Pregnancy is a rite of passage for most women. We relish the day it will happen to us. There’s so much hype surrounding that first test and the big announcement to family and friends. How could we not look forward to a time when this momentous occasion revolves all around us? Then it happens, and we begin to wonder how our lives will change.
As the pregnancy progresses, most women are hit with a curveball or two that leave them feeling dumbfounded and shocked because they didn’t see it coming. Before it happens to them, a lot of women are unaware that things like pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes even exist. It’s hard to be educated about something you’ve never heard of before, much less never experienced.
Rest assured, ladies, the expectant body will return to a normal state, it’s very unlikely that expectant moms get sick from eating Subway, and they don’t need to quit breastfeeding just because they’re ready for another baby. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Even well-meaning friends can sometimes pass on information that they believe to be true, but it isn’t.
Many moms go into pregnancy having heard tales of horror and birth stories from friends who make it seem like there is only one way to proceed through pregnancy and birth. This is far from the truth. Pregnancy can be a beautiful experience that empowers women to make choices that are best for them, rather than just what everyone else is doing.
Knowing the difference between those is what matters.
14 Hospital Births Are The Safest Places To Deliver
Hospital births can be great. They are reasonably safe when a mom and dad go into the process well-informed and knowing what they’re up against. By that, I mean they should know which interventions they’re on board with under what circumstances and be prepared to defend them.
This isn’t to say there aren’t hospitals that don’t push unnecessary interventions, but you aren’t going to run into that predicament in a home birth setting.
Although all women used to birth their babies outside of the hospital, and the idea that a hospital was a necessary part of the birthing process only came to be because women wanted epidurals, many women are still uncomfortable with the idea of birthing at home. That’s totally fine, too.
Women should make the choice that best suits their needs and makes them comfortable. That being said, they should know why they’re doing what they’re doing, too.
Women should not automatically opt out of home birth that they desire just because they're afraid it isn’t safe. Studies have proven that home births are no less safe than those performed in hospitals. Serious adverse neonatal events are no more common among babies birthed at home than those birthed in a hospital either.
Likewise, the need to transfer women planning to birth at home for Cesareans and induction are far less than women who plan hospital births.
13 Induction Is Necessary When Overdue
Before a woman conceives, she might be well aware of the straightforwardness of due dates. Depending on when we have our last period, there is a specific day that we should have the baby. It might happen before that, though. We don’t have much reason to obsess if the baby comes a week or two early, but we do need to completely flip our lid if they aren’t here by 40 to 41 weeks, right? Wrong.
The truth is, the mother’s body and the baby know more about how long that baby needs to cook than anyone else ever could. Yes, there are reasons that babies need to be delivered early. Induction is necessary sometimes. If a baby is in distress, it is sometimes better that they come out sooner than stay in the womb, but this is much less common than the rate of induction.
As many as 40 percent of labors are induced. Many moms even choose to induce electively. This means they induce without any medical need to. Sometimes, women opt for this out of desire to stop being expectant. Sometimes, it’s because they want to schedule the birth so that it suits the needs of visiting family or their partner’s work schedule.
Babies lungs release a chemical called surfactant when they reach maturity that signals labor to start. Trust your bodies and your babies, mommas. They know best.
12 The Doctor Is Always Right
Don’t let that headline fool you. We aren’t saying doctors are the bad guy in any way. It’s just that they might not always have the patient’s needs at the forefront of their minds. For instance, there are times when the doctor has a vacation scheduled around a patient’s due date and they’ll encourage induction more so that it fits within their schedule.
This would be a lot less harmful if inductions didn’t increase the risk of so many other complications. Remember, holidays and time off for the doctor are not a medical complication.
Don’t be afraid to present evidence to your doctor that contradicts what they’ve been telling you. Medicine is changing all the time and they truly may not know what the latest research says. Sometimes, they rely on patients like you to stand up and say, "Hey, that’s not what I read."
Print out some scholarly resources and take them to your appointment with you to support your stance. You are not inferior just because your name isn’t followed by Ph.D.
11 The Lady Bits Will Never Be The Same
Ha! We all have that one friend. You know, that friend. The girl that wants you to believe her C-section was glorious because it spared her from ruining her lady bits. The one whose husband is so happy that she elected to have that C-section because he can’t imagine what it must be like to get busy with someone whose vajayjay was turned into a birth canal.
The truth is, childbirth will not permanently alter your downstairs, mommas. It won’t destroy your intimate life. It’s not going to ruin your marriage. That part is a very accordion-like feature in the female body. It miraculously stretches to accommodate the birth of a baby and then recedes and tightens back up afterward.
This doesn’t require special exercises, but they won’t hinder you, either. The walls of those parts are enveloped in muscle, and that muscle can be toned. If you’re really worried about it, pick up some ben wa balls the next time you’re out shopping for baby and put your mind at ease.
10 Breech Babies Automatically Equal Cesarean Sections
You might’ve heard that having a breech baby is dangerous or even impossible. I mean, what if a foot comes out first? What does the doctor do? A footling breech presents this way and is the most difficult to deliver. Still, there are some providers capable of doing it. When the baby’s bottom presents in the birth canal first, this is known as a frank breech position.
There are increased risks involved in birthing a breech baby, such as cord compression, but it’s carried out correctly, the risks are still small.
The dividing factor here is that not all providers will agree to do a breech birth, because not all of them have experience with this. Likewise, the number of those that do is waning as recommendations continue to be put forth that breech babies be delivered via Cesarean section.
9 Birth Is Awful And Extremely Painful
It certainly doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not, some women have had painless births and they didn’t get drugs. They describe their sensations as discomfort, but not painful. It is truly empowering and totally possible to be so mentally in control of your birth that you don’t necessarily feel pain.
Of course, medication is an option, too, and most choose it. While it does carry risks, such as delaying labor, increasing the risk of fetal distress, and increasing the need for other interventions like Pitocin, epidurals and IV meds can numb the pain of childbirth.
The trade-off is that women must generally then stay in bed and birth on their backs — two things that aren’t ideal for an easy and progressive birth. Nonetheless, there is no shame in opting for pain meds if the pain is too intense for you to handle.
Childbirth is a beautiful experience — medicated or not. Some women would argue that only natural birth allows you to experience that special bond with your child. As someone who has birthed both ways, I can attest to that not being true.
There are pros and cons to each side of this spectrum, but I can absolutely confirm that even through natural birth, I would never describe that glorious high as being awful. If you’re prepared for birth, it will truly be one of the most magical and awe-inspiring moments of your life. Cherish it.
8 Multiples Can't Be Birthed Naturally
Much like breech birth, the number of doctors and midwives who are willing to deliver multiple babies naturally is dwindling. As soon as moms find out they are expecting more than one baby, they start assuming they need to get ready for a Cesarean section. It’s simply not true.
When multiples are in optimal positions to be birthed naturally, there’s actually no legitimate reason that it cannot be attempted. Most providers rely on the AB twin method to decide whether or not a natural birth is an option. If twin A is head down, then a natural birth can often be attempted.
If twin B is upright, the doctor may attempt to turn the baby or have you birth him or her breech before recommending surgery. Yes, some moms will deliver one baby naturally while others are born via C-section. The same theory applies to triplets and more.
7 Doctors Call The Shots
Women are often under the impression that they have to abide by a strict set of rules that their provider and birthing facility lays out. This also isn’t true. Doctors do not call all the shots. You can tell your doctor your wishes, and they might argue with you. Sometimes, they might even push you to change your mind.
If they push too much to where you aren’t comfortable with them, it might be a sign that you need to change providers — which you can respectfully do right up until the end. Women do it all the time.
A good doctor or midwife will understand that they are the consultant. They are there to act as a medical caregiver and make the care you need available to you. It's not their job to force any kind of intervention on you. If the doctor recommends something you aren’t comfortable with, you have every right to refuse that.
If you want to keep laboring when the doctor is pushing for a Cesarean because you’ve been taking too long, then by all means keep laboring as long as the baby isn’t in distress. If you’ve reviewed the evidence and educated yourself on declining induction for a healthy baby, then respectfully decline your doctor’s desire to push induction just because you’re past 39 weeks.
You are carrying the baby. You run this ship.
6 Can't Breastfeed During Pregnancy
Whether you’re planning to have a baby or you find yourself expecting by surprise, continuing to breastfeed isn’t a problem. Nutritionally, breastmilk is still adequate and an excellent advantage to give to your child. Being expectant doesn’t take away from the milk supply.
However, women who plan to breastfeed during pregnancy do need extra calories to compensate — around 500 extra calories a day instead of the typical 300 a day that a non-nursing expectant woman would need.
That being said, during pregnancy your body produces large amounts of progesterone and estrogen. These hormones are normally suppressed while breastfeeding as the lactation hormone — prolactin — dominates them. In some women, they will rise high enough to diminish prolactin and decrease the milk supply.
Should it continue to decrease, weaning may be necessary. Although breastfeeding and pumping during pregnancy can cause contractions if your body isn’t used to it, these are of no concern if you’ve been doing either all along. It won't throw the body into labor or cause a miscarriage.
5 Pregnancy Is Miserable
Alright, there are certainly women who have been miserable during pregnancy. Many of them find themselves moody and feeling out of control. Those women are often suffering from a condition known as progesterone intolerance that goes overlooked, though, not from pregnancy itself. Others may be under a lot of stress for personal reasons.
Some might be struggling with fatigue and morning sickness that pregnancy has imposed on them. Noted pregnancy can be miserable. It just isn’t all the time.
No woman should enter into a pregnancy expecting it to be awful based on the accounts of other women they’ve known. It’s a different experience for each woman each time. While your sister may not have been able to keep anything down, you might find that your appetite is fair and balanced throughout those nine months.
Some women will feel sore and bloated, and you might feel energized and gorgeous. All we’re saying is: go into it giving it a fair shot. Expecting the worst outcome possible can sometimes be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
4 Deli Meats And Store-Bought Hummus Are Off Limits
Expectant moms are all too aware of how frequently their favorite hummus and ice cream flavors seem to end up recalled for listeria. Once upon a time, the risk of this bacterial infection seemed to only apply to raw meats. Thus, expectant women were warned to stay away from undercooked meats. Slowly, the ruling encroached upon sushi grade fish, hot dogs and other processed meats, soft cheeses and more.
The issue with deli meats is that listeria is most likely to occur in areas where food storage is poor. This is common in delis. Refrigeration cases are often opened and closed multiple times a day. There is no surefire way to make sure temperatures are maintained at an appropriate level. Sometimes, listeria festers.
In rare circumstances, it can infect consumers. If those consumers are expectant women, it can be dangerous.
So, are all these foods off limits? Not exactly. It’s a cost vs benefit analysis each mom can make on her own, but more and more doctors are now feeling comfortable telling their expectant patients to indulge from time to time if they see fit. Even sushi is consumed in countries around the world with no strike from expectant women.
Trusted sources are important, and some moms will microwave their lunch meat before indulging. Whatever makes you comfortable!
3 Epidurals Are Inherently Safe
In 2008, reports of births across 27 states in America found that 61 percent of moms delivering single babies opted for the epidural or spinal anesthesia. Often, when a practice is engaged in so routinely and by many friends or family members, we come to assume it is perfectly safe without side effects. The side effects exist for these drugs, though, they are simply often overlooked.
Epidurals are known to cause: anxiety, prolonged labor, and hindrance of the sucking and rooting reflexes in the baby. Many women also suffer from permanent nerve damage in their spines following epidurals and spinals. They are also linked to impairing the breastfeeding relationship, interfering with the establishment of the milk supply, and they increase the need for other interventions as well as Cesarean sections.
If you feel you absolutely need pain medication to get through labor, it may be worth exploring other options, like IV medication. While these drugs are still opioids, they don’t require injection into your backside. Thereby, the risks are somewhat reduced.
2 Eating For Two
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, ladies, but you aren’t actually eating for two. Pregnancy is not a free pass to indulge in everything your body craves. It’s not the baby telling you what he or she wants. It’s your body saying hey, I’m not nutritionally fulfilled. You only need to eat an extra 300 to 350 calories per day throughout your pregnancy.
Sure, you could easily consume that in an ice cream cone each day, but pregnancy is about more than counting calories. It’s about nutrition.
The food you consume during pregnancy should be considered more important than any other dietary changes you’ve likely ever made before. You want to eat with the thought in mind that what you are eating is meeting the quota of nutrients you need to help your baby grow and develop the best that they can.
Diets that are deficient in certain minerals and nutrients are more likely to produce babies that suffer from poor growth rates or are born with birth defects. The moral of the story is don’t eat for two, just be conscious of what you eat.
1 Baby Is Too Big
Surely, there is someone out there somewhere who was literally too big to fit through their mother’s pelvis. This isn’t for you. There is no such thing as a healthy baby being too big to be birthed by a healthy mom. I know, I’ll be the bad guy for telling you this if you’ve already endured a Cesarean at the urgency of your doctor who assured you your pelvis could not support the estimated size of your child.
I stand by my words, which are supported by medical literature.
Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where doctors are surgery happy. They make more money from Cesareans and these surgeries and inductions allow them to pencil expecting moms into their schedule instead of the other way around. Ultrasound measurements are often not accurate and can be off by as much as two pounds. Fundal height is also not an appropriate way to estimate baby’s size.
While cases of shoulder dystocia do happen, the vast majority are born without injury. The pros of vaginal birth outweigh the cons, statistically speaking. There is also no way for a doctor to determine the size of a woman’s birth canal from an ultrasound.
In fact, in studies on this topic, most women who had C-sections in the past to birth babies they were told were too big went on to birth subsequent babies that were even larger than the first was estimated to be. How ‘bout them apples?