When we do something for the first time, we typically have so many questions. And when it comes to something as huge as giving birth to a brand new human being, we find ourselves having even more things to ask. New mamas want to know everything about pregnancy, labor, delivery, as well as postpartum care, but they're often limited by what their healthcare providers are telling them. And as it turns out, they don't give us all the information.
For example, some professions don't tell us about some of the things that normally happen during and after childbirth, such as going number two while pushing, taking a lot of time to heal, and experiencing hair loss. And since new moms don't know about these things and wouldn't expect them to happen, they can be taken aback, leaving mamas wondering "Is everything okay with me?"
Being first-time moms, we need to know as much as possible and be prepared for the unexpected. So, let us talk about some of the most common things taking place during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum that aren't usually discussed in the doctor's office. Not every doctor or medical professional has the time to elaborate on all the details, and sometimes different things are more (or less) important to different mamas.
20 Cramping Can Be Normal
Early in pregnancy, most women (especially first-time moms) become concerned over abdominal pain or cramps and rush to the doctor as soon as they feel it to check on the baby. And only then, the doctor is likely to tell them that cramps in the initial stages of pregnancy are completely normal and they usually don't signify any issues.
Melody W. from Altoona, Iowa shares with Cafe Mom, "I worked with a fertility doctor and was thrilled when we finally got pregnant. ... He never mentioned that you can feel mild cramps in the early weeks of being pregnant. I got a positive test and that felt crampy - I was terrified! A heads up would have been nice."
19 And Postpartum Cramps Are Also Possible
First-time moms are sure that as soon as their baby is born, their pain is over. But no one tells them that it's actually not over that quickly. It's very likely that a new mom will feel abdominal cramps that will resemble contractions for some time after labor. It happens because the body needs to readjust and heal itself after giving birth.
And not even first-time moms, but also women with multiple kids aren't told this simple truth. Look at the example of Meagan B. from Williamsburg, Virginia, who shares, "My doctor didn't tell me that postpartum cramping is worse with subsequent pregnancies. It was a total surprise of the most awful kind!"
18 A Woman's Water Doesn't Always Break Immediately Before Childbirth
We've seen many times in the movies that a woman is going into labor once her water breaks, bringing an unexpected embarrassing moment. But, as we should understand, movies often show reality in a distorted way.
In fact, water doesn't always break immediately before labor. It's even unlikely that the process will start with the uncontrolled whoosh of amniotic fluid. According to The Bump, only 15% of women have this experience. In all other cases, water breaks during labor, delivery or even preterm.
Besides, even if your water broke before labor, it doesn't mean that contractions will immediately start. Sometimes it can take up to 6, or even 12 hours for the actual labor to begin.
17 Epidurals Don't Always Work
Epidurals are something many moms-to-be have high hopes about, especially if they're worried about too much pain. But for some reason, no one tells them that it doesn't always work. (Yes, really.)
Dr. Eva Pressman, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center explains to Huffington Post that whether pain relief works or not often depends on "an individual woman's anatomy." She continues saying, "Sometimes, [she'll feel pain] on one side of her body. Other times, there's a window or a hole where she still feels pain."
So, although your doctor won't tell you anything about it, even if you're going to have an epidural done, be prepared to still feel some pain.
16 Unexpected Things Can Happen During Labor
Dr. Shieva Ghofrany, an OBGYN with Stamford Hospital, admits to Huffington Post that there's a thing she'd "never voluntarily tell patients ahead of time." She's talking about something we've all thought about at least once in a lifetime: pooping during labor.
"The only time I bring up pooping, ever, is when women start to push," Ghofrany adds. "And I say, 'you need to push as if you're pooping!'" She also says that she tells her patients only then that "If you poop, you're doing the right thing!".
It's obvious that going number two during labor doesn't unnerve doctors or nurses in the slightest, so you also shouldn't worry about it, especially since you have a more important thing to do.
15 So A Woman's Birth Plan Is Worthless
Doctors recommend having a detailed birth plan, but few of them warn moms-to-be that they should be ready for some of the details to change in the last moment. And in some cases, they need not be taken aback if the whole birth plan is thrown into the trash.
Terrie J. from Lexington, Kentucky shares her experience with Cafe Mom, "I was kind of surprised that my doctor didn't seem all that interested when I tried to tell her about my birth plan. What she didn't tell me was how quickly your birth plan flies out the window once labor really gets going. Also, the nurses REALLY don't care about your birth plan. Like, AT ALL."
Things happen, you know?
14 Hair Might Start Falling Out
Another unexpected thing that happens to many women after labor is sudden hair loss. One of such mothers, Mary E. from Phoenix, Arizona, says on Cafe Mom, "I was the first of my friends to have a baby so nobody warned me about the hair loss after delivery. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. I practically had a bald spot!"
Seriously, why don't they talk about it in advance? Of course, some may think that hair falling out isn't a big deal, but still, why would they allow women to have this extra stress caused by not knowing that it may happen?
13 And Extra Hair Down There Isn't A Big Deal
Being women, we usually worry about how we look like and want people around to like our appearance. For this reason, when we prepare to give birth, we want to look as good as we can and we even think about getting a wax or shave some extra hair down there before labor.
If you've been thinking about it, as well, keep in mind that you're not going to be the first (nor the last) woman your caregivers will see. Besides, they will also see some of the other things in the process and they won't give a darn about whether you're clean-shaven or not. Even if you need a C-section, they'll do all the work for you and shave the area they'll need to cut.
12 Don't Rely Too Much On The Ultrasound
Every pregnant woman is going to need an ultrasound at some point. We are offered to do them once in a while and we can choose among a variety of options — from standard ultrasound to trans scans, and even 3D ultrasounds. It might make us think that this procedure is very advanced and high-tech, especially since no one tells us how inaccurate they can actually be.
In fact, ultrasounds make mistakes about so many things. They're frequently wrong in assessing how far in pregnancy a woman is and they can even show that the baby has some issues that it doesn't actually have. So don't rely on ultrasound too much and don't strive to do it that often.
11 Sometimes, Midwives Are A Better Choice
You will certainly need help when preparing for your baby's arrival and when actually giving birth. But it's always up to the woman to decide whose help she wants to use. If she trusts medical professionals in the hospital of her choice, it's absolutely fine to continue her journey with them (it's especially recommended for women with high-risk pregnancies). But if your pregnancy is healthy and you know a good midwife, who will become a better assistant for you, it's fine, too.
Keep in mind that the main advantage of having a midwife is her approach to pain management. While a doctor is likely to give meds to relieve pain, a midwife will probably use more natural techniques, such as massage and shower.
10 Having A Glass Shortly After Conception Is Actually Fine
Everyone knows that drinking during pregnancy is a big no-no. But what if you had a glass at the earliest stages of pregnancy when you didn't even know yet that you had a bun in the oven? Is it a big deal and do you have to worry about it?
In fact, there's nothing to worry about if you had a drink within two weeks after conception, especially if it was just a glass of wine, you should be still in the clear. Pat O'Brien, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says on Telegraph, "There tends not to be any harmful effect with an ongoing pregnancy. There are no big studies that confirm that but it seems to be the case."
9 Early DNA Testing Isn't Always Such A Good Idea
Today many moms-to-be want to take DNA testing at the early stages of pregnancy to make sure that everything is fine with their baby. It's completely understandable why they want to do it, but they should also know another side of it.
In reality, the DNA testing that aims to give parents an idea of whether their baby has any genetic issues isn't always as accurate as we think.
Now imagine the parents, who got the test results saying that their baby is at risk of having a genetic disorder. How stressful will it be? And now imagine that the results were incorrect and the baby is actually absolutely fine. Did the parents really need to worry about it?
8 Passed The Due Date? It's Not Overdue (Yet)
We tend to think that as soon as we pass our due date (and there's no baby yet), we have an overdue pregnancy. However, this isn't exactly right.
Remember that the due date set by your doctor isn't a contract or an agreement with your baby to come out on a specific day. The baby will come when it's ready and we can only guess when it's going to happen. Your due date is just an estimate or a general idea of when you should expect your baby to be born. And it's totally fine if your bundle of joy disagrees with it and decides to see the world one to two weeks before or after the ETA set by your OBGYN.
7 Lying On Your Back Isn't The Only Possible Position
Here's another thing that we all think is true only because we've seen it in movies thousands of times and because our doctors don't tell us how else it can be. We're sure that the only possible birthing position is lying on the back with legs spread apart. Here's some news for you: it's not!
According to The Bump, there're a huge number of other birthing positions that might even work better for you, because they'll use the force of gravity in your favor. These positions are kneeling, standing upright, or on your hands and knees — sitting on a birthing ball (or using it in any other way), squatting, and lying on your side.
6 Labor Can Take A Long Time
Most women are aware of the fact that labor can last for a while, but few imagine how long it can actually be since nurses and doctors usually don't talk about it ahead of time. Meanwhile, according to Jessica Anderson, a certified nurse-midwife and the associate service director with The Center for Midwifery, University of Colorado Hospital, "It can be an hour, two hours, three hours ... I don't think women realize that pushing can be lengthy, especially with the first baby, and that's normal. That's Okay."
Let me throw some more numbers at you. Baby Center says that, on average, labor takes about eight hours, but in some cases, it can last as long as 18 hours. Did your doctor warn you about it?
5 But It's Not That Necessary To Push
"Push! Push!! PUSH!!!" is pretty much everything a woman in labor is hearing in a delivery room. It seems that gathering all the strength to push is the only way to give birth (except for C-section, of course). No one tells us that pushing so hard isn't actually needed at some point.
In fact, most doctors instruct us to push "on command" whether our body wants it or not. It makes us exhausted, because, on some level, we work against ourselves. Another possible approach to it is letting the woman push when her body is telling her to do so, instead of her doctor. This approach is more natural and it allows pushing not that hard, especially at the end of labor, when the baby is already coming out.
4 A Woman Might Need Extra Help After Childbirth
We all know about postpartum depression, but few of us are aware that there is also postpartum anxiety. And since moms don't know about the possibility, it can become a huge stress for them.
One mother shares on Cafe Mom, "I had horrific anxiety for the first few months after my son was born, caused at least in part by my hormones after birth. I could barely leave the house. I thought I was crazy, a bad mother, you name it. When I finally mentioned something to my son's pediatrician, he was the one who finally said, 'Oh, yes, that is something real, that can happen.' It helped to have someone say that."
3 Healing Can Take A While
Unless a mother asks specifically about it, few doctors tell detailed information about postpartum healing. For example, Kacey T. from Beaverton, Oregon tells on Cafe Mom, "My doctor never really talked to me about what things would be like postpartum. Like, how long things would be oozing out of me or the fact that it can take FOREVER to heal from nerve damage that comes with tears."
Jessica Anderson, a certified nurse-midwife, echoes her words, "Once you give birth vaginally, the structure of your perineum and vagina change. Typically, they go back to normal, but it's a 'new normal.'" Besides, you should also expect some dryness, as well as inconsistency shortly after labor.
2 Be Prepared For Bottle Judgement
These days, a lot of women choose not to breastfeed their babies, but it still seems that society isn't ready for a larger number of bottle-fed kids. They say that breastfeeding is always better than bottle feeding and even mistreat women who think otherwise. Not all new moms are ready for it.
Jackie B. from Saint Paul, Minnesota, among others, shares her unpleasant experience on Cafe Mom, "I feel like [my doctor] could have prepped me for how to deal with pushy lactation consultants and judgy nurses at the hospital. Like, is there some code words that make the bottle shaming stop?"
1 Breastfeeding Is Also Not So Easy
But even if you choose a more "socially acceptable" way of feeding your little one, don't think that you're on an easier way. Breastfeeding is no picnic either. It can be painful and it can leave your girls sore.
"There's sort of this cultural expectation that it's natural, and it shouldn't be hard," says Jessica Anderson, a certified nurse-midwife, who feels that medical practitioners don't always prepare women for the challenges of breastfeeding. "But it's a journey you go on together. Both parties are learning, and a lot of times it's painful and challenging."
So, stock up on some special creams and breast pumps to facilitate this uneasy process! Believe me, at some point you'll even start enjoying it.