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 The Pregnancy

 The Birth

During the last trimester, you should start to make the final preparations for your new baby's arrival. Babies don't need very much a place to sleep, blankets, and diapers, undershirts, sweaters, and caps for at least the first 6 weeks. You will also need bottles for water, and if you don't plan to breast feed, for formula also. Your other children, particularly young children, need to be reminded of the coming birth. Young children may worry about mother's absence and older children may be anxious about their place in her affection when the new baby arrives. You may want to spend more time with your children. Explain what will happen when you go to deliver the baby and who will care for them. Assure them of your love, and talk with them about their new role as older brother and sister. Make sure also that they know about arrangements made for their care if you should need to leave for the hospital in the middle of the night or when they are in school.

Look ahead and make arrangements for the days when you bring the baby home. Having to worry about car pools, groceries, laundry, and household chores during your first few weeks at home with a new baby can be stressful. If your partner cannot take time off to help, perhaps a relative or neighbor may be able to take over some of these responsibilities.

Getting Ready

Approximately 2 weeks before your delivery date, pack a bag with the personal things you will want to take with you. You will probably want to include:

  • Bathrobe

  • 2 Nightgowns (opening in front if you plan to breast feed)

  • Slippers

  • 2 Bras (nursing bras if you plan to breast feed)

  • Underpants

  • Sanitary pad

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste

  • Comb, brush, curlers

  • Cosmetics

  • Books or magazines

  • Something to wear home (remember to choose something a little loose fitting; you won't quite have your figure back!)

You should also take any prenatal reports or hospitalization papers. Pack the clothes you will want to take the baby home in and tell the person who will be coming to take you home where they are. Depending on the weather, the baby will need a blanket, sweater, or cap. If it is warm weather, all you will need are diapers, shirt, and receiving blanket.

Plan on how you will get to the hospital, both during the day and at night. You should have telephone numbers in an obvious and handy place so that you can call your husband, friend, mother, or a taxicab when you are ready to go.

It is usually an exciting time and it is easy to forget phone numbers. Have the doctor's phone number on your list, so that you can call him to either find out if it is time to go to the hospital, or to report that you are going.

During the last month you will also be making final arrangements for the place where you will give birth. Each birth setting is different so you should find out what needs to be done.

The Birth Setting

Today a woman may often choose where she will deliver her baby. Most women prefer to deliver in a hospital. In addition to traditional delivery rooms, many hospitals now offer birth rooms or settings where the family can participate.

A hospital delivery is best if this is your first baby, if you have had any problems with earlier deliveries, if you are having twins or a multiple birth, if you are under 18 or over 35 years of age, or if you expect a breech birth. For women whose doctors expect complications during labor and delivery, a high technology hospital such as a university medical center is best because it has the equipment to identify and handle problems immediately.

For women whose doctors do not expect complications, birth rooms in hospitals often equipped with a rocking chair, a stereo, as well as a bed provide a homelike, relaxed atmosphere and a natural setting for birth. These hospital birth rooms, though more like home, provide ready access to emergency equipment.

Some communities have maternity centers (sometimes called alternate birthing centers), where the pregnant woman goes for labor and delivery and returns home after a short recovery period.

Early in your pregnancy your doctor or nurse midwife can help in deciding where you should go to deliver. In part, your decision will be based on the kinds of services available in your community. If you choose not to go to a hospital make sure that:

  • You are continually checked throughout your pregnancy for possible risk factors so that if any problems do develop, you can change your plans and go to a hospital instead.

  • You can easily and rapidly be sent to a hospital in case of problems in labor and delivery.

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