First-time mommies can be forgiven for not knowing exactly what to expect during labor and childbirth. The first-time daddies should also get the same pass. Actually, since every childbirth is different, even with the same mom, she shouldn't rely on past experiences. As a way of getting through the fear she feels, she may make the mistake of thinking, "Oh, I've taken this trip already. I already know where every bump in the road will be."
Not so much. For instance, if she didn't have preeclampsia for her first, she may unexpectedly develop it for her second and subsequent pregnancies. Ditto for premature labor and childbirth.
This is why it's good to be equipped with knowledge, no matter whether she's having her first baby or her. . . sixth. Even if some of what she discusses with her midwife or obstetrician scares her witless, as long as she has the knowledge she needs, she's ready. In the event that something unexpected and/or bad happens, she'll be able to make critical decisions along with her partner. She'll be able to understand her decisions and how they affect her and her child. As she's going through the new complication, she'll be less tense, too.
15 Mom Might Need A Catheter
If mom has to have a C-section, she'll have to have a catheter inserted so she can rid her body of urine. The catheter will have to stay inserted through at least the first night after the baby has been born.
But whyyyy? After a C-section, things hurt. A LOT. Trying to get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, sit, urinate, get back up, wash hands and walk back to bed will feel like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. With that catheter in, mom won't have to worry about any of that.
Also, the catheter enables her to void her bladder without the risk of infecting the surgical field. That's a biggie, too. Other medical reasons that nurses and doctors have for keeping the catheter inserted include making it easier to measure urine output.
14 Ever Heard Of Lochia?
It looks like an extended, icky, gross period. Lochia is made up of the blood and cells that lined mom's uterus where the placenta attached itself. Some of the blood vessels where the placenta was attached may also leak blood. While it's not very attractive, well, all that stuff gotta come out somehow.
This means mom will be wearing thick, uncomfortable sanitary pads until that flow finally stops. One way she knows she's making progress is that the appearance of blood gradually diminishes until the lochia is actually just clear. Which means it just looks like she's releasing a lot of vaginal discharge.
By the time her six-week postpartum checkup comes around, that flow should be easing or done. If it isn't, she may have a mild bacterial infection which antibiotics will clear up.
13 The Water Breaks... And Then Can Break Again
When a new mom realizes her water has broken, that realization may come to her slowly, just like that leak between her legs. The "breaking of the waters" isn't a huge, dramatic, splashy. . . well, splash. She may feel an odd "pop" inside. Next, her panties may feel wet, like she accidentally urinated.
Rather than a gush, the amniotic fluid may just trickle out (which is good for carpeting, the seat of the car and, in general, not falling in a large puddle on the floor).
In short, if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. It's not predictable. If it does, mom should call her midwife or obstetrician right away. Because it's a harbinger of labor, the doctor needs that heads-up. Also, the risk of infection goes up because the amniotic sac has ruptured.
12 Back Labor Is A Real Thing
And it hurts. It's persistent, kind of like the dog that won't stop barking at 3 a.m. every morning. About 25 percent of women in labor experience this phenomena. What causes it? One reason is the baby is positioned so its head is pressing against the mom's back. In labor-and-delivery parlance, this is a "sunny-side-up" baby. Other times, it just happens. Which means that no mama-to-be knows whether she's going to experience this or not. Moving around may help. If mom is having back labor, the walking may help the baby to reposition itself.
If there's any upside to back labor, it's this: Those nagging, lower-back pains may tell mom that labor is imminent. This way, she can prepare, physically and mentally.
11 The Baby Might Have A Conehead
The baby may strongly resemble the "Cone Head" characters. (Remember Jane Curtin and Steve Martin?) Fortunately for the little ones, their bones aren't hardened. Their heads are bigger around than the circumference of mommy's cervix and vagina, so the different skull bones will move, allowing the baby's head to move down through the birth canal. Result? The baby's head isn't round. It's pointed, like a Cone Head.
Relax, because, over the next few days and weeks, the baby's skull will resume its normal, rounded appearance. Besides, that's what all those cute, crocheted and knitted caps are for! They don't just help baby keep its body heat—they hide that weird, pointed shape!
Some babies may need a little "extra help" exiting the birth canal. This can lead to the odd, elongated appearance of the newborn's head as well.
10 Toilet Paper Will Be Public Enemy Number One
As in, toilet paper may become Public Enemy Number One. So, how does a new mom clean herself after urinating? Enter the friendly, no-pain-involved squirt bottle. All she has to do is fill it with warm water and spray after using the bathroom. The actual term for this little device is the peri bottle, but who's keeping score?
After opening wide and delivering a brand-new baby, mom's ladybits feel well, rather misused. If she tore or needed an episiotomy, this is doubly true. She should go easy and forget about feeling any twinges of guilt. After all, she's experiencing new, strange twinges elsewhere, right? While she's healing "down there," she should just make the squirt. . . uh, peri bottle her new bestie. Once everything's back to normal, she can resume using T.P.
9 The Belly Doesn't Just Disappear
Even if she was a slim model-like woman before becoming pregnant, the new mom won't lose the poochy, six-month abdomen for a while. She may look like this for about a week, which is why her maternity clothing will still come in pretty handy. . . even if she's sick to death of the sight of the clothing.
The only thing that will help with the rounded belly? Good, old-fashioned exercise. Once her doctor has given approval for exercise, she should start in slowly so that, over the next few months, she can regain her former, svelte figure.
Of course, it's not only the stretched muscles that contribute to the big belly. Mom's uterus is also expanded. And it'll take a few weeks for that organ to finally contract down to its normal size and shape.
8 Extra Cushion Might Form
Some hospitals hook I.V.s up to women in labor so they don't become dehydrated. Now that some hospitals allow women to drink beverages and eat lightly, this practice is not as common.
If your labor and delivery ward nixes eating, you may be connected to an I.V. that delivers fluid into your body. A lot of fluid. The day after you have your baby, you may be shocked at how. . . puffy and. . . well, "round" you look. Your ankles and face may not be very recognizable.
It's not only the I.V. Your own body produced a lot of fluid while you were pregnant. It also retained a lot of fluid (hello, water weight). If you notice that you're urinating or sweating more than you normally do once your baby's been born, that's normal.
7 Prepare For The Cow Pies
Yeah, so, that. Moms who are in active labor, pushing to give birth to a human watermelon, may accidentally push something else out. While the thought is gross and mortifying, the mom-to-be shouldn't worry. The doctors and nurses have seen everything that could embarrass her.
Besides. . . the doctors and nurses do tell moms, "Push like you're having a BM!" This means that something extra may also come squeezing out. After blushing and apologizing profusely, mom should realize that, if she pooped, she's doing the pushing thang right, after all. And she may never even notice because she's so focused on giving birth, getting rid of that pain and finally getting to meet the new family member. Because the medical staff is so used to this, they'll just quickly remove and sanitize the area before baby is born.
6 There's A Chance Of Barfing
It's not fun, but it's definitely a labor sign. Your nurses will know that the chance of this happening is good, so they'll have a emesis basin ready for you. Other reasons you may barf include anxiety. . . or hunger. After all, you're exerting your body more than you've done for a long time. Things happen.
Will an epidural help you to avoid vomiting? Or will it bring that on? That depends on the individual mom. For some, pain relief comes with having to puke. For others, relief from pain also means relief from nausea and the danger of barfing.
Whatever happens to you in the labor and delivery room, just make sure you stay hydrated. Suck those ice chips or you'll feel even worse.
5 The V Will Be Opened For Viewing
Mom can be forgiven for thinking that well, too many people are taking an unnatural interest in her ladybits. The doctor and nurses, she understands. But what's that constant stream of. . . medical students and nursing students? Why can't they go snoop on another mom in labor?
There's really a good reason for that. These students are learning, not just from textbooks and theory, but from real life. That includes young men and women taking a gander at what's happening between her legs. While it may be embarrassing (okay, mortifying), she may be able to rationalize that later. "Okay, I was a demonstration in the furtherance of medical knowledge.
What would happen with ultra-religious women, like Michelle Duggar? Would she restrict the medical staff only to those who are attending the birth of #. . . ??
4 Pushing Will Go On And On And On And On
It's not like you see in the movies. Expect to push for at least an hour, if not quite a bit longer. For a first baby, pushing can go on for quite a while. After all, her body has never done this before, so it's a new activity and experience.
It would be helpful if childbirth professionals (yes, we're talking to you, nurses and doctors) would clue new moms in before labor begins. This way, they'll be mentally prepared and ready for a long haul of pushing before the final reward of holding a screaming, sweet little baby at the end. At least, childbirth educators do prepare moms- and dads-to-be about the labor, transition and pushing process. Some of that learning includes techniques to help with the pain and tiredness.
3 The Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde Syndrome
Labor's not easy. It hurts, sometimes a lot. A normally sweet and loving woman may find herself becoming not herself. Where something normally doesn't bother her, suddenly she finds that event causing her to express lots of anger.
"Rub my back, please. . . DON'T TOUCH ME!" Yes, it can happen that fast. It may be the pain causing the sudden personality change. For some women, feeling like they have no control over what's going to happen in the next few. . . or several. . . hours is frightening. They may think they want something, like the back rub. When it happens, they realize, "No, that's not what. . . JUST GET AWAY FROM ME!"
Mom and dad can be forgiven for wondering if mom has suddenly developed the Doctor Jekyll and Mr. (Mrs.?) syndrome. That will end as soon as the baby's born.
2 Mom Can Push Out More Than Just The Baby
You just gave birth to a baby, not a watermelon. Whew! Imagine your shock when your doctor asks you to push some more. You don't want to do that! The baby's here!
You need to deliver the afterbirth, otherwise known as the placenta. That's the organ that nourished your baby while you were pregnant and yes, it has to come out.
Expect your midwife or doctor to push hard on your lower abdomen while pulling on the umbilical cord. Epidural or no, it won't feel good. Aside from the risk of infection, the doctor has to examine every inch of the placenta to make sure every bit of it has come out. Because. . . infections. Once it has been delivered (yay, you!) NOW you can relax. Sort of.
1 The Baby Might Be Vacuumed
The delivery of mom's baby may have taken an unexpected turn. Maybe she has preeclampsia or the baby's heart rate dropped too much. These are medical emergencies, requiring quick intervention.
Enter the "baby vacuum." It's not actually a vacuum. It's just a device that, well, helps to suck or pull the baby out of the vagina more quickly. Mom should think of it as a device that supplements her pushing and the contractions.
She may not even notice it's happening because she's so focused on just pushing the baby out, once and for all. All she'll notice is that her baby's head is oddly shaped. Relax, mom. The odd shape of baby's head and the use of that vacuum device won't do any harm to your little one.
Sources: huffingtonpost.com, healthymummy.com, babygaga.com, stressfreemommies.com, familyshare.com, buzzfeed.com, hitecmed.com, kansascitystar.com, newsworks.com, momjunction.com, Reuters Blogs, American Academy of Family Physicians, lionscantimproveshit.wordpress.com, TV.com, Heather Runs Fast, Best Buy Canada, American Pregnancy Association, Alibab, Belly Belly, mom.me.com, Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House, extremetech.com, urbanarrivals.com