When a woman announces she is pregnant, it is all excitement and joy (at least the majority of the time it is), but it is not long until people start spilling out all kinds of thoughts, opinions, and so-called "facts" about childbirth. Sometimes these opinions can be helpful, but other times they have the countereffect and can scare the mom-to-be to her very core.
Alternatively, false facts may give the expectant mom false hope, which is just as damaging. Some of these opinions may have been deemed facts in the past but thanks to scientific research and more women sharing their birthing experiences — particularly on social media and television — many of these once-facts have been debunked as myths. This article is here to reveal these myths, setting the record straight on 20 myths about childbirth and how they have been debunked (in the last 5 years).
From the timescale of birth to the facts about pain relief, there are so many myths that need to be set straight. Expecting a baby? Making a birth plan? Just generally curious about childbirth facts? Then this is definitely worth taking time out of the day to read.
Here are 20 birthing myths debunked in the last 5 years.
20 Giving Birth Is Hard
This is not a complete myth; of course giving birth is difficult. It is one of the most intense processes a woman's body will go through in her entire life, and it can be a very long, hard and difficult experience but not for everyone. Some women don't find childbirth painful, some women have their baby in under an hour, and some women don't even realize they are in labor until it is time to push.
In the last 5 years, thanks to the wonders of social media and women being more open about their experiences, it has been shown that birth can be an empowering and positive experience.
19 Labor Will Last For Days
Again, this can be true for some women, so in that case, this is not a myth, but for many women, labor and delivery of their child/children does not last for days on end.
In the last five years, it has been shown that the average length of time childbirth takes is actually '8 to 18 hours for a first-time mum, less for consecutive children'. This clearly debunks this myth, as the maximum amount of time is less than a full day (24 hours).
18 Consecutive Births Will Be Easier
Some women have a hard first birth experience and unfortunately, this is also the case for the births that follow, in some cases due to the complications from the first birth. In other situations, some women have a straight-forward birth with their first child but then consecutive births are tough.
This was debunked in the last five years, most recently by 'Emma's Diary' which states "The cervix, pelvic floor muscles and birth canal have already been stretched by the first birth so it’s true that second and subsequent labours tend to be shorter. But this doesn’t make them any less painful – they just don’t last as long."
17 An Epidural Increases The Chance Of C-Section
An epidural is a method of pain relief that many women choose to have to help them deal with childbirth. The worry that some women have, however, is that getting an epidural will increase their chance of needing to get a C-section; this is not necessarily true and has been debunked in the last 5 years by various different forms of research.
'Living and loving' claims that although an epidural can increase your chances of intervention during childbirth, it can also increase your chances of having a natural birth by "by allowing you to relax and cope with labour."
16 Home Births Are Dangerous
In the past few years especially, home birth has become a very popular option, meaning more research has gone into the safety of it, which is why in the last 5 years, this myth has been completely debunked.
'Living and Loving' states that "Many low-risk home births happen safely at home, without medical intervention" and in many low-risk pregnancies a home birth "could be just as safe as being in a hospital".
Women who are high-risk during pregnancy may be encouraged to have their child in a hospital setting, but if they choose a home birth, then this will be supported and safety precautions will be taken.
15 Water Breaking Is Dramatic
"TV shows and films labour is often depicted as starting with a theatrical, public whoosh of amniotic fluid. In reality this is pretty unlikely to happen," states a 2018 article on 'Emma's Diary'.
For many women, where and when their water breaks is a constant worry, especially during the late stages of pregnancy; no one wants their water to break in a public setting. Although this can happen and the water breaking can be dramatic, it is not very common, so no need for it to be a constant worry.
14 Full Dilation Means The End Is Near
This is a myth so many people still believe today, probably due to the unrealistic example shown in movies and television where the woman gets to 10cm and then it is one push and baby is here. In reality pushing can take hours. So, unfortunately, no, being at full dilation does not mean the end is near, and there may be hours to go.
13 Baby Is Here, Birth Is Over
Linking to the previous entry on this list, it is a myth that once the baby is here, birth is over. Some may be very confused by this, as birth must be over now the baby is here, right? Wrong. Your baby may now be out of the womb and in the world, but there is still more a woman's body needs to do.
"Delivering the placenta and uterus going back down to size" are just some of the reasons birthing continues after the baby arrives.
12 An Epidural Makes All Pain Go Away
As previously mentioned, an epidural is a pain-relief many women choose to have during childbirth, and of course it does help ease the pain, but it does not take the pain away altogether. It is also a known scientific fact that because all our bodies react differently an epidural may not work on some women at all and on other women, it may only work partially.
Further debunking this myth, a 2018 article featured on bundoo.com states, "Epidurals can work wonders, but they don’t always make birth painless. Be aware that you still may feel some pain from contractions or a sense of intense pressure".
11 Sleep Will Be Possible When Baby Arrives
Pregnancy comes hand in hand with sleep deprivation and insomnia for most women, especially during those uncomfortable final weeks of pregnancy. Many women look forward to having their baby, no longer being pregnant, and finally catching up on some much-needed shut-eye, but unfortunately, sleep is still not within reach.
10 Knowing Labor Is Imminent
Often an expectant mother is told that she will just know when her child is coming and it will be obvious to her that she is in labor... Wrong! This myth has been debunked in the last 5 years, and most women now know that the signs may not be as obvious as they first thought they would be.
Once again looking at bundoo.com, the article explains that some women experience false labor and think that it is active labor; stating that "sometimes it can be tricky, especially if it’s your first one. If you’ve gone to the hospital thinking you were in labor and you were sent home, [don't worry]! You won’t be pregnant forever."
9 The Pushing Doesn't Take Long
This has been touched on in a previous entry, but to reiterate, the "one push and baby is here" process that is often shown in movies and television shows is most definitely a myth.
Pushing can go on for several hours; sometimes you stop pushing and have a break then try pushing again. Only in the best-case scenario does it only take one or two pushes for baby to come; for most women, it is a much longer process.
The average time a woman is allowed to push before medical intervention is required is between "2 or 3 hours," maybe more if the doctor allows it and you have a small break.
8 Babies Come Out Looking Like Newborns
Of course all babies are adorable, but they are not as 'picture perfect' and clean as social media sites can tend to make them out to be. Those photos are usually taken a little while after birth, and they do not show the true image of a newborn baby.
"It is normal for their heads to have some swelling and be shaped like a cone. Their faces are often swollen too, and they may even have some bruises on them. These changes are all because of coming through the birth canal. In addition, their skin is usually covered in a cheesy substance called vernix," says Bundoo. This is the reality.
7 Regular Doctor Will Deliver Baby
"Some may, but it is more likely you’ll see much more of your labor nurse. Your doctor will probably have multiple women in labor to care for and usually has to handle many phone calls and see patients in the Emergency Room, too," states the site bundoo.com, debunking this myth for good.
As lovely as it would be to have the doctor you are used to seeing there throughout labor and there to deliver the baby, unfortunately, this cannot always be the case, but you can trust whoever is delivering your baby is a trained medical professional and you are in safe hands!
6 Screaming Is The Reaction To Labor Pain
Again we have movies and television to thank for this myth as a woman during childbirth is often portrayed as screaming in pain (which of course can be a reaction to pain), but many women do not react like this to the childbearing process.
Deep breathing, moaning noises, or even utter silence are also reactions one may have to the pain and intensity of labor and delivery. In a 2016 survey conducted by Baby Centre of 441 women who experienced different types of births, it was found that the majority of women (301) did not scream when giving birth.
5 C-Section Is The Easy Choice
Most women aim for a natural birth, some women may require medical intervention, and others (usually as a last resort) may have to have a cesarean section. This is where they have to surgically deliver your baby instead of a natural delivery. Some believe this is 'the easy way out,' but in recent years this offensive misconception has been proven wrong.
A 2017 article on Health.com explains the reality of the C-section, stating that "Women who deliver via C-section are more likely to need ... transfusions and be admitted to intensive care units, and are more likely to need C-sections for future pregnancies," and concluding that C-sections are one of the most 'traumatic' ways to give birth.
4 Natural Induction Remedies Always Work
"The thought behind this is that these will stimulate the digestive system, and in turn the uterus, but there is no evidence that any of these will work," a 2018 article on Emma's Diary explains about the myth that is home induction remedies.
From swallowing castor oil and eating spicy curries to hill walking and driving over speed bumps, there are so many 'old wives' tales' that people believe will put a woman into active labor. The truth is baby will come when ready and even medical induction is not 100%.
3 The Birth Plan Is Concrete
Whether a woman plans her birth down to the tiniest detail or does not write a birth plan at all, most likely the birth will go differently to what is thought anyhow. Although it is good to set some guidelines as to how you would like the birth to go, there is no guarantee that it will go that way; babies are unpredictable
Emma's Diary explains this myth in very simple terms, writing that "A birth plan should be viewed as a birth strategy rather than as a plan that everyone has to stick rigidly to. Things can change when you go into labour and you may want or need to change your plans".
2 Twins Or Multiples Pregnancies Always Ends In C-Section
"Although more than half of all twins in the UK are born by Caesarean, it is perfectly possible to have a vaginal birth if there are no complications. If the first twin is in a head down position a vaginal birth should be possible," debunks Emma's Diary when it comes to this misconception about twins/multiples births.
It is also possible in the case of twins or multiples for a woman to experience different kinds of birth for one pregnancy. Famous YouTube Mom 'Natalie Bennett' experienced both a natural labor and C-section birth when it came time to bring her fraternal twin boys into the world.
1 Not Allowed To Refuse Treatment
It is a surprise that this myth was still believed by many women in the past five years, but it has been, unfortunately. Many women thought they could not refuse treatment or medical advice when it came to pregnancy and childbirth, but this is most definitely not the case. Nothing can be done to you or your child without your consent, even if it is against medical advice. "A pregnant woman who is a capable decision maker should be respected if she chooses to decline recommended medical or surgical interventions," says iWatch.
Sources: livingandloving.co, parents.com, bundoo.com, emmasdiary.co.uk, health.com, CBS news, Babycenter.com, Journal watch