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Friday, July 18, 2014

Why Every Pregnant Woman Should Educate Herself About Pregnancy

Every pregnant woman should read at least one book about her pregnancy. I would state, actually, that every pregnant woman should read every book and internet article about pregnancy that she can. It is very important to be informed. In the introduction to the book Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn, by Simkin et al., the author states that “…expectant parents [should] have a portable, comprehensive, and unbiased source of factual information and sound advice…” about their pregnancy, as well as how to care for the new baby once it is born.

While this is an excellent book, and every pregnant woman should obtain a copy, there are many other books, websites, scientific studies, and scholarly articles that one should research upon becoming pregnant. Since the evolution of the e-reading device, as well as magazines available on Google’s newsstand app for smart devices, it is not difficult to get most of the information you need right on your smartphone or tablet device, thus making it easier than ever to make informed decisions about your birth plan, your medical care, and the desired outcome of your labor.

Some of the decisions to make involve medications such as epidurals, whether you want a natural birth or C-section (this desire cannot always be honored, although it is best to know what each option entails beforehand), and whether you want a hospital birth, home birth, birthing center birth, or a water birth. Each of these decisions required careful research on the risks and benefits, the statistics regarding success rates, and possible side effects or harmful effects on you and the baby for each decision.

While pregnancy is a completely natural event, there have been advances in medical science that every woman should know about. There is also a lot of knowledge among the general public about certain advances and interventions, but some are not fully understood. There are procedures that bring with them a certain level of higher risk, but many women may not be aware of these risks.

For example, an epidural and an amniocentesis are both rather routine in this day and age. However, there are some women who would not want either of them if they were aware of the risks and possible damage that can occur to mother or fetus. In the case of an epidural, there is a 1 in 1,000 risk of temporary nerve damage, and a 1 in 13,000 risk of permanent nerve damage in the leg, foot, or stomach. This nerve damage can result in numb patches on these body parts. Permanent urinary incontinence can rarely result from this procedure as well.

The overall complication risk, including all complications both minor and major, is 23% This is according to the website listed in the next paragraph. The rate of caesarian section increases among women who have had epidurals, by 7 percentage points. Other complications have included a drop in blood pressure, the need for assistance in delivery with forceps or vacuum, as well as fetal distress, blood vessel trauma, and punctured Dura.

Infections, high fever, and backache were also common. This list is only a brief discussion about some of the problems associated with epidurals. Every woman who is considering having one should know all of the risks. The website located here is well-referenced, with many studies about epidurals listed in the footnotes. While the pain of labor is intense, and is obviously what has prompted the popularity of this procedure, it is still best to know as much as possible before accepting it. Also, while the risks of major problems are rather small, especially compared to other medical procedures, it is still best to make such a decision with both eyes open.

Similarly, an amniocentesis is a routinely administered procedure, where doctors may minimize the risks of the procedure when discussing the procedure with a possible candidate for it. Since many miscarriages occur in the second trimester, when this test is performed, it is very hard to accurately estimate the miscarriage risk. The accepted risk for miscarriage because of an amniocentesis is between 1 in 200 and 1 in 400.

To some, that may not seem a small number. This test, however, is the best way to test for a genetic abnormality. This test is performed in the second trimester to allow a woman the option of aborting the pregnancy if a genetic abnormality which will create a significant burden to the family is discovered. The burdens of having a genetically abnormal child include financial burdens, as well as social burdens with regard to when the child is in school, as well as in normal social situations with friends and family.

There are other risks of this procedure as well, including causing uterine infections, the needle coming into contact with the baby possibly causing damage, and causing the water to break (i.e. creating a leak in the amniotic fluid). This would cause labor to be induced prematurely, since the amniotic fluid is what keeps the baby alive and nourished in the womb. Click on the website names that follow for links to discussions of the risks and benefits of an amniocentesis at Babycenter and the American Pregnancy Association.

In the case that a baby will have a genetic abnormality, if the woman is not planning to have an abortion (whether for religious, moral, or other personal reasons), then the performance of the test is questionable. At the URL located here, the doctor speaks about the increasing risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome for people who are older adults.
The benefits of this test are significantly mitigated if they lose the baby due to the test itself. And again, if they are not planning to abort the fetus, then the advantage of having the test may be quite small since there is nothing that can be done. Amniocentesis has very accurate results with regard to predicting Down’s syndrome. However, many women feel that a 1 in 200 potential risk for miscarriage from this procedure is too high and have chosen to not have one done.

There are hundreds of other reasons to become as informed as possible about pregnancy, especially with regard to your birthing choices. Whether to have your birth in a hospital, birthing center, or at home, are each choices that come with certain potential risks as well as certain potential outcomes. For example, if you choose to give birth in a hospital, you have a greater chance of having a cesarean section. Giving birth at home is nearly as safe as giving birth in a hospital or birthing center, according to recent research. An article at The Huffington Post, and another at the American Pregnancy Association go into greater details, and can be accessed by clicking on the website's name in the preceding sentence.

Home births are usually only allowed or normal pregnancies with low risk of complications. The disadvantage to a home birth is that there is no way to do a C-section if something goes wrong, and only a midwife would be willing to perform the delivery. This is probably the most important choice to make during your pregnancy, before the time of labor comes.

There are many other compelling reasons why every pregnant woman should be as informed as possible. With the evolution of smartphones and tablets, it is no longer even necessary to carry around a bunch of books to read about pregnancy and the birth experience. Kindles and e-readers, as well as other apps are available to read all about pregnancy right on your smartphone. Scientific studies and other information are available through social media sites and other apps. Every pregnant woman should learn about the procedures she will be having before undergoing them, and her birth partner should take an active role in learning to be better able to help her during the birth experience.

Such foreknowledge will make the pregnant woman feel more empowered and in control of her own pregnancy. Since much of pregnancy belongs to another (the fetus), having the most information can serve to make a woman feel that she is more of an active participant in the process, rather than just a vessel for the entrance of another being into this world. While it is certainly the case that the process is focused on the birth of a new person, it will help the pregnant woman to know that she, too, is an active participant in her own life and the creation of the life of another, since both lives will be forever changed by this experience.

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