All babies come into this world in one of two ways, either by vaginal delivery or cesarean section. The goals for both methods of delivery are to ensure a healthy mom and healthy baby with the best obgyn in Atlanta However, giving birth carries potential risks for both mom and her baby, regardless of the route of delivery. Unless contraindications are present, for each patient admitted to labor and delivery, the anticipation is for a successful, uncomplicated vaginal delivery. If the patient’s situation should change, or a contraindication is present, a cesarean delivery is performed because it is believed that outcome may be better for the baby, the mother, or both.
Going through labor and having a vaginal delivery is a natural process that usually does not require significant medical intervention. Your amazing female body was made for labor and delivery, and it often knows exactly what to do for you to have a successful vaginal delivery. Most full-term newborns in the U.S. are delivered vaginally. Yet, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of women giving birth via cesarean-section (C-Section) has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years, with about one out of every three U.S. babies born via C-section today. There are several ongoing studies looking into why the c-section rate in the U.S. has increased. Your provider will discuss and recommend which method of delivery is safest for you and your baby based on your health, any pregnancy complications, and your past medical history.
Maintain a consistent and open communication relationship with your provider. Adhering to the recommended prenatal visit schedule helps to ensure that your pregnancy is being monitored appropriately and the health of you and your baby are evaluated properly.
Stay Active! Physical activity during and after pregnancy benefits a woman’s overall health. Moderate-intensity physical activity by women during pregnancy improves or maintains cardiovascular fitness, reduces the risk of excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes, and reduces symptoms of postpartum depression. Some evidence suggests that physical activity may reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, reduce the length of labor and postpartum recovery, and reduce the risk of having a Cesarean section.
Our modern-day lifestyle has us sitting for long periods of time and has created problems with our posture and pelvic proportions. These modern-day adaptations can sometimes hinder the baby’s ability to get into the best position for vaginal birth. Unless your provider tells you to limit your activity, remain on bed rest, or that you have a contraindication with your pregnancy, get your move on!
Weight gain during pregnancy is expected. The recommendation for the weight you should gain during pregnancy depends partly on what your weight was before you got pregnant. The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly the Institute of Medicine, recommendations for pregnancy weight gain are widely accepted and located in the embedded table. A large proportion of women in the U.S. gain more weight during pregnancy than is recommended.
Gestational weight gain above the NAM target range has been associated with an increased risk of bigger babies (known as macrosomia and LGA), cesarean delivery, pregnancy-related blood pressure problems, and gestational diabetes. Larger babies often have a harder time descending into the pelvis (also known as an engaged baby) and can create a risk for a larger perineal tear at delivery, as well as pose a threat for shoulder dystocia and stalled labor. Because of these increased risks, it is important that your provider tracks your weight gain and discusses the appropriate weight gain with you. Your provider will also assess your diet and exercise throughout your pregnancy to help encourage you to follow a well-balanced diet and stay active.
Recommendation: Following a balanced diet in pregnancy, including a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean meats, is best. It is also recommended that you stay active during your pregnancy to help limit weight gain. Unless you have a medical reason to avoid physical activity during or after your pregnancy, you can begin or continue moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity.
We will wrap up the topic of optimizing your chances of vaginal birth with a continuation of recommendations in our next blog post. Stay tuned!