Every expecting mum wants her delivery to go smoothly. But the truth is, having a baby comes with many challenges. During labor, unexpected events can occur.
Childbirth is unpredictable, and complex situations are not uncommon. A vaginal birth could suddenly turn into a cesarean section operation. The maternity team could discover that the baby is in a breech position. A big baby could become stuck in the birth canal. There may be unwanted side effects from an epidural.
The list of mishaps that can occur is a mile long. In all of these situations, there's not much the mom-to-be can do. An expectant mom can pack her hospital bag months in advance, write a detailed birth plan, and complete every item on her to-do list, but there are no guarantees when it comes to having a baby.
As tough as these situations may seem, they're necessary in an effort to bring a beautiful child into the world. Luckily,some situations that women in labor experience are completely unavoidable. Surprises are usually right around the corner for a mom-to-be, but if she does her research and prepares accordingly, common mistakes can be avoided.
Wouldn’t it be nice if childbirth could have certain guarantees? No pain, a smooth delivery, and a stress-free baby would be at the top of the labor wish list. Unfortunately, childbirth doesn't work that way. So, getting all worked about things when they don't go according to plan is futile.
Instead, take a deep breath and read these 15 mistakes laboring women make. They just may save an expectant mother from a delivery disaster.
15 Confusing Pre-Labor With Active Labor
Not all pregnant women experience Braxton Hicks contractions.They are sporadic, painless contractions of the uterus. We owe the term to John Braxton Hicks, the first doctor to explain these intermittent contractions. Some women begin to feel a tightening midway through their pregnancies.
Approaching delivery, they can become rather intense, and difficult to distinguish between real labor contractions.
When they hit, a first-time mom may be scared into thinking she’s in preterm labor, but Braxton Hicks are like trial runs; the uterine muscles are warming up for the big day. These are non-productive contractions. They are not powerful enough to force out a baby. However, if Braxton Hicks were stronger and much more painful, they would be comparable to labor pains.
Don't hesitate to contact the maternity team if there is a worry about contractions or pain. If there's a concern, contact the doctor or midwife, they will take a mom-to-be through the steps to determine if she is, in fact, the early stages of labor.
14 Not Resting
Childbirth is bound to make a soon-to-be-first-time mother a little nervous. Since an expecting mom has never experienced labor, she doesn’t know what kind of pains to expect. And it’s no secret that delivering a baby is one of the toughest situations a woman can face.
Since labor can create a heightened level of anxiety, some experienced mothers know that they should sleep during early labor. While asleep, the expecting mother not only gets some much-needed rest before the workout of a lifetime, but she also helps the baby relax as early contractions flare.
To give birth vaginally, the mouth of the cervix needs to open to 10 centimeters. If a woman sleeps through the first stage of labor, her cervix may begin to dilate. The reason why a nap may work is the simple fact that sleep requires relaxation. Instead of forcing something to happen, the soon-to-be mother surrenders, which allows nature to take its course.
If a woman’s pregnancy has been smooth sailing, a good snooze could even facilitate a shorter labor.
13 Going To The Hospital Too Early
When contractions begin, the mother-to-be and her healthcare provider can determine if she should go to the hospital or spend the early stages of labor at home. If the expecting mom is at least 37 weeks pregnant and she and her baby show no signs of stress, she will have decisions to make.
One, she can induce labor as soon as possible, or two, she can wait 24 hours or longer for stronger contractions to begin. (Expectant moms who are between 34-37 weeks may have the same options.)
Allowing nature to take its course has its benefits. By laboring at home, the expecting mom can take a shower to freshen up before her hospital stay. She can eat, and go to the bathroom. And, if her contractions began, she can time them to know exactly when to head to the hospital.
More importantly, she can relax in the comforts of her own home, allowing the baby and the woman’s body to relax to prepare for labor.
12 Lying Down During Active Labor
Many women give birth lying flat on their backs or resting on their tailbones. Unfortunately, these positions limit the mother’s mobility which restricts the baby’s movement. Under these circumstances, the baby’s route can hit a dead end. Repositioning the laboring mother can sometimes fix the problem.
The optimal labor position is one that is gravity-friendly. Standing or squatting are positions that open up the uterus. This gives the baby more room and encouragement to descend the birth canal and maneuver through the pelvic bones.
Using the support of a partner, standing upright and walking can be beneficial in labor because moving forward step-by-step can encourage the baby to move his or her head down. Walking can also help contractions develop into a pattern.
If the expecting mom is connected to an IV or a fetal monitor, her movement may be hampered. But, if she’s not limited, she can try to walk around for a little while. But, her partner should be prepared to support her full body weight if she gets tired.
11 Not Eating Or Drinking During Early Labor
It's a common myth that women in labor shouldn't eat or drink anything; on the contrary. Eating is fine once contractions begin. With hours of labor ahead, light snacks will provide energy. Childbirth on an empty stomach can actually prolong labor. So, fuel up.
If a laboring mom is not in the mood to eat, by all means, she doesn't have to. And, of course, allowing food and drink consumption will depend on the person. But generally, there's no reason to avoid eating and drinking in the early stages of labor. Chances are, your maternity team will be on board.
Easily digestible foods, such protein shakes, smoothies, or lean protein foods like chicken, are all good choices. Carbohydrates, particularly, are ideal because they provide a slow energy release. And, of course, clear liquids and fruit juice without pulp will keep mums hydrated. For more ideas, look up labor-ade recipes online.
10 Eating Too Heavy
Although eating is a good idea, a laboring mom shouldn’t partake in a five-course meal. Some women feel sick during the transition from pre-labor to early labor, and heavy food may trigger nausea. Also, fatty foods can make a laboring mother feel sick.
So, if contractions hit, don't sharpen a steak knife and leave the French fries off the plate. Think fat-free. The last thing a mom-to-be needs to feel is stuffed and tired. After a heavy meal, she will not be able to summon the strength to push the baby out.
As well, sweets or foods packed with unnatural sugar may give a mom-to-be a temporary boost, but will probably leave her drained before the birth of the baby.When preparing a small meal, just make sure it's easily digestible. Go over your munchies and refreshments list with a doctor or midwife to ensure they are foods and drinks that will both energize the body and keep mom-to-be hydrated.
9 Trying Too Many Positions
Some women prefer to stand, while others like to sit. There are those who choose to walk, while many prefer to remain in bed. If an expecting mom says yes to all of the above, she is among a group of women who like to change positions to manage labor.
When a woman in the throes of labor, moving her body position every 20 minutes can help deal with aches. Also, changing positions uses gravity to her advantage. The more she moves and rotates, the more she helps the baby descend the birth canal. Although movement encourages momentum in the delivery, there are disadvantages to changing positions too often.
Frequent movements may not be convenient if laboring mother is hooked up to machines. So, when she is thinking of how she will maneuver her body, she should come up with several positions.Moms-to-be should always keep a few moves up their hospital gown sleeves in case one or two don’t work. What she thinks might be a suitable position could change when she’s in labor. The lesson is be prepared but be flexible.
8 Trying Not To Poop
Public defecation probably isn’t on anyone’s bucket list, but it’s likely to happen during a vaginal birth.The truth is, if there are feces in your colon, the pressure of your baby will push them out during labor. For a pregnant woman, this sounds horrifying but research shows that a substantial number of women who give birth vaginally have a bowel movement during labor.
The reason for this has to do with the pushing process of childbirth. Pushing a big poop out of the rectum is the same motion as pushing a baby out of your vagina. The same muscles are engaged. Plus, a laboring mom needs to push harder than she's ever pushed before. It takes a lot of physical force to push a baby out.
And, the further the baby descends, the more the baby feels like it’s coming out of the bottom. This is why so many women have a bowel movement during active labor.
The silver lining is pooping will convince the medical team that the mom-to-be is pushing correctly. So, she shouldn't hold back when she's asked to push like she's pooping.The most important task is to get your newborn out safely, poop or no poop.
7 Not Having A Quiet Labor
The birthing room can be a busy environment. The room may be filled with a doctor, nurses, student doctors, not to mention invited guests of the expecting parents. Without peace and quiet, it can be hard for mothers giving birth to focus.
For a soothing, laboring environment, request a quiet birth. Ask the maternity team to keep their conversations low. Unnecessary chatter should be taken outside of the room. If the medical team does not object, have the room lights dimmed.
Some women enjoy meditation, while others find it uncomfortable, and awkward. If expectant moms want to try a self-hypnosis session, there are CDs that can help guide meditation. Start with 10 minutes of meditation per day, and gradually increase the sessions. With frequent prenatal practice, staying focused will soon become second nature.
Labor can be a taxing, yet an awesome process. Self-hypnosis can provide relaxation and calm during childbirth, and greatly affect a sense of peace into motherhood.
6 Not Conserving Energy
They call it labor because it’s hard work. In the movies, childbirth looks painful but it's relatively short. After a few pushes and a few screams, the baby pops out. But Hollywood films often do not reflect reality. Subsequent labors generally do not last long, but for first-time mothers, active labor can last for an average of eight hours. When the real pain kicks in, the mood may flip from a blessed childbirth moment to “just get it out.”
Labor involves a lot of pushing. The arms and the legs will get tired.Childbirth is exciting and awesome, but it can be taxing. It is so exhausting that some women barely have enough energy to push their babies out.
It's important that women in labor rest against her partner or lean forward on a sturdy object between contractions. To prevent tired legs, both feet should remain on the floor during the rest period. Relaxing as much as possible will not only help the baby be born quicker, but it will help with the pain and discomfort of childbirth.
5 Not Having Birth Support
We all have unique personalities. When faced with physical pain and emotional stress, tensions can run high. Sometimes, people who are involved in labor need to be calmed down. Often, laboring women doubt themselves. Enter midwives. They offer various levels of care based on the patient and her family’s needs, including emotional support that can result in a shorter labor.
Some couples choose to have both a midwife and a doula because they both provide immeasurable support throughout pregnancy and labor. Both are dedicated to providing a wide array of information and care, but they are two different jobs. Whether choosing an obstetrician, a midwife, a doula, or a loved one, it’s nice to know there are people to support women through childbirth.
Before the due date, it’s a wonderful idea for the expecting parents to have birth support. It not only assists the hospital staff, the family, and anyone else involved in the birth, but it also makes the couple consider all of the options that are available.
4 Not Being Prepared For The Sweat
During the first stage of labor, the baby slowly descends the cervical canal. The mouth of the cervix needs to open to 10 centimeters.At this time, some mothers describe a painful, burning sensation in the cervix. Moderately painful contractions will begin to materialize every 15-20 minutes.
As they become more frequent, the pain swells, growing more intense with each contraction. This is why it’s hard for some women to verbalize the pain they feel during labor. For some, the pain radiates all over the body at the same time. These women describe labor as intense waves of pain, instead of being constant.
Some women say labor is like no pain they have ever felt. Being in the throes of labor is like the worst and best pain at the same time. It hurts, but adrenaline coursing through the veins helps moms through. At any rate, the intensity of labor pain may be unexpected. Many women are drenched in sweat throughout the process.
Not only could mom sweat profusely, she could begin to feel vulnerable and flustered among a crowd of onlookers, encouraging more sweat. Laboring should prepare to deal with sweat with a towel or a washcloth. Also, ice chips will keep her cool and re-hydrate her body.
3 Not Using Breathing Techniques
It’s natural that women would become anxious during childbirth. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth can assist an expectant mom during childbirth. It will not only help facilitate the baby’s descent down the birth canal but also keep the soon-to-be mom tension-free and relatively calm.
Breathing deeply is a natural tranquilizer because it integrates the body and the mind. A laboring woman can reduce stress simply by concentrating on her breathing. The baby’s heart rate will calm down when the mom calms down. A smooth and steady pulse will let the baby know that he or she is safe. Breathing deeply also clears the mind.
Start by focusing on the breath. Inhale deeply. Imagine all of the cells in the body filling with oxygen and energy. Exhale to rid the body and mind of stress.Feeling nervous about childbirth is natural, but meditation is an easy way to make the mind relax.
2 Not Relaxing
Experts agree that a laboring mom can encourage a baby to move his or her head down just by relaxing. Surrendering the body can provide a positive mindset while guiding the baby in a way that is virtually effortless.
Meditation is a deep mental relaxation that helps relax the body. The goal is to eliminate all external thoughts and distractions. If the soon-to-be mother sees herself as being prepared, she will focus your mind into a positive space. A regular release of anxiety will make room for the little one in every way—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Women have remarkable strength. Their bodies can stretch and bounce back after delivering a full-term baby. Yes, it will hurt; no, it won’t be easy; and the unknown is scary. Pregnancy is, indeed, a challenging transition in a woman's life. But, if labor was completely intolerable, mothers wouldn’t do it over and over again.
1 Not Having a Birth Plan
A birth plan is a written document that expresses all of the hopes and desires of the expecting parents on the delivery day. All members of the maternity team should receive a copy of this guide so everyone is on the same page.
There are several aspects to consider during labor and delivery. The birth plan should cover specific topics, such as attendants in the birthing room, pain relief, whether the mother decides to breastfeed or bottle feed, and if the new parents and their baby prefer to leave the hospital as soon as possible. Special requests can also be made in case there is an emergency.
Childbirth is unpredictable. There are no guarantees that all of the requests will be granted. The birth plan is a wish list, not a list of demands. Still, in the guide, alternatives requests to the birth process can be made if things don’t go according to plan. No matter what, be prepared to go with the flow.