Oh, Baby! Gearing Up for One of Life’s Biggest Changes

The Health series is presented by AdventHealth

When you have a new baby on the way, it can get overwhelming fast when it seems like everyone you know—and even people you don’t know—are offering you advice about birthing and parenting. 

That’s why Kate Porazzo, RN, MSN, program manager of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission’s Birth Center, recommends deciding ahead of time whose input is most important to you.

“Set up your own ‘expert panel’ beforehand: people that you know you can trust and that you can bounce questions or concerns off—your OB, baby’s pediatrician, a trusted friend or family member with recent parenting experience,” she says. “For parents who are overwhelmed with where to start on childbirth and parenting prep, I would not reinvent the wheel by starting on your own. I always suggest seeking out childbirth classes, newborn classes, support groups, and leaning on your medical care team.”

Kate Porazzo, RN, MSN, program manager of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission’s Birth Center

Turning to AdventHealth for the Advice You Need
Whether you have questions or concerns about giving birth, early parenting skills, or postpartum, AdventHealth has resources available.

“Our childbirth prep courses are very popular, as is our newborn care course,” Porazzo says. “These provide the education you need to prepare to give birth and care for your infant. For mothers who are planning to breastfeed, our course Breastfeeding: Getting Off to a Good Start is very valuable as well.”

For first-time parents, Porazzo recommends AdventHealth’s Five-Week Childbirth Prep—a certified childbirth educator will cover labor and delivery, plus the newborn care class, and a tour of the AdventHealth Birth Center are part of this class’s curriculum. Meanwhile, if it’s been a few years since your last delivery, or you delivered by C-section the first time, AdventHealth’s Childbirth Refresher and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean classes will be helpful.

Porazzo reminds new parents to never hesitate to ask for help or advice when it’s needed. AdventHealth’s Parent and Family Education Team is a great resource you can reach anytime by calling 913-676-7777 and selecting option two for more information.

Natural Birth, C-Sections, and Breastfeeding
The top two questions Porazzo hears from expecting parents are usually about birthing methods and breastfeeding.

“Labor and delivery can be unpredictable and even the best-laid plans might need to be adjusted as we go along,” she says. “That doesn’t mean that you failed, it means that you coped, adjusted, and recalibrated the plan. That’s exactly what we do in parenthood!”

For mothers planning natural childbirth—especially if you want to forego the epidural—Porazzo recommends learning as much as you can about coping and relaxation techniques before going into labor. Meanwhile, there are several reasons a C-section might be necessary: “There are reasons known beforehand—like if the baby is breech—and reasons that become apparent as labor progresses, such as the infant’s heart rate not responding well to labor. Your OB can provide more information as your pregnancy progresses and can give medical guidance about your expected mode of delivery,” she says.

Have questions about breastfeeding? The breastfeeding experience is different for everyone, and a lactation consultant can help you get started.

“Whether breastfed or formula fed, the infant and mother are going to share an incredible bond,” Porazzo says. “Formula is a remarkable invention that has saved countless babies’ lives. At the same time, we do know that breastmilk is the optimal food for infants. It reduces the infant’s risk of SIDS, asthma, obesity, infections, type 1 diabetes, and more. For the mother, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.” 

There are many benefits to breastfeeding. If you’re having difficulties, Porazzo recommends reaching out to a lactation consultant for help.

Help for the Whole Family
When preparing for a new child, a lot of the focus is on the new baby and the mother—understandably so!—but AdventHealth also recognizes that becoming a father is a big change. 

“Fathers are sometimes overlooked, they feel guilty about asking for help when their partner and the baby still require so much care, or they don’t know that dads can develop postpartum depression and anxiety disorders too,” Porazzo says. “One in ten fathers gets postpartum depression, and up to 18 percent develop a clinically significant anxiety disorder. At AdventHealth, our Behavioral Health team is here to help: call 913-789-3218 to speak with the team today.” 

Postpartum Support International is another great resource for the whole family adapting to postpartum life.

AdventHealth’s ParentCare is also a great resource for the whole family.  “In the KC area, AdventHealth is often the first hospital people think of when having a baby, but we can also be your go-to for your entire journey as a parent, and even as you transition to being a grandparent,” Porazzo says. “On the ParentCare Hub, there are links to postpartum emotional support, breastfeeding support, the Britain Development Center, the ParentCare Facebook page, parenting groups and classes, and more. There is also a link to the comprehensive Behavior Checker to get up-to-date information and a plan to deal with difficulties such as biting, toilet training, dealing with bullying, etc.” 

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