With the due date approaching, a lot of moms-to-be spend time worrying about the things that they will go through during labor and delivery. That's hard to imagine for women who haven't already experienced it themselves — and it's even harder to picture what the baby will go through, and that can be even more important.
Many moms worry about the embarrassment of themselves going No. 2 during the pushing phase, but the real trouble happens if the baby goes No. 2 during childbirth. The mom might feel more pain, but that doesn't mean that contractions are easy on the baby. And that tight squeeze through the birth canal might actually have some benefits for the little one. The truth is that there are some complications that are worse for the baby than for the mom, but there are others that might seem to only be an issue for a mom that actually have a huge impact on a tiny newborn.
We don't want to frighten moms-to-be, but it's important for her to understand what will happen to the baby during childbirth so she can make the most informed decision possible. Here are 20 common things that happen during childbirth (that babies don't enjoy).
20 Meds Don't Just Affect The Mom
Many times, an epidural and other meds can make all the difference in making the mom comfortable during labor and delivery. But there might be concerns about what the baby might feel. Just like during pregnancy, meds do cross over to the baby, and they do feel some impact.
The amount that enters the stream from an epidural is low, but some babies are more sluggish after the birth, and some believe it might make breastfeeding more difficult in the first few hours. There are no known long-term impacts, though, so it might be worth it to get the mom and the baby through childbirth as safely and comfortably as possible.
19 Be Careful Flipping Over
Having a baby in the right position for birth can be a big deal, and many doctors start checking on that a month or more before the due date. Many babies end up with too little room to turn over toward the end of the pregnancy. But some actually flip during the delivery.
That's most likely to happen for twins and other multiples, who tend to shift positions after the first baby is born. That means that the baby could end up in the breech position and blow the birth plan at the last minute if he kicks his way upside down.
18 A Baby's Skull Shifts
It can be hard to imagine getting a baby's huge head through the birth canal. But luckily nature has a solution that makes everything go more smoothly. For most of our lives, our skulls are one big bone, but at birth newborn's skulls are made of several plates that can shift to make for a smoother entry.
Some newborns come out with really strange shapes to their heads; a conehead is pretty common. It might seem strange, but it's really useful so that the baby can come out quicker and with less tearing. And the head shape usually goes back to normal in a week or two.
17 Shoulder Dystocia Can Be A Big Issue
Getting the baby safely delivered can be difficult. Even after hours of labor and getting the baby to crown, the danger isn't over yet. That's because there is still a risk of shoulder dystocia.
That basically means that the shoulder is damaged during the delivery. But the problem can be much more than that. It could be a matter of just letting the shoulder heal, but there's a possibility that the nerve could be damaged and the baby might lose the ability to move his hand or his arm. This is more likely in the birth of big babies, but it can happen any time, and doctors will consider the possibility during the delivery.
16 Heart Valve Closes At Birth
Being born actually changes the structure of one of the most important parts of the baby's body — the heart. While in the womb, the baby's heart doesn't have to circulate plasma to the lungs because the oxygenated liquid comes from the umbilical cord, so there is a hole that allows that part to be bypassed.
But at birth, a valve is supposed to close, allowing the new circulation pattern to the lungs. The hole should completely close within a few days of birth, but some babies end up having to go through surgery for it to happen. It's another small but very important part of the birth.
15 Cord Complications Can Happen
Babies are pretty resilient during labor and delivery, but there is one part of the equation that is the most sensitive. The umbilical cord is still part of the baby at that point, and it's the vessel that distributes nourishment and oxygen from the placenta right up until the moment of the delivery.
There is a danger during childbirth that the cord could be compressed. It can happen if the cord gets into the birth canal before the baby and the head ends up squishing it before the baby can breathe on his own. It's a big danger and might even make a C-section necessary so that the baby is okay.
14 That's A Tight Squeeze
The baby has to go through a tight squeeze to go through a natural delivery. Some moms might worry that it's uncomfortable for the little one, but doctors and nurses believe that the journey has a lot of benefits for the baby that moms might not expect.
The squeezing that happens in the birth canal can actually do a lot of good in helping to expel the fluid in the baby's lungs. That can allow the baby to have an easier time breathing at birth and avoid breathing issues like asthma later on in life. The big squeeze is actually a benefit and some C-section moms insist on trying to mimic those conditions.
13 Blue Baby Bruises
The baby's journey through the birth canal might be a bit harder than moms expect. And even though there aren't necessarily any obstacles in the way, some babies end up looking like had to fight to be born, complete with bruises.
This is especially true if the doctor uses any tools, such as forceps. But it can happen even in quick and easy deliveries. The skin is delicate, and the baby is in a vulnerable state during the pushing phase. But most of the time the bruises heal within a few days, and the baby doesn't have any long-term issues from that bumpy journey through the birth canal.
12 A Baby's First Breath Isn't As Zen As Yoga
Babies breathe when they are in the womb, but they don't do it in the same way. They actually get their oxygen through the umbilical cord from the placenta. But doctors have observed the baby practice breathing and ingesting amniotic fluid. So they are prepared for that first breath after birth.
That's not to say that it's easy. The baby has to loosen fluid from his lungs and get their lungs full of air. And if they are preemies, their lungs might not be ready. They may even have to be reminded to breathe. It's a big deal and the apex of the birth.
11 Some Babies Go No. 2
Even with the ick factor, many parents anticipate the first diaper change with excitement. But some babies actually have their first bowel movement before they are born. That is a complication that can be dangerous for the baby's health, so moms need to let the doctor know if their fluid is discolored or smelly when their water breaks.
A baby's first No. 2 is known as meconium, and it can be tarry and filled with waste from the time during pregnancy. The danger of having that in the amniotic fluid is it could be ingested as the baby continues to practice breathing and ingesting and that can make the baby very sick.
10 Our Little Babies Can Spin On Their Way Out
Moms might not be aware of all of the things that happen to the baby during the birth. While she's pushing, the baby is spinning, which is an interesting phenomenon that babies may not like so much.
The spinning happens after the baby's head is delivered so that the shoulders move into a place that makes it easier for them to pass through. It's a quarter revolution, but even if the baby isn't pleased, the mom should be. It makes all the difference in terms of being able to get the baby the rest of the way out without too much trouble or much more tearing.
9 Hormonal Surge Passes To Baby
Women know that they have hormonal changes during pregnancy and even through childbirth. But they forget that the baby goes through those same major hormonal shifts, even as they are going through the birth canal.
Moms might notice signs of those hormones when they take a good look at their newborn. They often have swollen areas where the diaper goes and even on their chest, which is a symptom of the hormones. Luckily, they also get the endorphins that moms have a boost of during childbirth, which means that they are happier and in less pain than a mom might imagine.
8 Heartbeats Can Vary
During labor nurses and midwives often check on the baby's heartbeat to make sure that everything is okay. But even then, they don't expect the rate to stay the same during the entire process. Just like mom's, their heart rate will go up during contractions and such.
Many hospitals have moms wear monitors so that the baby's heart rate can be checked often, and if the doctor gets concerned that the baby isn't recovering well after contractions, he might think that the baby is in distress. He might recommend a C-section if he gets too concerned about the baby's little heartbeat.
7 Breech Risks To Baby
Most babies come out with their head first, but sometimes the baby is positioned differently so that either the feet or the bottom would come out first. The condition, known as "breech," means that mom is in for a different experience and so is the baby.
The mom could end up with a lot more tearing than a regular delivery, but the biggest danger is that that baby could end up getting stuck or getting deprived of oxygen during the pushing phase. Many doctors recommend that moms of breeched babies consider a C-section since it's much safer for the baby.
6 Contractions Aren't A Cakewalk For Baby
Babies do feel contractions during the mom's labor. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they feel pain. On the outside, the mom can feel the pull of her uterus, but on the inside, it's not the baby's body that is contracting.
Instead, he's feeling the pressure as the uterus pushes him to the birth canal. Things get tighter, and that doesn't feel good, but doctors say that there is no evidence that it is actually painful for the baby. He goes through a lot, but moms shouldn't worry about his level of pain because hers is definitely going to be higher.
5 Major Stress
Moms are well aware of how stressful labor and delivery can be on them, but they might not realize that the baby goes through a lot of stress too. And that can have an impact on his long-term health.
Research studies have shown that major stress during pregnancy can impact the baby throughout his life in physical and psychological ways. All women go through some stress during pregnancy and delivery—they know another life is dependent on them, after all—but moms should do what they can to alleviate their stress, for the baby's sake as well as for their own.
4 Some Babies Get Nicked
Moms don't expect for baby's first stitches to come on the day of birth, but it can happen more than she might expect. Of course, it's most likely to happen in the case of a C-section, more specifically during an emergency when the doctor has to go quickly to protect the mom's or the baby's health.
The baby can also get nicked during a natural delivery. Usually, that happens when the doctor manually breaks the mom's water to get labor going more quickly. The baby might end up with a little scratch on his head, which will likely heal just fine. A scar is a small price to pay for a healthy delivery.
3 Mom's BP Problems
Moms face a number of complications during pregnancy childbirth, and they might think that the only risk is to themselves. But the truth is that many times there are ramifications for the baby as well. That is true for women who experience high blood pressure (BP).
The baby might have issues such as low muscle tone, restricted growth, and low BP if the mom has high BP. And a spike during the delivery could mean the baby struggles to breathe. There is even a risk of fetal death with preeclampsia. Doctors will evaluate if the situation is urgent, and that might mean a C-section is necessary to protect the baby and the mother.
2 Sugar Can Be A Problem
Another big problem that can impact the baby's delivery is gestational diabetes. The condition can be controlled through meds and lifestyle changes, but during childbirth, there might be new risks. For example, gestational diabetes can lead to the baby growing larger in the womb, which makes it harder to get them out.
Mom's sugar levels can also mean that the baby is born with high sugars themselves, and has a crash after birth. He also is more likely to have breathing problems at birth and to develop more severe jaundice. A mom with gestational diabetes has to be on the lookout and do all that she can to control her condition during labor and delivery.
1 Cutting The Cord's Impact On Baby
Even after the baby is born, he is still tethered to his mom until the placenta comes out. The umbilical cord is a physical and a symbolic connection to the mom, and doctors used to be quick to cut that cord even before the placenta is delivered. That's not always the case anymore.
Many doctors and experts believe that delaying the clamping by just a few minutes has a lot of benefits. The baby will have more oxygen-rich plasma returned to him. If it's possible, it might be worth it just to wait a bit and give the baby the best chance in those moments after birth.
Sources: Parents, Glow Pink, Unity Point, Livestrong, WebMD, American Heart Association, Very Well Family