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Maternity & Childbirth FAQs
Hamilton residents Harold and Stefanie Laudien prepared
a birth plan when they were expecting daughter Mia.

Read their story.

Frequently Asked Questions

During Pregnancy | Giving Birth | After Your Baby's Arrived | About Postpartum Depression

During Pregnancy

I am pregnant and thinking about breastfeeding. What should I do now to prepare?

There is nothing you need to do to prepare your breasts for breastfeeding. Nature will take care of that on its own. What you can do is educate yourself. Read about breastfeeding, attend a class and choose a pediatrician who is supportive of breastfeeding. If you are interested in attending a childbirth education or breastfeeding class, call 609.584.5900.

Also, plan to room with your baby during the first days in the hospital to establish the routine while you have a supportive, educated group of nurses and a lactation consultant available to help. If you have specific questions or concerns, contact a board certified lactation consultant by calling our lactation office at 609.631.6923.

How can I be sure I am installing the car seat correctly?

Make an appointment with your local police or fire department to have them check the car seats for you. Also, many baby supply stores will have information about local baby fairs where certified in car seat safety experts can help you.

When do I pick a pediatrician?

It is important to start looking for a pediatrician early so that you can interview several and make sure that you find the right fit for your family. Feel free to ask the each physician about their beliefs on breastfeeding, medications, vaccinations and anything else you feel is important.

Can I see where I'll be giving birth?

An RWJ Hamilton maternal child health services tour is scheduled every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning. Call 609.584.5900 to schedule a tour.

Giving Birth

What are the typical symptoms of labor?

Labor is defined as painful, regular, and persistent uterine contractions leading to cervical change. Contractions usually begin in an irregular pattern (every 10-15 minutes) but can progress to labor. If your contractions are about every five minutes, and persistent for over an hour, this is a good time to contact your provider.

In a few cases, the bag of water (amniotic fluid) may rupture even prior to the onset of contractions. This event may present with either a gush of fluid vaginally or constant heavy leaking. You will need to contact your provider with the onset of this symptom as well.

What options do I have for pain management in labor?

The maternal child health services department at RWJ Hamilton offers 24-hour anesthesia coverage for laboring patients. An epidural anesthesia is one option to managing pain. It involves placement of a needle in the patient's spine through which a narrow tubing (catheter) is threaded. Pain medicine is then injected through this tubing, making the patient numb to pain typically from the middle of the abdomen down to her feet.

Another reasonable option would be a narcotic shot given through your intravenous port. The shot acts as an analgesic to ease most of the pain of labor. The appropriate times and circumstances for these pain management options will be discussed with you by your provider.

Who should I have with me during my labor and delivery of my child?

You have the opportunity to choose which person is best suited to be with you during this very important time in your life. The maternity staff at RWJ Hamilton recommends this person be responsible, mature, reliable, and able to support your emotional and physical needs during this time.

We also recommend you limit the number of your support persons to two individuals. Your physician and/or midwife should be able to guide you in choosing the person best able to meet your needs.

After Your Baby's Arrived

I am breastfeeding my child. How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk?

When your milk comes in (three to five days after delivery), start counting wet diapers. Buy inexpensive diapers for the first week so you can easily tell when they are wet. If your baby has four to six wet diapers in a 24-hour period, you are supplying the baby with a good amount of breast milk.

It is also important to count stool diapers. You should see three to five (or more) in a 24-hour period. If you are still unsure, call your pediatrician and ask to bring your baby in for a weight check.

How do I dress my baby?

As adults, we are more resilient to climate changes than babies. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one layer more than you are comfortable wearing.

How do I put my baby to sleep?

Newborn babies must always be placed to sleep on their backs. For more information on baby care, please take a look at the variety of parenting preparation classes offered by the RWJ Hamilton community education department. Call 609.584.5900 for more information.

What can I do to get back into shape?

Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to help get back down to your pre-pregnancy weight. A nursing mother burns 200-500 calories daily simply by producing milk.

Getting back into a regular exercise routine and eating a healthy, balanced diet will also help to burn that excess weight. The RWJ Hamilton community education department offers fitness classes exclusively for new mothers.

About Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Why am I feeling down?

Some women get the "baby blues," a condition related to shifts in hormone levels that pass relatively quickly. However, for some women the birth of a child can lead to postpartum depression, or PPD. It is important that if you do not feel the affects of the "baby blues" abate after a short period, you talk to both your partner and your health care provider.

What's the difference between the "baby blues" and postpartum depression?

The baby blues are common, affecting up to 85% of new mothers. Frequently described as "bad PMS," the blues includes mood swings, tearfulness, anxiety and irritability. Most often the blues strike within days of childbirth and pass in about two weeks. Reassurance, support and education help.

PPD sets in two to four weeks after delivery and, without proper attention, can pose serious risks to a mother and baby. PPD includes crying, anxiety, obsession, feelings of guilt, and changes in sleep and appetite. It should not be confused with postpartum psychosis, a severe illness that leaves some sufferers at risk for suicide, child abuse or infanticide.

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