Let there be no surprises! Even after reading all the birthing stuff in books and online forums, some mothers may still get some surprises in the delivery room. When some women go into the delivery room they are complete nerds as they didn’t get any chance to read much of anything because they were working almost until the last week.
Doctors or obstetricians hardly disclose any facts about the delivery to the mother unless she questions. They seem to forget that although for them, birth may be old hat, but for the mom, it may be the first time she’s gone through it.
There is a lot of anticipation about the onset of labor and how it is going to treat the mother in the last couple of weeks. What happens during the labor is mostly discussed in terms of pain and its management. Of course that is the most unbearable part.
However, there are a lot of other things going on inside and outside the body during the birthing process. Some things may seem individualistic to a mom, especially for a first-timer. They may be caught unawares in the labor room and feel too embarrassed to talk about it.
Every birthing experience is unique, but physiological changes in the body may be common in different sets of women. Just know that whatever is happening has happened to millions of women out there and they are not alone.
The most amazing thing about giving birth is that once a woman walks out of the hospital, she leaves all bodily inhibitions behind and walks free. She’s had multiple people poking around in her nether regions and seen her at her most vulnerable. Here are a few things that may not happen to all women but they are common enough to be aware about them before the D-day comes.
15 Shaking And Crying
This may not happen to all women, but in case it happens it shouldn’t appear unusual. Many women experience uncontrollable shaking soon after the baby comes out. Labor is tiring and generates a lot of heat in the body. After the delivery, the heat regulation happening in the body produces chills.
Apart from that, there are extreme hormonal changes happening inside the body after birth. This is completely normal and is a part of recovery.
Shivering may last a couple of minutes or hours, which may vary in all women. Most women hardly remember the chills once they are with the baby. A warm blanket will help to bring down the body temperature slowly. Besides shaking, eyes may also start watering instantly after the birth.
These are not crying tears, but it is a part of the body recovering from the backbreaking labor. Shaking and crying can happen in both vaginal and c-section birth.
14 Hard Stool After Delivery
Toilet visits can get hard in a literal sense after the delivery. There could be a lucky few who had it easy going. If an episiotomy was performed then it gets scarier with so many ‘what ifs’ running through the mind. Remember to ask the nurse for a stool softener while in the hospital.
Staying hydrated is as important after delivery as it is before that. Fluids will keep the stools soft and easy to get rid of. Eating fiber rich food will be good for the stomach and the baby who is on breastfeeding. Include a good amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet.
Walking or some kind of movement can help give some relief. Try Squatty Potty by using a foot stool. It seems the puborectalis muscle controls and maintains continence in a sitting posture. In the squatting posture this muscle relaxes to give free way to the stool.
13 Delivering The Placenta
Now about delivering the placenta, or the third stage of labor, through books and internet, but still some moms may be in for a surprise. After all the hard work of pushing to get the baby out, once it is out, their work still isn’t quite done. Many mothers will be surprised when the midwife or doctor asks them to push again even after the baby is out. The final push is for delivering the placenta.
The doctor may try to speed up placenta expulsion by pulling on it gently. The doctor or the nurse may also press the abdomen and put some pressure downward. Once the placenta is expelled by the uterus the doctor examines it to see if it is intact. Even a small part of placenta retained in the uterus can cause infection. In some cases moms are also given oxytocin to contract the uterus, which will speed up the delivery of placenta.
12 Some Moms Eat The Placenta
Placentophagy or eating the placenta is becoming quite popular these days with more and more mums opting for it. Although there have been a few studies that found that eating the placenta increases milk supply, there have been no studies to see if there are any risks associated with it.
Women who ate their placenta also say that it protects from postpartum depression as it speeds up the recovery process and gives a lot of energy. Women don’t chow down on it right there in the delivery room, but most often it is freeze-dried and ground into a powder used to make capsules that the mom later can swallow.
A study on rats also found that eating the placenta gives relief from pain. However, medical experts are not much in favor of this practice. They also think that in some cases like pre-eclampsia, the placenta may contain stress proteins that may harm instead of giving any benefits.
Mothers who plan to save their placenta should check beforehand about the hospital policy as it needs to be either frozen or cooked immediately after delivery.
11 Tears And Stitches
Almost 50 percent of women delivering through the vagina experience tears and lacerations in the area between the vagina and anus. The doctor repairs the tears with stitches and it takes 7 to 10 days to heal. Until then, the perineal area may feel extremely tender and uncomfortable while sitting.
Usually there is no need for any extra care, but the maxi pads for normal after delivery bleeding should be changed every 4 to 6 hours. After peeing warm water can be squirted on the area to clean and soothe it.
To manage the pain, a warm compress or a maxi pad with a cold pack can help. There are ointments and sprays available to numb the pain that can be used in consultation with the doctor. Long times sitting or standing should be avoided. Doughnut shaped cushions can be used to avoid some discomfort while sitting. If the tears appear red or smells bad, then it should be immediately discussed with the doctor.
10 Postpartum Bleeding (Lochia)
For the first week or 10 days after delivery, almost all women bleed heavily, which could be heavier than a normal period. This is also known as lochia. The flow reduces within 2 weeks, but light bleeding can go on for 4 to 6 weeks. Sudden spurts of blood and blood clots should not be a cause of worry at all.
Some women may experience a gush of blood coming out after the the 10th day after delivery or later, but this is normal and it happens sometimes.
If the bleeding becomes too heavy and the mother soaks more than one pad in an hour, it could be a matter of concern. Along with that, if there are other signs such as feeling dizzy, irregular heartbeat, large blood clots on the pad then it may be urgent to see the doctor. Mostly the bleeding becomes lighter after 2 weeks and changes from bright red to brown.
This is sign that the uterus is healing and slowly returning to its original size.
9 Pooping During Delivery
No doubt it is embarrassing, but it is too common to feel awkward about it. Some women won’t even notice that they pooped but some of them may feel scared of poop coming out with a push. Some women can’t help farting loudly.
The baby is going to make sure that every bit of poop comes out while he makes his way out. That is the last thing to worry about during labor, since doctors and nurses are used to it and they will clean it up before the mom knows it.
It seems it is common for women to have a bowel movement during labor even though most won’t mention it later. Dr. Shieva Ghofrany, an obstetrician at Stamford Hospital, says that she would never voluntarily tell patients that ahead of time. The only time she brings up pooping, ever, is when women start to push, and I say, 'you need to push as if you're pooping!'
8 Won’t Be Allowed To Eat In Labor
Every hospital has its own rule when it comes to eating while in labor. Some hospitals have a policy to limit the mother to liquids or ice chips if there is possibility of a c-section. The reason behind this is that in a rare event, the mother may vomit while unconscious and the vomit may block her airways.
Although this is unnecessary in case of a vaginal delivery but in a planned c-section it is a good practice to keep the stomach empty.
Most doctors advise to eat a light meal in the early stage of labor, but as the labor progresses they allow only liquids. Interestingly, a recent research suggests that eating during labor may reduce the labor duration by 45 to 90 minutes. Labor needs enormous strength and it could be harder to pull up that kind of strength on an empty stomach.
Eat a light meal if hungry, although moms rarely feel like eating once strong contractions set in, and they may even cause the mom to throw up.
7 The Doctor Is The Last One To Arrive
In almost every delivery, the doctor enters the scene only when the cervix is fully dilated. This comes as a surprise to many. Throughout the pregnancy the mom discusses every small detail with the doctor and when the moment arrives, looking at unknown faces could be discomforting.
In some cases the doctor may come and check the progress or dilation during early stages if required, but most women have nurses or midwifes monitoring the progress.
In some hospitals, the doctor may check on the mum every two hours once the cervix is dilated 4 cms. Do not be surprised if the doctor is still a no show after moving to the delivery room. Once the stage is set for the baby to arrive, only then the nurses alert the doctor. Usually the obstetricians are busy with other patients or delivering other babies.
However, they are aware of the progress and being updated by the nurses.
6 There's No Guarantee Of Pain Relief
This could come as a shock to those who are planning to go for an epidural. When an epidural works perfectly it works like magic for moms and they enjoy the whole process of delivering. However, in some women an epidural numbs one side and the mother can feel pain on the other side. There could be a scenario where the epidural wears off by the time of pushing. It seems the physiology of every woman is different so it works differently on everyone.
The most important factor in whether an epidural is successful or not is the level of expertise of the anaesthetist, says Dr Deirdre Guerin, lead obstetric anesthesia consultant from Portland Hospital, London. Do not get the epidural done from a junior anaesthetist or a trainee. If possible talk to the senior anesthetist beforehand.
Sometimes mothers opt for a c-section the second time, since they could not bear the failed epidural the first time. A failed epidural could be hard to deal with especially when not prepared for the outcome.
5 Recovery Might Be Hard
Recovery doesn’t get talked about as much as it should be. It takes a while to get the body in normal working condition. After a c-section, the abdominal muscles simply become useless. We depend so much on the abdominal muscles to bend, lift and move around that we realize it only when they hurt badly or appear non-existent. Make sure to take the painkillers at the right time as prescribed.
At the hospital, the facilities and medical care can make things a bit easier. But at home it becomes difficult to even get out of the bed. Walking may not be easy either. Lifting, driving and climbing stairs is out of question for a couple of weeks. While breastfeeding, the baby should be placed sideways so that it doesn’t press on the incision site.
Buy high waisted panties in case of low-transverse incision, otherwise the elastic of your old bikini style panties will rub the incision.
4 Some Moms Need A Catheter
A catheter is used when a c-section is performed to keep the bladder empty while the doctors are operating. A flexible tube is inserted into the bladder. Even after the surgery, the catheter will stay put for the night to avoid going to the bathroom as it is painful to get up and move.
The doctors also keep it in place after the c-section to measure the amount of urine. In a rare event they may keep it longer to check if there was any scarring. Be prepared for the catheter in case the c-section has been planned. In very few cases there could be a burning sensation, but that is normal.
Although a catheter comes as a relief from frequent toilet trips, when someone doesn’t know about the catheter in advance it may cause some embarrassment. Prior knowledge sometimes freaks out some mothers, but most mothers hardly have any problem after delivery as the attention is either on the baby or the pain.
3 Labor Nausea Is Real
Some women feel nauseous and end up vomiting on the nurse during labor. But don’t worry, nurses have seen it too many times to even acknowledge it. They are prepared and trained to handle this. Although nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to smell subside after the first trimester and in some cases it may be chronic and continue throughout the pregnancy until the last day.
In a few cases, it subsides but starts again a few days before labor and intensifies as the labor progresses. Another cause of nausea worsening is attributed to certain types of epidurals and pain medications too.
Nausea could become very uncomfortable to handle and it becomes hard to focus on the contractions. In a scenario where nausea or vomiting is severe, the mother may be put on IV medication to manage dehydration, weakness and stop the nausea. Women who start feeling nauseous a few days before labor should eat light food and also keep a mouthwash and a lip balm handy.
2 Preventing Blood Clots
After the c-section, when a mom wakes up, she may find herself wearing weird boots on her feet. These are called Sequential Compression devices (SCDs). Do not freak out, they are supposed to help improve blood circulation and prevents any chances of a blood clot.
They look like huge heating pads. These breathing boots inflate and deflate to pump the blood from the feet. In most cases they are on the feet for 12 to 24 hours.
However, if a mother doesn’t want it and wants to get up and move she can request the hospital to remove them. Moving is always better than those boots for improving blood circulation. Some women who have less mobility wear compression stockings for about a months after a c-section or until they are completely mobile. It is a good idea to discuss it with the doctor in case there is a problem in moving.
1 Hanging Baby Pooch
That big mass of tummy hanging from the body once the baby is out feels weird and awkward. It looks like someone just punctured the real nice and round belly. The uterus steadily contracts over a period of 3 to 4 weeks and finally reaches its original size. Some mothers get back into shape in a few months, but for others it may take more than 6 months or even more.
But mums should not have unrealistic expectations of achieving the pre-pregnancy figure.
Breastfeeding makes a mom lose some pounds. Besides breastfeeding, eating healthy fiber rich food can help to get back into shape. As far as possible, avoid high sugar foods for a few months. Core-compression exercises are the best for a tummy tuck. Avoid abdominal crunches as it may make the bulge worse.
The right kind of exercises and posture can help re-gain the shape in a short period of time.