The waiting game is brutal. Once a woman hits the third trimester and in particular the last couple of weeks, time slows down and the days start going by at turtle speed.
From 37 weeks onwards, the excitement and apprehension becomes even harder to contain and that’s when even more questions about the whole process of labor start to arise. With all these questions and uncertainties, come a lot of misconceptions and myths about labor and delivery.
The vast majority of these are mostly due to the Hollywood movies that we have grown up with, but it’s important to remember that although they are becoming more realistic, movies are still just stories. To increase ticket and movie sales, scenes are frequently exaggerated, hence leading to a rather skewed perspective of certain situations, with the most common one being labor.
From women having their water leak out in a puddle at their feet at the grocery store, all the way to newborns looking superbly cute – most of what we have grown up seeing on television, simply just isn’t true.
On top of Hollywood movies, it’s also hard for pregnant women to escape the numerous old wives tales that circulate. Some family members, especially older ones, tend to be very vocal about certain of these tales and myths, such as the “fact” that more women go into labor during a full moon, but once again, these aren’t true either.
So keep reading to find out the 15 misconceptions that most women have about labor and delivery.
15 The Water Will Break In A Dramatic Way
Sorry to break it to you, but chances are your water won’t break with a big splash that will have everyone gasping with excitement around you. Unlike what we see in movies, only about 15% of women experience their water breaking with a significant amount of amniotic fluid leaking out and even then, it’s not always plentiful.
For most women, the entire process is actually incredibly confusing. Their water will either not break at all, or will slowly begin leaking out, causing a lot of doubt. You’ll hear everywhere that water leaking can be bad because of the risk of infection to the baby, so even discharge can be mistaken for amniotic fluid. Being pregnant is extremely worrying in of itself but the third trimester and especially the last couple of weeks are even worse since you never know when labor might finally start.
To add to the confusion, your water might break but contractions might not even start. In these cases, most doctors will recommend inducing labor after 24 hours if contractions don’t get going on their own. Not to worry though, even if you continue feeling a trickle for a certain amount of time, the baby won’t be in danger from “running out of amniotic fluid”. Your body will continue to produce amniotic fluid until the baby is delivered.
14 Losing The Mucous Plug Means Labor Is Starting
Many don’t even notice losing their mucous plug, but others will find a medium-sized blob on their toilet paper after wiping. In fact, after the 36th week, you’ll probably find yourself eagerly examining the toilet paper after each wipe in hopes of seeing the mucous plug.
So what exactly is the mucous plug? As the pregnancy weeks progress, mucus accumulates and thickens in the cervix, to the point that it eventually turns into a barrier, protecting the baby from infection. Think of it as a bathtub plug, holding all the water in, until one day, the water is let out – it’s not for nothing that it’s called a plug!
In terms of appearance, the mucous plug looks like a pinkish thick blob of mucous. Kind of like when you ovulate, but just thicker and more abundant.
Whether the loss of the mucous plug is noticed or not, losing it does not guarantee that labor will start that day, or even that week! All it means is that your body is getting ready for labor. In general, losing the mucous plug might indicate that labor is coming within 3-5 days, or perhaps even in up to two weeks later. In truth, no one can truly predict when labor will come and losing the mucous plug is not a good predictor of the birth day either.
13 She’ll Know When Labor Starts
Given how common it is to see women suddenly go into labor in movies, you would think that it happens the same exact way in real life. Except, this is another popular misconception as well.
In some rare cases, some women give birth so fast that they don’t even have time to make it to the hospital. But for most of us common folk, it just doesn’t happen that way.
What does happen is a lot of uncertainty. Every day, you think to yourself: “is this it?”
Braxton Hicks makes the whole process even more confusing. Although they feel like they could be the real deal, Braxton Hicks are fake contractions that are just your body’s way of getting ready for labor. They can sometimes be painful, but in general, your belly will just get very tight, so tight that you could possibly bounce a quarter off it!
Basically, if a change in position or a walk helps to make the Braxton Hicks go away or decrease, then it’s probably not true labor.
Round ligament pain can also cause abdominal pain that may leave you wondering if labor is coming, but once again, it probably isn’t and a bath may help alleviate the pain.
Eventually as the contractions become quicker and closer together, you will most likely figure out when you’re in true labor. In a kind of “LOL” moment, your body could still decide to stop all the contracts, even as you’re sure that “this is it, the time has come”.
12 There'll For Sure Be A Bath In The Room
One of the most talked about ways to labor is sitting in a tub and while you may be gearing up towards doing the exact same as countless have described online, don’t bank on it until you see it.
Although many hospitals make baths available, even going so far as to including Jacuzzi jets, some hospitals don’t. Especially if the hospital hasn’t received any renovations in some time, there is a good chance that a bath simply won’t be included in every room.
Plenty of hospitals have just one bath for everyone, so if you’re laboring on a day that’s particularly busy, then there’s a particularly good chance that your turn to use the bath will simply never come either.
Although taking a bath is a great way to relax, it can also slow down labor in the early stages. For this reason, many nurses and midwives won’t suggest it until you’re at least five centimeters dilated.
11 A C-Section Is Less Painful Than A Vaginal Birth
On top of Hollywood movies greatly skewing our expectations of labor, celebrities and the decisions they make also have a huge impact.
We have all heard of celebrities requesting only c-sections, even for first babies and seemingly for reasons such as the fear of not wanting to ruin their bodies. In fact, even Christina Aguilera had stated: “I didn’t want any surprises. Honestly, I didn’t want any [vaginal] tearing.”
Sure, it’s not unheard of for women to have a seamless recovery post-caesarean, but for the most part, life isn’t all that blissful afterwards. After all, a c-section is considered a major surgery and technically, you’re not even supposed to lift anything heavier than your baby. In fact, there’s a lot of misconception surrounding this as well, with most women believing that they’re not allowed to lift their baby either, but this isn’t true.
While giving birth vaginally usually confines the pain to just the labor and delivery, a c-section on the other hand, can cause pain for six weeks afterwards (even longer if there are complications). It’s different for every woman, but it is safe to say that a c-section isn’t any less painful than a vaginal birth.
10 She'll Have The Room To Herself
And that’s another major thing too. You can’t count on having the room to yourself either. It’s not uncommon for many hospitals across the country to still have rooms designed to accommodate more than one laboring woman at a time.
In most cases, the beds are separated by a curtain, which means that if it so happens that you’re placed with someone else, you might hear lots of screaming when you’re trying to labor and breathe through the contractions.
The same goes for once the baby is born. I have heard some pretty funny stories, namely of women complaining that the families of their neighboring labor mommies would be particularly loud and inconsiderate. This reason alone is an enticing factor to schedule a hospital tour a couple of weeks before the due date – that way, you might have the option of laboring in a different hospital if there is another one nearby.
9 Her Birth Plan Will Come True
When you’re about to give birth for the first time, it sounds like an awesome idea to write up a birth plan.
Oftentimes given by either the doctor or the hospital tour guide, the birth plan is much advertised on all sites that talk about how you can make sure you’re prepared for labor (the same ones that also showcase a hospital bag check list with dozens of items you don’t even need).
Ah… the enchanted birth plan that is supposed to predict exactly how your labor and delivery is going to go, all the way from your expectations to your preferences.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but for most women who write a birth plan, the labor and delivery ends up being the complete opposite of anything they could have ever imagined. It sounds all fine and dandy to write things like “I would prefer to have as natural of a labor as possible with the dimmest of lightning, no noise and with absolutely minimal interference from nurses”. I’ll let you in on a secret though, you won’t know anything until your body throws you into the deep end of labor and delivery and you suddenly find yourself saying: “why won’t the anesthesiologist come NOW with the epidural”, while crying and screaming in between contractions.
8 Getting An Epidural Is Painful
While we’re on the topic of an epidural, that’s another major misconception with regards to labor. Every pregnant woman goes through the fear of the imminent labor, but for some, the idea of getting an epidural is just as frightening.
It certainly does sound scary to hear that an epidural involves a needle being inserted into your spine, but the experience is nothing compared to the pain from contractions.
Once you have experienced contractions for a couple of hours with not much relief and you find yourself giving into the idea of an epidural, actually going through with it will be a walk in the park.
It’s quick and really, the only pain that you will feel is a little prick in your back. It’s not any worse than getting blood drawn or even getting an IV placed in your arm. Plus, your back is numbed with a local anesthetic beforehand anyways.
7 An Epidural Will Be A Godsend
Epidurals are definitely up there in terms of procedures with the most misconceptions. No doubt about it they’re scary, but if you think that getting one will immediately provide you with much desired relief, think again.
You might go through all the hassle of putting off having one, to finally deciding that you’ll go through with getting it and then will put up with having to sit still while bending over forward despite having your big belly be in the way and then… the unimaginable might still happen.
It might not work.
An epidural not working isn’t much talked about, but it happens. I’m testament to it. With my first pregnancy, the anesthesiologist went too far with the first epidural that he tried to administer. A couple of hours later, a different anesthesiologist seemingly succeeded but looking back on it now and having my second birth go much smoother with an epidural, I have now realized that the epidural with my first labor didn’t work properly. In my case, I was still in a lot of pain and I remember being told that they couldn’t give me more pain-relief because they had already given me lot.
On the bright side, most epidurals do work. Depending on which source and study you read, they’re said to work for 95% of patients.
6 Baby Will Be Picture Perfect
The blame with this one can once again be placed on Hollywood movies. Truth of the matter is that while some babies come out ready for their newborn photoshoots, many come out looking quite… let’s be honest, ugly.
From a parent’s perspective, the baby can’t possibly be ugly, but from an outsider’s view, newborn babies tend to look squished and wrinkly. If the baby was born vaginally, than he or she may even have a deformed head that will eventually correct itself.
Premature babies also have a thin-looking skin that may still be covered in lanugo, a fine coat of hair.
Some babies are born with newborn acne, which looks like tiny white spots on the face. Stork bites and angel kisses are very common as well. These are birth marks that usually go away on their own within the first couple of years.
5 The Doctor Will Be There During The Entire Labor
My own parents thought that the hospital I gave birth at was incompetent because the doctor only came at the end.
In fact, such a scenario is all too common. During labor, the doctor might pop in a couple of times, but generally, laboring women are primarily only taken care of by nurses – kind of makes you wonder that maybe nurses should get paid more, doesn’t it?
Most doctors will only interfere in case of an emergency and will be there at the end to “catch the baby”, whether it’s through a vaginal delivery or a c-section. Personally, I remember the nurses better than I do the doctor who delivered by first child!
There is also no guarantee that the doctor that you may have gone to throughout the entire pregnancy may be there at the end either.
4 She’ll Deliver Lying Down
You guessed it, here’s another Hollywood misconception. In so many movies, we see women solely laboring and delivering on the bed. Although there’s nothing stopping women from laboring in this way, it’s actually one of the 15 Biggest Mistakes Women Make During Labor.
Lying down has for effect to possibly slow or stall the labor. One of the best ways to labor is with gravity in mind. Standing, squatting, walking, sitting… all kinds of movement are highly beneficial and greatly help to speed up the labor.
Even during the pushing phase, the nurses may have you changing positions in an effort to get the baby moving faster.
3 She's Likely To Give Birth During A Full Moon
Ah the magical powers of the moon. It’s as if all pregnant women turn into a raging birthing were-mommy as soon as the sky clears and a full moon becomes visible.
Although this old wives tale is actually quite mainstream, there is absolutely zero conclusive evidence to support the fact that more women go into labor during a full moon.
Nonetheless, there is no shortage of conversations on this topic online, but for the pregnant ladies who are over 37 weeks, wondering if the next full moon will be “the” day. It probably won’t, but it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared just in case. After all, labor can pretty much happen at any moment, full moon or not!
2 Twins Means Automatic C-Section
Giving birth to multiples does not guarantee a c-section. It all depends on the positioning of the babies. Assuming neither one of the babies are in distress and everything is otherwise “normal”.
Most doctors and nurses will encourage a vaginal birth if both babies are head down. This actually happens in 40% of cases.
Even in the event that just one twin is engaged head down, then it might still be possible to deliver one twin vaginally and the other by c-section. Basically, there is no clear-cut answer on how the labor will go until it actually happens. Every situation is completely different.
Another factor that comes into play on whether it will be an automatic c-section is whether the twins share an amniotic sac.
In the case of more than two babies, then a caesarean can most likely be counted on as the default delivery method.
1 Her Homecoming Will Be Blissful
If you read the 7 Things That Can Trigger Postpartum Depression, then you’ll know that following the birth, it’s not uncommon for women to experience the “baby blues”.
Fatigue and hormones are hugely to blame for most feelings of sadness and it’s important to remember that this is completely normal. Carrying a baby and finally giving birth to the little bundle of joy is a lot to handle and finally having the baby in your arms can be very overwhelming.
There’s also the fact that suddenly, everything is thrown into chaos. There is no routine. You basically have to figure everything out as you go and this doesn’t just apply to first-time mommies! Going from one to two, or even from two to three kids can be an overwhelming step and one that takes time to adjust to. But rest assured that eventually, everything will fall into place, and before you know it, your little one will be happily running around.