During that period, if a woman is uncomfortable, there are lots of different pain medications. One that we may have heard of before is an epidural. Can you explain what an epidural is?
STEVEN HOCKSTEIN, MD: Epidural anesthesia is medicine that is injected through a small plastic catheter into the small of a woman's back. It's very similar to an IV. The medicine is injected around the spinal cord. This gives the woman excellent pain relief from the belly button down. And it can be titrated, meaning that the dosage can be adjusted. If she's uncomfortable, some more medication can be injected. Throughout the course of the labor, if it wears off some more medicine can be given. And many women choose this while they're in labor and find it really excellent.
Many of us have heard of Apgar scores. Can you say something about that?
ADRIANNE MOORE, MD: The Apgar score is a traditional means of scoring the well-being of the infant at the time of birth. It has no implications for how well the baby will do thereafter.
After a normal labor and delivery, how long does a pregnant woman stay in the hospital? STEVEN HOCKSTEIN, MD: For a vaginal delivery, people typically stay in the hospital for two days. So if a woman delivers on Monday, Tuesday is considered Day 1. Wednesday -- she will go home. For Caesarian section, women typically stay in the hospital four days if their recovery is uncomplicated.
What happens, Dr. Moore, with a mother and her baby within those two days in the hospital?
ADRIANNE MOORE, MD: In many hospitals, the mother and the baby are allowed to stay in the same room, and the mother learns to care for the baby, especially if she's a new mother, and learns to bathe the baby and breastfeed. It's enormously helpful to a new mother to be afforded this adjustment time.
Dr. Steven Hockstein is currently Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York Presbyterian Hospital . Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Dr. Hockstein received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Prentice Women.s Hospital . Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. He is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Copyright © Steven Hockstein. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.