get wet, women can labor
in the shower or in the bathtub.”
No, the use of “laughing gas” won’t cause women to giggle
uncontrollably during labor. What nitrous oxide can do is offer some pain
relief and a feeling of relaxation during contractions, says Karen Lewis,
MSN, RNC-OB, the area director of obstetrics at
Redwood Memorial Hospital.
“Nitrous oxide was often used during labor in the United States before
epidurals became popular, and it is still commonly used in Europe today,”
Lewis says. “It’s coming back into use here as another option
for moms that offers them some flexibility instead of, or even in addition
Lewis says her department uses a combination of 50 percent nitrous oxide
and 50 percent oxygen for comfort in labor. "This blend allows a
mom and baby to receive plenty of oxygen while experiencing the anxiety
relief and pain relief offered by nitrous use," she says. "The
delivery system is portable and the gas is self-administered. That means
that the gas only flows when the mom breathes into the mask. She has complete
control over how often she receives the gas, and the duration of time
she uses it."
Should a mom decide she no longer needs the nitrous during labor, she can
stop using it, and the effects are completely gone after about three full
breaths of room air, Lewis says. She also adds that the nitrous does not
have any negative effects on the baby.
"Nitrous is often used in place of IV pain medications or epidural,
although all of these methods can be used individually during labor at
different stages if the woman so chooses," Lewis says. "Nitrous
is the only routinely ordered analgesia that also helps with anxiety,
and can alleviate the stress of labor, IV starts and post-delivery repairs.”
A gentle C-section makes the surgical procedure seem not quite so, well, surgical.
“All the proper safeguards are maintained during a gentle C-section,
but it also provides that same bonding moment women would get during a
vaginal delivery. Instead of putting the baby in a warmer as in the past,
we put the baby on the mother’s chest so they can have skin-to-skin
contact, and even breastfeed, immediately after the birth,” Abraham
says. This is almost always possible unless the baby warrants some extra
monitoring after birth; but, as soon as possible, both parents are provided
with skin-to-skin contact with their baby, and evidence shows such contact
leads to lifelong benefits.
Abraham says more and more prospective parents are asking about practices
such as these when it comes to labor and delivery. “Most of them
are researching their options and figuring out what they want. Parents
are very involved and want to take charge of the birth experience, and
we help make that happen.”
Are you a soon-to-be parent looking for an obstetrician or pediatrician?
Find a Doctor page.
For more great articles on labor and delivery topics, check out:
Specialized maternity care
Vaginal births after cesareans (VBAC)