The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby

By Ann Douglas
WebMD Live Events Transcript

Event Date: 08/07/2000.

Author Ann Douglas will join us online to discuss her book the Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. She will share vital information, money-saving techniques, time-saving tips and the latest trends that all pregnant women should know about.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the guest's alone. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Hello and welcome to the Parenting Today Program on WebMD Live.

Today's guest is Ann Douglas, co-author with John Sussman, MD, of The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. She has written other books for parents and children including Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss, and The Unofficial Guide to Childcare. An experienced journalist, she regularly writes on pregnancy-related topics for WebMD and CNN.com. Ann is the mother of four children, ages two through 12.

Welcome to WebMD Live, Ann. It's a pleasure having you here today. Before we begin taking questions, would you tell everyone a little bit about your background and area of expertise?

Douglas: Thanks. I'm glad to be here. I specialize in writing about pregnancy and birth, mainly because I have such a strong personal interest in these issues. I have four young children, and I've also been through miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility myself.

Moderator: What suggestions do you have when one is preparing to have a baby?

Douglas: I think something that's important to do is to schedule a preconception health checkup with your doctor. You can use this appointment to go over such important issues as your medical history, your birth control method, your gynecological history and other important health issues. You should also start acting as if you're pregnant, even though you haven't started trying to conceive yet. By this, I mean you should stop smoking, quit drinking alcohol, discontinue with your doctor's permission any medications that may be harmful to the developing baby, and make other lifestyle changes that will make you healthier for pregnancy.

saralg_webmd: Could you tell me the different experiences I might have with a midwife over a obstetrician?

Douglas: Sure. I've had deliveries with midwives, a family doctor, and an obstetrician, so I feel qualified to speak on this. I think the main difference you'll see between having a midwife and an obstetrician is the length of time that each caregiver can spend with you. Your prenatal appointments with a midwife will be 45 minutes to an hour, where as with a doctor, it's typically 15 minutes or less. The same thing applies to labor. Your midwife will make herself available at whatever point in labor you feel you would benefit from her support. A doctor will monitor the progress of your labor and will check in and out with you as labor progresses, but typically won't be spending a lot of time with you until the moments before the birth. This is not to say that one is necessarily better than the other. You have to decide which approach to birth is most comfortable to you, and which caregiver is going to meet your medical needs.

ladyg2_webmd: What sort of training does a midwife have, and are midwife provider births usually at home?

Douglas: Unfortunately, there's no universal legislation across the entire U.S. Some midwives are nurses who have done some additional midwifery training. Others have been trained by other midwives, and the legality of midwifery in various states varies. Most midwives, other than midwives affiliated with particular hospitals, will attend home births. In other words, if you're a midwife on staff at a large hospital, you will probably do all your practicing within the hospital.

Moderator: How long does it take a healthy couple to conceive their first child?

Douglas: This really varies a lot according to age. A healthy couple in their early twenties has a 93% to 97% chance of being pregnant within one year. A couple in their late thirties, on the other hand, has a 65% to 72% percent chance. So as you can see, there is no "one size fits all" rule about how quickly you will conceive.

abigale_webmd: Are prenatal supplements a good idea and what vitamins are important?

Douglas: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not routinely recommend prenatal supplements to all pregnant women. What they do recommend, however, is that all women of childbearing age consume at least 0.4 mg of folic acid. You should also, as your pregnancy progresses, consider taking an iron supplement if your caregiver feels it is necessary. It's not unusual for pregnant women to become anemic over the course of a pregnancy. In terms of other vitamins, you should talk to your caregiver about what he or she recommends, and you should stick to a prenatal supplement rather than taking a standard multivitamin. Prenatal supplements are designed to have the recommended doses of important nutrients. Other vitamins may have excessively large doses of certain nutrients, doses that could be dangerous to the developing baby.




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