Labor and delivery

Every woman's labor and delivery experience is unique. Still, understanding what's typical can help you know what to expect as your due date approaches.

Labor and delivery generally follows a fairly predictable pattern — the cervix softening and opening; the amniotic sac rupturing; the contractions getting stronger and closer together. Sometimes, however, labor and delivery takes surprising twists and turns. You might reconsider your wishes about pain medication, or you might need an unexpected C-section.

However your labor and delivery unfolds, remember that your health and your baby's health are what's most important. Discuss your labor and delivery preferences with your health care provider, including options for pain medication and thoughts about episiotomy and other procedures. Then look forward to welcoming your baby into the world.

Postpartum care

After months of anticipation and the rigors of labor and delivery, your attention shifts to caring for your new baby — but you also need to take care of yourself. Postpartum care might involve managing vaginal tears or a C-section wound, sore breasts, leaking milk, urination problems and hair loss. And postpartum care isn't limited to your physical health. Postpartum care also includes your mental well-being, such as managing mood swings, irritability, sadness and anxiety.

For the smoothest recovery, share any concerns you might have about postpartum care with your health care provider. Chances are, what you're feeling or wondering about is entirely normal. Count on your health care provider for assurance as you handle postpartum care and adjust to life with a newborn.

Apr. 03, 2014