For first time moms, the delivery room can be a daunting, even mysterious, place. Giving birth is nothing like you see in the movies, and unless a woman has been behind those closed doors before, no amount of research can help her fully prepare for the experience.
There is such a wealth of information — books, online forums, websites, prenatal classes — advising moms on what they can expect and what they should be doing. But for the caregivers and medical professionals on hand throughout labor, there is a whole load of stuff they’d rather moms didn’t do.
From over-crowding the delivery room with friends and family to being woefully underprepared, there are things that doctors in attendance will find frustrating. After all, it’s hard to do your job when there’s no room to swing a cat and you’re being heckled by the peanut gallery.
Then there are the things moms do that actually hinder the birthing process or can even cause complications, like screaming, panicking, and carb-loading on greasy food.
So before moms find themselves in the throes of labor, it’s not only useful to remember the things they should do but to also bear in mind the things they shouldn’t — not just for the physician’s sake but also for theirs.
20 When You've Got To Go, You've Got To Go (So Stop Worrying)
Here’s the truth: pooping in labor is not just a rumor, it’s incredibly commonplace. As OB-GYN Kyrin Dunston explained to Cosmopolitan, the pelvis can only hold so much: "When a baby's head comes through, it pushes out everything else that's not solid, including urine and stool.”
Also, the muscles needed to push a baby out are exactly the same muscles you use to poop, so sometimes moms can’t do one without the other. As horrifying as this sounds, there is zero point in worrying about it. Doctor’s have seen it all before and they don’t care, so neither should you.
19 Give Up Watching The Clock
The typical first-time mother takes 6.5 hours to give birth, but that doesn’t mean you will. Every labor is different and moms can be in labor for much shorter periods of time, or for much, much longer.
Watching the clock is not a wise idea for birthing moms. No good can come from it and doctors certainly don’t see the benefit. Watching time tick by can actually be very discouraging. When you’re in a lot of discomfort, a few minutes can feel like a few hours. Worse still, if you’re wondering why things are taking so long, this can lead to panic creeping in.
18 Don’t Crowd The Delivery Room With Family And Friends
For social media-obsessed moms, giving birth has become something of a spectator sport. The delivery room used to be the private enclave of moms, their birthing partner, and medical personnel. Now, hospitals are seeing excited grandparents-to-be, siblings and even friends join in the party in a new trend known as crowd-birthing.
In a survey of 2,000 women conducted by Channel Mum, moms reported having an average of eight people in the room, and if you’re a doctor trying to go about your job, this can be really rather irritating. Ever heard of too many cooks in the kitchen?
17 Stop The Screaming (It Won't Help)
Labor is painful, so making noise is completely normal. In fact, making low, guttural noises and moaning are actually encouraged because these sounds put pressure on your diaphragm, which helps the movement of the baby. Screaming, however, is counterproductive.
Doctors don’t like screaming because it suggests that mom is losing control of the process. Plus, it irritates the vocal cords and means that pressure is being released through your mouth and isn’t being directed downwards, where it’s needed. Screaming makes pushing become less effective, which can lengthen labor time, and no mom wants that.
16 Don’t Expect Your Water To Break Like In The Movies
In movies, pregnant moms are often taken by surprise by a sudden gush of amniotic fluid, which signals they need to get to the hospital pronto. Cue a mad dash to the maternity ward.
While this can happen, it’s much more common for waters to break while in active labor, so moms will most likely have experienced contractions and pain already. Also, for some moms, the waters don’t even break and baby is born with a portion of the amniotic sac remaining on the head. It’s called an en caul birth.
As for the rush to the hospital, there’s nothing that annoys doctors more than moms arriving at the hospital too early and, unless contractions are less than five minutes apart, they're unlikely to admit you.
15 Don't Go Into Panic Mode
Once labor begins, it’s very easy to panic. All those pre-natal classes and books can quickly go out of your head the moment you realize it’s happening: you’re about to have a baby.
Hormones, plus be afraid, pain, and exhaustion is a heady emotional cocktail and anxiety attacks in the delivery room are not uncommon. The disruptive breathing and psychical tension caused by such episodes work against the process of childbirth, actually making it more difficult.
Reduce your likelihood of a panic attack by doing your research, having a plan and being flexible with it, and listening to your doctor.
14 Don't Show Up To The Hospital Too Early
During your third trimester, check with your doctors when they would like you to come to the hospital. They may have special rules for you, depending on your medical history. However, for most moms, the rule of thumb tends to be contractions four minutes apart, lasting one minute, for at least one hour - then it's time to go, go, go.
Unfortunately, some of us freak out and we rush to the hospital early, only to be told to go home and come back tomorrow. Doctor’s don’t like sending patients away any more than patients enjoy a trip for nothing. So know the signs and relax at home until you’re ready.
13 Stop Choosing A C-Section Over A Natural Birth (If It's Not Medically Necessary)
Undoubtedly, women should be able to make informed decisions about how their babies are born. In the US, however, the rate of cesareans has increased so much that this life-saving intervention is now a procedure performed as a matter of course during one in three US births. Many of those were for low-risk pregnancies, with few or no medical indications that a C-section was necessary.
As C-section rates have gone up, infant survival rates have not followed suit. In fact, some experts believe this rise in cesareans is one of the many factors contributing to crisis rates of maternal mortality. It’s major surgery and many doctors would rather not perform it unless necessary.
12 Forget About Protecting Your Modesty
Unfortunately for women the world over, babies aren’t delivered by a stork. We squeeze or have them cut from our bodies, and the parts of our anatomy involved in this process are the areas we would usually rather keep under wraps.
But when you’re giving birth, you have to leave your body hang-ups to one side, because all modesty goes out of the window. The uncomfortable reality is that a lot of strangers are going to gawping, prodding and poking where the sun doesn’t shine.
Doctor’s have seen it all before and it makes their job more difficult if moms are desperately trying to cover up their bits.
11 Stop Pushing Too Soon
When the finish line is in sight, it’s only natural to want to help speed up the process. Giving birth exerts an incredible amount of pressure on the pelvis, so it’s no wonder that women can feel a very real need to push.
However, the cervix is considered “incomplete” until it’s dilated to 10cm, as it’s only then that the baby has really descended into the proper position for coming out. A doctor is likely to advise a mom to stop if she’s pushing too early because she needs to save her energy. The pushing phase can be a long process, and a mom-to-be shouldn't waste precious effort on something that won't shave off any time.
10 Don’t Assume An Epidural Will Make It Easy
While some mothers may opt for drug-free births using water baths, acupuncture or massage, around 61% of US moms choose an epidural, the CDC reports. But people’s experience of the procedure differs hugely, depending on their physiology and how efficiently it was administered.
For some women, an epidural buys them precious resting time, taking away the pain so completely they can’t even feel the pressure to push. For others, it may only take on one side or not actually numb certain patches, so women still experience high levels of pain. Sometimes, an epidural won’t work at all.
9 Don't Show Up To Hospital Without A Birth Plan
Before you show up to the hospital, write your birth plan on a sheet of paper and don’t forget it. It doesn’t need to be long, just a general outline of your preferences for pain management, who’s allowed in the delivery room, who’s cutting the cord, and so on.
Doctors want you to have a birth plan, they really do. But they also want you to be fully prepared to chuck it out the window if circumstances change. In their eyes, a birth plan is an invaluable exercise in patient education. Researching a birth plan provides insight into possible interventions and outcomes, helping mom make informed decisions.
8 Stop Fighting The Process (Your Body Is In Control)
Your body knows how to give birth, even if your mind doesn’t know how to cope with it. Surrendering to what your body is trying to tell you can help it do its amazing thing more efficiently.
As the baby twists and turns down the birth canal, its position in the pelvis will signal to mom to move a certain way. For example, sitting might be excruciating, in which case, standing up might be a better position. When mom moves in coordination with her baby’s efforts down the birth canal, it can help labor progress more quickly. Rolling to one side might be all the extra push that a baby needs to get under the pubic bone. Don't fight it.
7 Be Prepared For Your Preferences To Change
A birth plan is great. It requires expectant moms to do their homework and explore their options. But it’s just a plan and birth is an unpredictable business.
You might think massage will be enough to get you through the pain, but once contractions kick in, you may find yourself begging for an epidural - and no new mom should never ever feel like a failure. If you’re prepared to be flexible, you’ll avoid any disappointment.
Plus, nothing makes a doctor’s job more difficult than a mom who isn’t prepared to deviate from her birth plan, even if complications arise.
6 Stop Stressing At Your Partner (It Won't Help You)
Tensions run high in the delivery room and when you’re trying to squeeze out new life from between your legs, your birth partner’s feelings aren’t the number one priority. Dads can often receive no end of abuse.
Everything’s their fault, everything they say is wrong, and the very the sight of them winds you up. You want to shout mean things at them. But don’t rise to these feelings.
Firstly, you might regret what you say, but secondly, your body will work better if you're relaxed. The hormones that help labor progress are more readily released if you’re calm.
5 Don't Over Exert Yourself
Birth is a marathon, not a sprint. It might be an old cliche, but there is definitely some truth to it. As important as moving around can be (being upright, changing positions, even going for short walks can promote better positioning of the baby), doing nothing at all is also equally important.
Labor might last hours and, in some cases, days. Hanging out and conserving energy will prove vital in helping you reach the finish line as efficiently and as quickly as possible.
One of the key benefits of an epidural is that it allows moms to rest before they’re required to push.
4 Don't Panic If Your Baby's Heart Rate Dips
Most patients have a fetal monitor attached to their tummies to monitor the baby. This allows both mom and medical professionals to keep an eye on the baby’s health as it makes its way into the world. It can also determine the strength and duration of your contractions. It's an invaluable tool, but don't become too obsessed with it.
During labor, a baby’s heart rate should be between 110 and 160 beats per minute, but it’s totally normal for this to fluctuate. There’s no need to panic if it slows because when the baby’s head is compressed in the birth canal, it’s common for heart rate to decelerate.
3 Stop Forgetting To Breath
Birth classes can be a really great way to make new friends and are a useful source of information for expectant moms. They provide moms lessons in how to breathe during labor.
Breathing is so important in labor. How you control breathe is one of the best tools a mom has to deal with the pain and ease childbirth along. Mothers are advised to breathe from the diaphragm as this not only helps the body to relax, it helps to exert pressure down through the body. Breathing too fast or not breathing enough can lead to dizziness, fainting, and even numbness.
2 Stop Eating Too Much Heavy Food
You wouldn’t run a race without fuelling up with food first, and the same applies for labor. But while light snacks like jello, popsicles, broth and clear juice are recommended, a heavy, greasy carb-fest isn’t.
While a massive and burger and fries will probably be the last thing on your mind, it’s worth noting that rich, heavy food can increase the risk of aspiration. This is what happens when food or liquid is inhaled into the lungs. It’s why women in labor used to be told to fast during the process, though that isn’t the opinion of most medical professionals anymore.
1 Don't Be A Martyr
Before you’ve been through the experience of childbirth, it’s easy to go into labor with very strong opinions of how you want it to go. You may have read articles about the benefits of a “natural” birth, or you’re worried about the potential side-effects of pain relief on your unborn child. But remember, childbirth is hard.
Doctors want you to get through labor any which way you can. No one will judge you for throwing your principles to one side the moment it all gets too much. You’re giving birth, you’re already a goddess - you don’t have to be a martyr, too.
Sources: Cosmopolitan; Fit Pregnancy; Centers For Disease Control And Prevention; BabyCentre; Parents