Halfway there for baby

Michelle and Doug Weeks of Burnt Hills are having their first baby, and they couldn’t be happier. “W

Michelle and Doug Weeks of Burnt Hills are having their first baby, and they couldn’t be happier.

“We’re excited,” said Michelle, 35, an executive assistant at St. Peter’s Hospital. “But we’re also a little nervous. You can’t predict how things will go.”

That’s why the couple decided to attend a recent Maternity Information Night at St. Peter’s Hospital, where Michelle plans to deliver. Her due date is Nov. 18. The couple preferred not to know if they are having a boy or a girl.

Albany Medical Center Hospital and Bellevue Woman’s Care Center offer similar services.

Maternity Information Night is a one-session program that focuses mainly on individuals who are approximately halfway through their pregnancies. Participants become familiar with the maternity and newborn services, tour the birthing rooms and mother-baby unit, meet several of the staff who will care for them and have an opportunity to sign up for childbirth and parenting classes.

Laying the foundation

“It seemed like a good idea to come and familiarize myself with the faces and the facility beforehand,” said Michelle Weeks. “Especially with a first child, it’s a little scary. I’d like to achieve a certain comfort level before I actually have the baby.”

Kathy Marsch, director of Women’s and Children’s Services at St. Peter’s, said: “There are things they need to consider, like picking out a pediatrician and whether they are going to breast- or bottle-feed. If they have a boy, are they going to have him circumcised? Many of the women wait until they come to the hospital to deliver to figure it all out. So we try to give them guidelines ahead of time.”

Today, women who have a vaginal delivery are usually in the hospital for two days. Women who have a Caesarean birth are in for four days.

“The length of stay is so short now,” said Marsch. “That’s why it’s important to make some of these decisions ahead of time. Many moms are also working today. So the more they can do while they still have time to think and prepare for the baby, the better.”

Utilizing resources

Marsch urged parents-to-be to think ahead and line up help for the times when they are exhausted.

“None of us can imagine being so upset with our babies that we would shake them, but it happens,” said Marsch. “And it happens because babies cry, and sometimes parents are tired and have very little tolerance, and they haven’t thought about how they are going to deal with a screaming baby. So have some resources. Ask somebody to take the baby so you can get some rest.”

Marsch also urged mothers-to-be to think about who they want in the labor and delivery room with them.

“You need to decide on one support person who will help you, usually the baby’s father,” said Marsch. “But then everyone else who has been rubbing your belly is going to want to come in, too. So you have to decide ahead of time if you would rather they wait in the waiting room.”

Marsch advised women to tell people to wait to visit them at home a few weeks after they deliver and to bring dinner for the family.

“They should also offer to baby-sit for you,” she added with a laugh.

Karen Mauer, lactation consultant, urged mothers-to-be to think about whether they wanted to breast-feed or bottle-feed.

Reasons to breast-feed

Mauer said some of the reasons to breast-feed included:

– It’s nutritious.

– It provides protection against childhood diseases.

– It offers comfort of close physical contact and promotes bonding.

– It’s convenient. The milk is always ready and available.

– It’s economical.

Maria Pensiero, social worker, urged mothers to be aware of postpartum depression.

“It’s a common experience that many women, and sometimes even fathers face any where from two weeks to a year after the birth,” said Pensiero.

Women who have a history of depression are particularly susceptible.

“Basically, if your mood interferes with your ability to care for yourself or your baby, and you experience sleeping and eating disturbances, you should talk to your family doctor,” said Pensiero. “If your doctor recommends you see a mental health provider, you should do so.”

In the back of the room, Kelly Hans of Albany, was having her feet massaged by Mary Margaret Gerry, a licensed practical nurse and certified reflexologist.

Comforting practice

Reflexology is the practice of massaging or pushing on part of the feet with the goal of encouraging a beneficial effect on other parts of the body or to improve general health, Gerry explained.

“It really promotes relaxation, especially during pregnancy,” said Gerry.

“It feels fabulous,” said Hans, 38, whose first baby is due Jan. 23. “I also think it’s helping the swelling in my legs go down. I may stay here all night.”

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