Some useful information for future parents.

Before real labor begins, so-called "false" labor pains, or practice labor, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions, can occur, which is normal from the fourth month of pregnancy. They feel like tightening in the abdomen, do not become stronger over time, and can change with movement. These contractions are usually irregular, unlike actual labor (Cleveland Clinic, 2018). Braxton Hicks contractions infrequent, unpredictable, non-rhythmic, and if they are easing up. They are triggered by increased activity, touch of the belly, after sex, by dehydration, or when the bladder is full. To relieve, change the position, take a warm bath, drink water or herbal tea (American Pregnancy Association, 2021).

In the first stage of childbirth that is called labor, the cervix (between uterus and vagina) dilates to have the opening expanded to about four and a half inches, or ten centimeters. The uterus starts contracting to push the fetus toward the cervix. Both types of contractions are getting more frequent and intense. In the second stage, delivery, the baby is born when the fetus is pushed out of the uterus, through the cervix and the vagina - the birth canal. And in the final stage, the whole placenta and the umbilical cord are pushed out as well, the cord must be cut and tied. (Arnett, 2012) To help the future mother in an unexpected birth, help her to concentrate, breathe rhythmically and deeply, call a doctor or an emergency, put her on a sturdy surface preferably half-reclining and ask to relax and push only gently, prepare something to wrap a slippery baby, wash your hands and use surgical gloves, place your hands on the baby's head when it appears, don’t pull. When the baby is out, gently relieve the baby from the mucus in the nose, and place the baby on the mother’s body, bare skin, with the head a bit lower, and cover them both with an improvised blanket. Don’t cut the cord, and wait for the full placenta to come out (Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH, 2021). Make sure the baby is breathing, or rub the chest, tap the feet, or resuscitate. Congratulate the mother, note the time (Harvard Medical School, 2005).

Vaginal birth is the most common and natural way to give childbirth - through the cervix and vagina. Such births tend to produce less complications. After such birth the mother recovers more quickly, and the baby is introduced to beneficial microflora. Cesarean delivery (c-section), could be recommended for birth complications like breech presentation, when the fetus is heading out not with the head, but with the feet or buttocks. It consists of cutting the fetus out of the uterus through the abdomen - it is a costly surgery. Vaginal birth after cesarean section is the regular birth with the next pregnancy, which only rarely can bring severe complications, especially uterine rupture, deadly to both mother and the baby, in about one percent of cases (Arnett, 2012).

If the pregnant person is carrying more than one child, or the baby is not positioned head first, or had c-section previously, homebirth is not recommended. A healthy person might still need to go to the hospital during a planned home birth if labor is too long, or pain is too strong, or in case of bleeding or fever. It is best to have transportation and help from a certified nurse-midwife (Mayo Clinic, 2022). In the US, the rate of infant death is four times higher for planned home births vs. hospital delivery, but in countries that have a midwifery system there is no difference. Obesity and age are the risk factors. But hospital births increase the risk of vaginal tears, infections, and unnecessary interventions (Gayle Morris, RN, BSN, MSN, 2021). According to two studies, underwater birth compared to birth on outside water has minimal benefit to the mother and none to the baby. This childbirth method requires more research and is not currently supported neither by the American Academy of Pediatrics nor by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (Simpson KR. Underwater birth. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2013). I would prefer a good hospital where the staff is highly knowledgeable, to reduce the risks.

Apgar test is an assessment of a newborn’s well-being immediately after the delivery. The test scores are marked at one and five minutes from the time of birth. The few-minute test provides information about the baby’s health and helps determine if a medical treatment is required. The scores range from zero to two for each of five conditions - heart rate (0-2), breathing (0-2), muscle tone (0-2), reflex response (0-2), color (0-2) - with a maximum final total score of ten. At one minute, scores seven to ten mean that the baby will need only routine care, four to six - some assistance for breathing might be required, and under four calls for lifesaving measures. At five minute, seven to ten is normal, below seven means the baby must be retested every five minutes for up to twenty. But lower scores do not mean that there will be permanent health problems(Arnett, 2012).

Breast milk contains protective antibodies, beneficial microbiota, and other substances that help build the immune system of the baby and prevent illnesses and obesity. Breast-fed children tend to have higher intelligence, even later in life. They have better vision, stronger bones, and cardiovascular systems (Gibson et al., 2000; Owen et al., 2002). Breast feeding is also beneficial for the mother, also long term. It is recommended to breastfeed for up to two years. (WHO, n.d.) Breastfeeding is not recommended in case of infectious diseases of the mother, to protect the child from being infected by her milk (Arnett, 2012).

Some useful information for future parents.Human Development, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Brestfeeding


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