Planning the birth Have your say

About 50 per cent of women who conceive as a result of IVF have a caesarean birth, which is about twice the rate for women in general. Some of the reasons for this high rate are

1 About 70 per cent of twin pregnancies are delivered by caesarean section and since IVF mums are more likely to have twins than other mums, this adds to the high proportion of babies delivered by caesarean section after IVF.

1 More caesarean sections are performed in private than public hospitals, and most IVF mums have private health insurance.

1 Some opt for caesarean section perceiving it as the 'safer' option. Although good medical reasons exist for having a caesarean section, contrary to popular belief it's not always safer than having a vaginal birth.

1 Women who are older than age 35 when they have their first baby are more likely to have a caesarean birth than younger women, and IVF mums are usually older and more likely to be first-time mothers than mums in general.

If you have a preference for how to manage childbirth, talk to your doctor and ask for the facts about the pros and cons of your preferred way of giving birth considering your particular circumstances. Then you can let your doctor know your preferences concerning the following:

HBE*

i How you want to give birth i What kind of pain relief you want i Whether you'd rather not have too many people you don't know attending the birth i Whether you want to hold your baby straight away i Who you want to bring along to support you during the birth

Making your desires known is important, but keep in mind that your birthing wish list may have to change if you or your baby don't cope well for one reason or another as the birth progresses.

Giving up paid work

If you're in paid employment while you're pregnant, you need to make plans for when to stop working. The timing may depend on your physical health and the kind of work you do, but your personal preference is also an influence. You may prefer to keep working as long as you can because staying at home makes you worry too much about the birth. Or you may stop work early because you really enjoy spending time getting everything ready for your baby and treasure the opportunity to have long lunches with your friends and rest up before your baby is born.

If you plan to go back to work during your child's first year, try to keep the timing as open as possible because the best-laid plans sometimes don't work out. After your baby is born you may find that spending time away from your baby and leaving your baby in the care of someone else is much harder than you anticipated.

Thinking Beyond the Birth

During pregnancy the event at the forefront of your mind is The Birth, and it can be hard to think beyond that point. But when you come home with a new baby you won't have much time to do anything except care for your baby, so the more you prepare before the baby is born, the better. Even more important than organising your baby's room, clothes, nappies, pram and so on is making sure that you have plenty of volunteers ready to step up to the plate when — not if — you need them.

Your partner is, of course, your main source of support during the birth but you'll need your partner even more afterwards. Talk to your partner about how you think you can work together to share the work of caring for your baby and running your household.

If it's practically possible, try to ensure that both of you can be home the first few weeks after your baby is born so that you can get to know your new family member together.

Caring for a new baby is tough work and even if you've waited for a long time and feel ecstatic about becoming a new parent, you'll need a break from time to time. Accept any offers of help — and get them in writing! Ask people close to you if they're willing to help out if you need them after your baby is born (they won't say no). The more people you have in your pool of helpers, the less work each of them has to take on.

If you're having twins, you'll need a small army of helpers after the birth, so start conscripting early!

Pregnancy Nutrition

Pregnancy Nutrition

Are You Expecting? Find Out Everything You Need to Know About Pregnancy and Nutrition Without Having to Buy a Dictionary. This book is among the first books to be written with the expertise of a medical expert and from the viewpoint of the average, everyday, ordinary,

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