Let your doctor know if you want help managing pain during delivery. Two-thirds of women delivering at hospitals choose to have an epidural, a local anesthetic for the lower body. With an epidural, only a small amount of medication is needed, and since it is injected directly into the spine, not much reaches your bloodstream or your baby. There is a risk of it slowing the fetal heartbeat, so expect your baby to be continuously monitored.
Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that can be used to treat a variety of blood disorders. If you want yours saved, it can be stored in a public bank, free of charge, for use by anyone who might need it. For a yearly fee, you can keep it in a private bank for use by your baby or a family member.
Breastfeed or formula feed? With breastfeeding, you won't spend money on formula, and breast milk is always with you. It contains all the right nutrients in the right amounts, and it protects your baby against colds, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome. It also speeds your recovery, helps you burn more calories and releases hormones that promote relaxation. And it may protect you against heart attack and stroke. The one downside is that only "Mom" can feed baby.
Formula provides vitamins, minerals and extra iron to mimic breast milk. It's good for brain and nervous system development, and it allows your partner equal feeding time. So be sure to keep enough on hand for those 3 a.m. feedings.