Preparing for one of the most important days of your life is kind of a big deal. If you’re a first-time parent, chances are you’re feeling excited and a bit overwhelmed about this whole thing. You’re not the only one! In the months leading up to your due date, you’ll have to make many critical decisions. From deciding whether to snip (or not) to which types of pain relief you’ll be using, we’re here to help you be prepared for the big day.
- Epidural: AKA, one of the things you’ve probably already thought about! More than 50% of American women use epidurals, as it significantly reduces pain. That said, it may delay labor. Not all women are able to have an epidural depending on their health history. Some mothers will decide to use other techniques to help reduce the pain and lower their levels of fear/anxiety during labor. These techniques include hypnobirthing, hydrobirthing and acupressure/acupuncture.
- Circumcision: Feel free to skip to #3 if you’re having a girl J. To snip, or not to snip- that’s the great question! While approximately three-quarters of American men are circumcised, some families are against this practice for religious or moral reasons (among others). The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision.” Ultimately, it is the decision of the parents.
- Cord blood storage: Chances are, you probably haven’t thought about whether you should store your baby’s cord blood or not. Medical technology is progressing at a rapid rate, so more and more parents are electing to store the blood. Why? Cord blood contains potentially life-saving stem cells that can be used by your baby or even by another family member (if they’re a match). That said, the decision to store it requires advanced planning. How much planning? Find out here.
- Cord clamping: Beyond deciding on whether to store your baby’s cord blood, you’ll also have to decide whether to delay the clamping of your baby’s cord. This is most commonly done when babies aren’t carried full-term. By delaying the clamping a couple minutes, extra blood flows through the placenta to the baby. The extra blood means extra iron, which is critical for your baby’s brain development. While this may sound like a no-brainer, there are limited studies that quantify the benefits.
- Antibiotics and injections: There is a great divide about whether to give babies and children antibiotics and injections. Three of the most popular antibiotic/injection decisions you’ll have to make are for Ilotycin, vitamin K and hepatitis. Ilotycin is administered to babies to prevent neonatal conjunctivitis (aka pink eye). It can also be used to protect against STDs, e.coli (in addition to pink eye) and can even prevent blindness.
Beyond deciding whether your baby receives Ilotycin, you’ll have to choose whether or not your baby will receive a vitamin K and/or hepatitis B injection. While foods contain vitamin K, all babies lack it at birth. It’s critical to prevent hemorrhaging in the brain and intestines. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a vitamin K injection at birth. Regardless, parents are increasingly rejecting it.
Babies typically receive their first hepatitis B injection within 24 hours of birth, though you can decide to delay it or to put it off entirely. If you choose for your baby to receive the injection within 24 hours, the effectiveness of it is higher.
While these are some of the most important decisions you’ll have to make, there are many others. Keep in mind that you’ll want to discuss who your pediatrician will be, along with pacifiers vs. no pacifiers, breastfeeding vs. formula (and so much more!).