Woman's Right to Know - Pregnancy and Childbirth

Pregnancy and birth is usually a safe, natural process although complications can occur. The most common complications of pregnancy include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Complicated delivery.
  • Premature labor.
  • Depression.
  • Infection.
  • Diabetes.
  • Hemorrhage (heavy bleeding).

One out of 8,475 women dies from pregnancy complications.

Labor is when a pregnant woman’s uterus contracts and pushes or delivers the baby from her body. The baby may be delivered through the woman’s vagina or by cesarean section. A cesarean section is a surgical procedure.

Vaginal Delivery

    Possible side effects and risks
  • Injury to the bladder or rectum.
  • A hole (fistula) between the bladder and vagina or the rectum and vagina.
  • Hemorrhage (heavy bleeding).
  • Inability to get pregnant due to infection or complication from an operation.
  • Emergency treatment for any of the above problems, including the possible need to treat with an operation, medicines, or blood transfusion.
  • Rarely, death.

Cesarean Birth

    Possible side effects and risks
  • Injury to the bowel or bladder.
  • Inability to get pregnant due to infection or complication from an operation.
  • Hemorrhage (heavy bleeding).
  • Injury to the tube (ureter) between the kidney and bladder.
  • A possible hysterectomy as a result of complication or injury during the procedure.
  • Complications from anesthesia such as respiratory problems, headaches, or drug reactions.
  • Emergency treatment for any of the above problems, including the possible need to treat with an operation, medicines, or a blood transfusion.
  • Rarely, death.

Emotional Side of Birth

Birth is a life-changing experience, and each birth brings with it a new and different set of experiences and feelings.

The feelings you experience after birth may be the most intense you have ever encountered: great surges of joy and happiness, feelings of contentment and fulfillment. It is not uncommon for women also to experience fears, worries, or sadness.

Depression after the birth of a baby can occur. Many new mothers experience various degrees of it. While depression can occur within days after delivery, it can also appear gradually, and sometimes it doesn’t start until a year after your baby’s birth.

In most cases, mothers have mild symptoms that may last only a few days. However, some mothers experience severe symptoms that can include exhaustion, feelings such as worthlessness or hopelessness, and memory loss. In rare circumstances you may have a fear of harming yourself or your baby. Although these symptoms may not last long, if you have any of them, you must call your doctor to get some professional help and support.

You can reduce the risk for problems or complications in any pregnancy.
Here’s how:

  • Get early and regular prenatal care.
  • Eat a well balanced diet and get regular exercise.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or take drugs that your doctor hasn’t prescribed for you.

If you have questions or concerns, be sure to talk with your doctor or other health-care provider.

Ask your doctor for a copy of the A Woman’s Right to Know resource directory.

Medical and Social Assistance

You must get some information from your doctor or the doctor’s assistant before the abortion can be done. Here are the things you must be told:

  • You may be able to get medical-assistance benefits to help with prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care.
  • The man who got you pregnant must help support your child if you decide to stay pregnant and keep the baby. The law says he must help even if he offered to pay for an abortion.

Public and private agencies can help you.

  • They can give you information about preventing pregnancies.
  • They can give you medical referrals for birth-control methods, including emergency contraception if you were raped or a victim of incest.

You should know that, if you choose to have your baby and find yourself weighed down by the job of being a parent, Texas has the “Baby Moses / Safe Haven” law. The law allows you or the baby’s father to leave a baby under 60 days old in a safe place and not return for the baby without fear of being charged with a crime, if the baby is not hurt. Safe places are hospitals, fire stations, emergency clinics or licensed child-placing agencies.

Talk to someone if you feel weighed down about being a parent. There is help available.

Child-Support Services

Assistance in Obtaining Child Support

The Texas Office of the Attorney General can assist you in getting child support for your baby. The Child Support Office can help locate a non-custodial parent, determine the father of the child (paternity), establish and enforce child support orders, review and adjust child support payments, and collect child-support payments. If you need services, call 1 (800) 252-8014.

Neither federal nor state data can predict the statistical likelihood of collecting child support. In fact, a significant number of parents provide child support for their children outside the Attorney General’s child support program. However, for those parents who do not support their children despite court orders for child support, the Office of the Attorney General provides enforcement services. For these enforcement cases, on average, the program has collected about 62 percent of the amount of current support due each month. Nationwide, child support programs collect about 57 percent of the current support due each month.

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Last updated December 5, 2012