As a millennial, it's hard to get a good idea of what labor is really going to be about. At our age, we haven't had the opportunity to watch a ton of our friends and family go through actual labor and delivery. And even if we do have some girlfriends or family members who have been through it, they aren't really sharing the details. So then we look to TV and movies. On screen, moms have their water break in one big gush and then are rushed to the hospital. The minute they get there, it's time to push. They push a few times and look like they're in pain - but not enough to ruin their perfect hair or makeup. And then out pops a little bundle of joy! The next scene is mama and baby all wrapped up in the hospital bed looking like nothing traumatic just occurred.
So it's no wonder us millennials are so misinformed when it comes to labor. We have nowhere to get the real answers from! If you're a millennial mom, or even an older mom who still has some questions, read on to learn all of the labor lies you thought were true.
15 Go To The Hospital As Soon As Your Water Breaks
So in the movies, the minute a woman's water breaks, she and her partner freak out and rush off to the hospital right away. It turns out, that isn't actually the case. You don't need to speed off to the hospital the second your water breaks. In fact, it might be more comfortable for you to wait it out at home. You don't need to come into the hospital until your contractions are closer together. So when your water breaks, feel free to reach out to your doctor or midwife and let them know where you're at. They'll be able to tell you when to come in - usually when contractions are four minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds for at least one hour. However, if you are a high-risk pregnancy, feel contractions back to back, have the urge to push, or are experiencing pain, especially in your lower back, you might want to head in sooner.
14 A Shave, An Enema, And Episiotomy Are Mandatory
Millennial moms, listen up: your body, your rules! Gone are the days when doctors would perform unnecessary procedures like shaving away all your hair down there, giving you an enema and cutting you open. If your doctor is still a big fan of all three of these things, you need to find another doctor. Of course, some situations might arise where a shave, an enema or an episiotomy are necessary. If you do need stitches, it's easier to stitch skin without hair getting in the way, so a shave might need to happen. An episiotomy might be important if your baby is stuck in the birth canal and you can't stretch any wider on your own. And while an enema may help move labor along, no nurse is going to be volunteering to give you one of those!
13 Epidurals Make Labor Last Longer
Another fear moms have about getting an epidural is that it will make the whole process last longer. They want to get it over with as fast as possible. So there's no way they're going to do something that would elongate labor, right? Well, luckily, an epidural doesn't actually make labor take any longer. A 2017 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that "a low concentration of epidural local anesthetic does not affect the duration of the second stage of labor." They tested a group of 400 first time moms, half who were given pain medication during the pushing phase and half who were given a placebo. The ones given the pain meds took 52 minutes to push while the ones given the placebo took 51 minutes to push - so really no difference.
12 Babies Need To Be Bathed Right After Delivery
Despite all babies coming out adorable and perfect in the movies, that's not the case in real life. Babies actually come out red, screaming or crying, and covered in vernix caseosa. Vernix caseosa is the cheesy coating that protects a baby's skin while it's in the amniotic sac. The usual practice is to wash that coating off right away so baby is clean and perfect looking. But research from the World Health Organization recommends waiting at least six and preferably 24 hours post-birth until baby's first bath. The vernix actually helps the baby to stay safe from infections and heat loss. So it's totally fine, and actually encouraged, to not bathe your baby until much later than we're used to. If the nurses grab your baby for a scrub in the tub, put your foot down.
11 The Second Delivery Will Be Much Easier Than Your First
Many second time mamas think they can breathe easy because they've already done it. And to some extent, they're right. With the experience of one labor and delivery under your belt, the second one should be less scary and difficult. However, that isn't always the case. If you previously delivered vaginally, you may have to undergo a Cesarean section with a second birth. This can occur when the second baby is larger than your first, when the baby isn't lined up correctly in the birthing canal or when complications arise and put mom or baby's health at risk. Many second time mamas also expect the labor to go much faster. But if there are many years between your pregnancies, this might not be the case.
10 Labor Doesn't Start Until Your Water Breaks
Again, the movies have led us astray. The moment the water breaks in the movies is always this huge dramatic thing. It's like a water balloon has popped between your legs and now it's off to the races so you don't end up delivering the baby in the backseat of your car. But for most moms, this just isn't true. In fact, only 15% of moms who carry to full term begin labor the moment their water breaks. It is possible to begin labor without this and to have your doctor break your water for you. If it does break on its own, don't expect the big rushing waterfall you see in the movies. It will be much more like a trickle of water - you may even think you've had an accident.
9 Eating During Labor Is Dangerous To Your Health
This is one of those labor lies that is so prevalent, most hospitals still practice it. But it's a total myth! Most healthy mamas in labor are totally fine to eat. In fact, it's ludicrous that we ask moms to go through labor, sometimes for days on end, and not let them eat anything. That'd be like fasting before a marathon. Back in the 1940s, the type of anesthesia used on women in labor put them at risk of choking, which is why food and drink were banned. These days, food and drink is still banned in case the mom needs to have a c-section. But modern research tells us that if mom is at low risk for a c-section, she should get to eat and drink whatever she wants!
8 If You're Having Twins, You'll Need A C-Section
Yes, it's true - many twins are delivered via c-section. But it's not mandatory. Just because you're having twins doesn't automatically mean you have to have a c-section. C-sections have become more common nowadays for a myriad of reasons. Doctors, afraid of malpractice suits, often opt for a c-section if there are any possible complications with a vaginal birth. C-sections are usually chosen if the first baby is in the breech position. However, in about two-thirds of twin deliveries, the first baby is positioned headfirst. So if the babies are headfirst, a vaginal delivery is totally possible and not dangerous. If delivering vaginally is important to you, bring this up with your doctor and talk about your options. If you're healthy and the risk of complications are low, your doctor should be open to the possibility.
7 The Wider Your Hips, The Easier Your Delivery Will Be
If you're a curvy mama to be and were hoping your birthing hips or childbearing hips would help you out on delivery day, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news. This is a total labor lie. For years women of all sizes have been giving birth and their hips had absolutely nothing to do with it. Just because your hips might be wide does not mean that your inner body parts will be too. It's the structure of your pelvic bone that is key here - something you can't tell from wide hips. However, if your spine and pelvis happen to be very well aligned, that would be helpful. But again, your hips can't tell us that. So enjoy your curves but don't count on them to get you through the delivery without a sweat.
6 Spicy Food And Doing The Deed Will Kickstart Labor
Ah, there are so many old wives tales about how to kickstart labor. Many an on-screen mom is seen begging her husband to do it on the hospital bed with her or to bring her some jalapeno peppers so she can get things going. While some women swear on castor oil or bumpy car rides to help start labor, science tells us that none of this is actually true. You can eat all of the spicy peppers you want, but it's not going to start labor. Your baby will come when he or she is good and ready. Of course, it never hurts to try. Just don't rely on any of these myths to actually help get your baby born any sooner because it won't work.
5 If You Have An Epidural, Odds Are You'll Need A C-Section
Not true! Many millennial moms are scared of epidurals for a number of reasons: they don't like needles, they want to deliver naturally, they don't want to give their baby drugs (not how this works) and they don't want to end up having a c-section. But this is simply not true. Having an epidural does not mean you will have to have a c-section. A 2005 study done at Northwestern University proved that c-sections were just as common among moms who had c-sections as those who just took natural painkillers. The only thing an epidural might do is slow down the second stage of labor when you are pushing. And that's just because you can't feel as well, so you might not have the urge to push.
4 Your Doctor Will Be With You The Whole Time
If you choose to have a hospital delivery with a doctor, you might be shocked to learn that your doctor isn't going to be by your side the entire time. In fact, the doc might not even show up until the baby's head is showing. It's scary to think that this person who you have had countless appointments with is not going to be with you the whole time, but don't worry - you won't be alone. A nurse or team of nurses will be there to help you find the right position, tell you when to push and coach you through everything. Most doctors don't show up until the baby's head is crowning to do the final delivery and any post-delivery work. Of course, if something goes wrong before the crowning, rest assured that there are other doctors on hand who can help.
3 C-Sections Are Way Less Painful
This labor lie is one that just won't die. Many millennial moms, and moms in general, believe that having a c-section is way less painful than having a vaginal birth. And while that might be true in the moment, doctors warn that the recovery for a c-section is way more painful. It is certainly not the "easy way out" as some ignorant people like to think. It's major abdominal surgery. And unlike other surgeries, where you get to spend weeks and weeks lying down, resting and not working while you recover, c-section patients have to take care of a crying newborn who needs to be fed and changed all the time. Talk about a pain! Ask mommas who have done both and they will tell you that a c-section is no joke.
2 A Couple Of Pushes Will Get The Baby Out
This has got to be the most misleading and heartbreaking labor lie that millennial moms fall for. On all of our TV shows and movies, we see these moms pushing for about 30 seconds before the baby comes out. Now, we know that stuff is fake. So we round up. Maybe real life is like 5 minutes of pushing? Wow, were we wrong? Women can push for hours and are in labor for days before their baby arrives. Some women are very lucky and only have to push a few times. But the vast majority are at it for way longer than five minutes. Doctors warn moms to conserve their energy in between contractions during labor because they might have a lot more work to do.
1 Your Birth Plan Is Set In Stone
Having a birth plan is important. It's a good way to be actively involved in your pregnancy and the choices you want to make for yourself and your baby. There are a lot of options to consider and tough decisions to make. So when you have your birth plan all decided and finalized, it's easy to understand why you wouldn't want to let go of it. "What do you mean I'm going to have an emergency c-section? I had planned to deliver vaginally!" Doctors recommend thinking of your birth plan more as a birth strategy. As much as you want to stick to it and the doctors and nurses want to honor your wishes, sometimes things happen and the plan has to change. That doesn't mean your birth isn't any less perfect or right for you.
Sources: http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1003405/truth-and-myths-about-labor; https://mom.me/pregnancy/4765-10-labor-and-delivery-myths/; https://www.huffingtonpost.com/abby-miller/five-myths-about-labor-and-delivery_b_4222277.html; https://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/labor-delivery/ask-labor-nurse/three-labor-myths; https://www.thebump.com/a/labor-myths