Becoming a parent for the first time is a truly beautiful and amazing gift. Bringing new life into this world is so natural, and is something that has happened since the beginning of time. Giving birth for the first time can be absolutely terrifying for new moms because they don’t know what to expect. A new mom can do all the research in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily prepare her for the real thing. Sometimes labor and delivery can progress very smoothly, without any issues whatsoever. Other times, uncalled for circumstances ascend and complications arise putting first-time moms and babies in a great amount of unwanted distress.
Some labor complications for first time moms, such as the baby being breech, can be predicted due to the use of technologies like as an ultrasound machine. Other complications are not so easily predictable such as an amniotic fluid embolism. There are a lot of different factors that play a role in determining if a first-time mom will have complications during childbirth, but none of them are guaranteed. A woman who has had a very healthy pregnancy could potentially wind up having complications during her first birth for one reason or another. Sometimes these things just happen, and there are no explanations as to why. Other times, a first-time mom could have a very rocky pregnancy but an amazingly smooth birthing process.
15 Baby's Too Early
Premature labor is when the body is getting ready to go into labor at least three weeks before a pregnant woman’s scheduled due date. This can cause complications to the baby because it has not had the chance to fully develop yet. The baby still needs a few more weeks to grow inside of its mother to make sure it is at its maximum health range to avoid the risk of developing health problems such as vision, breathing, or hearing issues.
Pregnant women in their third trimesters should be weary of having early contractions, extreme cramping and back pain, and flu-like symptoms if they are more than three weeks before their due date. They are advised to call their doctors or go to the hospital. First-time moms are more likely to go into premature labor than moms that have had multiple pregnancies.
14 It's Taking Forever!
Prolonged labor, or failure to progress, can happen for first-time moms and it is when labor last longer than 20 hours. This can be caused for multiple reasons, such as the baby being too big for the mother’s birth canal, or if the mother-to-be is having more than one baby at a time, the baby is in the wrong position, or even if the mother’s pelvic region is too small. This can become complicated afterward because it can cause mom a lot of unnecessary pain and it can cause stress on the baby.
The complication comes in when the baby may not be getting enough oxygen which will put the baby in distress causing it serious, and possibly even permanent, health issues. This also increases the chances of the mother having to switch from a natural birth, if that is what she chose, to needing an emergency C-section.
13 Breech Positions
A breech position is when the baby’s bottom is pointing down towards the birth canal and the head is pointing upwards. This can cause complications for moms giving birth for the first time, or any mom in general because the baby can get stuck during the delivery process. This can cause major complications for the baby, such as a decrease in oxygen levels. In the worst case scenarios, some of the babies who were breech have even died when the moms decided they still wanted to attempt natural births.
In many cases, moms were given the options to have C-sections instead. That is probably the safest method when it comes to the baby being in one of the breech positions. Even though C-sections may take a bit longer to heal, it is still better than risking the baby’s life over trying to go through with a natural birth.
12 Placenta Problem
Placenta previa is when the placenta forms very low on the uterus, or even over the opening of the cervix instead of where it should be, which is in the upper part of the uterus. This does tend to be more common with multiple pregnancies but does happen to women who have never given birth before if they have undergone fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization as well. Placenta previa causes bleeding and cramping in the third trimester of pregnancy.
This condition can cause labor complications such as preterm labor, or premature labor, which can cause serious long-term health problems for the baby. Placenta previa can also cause the mom the need to have an emergency hysterectomy performed due to severe, uncontrollable hemorrhaging.
11 Baby's Sac Ruptures
Premature rupture of the membranes means the sac that the baby is in ruptures, causing amniotic fluid to leak earlier than the mothers expected due date. What that means is, the mother will then go into premature labor. When the expectant mother goes into premature labor, this causes complications for the baby, which can lead to permanent long-term health issues such as hearing, breathing, and vision issues.
Other labor complications from PROM are that sometimes, contractions do not start on their own meaning labor must be induced. If labor is not induced, things like infection and respiratory distress syndrome can happen. This can be a serious complication for moms giving birth for the first time because one study showed that first-time moms waited longer to have their labor induced than women who have given birth before.
10 Umbilical Cord Prolapse
When the umbilical cord starts to come out of the opening of the cervix, usually after the water breaks, this is called umbilical cord prolapse. It may not seem too dangerous, but it can turn into a serious labor complication for the baby. The cord can become bent, or twisted causing the baby’s oxygen supply to be cut off which can cause the baby to asphyxiate and suffocate to death or cause permanent brain damage at a minimum.
While this can be common during any number of pregnancies, moms giving birth for the first time need to know that this is a possibility. If this situation were to arise, it needs to be taken care of within minutes in order to save the baby’s life.
9 Umbilical Cord Compression
Umbilical cord compression can happen throughout the labor process from the baby continuously moving around inside the uterus. During some of the movements, sometimes the umbilical cord can become wrapped and unwrapped around the baby in addition to being stretched and unstretched. This can cause changes in the baby’s oxygen levels and heart rate. Luckily, it is usually picked up by a fetal heart rate monitor during labor and complications can be avoided.
However, if the baby starts to become distressed and levels started to drop and emergency C-section may be necessary to prevent permanent brain damage or even death. A permanent complication of umbilical cord compression can also be cerebral palsy. This can happen during child number one or number four, but first-time moms need to be aware of everything that could possibly happen just in case of an emergency.
8 Circulation Of Amniotic Fluid
Amniotic fluid embolisms are not just for women giving birth for the first time, but they really do need to be made aware of this very serious and life threatening condition. This labor complication is when amniotic fluid or hair, cells, or debris from the baby get into the mother's circulatory system. This can cause the mother to go into heart failure or cause her lungs to shut down, which will cause the mother to die.
An amniotic fluid embolism is a labor complication that is not predictable or preventable. It can also affect the baby as well in certain circumstances. It can place the baby in distress and cause the heart rate to drop. With amniotic fluid embolisms, there is a 50 percent chance of death.
7 Shoulder Meets Pelvis
Shoulder dystocia is a labor complication that happens to be more common with first-time births. It is when the baby cannot pass more than its head through the birth canal and its shoulders become stuck on its mom’s pelvic bone. This can cause vaginal and anal tearing and lacerations for the baby’s mom. It can also cause harm to the baby by fracturing bones during the process of delivery.
Not only could shoulder dystocia cause tearing for mom, but it could cause the uterus to rupture with excessive hemorrhaging. The possible death of the baby is very rare, but in some cases has been reported. Women who gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy are at an even greater risk.
6 Severe Blood Loss
Abnormally excessive bleeding after labor and delivery can be cause for major concern, although this does not fall under the category of just first-time moms, it happens with all moms in general. This can happen for many reasons such as C-sections, uterus issues, placenta issues, tearing, lacerations, medications, ruptures, and much more. Postpartum hemorrhaging, or PPH, is a very rare but very serious complication that needs to be treated right away.
Some of the signs may include pale skin, nausea, and vomiting, excessive blood loss, low blood pressure and heart rate, and also going into shock. It is possible for mothers to die from the amount of blood loss and complications that result from PPH.
5 Lack Of Nutrients
Postmaturity is another labor complication that is not technically just for first-time births but is something first-time mothers need to be well aware of so that they know how important it is to pay attention to their suspected due date. Postmaturity is when they baby is two weeks or more past its delivery due date. This could cause labor complications because the baby could grow too big to deliver naturally. The baby could also not be getting enough nutrients from the placenta due to the change in the baby’s system from being full term, and fully grown.
The baby is also at risk for breathing in the amniotic fluids due to the lungs beginning to function properly, and the baby may also pass its first stool into the uterus causing infections. A C-section may also be required at this point due to the baby’s size.
4 No Going Back
Premature delivery and premature labor go hand-in-hand with first-time births, but unlike with premature labor complications, once the delivery has begun, it cannot be undone. At least with premature labor, it can sometimes be medically stopped. Once the baby is delivered there is no turning back, and the new mom now has to deal with whatever repercussions there are with having given birth to a premature baby.
Sometimes premature babies requiring extended hospitalized in the NICU to help replicate the gestational process. The baby may be incubated in hopes that premature lungs may fully develop and begin to breathe air in on their own. Premature babies can also develop hearing and vision issues as well as intellectual disabilities.
3 Transverse Lie
Transverse lie is a position in which the baby is positioned horizontally across their mom’s uterus instead of with their heads facing down towards the birth canal. This is not necessarily a first-time birth complication, but like with others, first-time moms need to know that this is actually possible. This way, if it were to happen to them, they would know what their next step was most likely going to be.
Traditional vaginal births are not normally suggested for women who are carrying a baby that is lying transverse. Most doctors would recommend that the soon-to-be mom would schedule a C-section instead. This way there are fewer complications that could arise for mom and baby. One complication that could happen would be that the baby would get stuck, which would result in their mom tearing, or the baby being seriously injured due to a bone fracturing
2 It Shouldn't Be There
Placenta Accreta is when the baby’s placenta grows too deep inside the uterus' walls, and the further in it goes the higher the severity of the condition. This can become a life-threatening complication. A few of the symptoms are extreme, excessive bleeding, issues with blood clotting, going into labor early, and organ failure. Women who have placenta accreta typically need to have a C-section done to further help avoid dangerous complications.
In some cases, women who had this complication needed to have a hysterectomy afterward. Placenta accreta does not normally have any symptoms that would help someone predetermine if they have this conditions or not. They would not be able to find out until they go for an ultrasound.
1 Tears Down There
Perineal lacerations are a minor labor complication that mean a tear can happen from pushing out the baby from the space between the vagina and the anus. This is more common in first-time births because the area is not used to being pulled and stretched in the way that it is during a mom’s first childbirth. There are four levels to the perineal lacerations.
Level one is minimal with a few to no stitches. Level two involves the muscle being torn a bit, and that requires some dissolving stitches. Levels three is slightly uncommon, and the tear is much worse than two and goes to the anus but less than four. And level four, the tear is rare and severe and tears the muscle all the way to the anal sphincter.
Sources: WebMD.com, MerckManuals.com, Healthline.com, AmericanPrehgnancy.com, DelucaAndWeizenbaum.com, Reuters.com MedBroadcast.com, WhatToExpect.com, EvidenceBasedBirth.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, MarchOfDimes.org, WomensHealthAdvice.com, FitPregnancy.com