11 Myths Moms Fall For About Childbirth In America (And 4 That Are Real)

From the time that the pregnancy test reads "positive", pregnant women are faced with thousands of thoughts and questions. Some of these questions are meant for a doctor but some of them are for moms-to-be to discuss with their friends and family. Sometimes, online forums are also a great source of advice. There are other times where the middle-aged lady at the gas station gives expecting mothers useful a tip. Whoever it may be, moms are flooded with information. They are given information about baby showers and epidurals, morning sickness and labor techniques.

It can be hard to determine the facts from the myths when they're given so many "helpful" hints. How is she supposed to know if a birthing plan is necessary or if the second, third, and fourth births really are easier? She could let these comments bother her, she could follow them in the hopes that they're true, or she could do some research and determine what the reality of them is.

If a new mama doesn't want to let the comments bother her, if she wants to ensure the truth, if she wants to know whether they work or not, read these 15 most popular and most common pregnancy myths and the facts that relate to them. Then, the next time she is offered a myth as a suggestion, she can respond back with the truth and not give in to the pregnancy clichés.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

15 Fact: Your Body Prepares Itself For Birth

You may have been under the impression that for nine months, your body will prepare itself for pregnancy while your baby grows inside of you. You take prenatal, eat differently, and work differently when you're pregnant because you're pregnant. Modern medicine has shown us that this is not an all natural process and that helping to prepare your body for labor really does help.

TheBump suggests low impact workouts to keep your muscles and bones working and strengthening during pregnancy. You'll look a lot stronger during labor, literally. You also want to be sure that you are eating foods and drinking water that are healthy for you and the baby so that you can both grow stronger.

To help your pelvic region and reproductive muscles, try prenatal yoga and practice Kegels. Prenatal yoga was designed specifically with the pregnant body in mind, hence the name "prenatal" yoga. You will use your hips, your back, and your legs often in prenatal yoga. Kegels will help your lady bit's muscles loosen up and strengthen to help push the baby out, and then shrink your uterus back to pre-pregnancy size.

Be sure that your workouts are discussed with your doctor to ensure they are safe!

14 Myth: At A Certain Point, Epidurals Are Too Late

Contrary to popular belief, not every woman gets an epidural. Although an epidural is an effective and widely used form of pain management during labor, it is not the only technique used. Some women cannot get an epidural and some women don't want an epidural- and no, not because they are insane!

There are different methods that work differently for every woman. Some women find that having a water birth helps the pain, by warming and soothing the muscles that are so heavily worked during childbirth. Other women have been known to use massage therapy from their partner to soothe the pain from the muscles and joints working to help the baby out of the womb. Aromatherapy, the use of scents, is used in some hospitals and birthing centers.

Yoga balls, light dimmers, upbeat music, and plenty of other forms of pain management are used to help fight through labor without the use of an epidural. Not having an epidural does not make you stronger than a woman who gets an epidural and vice versa. Every woman has a different pain tolerance, not to mention a different labor and delivery experience. Whatever form you choose, ensure that it works for you so that meeting your newest family member is as beautiful and exciting as it should be!

13 Fact: Eating Is Not Allowed During Active Labor

When older generations were in labor, they were told that they could not eat or drink. Those rules are still followed today but they have been updated.

You are free to eat and drink while you are in labor so long as you don't have an epidural. Obviously, you can't pop open that bottle of red wine until after you deliver. I mean, seriously, Lauren. You can sip on water and sports drinks, like Gatorade. Medic8 even says that food is allowed. Since you are going to be using a lot of energy to get through those contractions and to push when it's go time, carbohydrates are recommended for those hungry labor bellies. Carbs will give you energy as long as you eat the good and healthy ones, such as bananas and yogurt.

Once a woman is in active labor and is ready for delivery, it is common to not be able to eat.

There are health effects that doctors must adhere to and to have a patient choking on a banana while she's in the middle of pushing out a leg, isn't something that they want to have to deal with. Sipping water in between pushes and focusing on getting the baby out will get you closer to that post-delivery meal that you so badly desire.

12 Myth: Everyone Should Deliver Through The "V"

"Look, Claire, we know that the umbilical cord is wrapped around your unborn baby's neck. You can do a v-delivery, though. Keep pushing and hopefully, we'll get that baby out soon!"

Could you imagine if your doctor said that to you during labor? Every woman is not equipped to deliver their baby from their wazoo. The use of C-section has saved lives of, both, mother and baby when they otherwise would not have survived labor. Women who have c-sections do not choose to have c-sections because they are easier.

They have c-sections to ensure the safety of themselves and their unborn child.

"Look, Hazel, we know that you're dilating quickly, but we're going to do a c-section. You'll heal up afterward and your baby will come out a lot easier."

Could you imagine if your doctor had said that to you during labor? There is no medical reason to ask a woman to have a c-section if she can have a "normal" delivery. While, v-births are a completely different process, having a c-section will not make your labor less painful. If your body is prepared for and can endure a v-birth, it is the safest route and should be followed.

11 Myth: Water Breaking Is A Dramatic Ordeal

As Parents Magazine states, your water may not even break before labor begins. You will more than likely have contractions long before your water breaks, which is usually right before you give birth.

On the other hand, your water can break before labor has begun. You should contact your doctor or go to the labor and delivery unit at your hospital if your water breaks. However, it does not mean they will admit you to the hospital right away, you could be told to wait it out or even be sent home.

The movie cliché of your water breaking while it gushes all down your leg, and you begin running and screaming to find your partner is not accurate. Your water may break and only be a slight trickle or a gush that promptly ends as soon as it's begun. It may not be painful or it could come with contractions following or preceding. Some women never feel their water break or their doctor may break their water as contractions get closer together or as they are prepped and induced for labor.

No matter how your labor begins, the first sign is not your water breaking. Counting your contractions and following how close together they are is the best way to make it to your place of delivery before your baby comes.

10 Myth: All Women Have "Birthing Hips”

An old wives tale tells us that labor and delivery are easier if you have wider hips. So if your hips aren't wide or full, then sorry, but you're not allowed to have kids.

Do you see how absurd that sounds?

A pregnant woman's body undergoes all sorts of changes throughout pregnancy to accommodate her growing baby and the coming delivery. 

Hormones ensure that your joints and muscles are ready to help get the baby out. If you were born with a reproductive system that allows for you to have children, then your body will prepare itself for birth without swapping out your hips for wider ones. Your pelvis is composed of many joints and ligaments that go through changes during pregnancy to prepare for labor. Your baby's bones are built to be flexible to help them to the light at the end of the tunnel without damage. Basically, your baby will find a way out using their little body strength with or without your hips.

Doing things like squats, lunges, yoga, and walking will further the strength of your bones and limbs for delivery, but not doing those things won't make you unable to give birth. Women of all shapes and sizes successfully carry babies and delivery them into this world.

9 Myth: Multiple Births Require A C-Section

Although the majority of women who are carrying and delivering twins, triplets, quadruplets, or more do end up having a c-section, it is not mandatory. Women who are having multiple births can deliver regularly, as long as the babies are prepared and mom can handle it. Just like with one baby, there are reasons that a C-section can ensure with multiples.

If the umbilical cord is sitting or wrapped somewhere that could cause damage, if the babies are losing oxygen, if the babies are in any sort of distress, if mom is suffering from things like after birth abruption or trauma, or if the positioning of the babies is not safe for a v-delivery, then a c-section will be required.

There are women who have carried multiples who have had v-deliveries. Once the babies are in the correct facedown position and mom is fully dilated and ready, then a v-birth birth of twins will follow. It is possible to begin with a regular birth and then follow with a c-section if issues begin to arise, as well.

Whatever type of birth, multiple bearing mamas are doing double, triple, quadruple, or more work than us solo mamas (no offense.) They surely aren't forced to deliver those babies in a way that they aren't comfortable with.

8 Myth: You Will Follow Your Birthing Plan

Your doctor will ask you about a birthing plan the further along your pregnancy progresses. Although this is important for you and your doctor to ensure that the labor and delivery of your child or children go how you'd like it to, sometimes they go the opposite direction.

You will have to decide things like where you want to labor, what types of pain management techniques you'd like to use, whether you will breastfeed immediately after delivery, who cuts the umbilical cord, who bathes your newborn for the first time, and even more. Your doctor will be able to help you make decisions along the way based on your pregnancy, your body, and your medical history. Some decisions will have to be made between you and your partner or simply yourself!

Labor and delivery are unpredictable.

Even after you spend all this time planning for your labor and delivery, it may go the exact opposite way. It happens. There is another life involved, making their own decisions on how to finally escape the watery womb of emptiness that they've spent the last nine months in. The decisions of the baby may change the decisions that you, your doctor, and your partner have made. As long as you both survive it and escape healthy and healing, you won't even care about that birth plan.

7 Fact: There's Always Time For An Epidural

Instagram @nvrvlisnmr

If you decide to hold off on your epidural for as long as you possibly can, remember that there is never a point where you cannot get an epidural during labor. You can be ten centimeters dilated and pushing and you can still request an epidural, as long as the baby is not crowning (which is then considered delivery at that point, and not labor.)

WebMD says that this procedure takes less than five minutes with relief beginning "within ten to twenty minutes". That means that even if your baby is crowning five minutes after you have finished the epidural procedure, you will still feel the relief during the delivery of the after birth and the short-term recovery pains.

The earliest that you can get an epidural is as soon as you are in active labor. Once you're 4 or more centimeters dilated and experiencing constant contractions, the anesthesiologist will prepare you and give you the dose you need. You can continue requesting more or less of the medicine that is being used for the epidural, as well, and your anesthesiologist will comply based upon certain factors that he or she will take in. Since every labor progresses differently, this is especially helpful.

6 Myth: Cuddling, Spicy Foods, And Long Car Rides Bring On Labor

Although your grandma Judy swears that eating twelve ultra-hot and spicy chicken wings made her go into labor, there is no scientific evidence to prove that. So, unless you want to spend your evening drinking milk to stop your mouth from burning with your baby still cozy inside your womb, I would just let your body go into labor when it's ready. The only surefire ways to induce labor are medicinal, including the medical forms of Oxytocin and Prostaglandin.

If a doctor has not scheduled mom-to-be to be induced, it is simply because she is not ready.

Each pregnancy is different for every woman and for every pregnancy. You may have given birth at 39 weeks with your first, but that doesn't mean that your next pregnancy won't have to be induced by your doctor at 41 weeks. The last few weeks of pregnancy are always uncomfortable and your patience will begin to run out. Being patient and letting your baby grow for a few days longer could be the difference between fully-formed and hard-working lungs, and lungs that extra help from the NICU team. And, if Grandma Judy is pressuring you to try those hot wings, just chuckle along at the silliness of that myth.

5 Myth: Braxton Hicks Should Not Be Painful

Braxton Hicks contractions, named after the 19th-century obstetric doctor who discovered them, are commonly referred to as "practice contractions." They begin in the few months leading up to your due date, sometimes as early as when you find out that you're pregnant and mistake them for period cramps. These can sometimes feel like menstrual cramps, more often than the non-painful ones, but they are easy to get rid of.

If your contractions don't feel fake, they're probably not Braxton Hicks contractions. If your stomach is contracting and it feels more painful than usual or lasts longer, you should go in and be checked by a doctor. That means that if they don't go away when you move, they're real. They should come and go randomly, with no pattern and they definitely should not get closer together. Braxton Hicks contractions start at a different point during pregnancy for every woman and they happen with a random frequency for every woman. You are not going to be dilated, effaced, or experiencing labor pains when you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions. WebMD suggests that you get your lady bits checked by a doctor if your Braxton Hicks feel like they are turning into real contractions because they more than likely are real contractions!

4 Myth: Your Second, Third, Fourth Labor Will Be Easier

When you find out that you are expecting another child, people are going to tell you that it is going to be such a better and easier labor and birth. I am here to break the news that they are wrong. It could be worse.

Every baby is different. They attach to a different part of your uterine wall, they grow at different rates, they move in different positions, they are unpredictable in the womb. Your body will have already been through this, that is correct. Your body may be more prepared this time, that is correct. However, the baby will not be the same. You may have to have a c-section after having natural births before. On the flip side, you may be able to have a v-birth birth after having c-sections previously.

Your doctor may have to use forceps on one baby. You may dilate much faster or much slower than prior births. Your birth may be longer or shorter than the prior births. Each time is different, no matter what seems to make sense. The reproductive system is evolving and changing inside of us all of the time, especially during and after birth. The more births you have, the more your body changes, and the less predictable your labor and delivery.

3 Myth: When Your Cervix Dilates, It Means Active Labor

Your cervix may begin to dilate and efface well before you go into the hospital to give birth. Your doctor checks your cervix dilation at your appointments the closer you get to labor because of that fact. On the other hand, as Parents Magazine says, a portion of women will go into labor before they are dilated. Your cervix will dilate to ten centimeters until it is time to push the little one out.

A woman can be dilated a few centimeters for days, up until she goes into labor and give birth.

On the other hand, your water may break and you may begin to feel contractions before you are dilated or effaced at all. Although the strong and continuous contractions of your uterus are the best signal that the baby is coming soon, it isn't what every woman experiences. Some women have a scheduled c-section and may never dilate and some women may be induced due to their water not breaking. The stages of pregnancy differ from woman to woman, baby to baby, birth to birth.

Remember that once your contractions are close together and regular, once your water breaks, or once you feel like you are dilating more, it is time to head to the hospital.

2 Myth: Inductions Are Quicker

The idea that being induced for labor makes for a faster labor is not only a myth, but it is backward. Women are induced for labor because their bodies are not inducing themselves. This could make the process even longer as the body eventually has to begin dilating the cervix and becoming effaced, the water has to break, or contractions must be getting stronger and closer together before she can have the baby.

If these things are not happening and the baby is not wanting to make their appearance, a doctor may decide to go the c-section route to ensure the safety of the mother and the baby. That is because the baby could be running out of room in the womb, or losing oxygen, or swallowing toxic fluids inside the womb.

On the other hand, if there are no problems that are signaling a c-section, doctors may begin to use more medical induction interventions. The use of medicines like Pitocin, the medical form of Oxytocin, may be used to speed up the natural process. A doctor may also use prostaglandin gel to help the cervix ripen and open up. Inductions are strife with more interventions and steps, which can cause a longer and more painful birth rather than a quicker and easier clichéd one.

1 Fact: Your Doctor Will Be There For The Delivery

If you are lucky, you have been seeing the same doctor for your entire pregnancy and haven't had your lady bit and other body parts searched and studied by various different doctors. If that is the case, you may be confused when your doctor only checks in with you every once in a while. That is the norm, though. It may be different doctors based upon when and how long you have been in the labor and delivery room due to the scheduling of doctors.

A doctor is not going to sit in the room with his patient, mom-to-be, and take her vitals every few hours. That is a nurse's duty.

Your doctor is involved in the delivery process. They will be there for the duration of your labor once you get close to delivering the baby. They are in the room to guide you along as you push, ensure that the baby is coming out safely, and request different types of medical tools or interventions as you deliver. While you are dilating and your contractions are speeding up, your doctor will be getting updates, but will more than likely be checking on other patients and delivering other little babies in the hospitals for which they practice.

References: WebMD, theBump, Parents Magazine, Medic8.com, Pregnancy Birth and Baby

More in Did You Know...