What is epidural anaesthesia?

by Guest
Posted August 25 2010 03:02pm
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A medication is placed in the epidural space in the lower back. This medication numbs the nerves in the lower back.  This is similar to when the dentist numbs the nerves in your face before doing a filling.  Epidural has been used since the 1960’s to provide pain relief during labour.

There are two types of epidurals available.  A standard epidural (block) can be used for either a vaginal birth or a Caesarean Birth.  With a standard epidural you will not be able to move your legs and may only feel pressure but no pain. A light epidural sometimes called a ‘walking’ epidural is used for a vaginal birth.  With this type of epidural you will be able to move your legs, you will feel pressure and pain will be diminished.

Epidurals offer excellent pain relief, they allow you to relax and even sleep during labour and they allow women who are having a caesarean birth to be awake.  The light epidurals also allow you to change position, walk and move around - all measures that help labour to progress.

When can an epidural be given?
Since only a specialist can give an epidural, it is a pain measure that is only available in hospital.  Once your labour is progressing and the neck of your cervix has opened to about 4cm an epidural can then be given.  An epidural may not be appropriate for some women due to their medical history, talk with your doctor before you go into labour to discuss what pain relief measures would be best for you.

How is an epidural given?
A specialist doctor called an anaesthesiologist gives the epidural by having you lay on your side in a curled position or has you sit up bending over your abdomen. He freezes your skin first by injecting a medication-then he places a needle into the epidural space. A thin, flexible plastic tube (catheter) is threaded through the needle; the needle is removed and the catheter stays in place until after your baby is born. The specialist then inserts medication or a combination of medications through the catheter and into the epidural space.

Like any medical procedure epidurals do have some disadvantages.

For mom these include:

  • Possible fever in mom for several hours after birth
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Some women experience shivering 
  • May slow labour
  • Diminishes urge to push
  • Diminishes urge to pee (urinate)
  • Reaction to the medications used i.e. nausea, vomiting, headache, itching
  • Requires the use of intravenous (I.V.) fluids, fetal monitoring, frequent checks of vital signs and possible urinary catheter to empty the bladder.
  • Paralysis is extremely rare.
  • Lingering back pain is a common complaint; however research to date does not support the epidural as the source of the pain.

For baby disadvantages include:

  • Changes in baby’s heart rate
  • Changes to baby’s temperature
  • Changes in baby reflexes for first few days after birth
  • Baby’s sucking reflex may be affected by medications
  • Fussiness
  • May cause hypoglycaemia in baby (low blood sugar)

Talk to your health care provider before you go into labour about the options for pain relief and any concerns that you have about them. 

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Testing for Jaundice

by Guest
Posted August 25 2010 04:24pm
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Nearly all newborns have some jaundice that usually peaks between 3-5 days following birth. Jaundice is caused by the excess build-up of a yellow pigment called bilirubin, under the skin. A nurse will assess your newborn for jaundice and, if it is suspected, then there will be an evaluation of serum bilirubin levels through blood tests. Blood will most likely be taken from your baby’s heel.


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by Maxine
Posted July 27 2010 03:28pm
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Our experts have developed a number of articles that will address the questions you have about properly breastfeeding your child.

There is so much information out there about breastfeeding and as a result, parents are overwhlemed when they look for the information they need about breastfeeding their baby. Our experts have developed a number of articles that will address the questions you have about properly breastfeeding your child.


Rest assured - you are not alone and we are here to help.


Ask Our Expert!
Do you still have questions about breastfeeding? Our expert, Attie Sandink, is a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Ask Attie a Question!


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Becoming a Father

by Maxine
Posted July 7 2010 12:12pm
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Your baby will be here very soon, and you probably have some concerns about your new role as a father. Will you know how to care for the baby? Will you connect? This worry could come from the popular belief that fathers are less sensitive than mothers – and even somewhat clumsy with their babies, especially newborns.

Not to worry – there are several studies by noted researchers that suggested that this is untrue. The results actually indicated that fathers are naturally capable of caring for their new babies, as they are generally sensitive, warm and competent caregivers. And they are just as capable or incapable as mothers. And like mom, dad can talk to and touch their babies throughout pregnancy, bonding long before they are born.

Take a look at the information below. It outlines the behavioural and emotional responses new dads showed toward their newborns, according to the research findings. You’ll find plenty of responses that show that new dads are sensitive and competent.

Biological responses:
Their heart rate and blood pressure increased while new fathers were interacting with their newborns. This suggests that new Fathers are physically prepared to respond to their babies, which shows they are certainly far from indifferent.

New fathers reported feeling elated when their babies were born, emotionally connected to the child and equally as anxious as Mothers about leaving them in someone else's care.

New fathers frequently visited hospitalized newborns. They showed interest by behaving the same as moms when meeting their babies for the first time and when interacting with their babies in the maternity ward.Blindfolded with noses plugged, new fathers could recognize their children by touching their hands, which demonstrates a certain physical connectedness.

When observed feeding their babies, both parents responded appropriately to their baby's cues. (However, if fathers were not asked to show their competence, they were more likely to let the mothers take over.)

Researchers also discovered ways in which new fathers demonstrated sensitivity to their babies’ needs, as compared to mothers.

When babies showed upset during feeding—for example, sneezing, spitting up, coughing, grunting, crying or moving their mouths— fathers showed sensitivity toward their babies. On average, Fathers were just as responsive as mothers.

When babies needed a change in pace or support when feeding, fathers were, on average, equally as capable as mothers to encourage their babies to eat. They also responded well to their babies’ cues by either adjusting to meet the baby’s pace or using phrases like, “Open wide!” and “Look at the spoon!”

When their babies cried, fathers were less likely than mothers to automatically pick them up. Fathers tended to wait longer than mothers to pick up crying babies.

Both mothers and fathers adjusted their speech patterns when talking to their babies. They spoke more slowly, used shorter phrases and repeated themselves more often than when speaking to an adult.

However, fathers demanded higher levels of speech from their babies. For example, while mothers were more likely to use shorter sentences, fathers used more words in their sentences. This means the babies had to pay more attention to learn what the fathers were saying.

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