The Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery Planner for Grand Rapids – Your Top Questions, Answered

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Metro Health Gives us Real-Life, Logical Answers to Your Biggest Pregnancy and Planning Questions

Congratulations! You’re Pregnant! Now What?

Becoming a mother for the first time is an unforgettable – and overwhelming – experience. Luckily, my husband and I planned for our first child so we weren’t completely surprised.

After you’ve peed on your seventh pregnancy test and seen those two pink lines yet again, it’s time to start thinking about what happens next.

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We spoke to the medical team at Metro Health – University of Michigan OB / GYN to answer all of your concerns about pregnancy, childbirth and those vital first few months afterward.


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Finding the Right OB is Vital to a Happy Pregnancy and Smooth Labor and Delivery

When I was pregnant with my first child, I lived in Spring Lake. I can’t even remember how I found my doctor (who was actually an amazing midwife).

When I moved to Hudsonville, I seriously considered continuing to make the drive back and forth to Grand Haven for my second pregnancy because I loved my midwife so much. Fortunately, a friend recommended an excellent OBGYN in Hudsonville.

If you don’t know anyone in the area for a recommendation, you have more work to do. Dr. Stephanie Getz at Metro Health talked to us about their top ten recommendations for questions to ask a potential OBGYN. It’s important to find an OBGYN that connects with your goals.

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Some of these questions, like make sure they accept your insurance, were a great starting point for me when deciding if I should go with a new OBGYN or stick with my midwife.

In the end, Metro’s third item on their list is why I went with a new OBGYN: convenience. I knew from my first pregnancy that it wouldn’t be so bad to drive back and forth to Grand Haven for my monthly appointments, but I couldn’t see myself making that commitment to weekly appointments or a middle of the night emergency.

No matter what, you have to make sure you are completely comfortable with your OB choice.

There are so Many “Rules” for Pregnancy. What’s a Woman REALLY Allowed to Eat and Do?

Pregnant or not, I think most of us know that pregnant women should not smoke or drink alcohol. But I know I was surprised to hear that I shouldn’t eat deli meat when pregnant. The workers at Subway really gave my husband weird looks when he told them to microwave my meat before they grilled it when I was having a craving.

Dr. Kelly Hansul at Metro Health sat down with us and discussed several pregnancy myths.

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I was thrilled to get out of litter box duty for nearly a year (three times!). But I looked longingly at the Jacuzzi in my hotel during summer vacation, sad that I wasn’t allowed to enjoy it.

I was surprised that Dr. Hansul told us there is some truth behind a couple of old wives tales. I only had morning sickness for one of my pregnancies: my only girl. Dr. Hansul told us that may be a result of the hormones from a female fetus.

Don’t skip over reading all of Dr. Hansul’s advice, even if you’re sad that you don’t actually get to eat for two.

Where to Find High Risk Pregnancy Help Near Grand Rapids

When I hear the term, “high risk pregnancy,” I picture a woman on bedrest for most of her pregnancy and a NICU team standing-by at delivery. While this can certainly be the case for some, Metro Health OB/GYN Tracie Rulewicz, says this is not the norm.

Dr. Rulewicz told us that a high risk pregnancy is anything that deviates from the standard care and routine.

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I was 35 during the entire nine months of my last pregnancy. I had no idea that “advanced maternal age” falls into the high risk category.  Something as simple as age 35 or over to things as complicated as chronic conditions like diabetes are both considered high risk.

We have the scoop on all the ways to maintain a healthy pregnancy whether or not you are high risk. If you do have a high risk pregnancy, we can also direct you to many resources to help you navigate this stressful time.

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Here’s What to Look for in the Best Pediatrician Near Grand Rapids

The most stressful part of my first pregnancy (other than avoiding thinking about labor and delivery) was choosing a pediatrician. At the time, I didn’t even have a primary care doctor for myself. I had no idea what I was doing.

I didn’t have any friends in the area so I did the only thing I could think of: I asked my midwife who she recommended.

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I read in one of my pregnancy books that you should interview a prospective pediatrician. This seemed so strange to me, but I’m so glad that I did.

Kimberly Meles, pediatrician at Metro Health Grand Rapids Northeast, also says this is important. “Your child’s pediatrician should be someone you can share your fears and anxieties with, without judgement.”

I met with my possible new pediatrician and felt an instant connection with her, something that Dr. Meles says is a key reason for the interview. My pediatrician also seemed to be on the same page as me for most things I asked about, like breastfeeding and vaccinations.

If you don’t have time to interview pediatricians, don’t worry. You can ALWAYS change doctors down the road.

Ease Your Labor & Delivery Anxieties with Childbirth Classes

I heard so much about “Lamaze classes” throughout my life that I was surprised that they aren’t actually called that nowadays. My husband and I enrolled in a six-week long childbirth class during the middle stages of my pregnancy. I still remember relaxing into my best friend to practice my breathing during one class where she filled in for my husband.

There are so many options for childbirth classes near Grand Rapids now, from several nights a week to one full Saturday or even online.

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“Attendees feel more prepared, more confident, more at peace and often better connected with their partner,” says Annie Jones, Metro Health Perinatal Education Coordinator, says,

That was definitely the case for me. I especially liked having the tour of the birthing unit – but chose to look away and close my eyes when they showed us an epidural needle.

Thanks to my classes, when my water broke at home, I knew to eat something (and take a shower) before I went to the hospital. My husband had mastered swaddling baby dolls and he was ready for creating baby burritos with our newborn.

When we had our second and third babies, we took our kids to a sibling class. It was so fun to see them learning how to hold babies and wrap them in a blanket. It made them feel more involved in what was going to be happening.

No matter if this is your first or fifth pregnancy, be sure to check out childbirth class offerings near you.

Hormonal Pregnancy Fears are Real, but They Don’t Really Materialize

No matter how many times you’ve given birth, you are likely to be anxious about something.

For my first birth, I was sure I wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time and I’d give birth on the side of the road.

I had scheduled c-sections for my next two births. The first time, I was positive that I was going to go into labor before the planned date and my scar (and uterus) would rupture. The last time, I was convinced that my son would have a special need that didn’t show up in the ultrasound and I wouldn’t be able to take care of him.

Luckily, none of those things happened and I gave birth to three perfect babies in the security of the hospital like I wanted.

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We spoke to Dr. Brad Irving, OB/GYN at Metro Health about these common fears. He told us that most women worry about their birth experiences because it’s completely out of their control and that scares them. We also hear too many stories about when things go wrong even though the majority of births are normal.

I was not surprised to hear Metro Health’s list of top five fears of labor and delivery. Among them were two of my own: something going wrong during delivery and something bad will happen to my baby.

Dr. Irving reminds women that you are not alone in your worries. The medical staff has the same goal as you: to send you and your baby home safe and sound.

There are Many Birth Surprises that No One Tells You About. Until Now.

When I think back to those first few hours after giving birth, I remember the snuggles with my newborn. The skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, stroking their soft hair and skin…

While these were also the images I had in my head of what it would be like, I also had the silly belief that I would immediately be back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I was shocked that I still looked at least seven months pregnant for several weeks after giving birth. I was so upset by this that I always made sure I had my baby with me when I was out in public so no one would ask me when I was due.

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There are so many surprises after childbirth. While vaginal and cesarean births and recoveries are different, they also have a remarkable amount of similarities. Metro Health OB/GYN Susan Hicks talked to us about some of these.

If you have a vaginal birth, you will have to deliver the placenta not long after you deliver your baby. Since I had all cesarean births, I never actually saw my placenta.

If you are breastfeeding, it will likely be painful for the first couple days while your breasts toughen up and you (and baby) figure out what you’re doing. Pro tip: take along some lanolin to the hospital or ask for some there and use it after every nursing session. Your breasts will thank you.

Breastfeeding Isn’t as Easy and Glamorous as Instagram Says it Is

I absolutely loved breastfeeding, but in the beginning, it was very overwhelming. Sure, I could do a football hold when I was in the hospital and a nurse positioned my baby for me, but could I do it at home by myself? (Answer: No.) Finding a breastfeeding support group is vital to building your confidence.

Christa Peoples, lactation consultant and RN, has been leading breastfeeding support groups with Metro Health for 17 years. If you are a new mom (including to your second baby and beyond), I encourage you to do whatever you can to take advantage of her knowledge.

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I attended a weekly breastfeeding support group for my oldest. Certified lactation consultants lead these groups. The main objective is to help troubleshoot the problems you run into at home. There is often a baby scale in the room so that you can weigh your baby before and after a feeding to see just how much milk he’s getting.

I continued to attend my breastfeeding support group even after I was no longer nursing. It was an opportunity for me to get out of the house and be around other moms. I felt proud that I could pass on my experiences and advice to the new moms who joined the group, as I had learned from others. I am still great friends with a mom I met there.

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Did You Know That Post Partum Depression Also Causes Anger?

I heard about postpartum depression long before I was pregnant. Everything was fine after my first child so I assumed I was in the clear for my other kids.

I breastfed my second baby for 21 months. The very next day, I noticed that it seemed like I was having particularly bad PMS. Days went by and the extreme irritability only got worse.

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My big lightbulb moment came one night about three weeks after I last nursed. My husband wasn’t home so it was just me and the kids. As I often do on those nights, I made something for the kids and decided to eat later.

This particular night, I was binge watching a new show on my laptop and didn’t want to help my daughter with the silverware she was still learning to use. Partway through the meal, she called out to me and asked for help.

I snapped at her that if she couldn’t do it herself, she could just not eat dinner. My five year old son looked at me and then looked back at his sister. He carefully pulled her highchair over to him and said, “Here, Katie. I’ll help you.” I felt about two inches tall.

That was when I knew there was something wrong with me.

On the advice of friends and my husband’s insistence, I contacted my doctor.

When I went for my appointment, my doctor dropped the bombshell on me. I had delayed-onset postpartum depression, triggered from weaning my daughter.

I was shocked. I wasn’t sad, so how could I have PPD? I didn’t feel disconnected from my kids, either. I was just mad. My doctor said that extreme irritability – rage – is a lesser known symptom of PPD.

I started on a low dose of an SSRI and felt more like myself within four weeks. It was wonderful! But when I became unexpectedly pregnant with my third child, I stopped my SSRI cold-turkey (on my doctor’s advice) and immediately fell into a depression.

After he was born, I had horrible baby blues. If anyone asked me how I was doing, I immediately started crying.

My youngest son is two years old now and I am still dealing with postpartum depression.

I am now back on my SSRI. I recently had to admit that medication wasn’t working on its own and the PPD wasn’t just going away by itself like I’d hoped. I now also go to therapy twice a month.

While I don’t personally attend them yet, there are multiple PPD support groups out there.

If you are a new mom (or know someone who is) and are feeling “a little off,” I encourage you to talk to your doctor or attend one of the many support groups in the area.

Help is out there. You are not alone.

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On behalf of the team at Grand Rapids Kids, welcome to the tribe, Mama! There are going to be lots of twists and turns, but there is help in Grand Rapids for you.  We are glad you’re here!

Jump to find…
10 Questions to Ask When Choosing an OBGYN
Labor & Delivery Fears Addressed
Pregnancy Myths
Postpartum Depression Symptoms and Local Help
High Risk Pregnancy Help
What You Need to Know About the First 24 Hours After Birth
Questions to ask When Finding a Pediatrician
Local Childbirth & Breastfeeding Classes
Local Childbirth & Breastfeeding Classes
Potty Training Tips from a Doc With Toddlers

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