Preparations and Procedures of Labor
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Arm straps and leg stirrups
Their very names conjure up images of confinement at odds with what's considered wise for a normal birth today It's a rare hospital anymore that requires a woman's hands to be strapped to her bed to keep them clear of the sterile' delivery site. If yours does, definitely refuse this unnecessary step. Stirrups, on the other hand, are a feature of every delivery
bed. Using them is optional, though, and you may or may not use them during a vaginal exam or to help you push. But again, there's no need for feet or legs to actually be strapped in place in a vaginal delivery.
Also a bygone standard, once thought to reduce infection. Few women undergo this unnecessary procedure before a vaginal delivery anymore. In I fact, razor nicks from shaving can introduce infection. Even before a C-section, it's not necessary to have a complete perineal shave; removing pubic hair along the
abdomen from the navel to just above the pubic bone is sufficient.
this is no longer standard procedure, though some doctors recommend one to clear the bowels at the start of labor or if labor is prolonged. On the other hand, it's common for the bowels to empty naturally in early labor. Even if you defecate during labor, which is not uncommon at the pushing stage, no one will be offended and there's a minimal likelihood of infection, as the nurse will quickly whisk away fecal matter.
Prep and Procedures
Fetal heart-rate monitoring
The medical team needs to track the baby's progress during the stress of childbirth.
To evaluate cervical thinning and dilatation, a medical staffer inserts two sterile gloved fingers into the vagina to determine, by finger measurement, how many centimeters wide the cervical opening is. It must expand to 10 centimeters, its maximum stretch, before you can safely begin pushing the baby out. The doctor, nurse, or midwife also checks the baby's station. This is a measure of how far engaged the baby's head is into the birth canal, as compared to the pelvic ischial bones. A "minus station" means the baby is still high, above these distinctive bones. A "plus station" means the baby's head is below the bones. At plus-6, the head is crowning (or visible through the vaginal opening). Though they try to do the exam between contractions, lying still for it can be uncomfortable. Using your relaxation exercises can help. Be sure to ask for a progress report if the information is not volunteered.
An intravenous line (IV)
Once automatic, this is now optional at more and more hospitals. The purpose of an IV is to deliver fluid, nutrients, medication, or blood (in the event of an emergency) to the laboring woman. Having an IV in place can save valuable time, preventing injury to the baby in an emergency. A needle surrounded by plastic tubing is inserted into a vein in your arm or the back of your hand; the tubing connects to a bag of liquid (usually glucose, which is sugar and water) on a tall stand. If you've expressed a preference for an epidural, you will definitely be given an IV, whereas one may not be necessary if you're attempting a natural childbirth.
Internal electronic monitoring
is the most precise and can be done only after your water has broken. A small electrode at the end of a thin catheter is attached to the baby's scalp (through the cervix) to assess his or her heart rate.
External electronic monitoring
provides more detailed information on how the baby's heartbeat is responding to contractions. While you recline in bed, two cloth belts are placed around your abdomen.
is a simple, low-tech method in which the fetal heartbeat is intermittently listened to through the abdomen with a special stethoscope or handheld Doppler ultrasound device
Preparations and procedures of Labor