Every mom wants an easy childbirth. Just as much as they are excited to meet their little one, they also face trepidation and fear. That's because they are all too aware of the pain that comes during labor and the complications that can arise during delivery. So, they have high hopes that things will go quickly and easily, but that doesn't happen for everybody.
There are some women who will go into their delivery knowing that things might not be easy because they know of a complication or issue. But most of the time, women with healthy pregnancies can get through childbirth better than they expected. Sometimes things go wrong and interventions are necessary, but there are some things that women can do that might help them avoid the extra pain and stress.
We have gathered some of the best tips online from childbirth experts, including doctors and doulas, that can help a woman figure out the best way to tackle the challenge of giving birth. Plus, we have some information on things that are beyond mom's control that can make the experience harder, so she can be ready for anything — after all just because it's harder than mom expects doesn't mean it's a failure, especially when there is a healthy mom and baby in the end.
Here are 20 things that get in the way of easy childbirth.
20 Laying Down The Entire Time
The best way to tackle labor is by being active. Midwives and doctors encourage women in the early stages of labor especially to walk around, since it can help physically in putting the baby in the right position, thanks to gravity. But it's not so easy if a woman lays down for her labor. She isn't letting that natural progression to happen, which means that her labor might be longer and harder.
There is an option called a walking epidural, but most moms who choose to go for an epidural are basically deciding to spend the rest of their labor in bed. That is one reason why the meds tend to slow labor and why some women struggle with pushing. When a mom lays down, she doesn't let gravity do its work and help the baby on the way out.
19 Pitocin Can Make It Hurt More
While many women these days worry about the idea of getting an epidural, there is another drug that can also get in the way of an easy childbirth. Pitocin is used to induce labor or augment a slow labor, and it is an option that allows moms at risk of complications to try for a natural delivery. But it doesn't make the process easy.
Pitocin is know for making labor pains even worse. And there are research studies that show that many women end up needing other interventions if they use the drugs. However, there are times when an induction is the safer option than waiting for labor to begin on its own, such as if the mom has a complication like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns.
18 Worrying About No. 2
Most moms have the pain of childbirth on their minds when they are anticipating their little one's arrival. But there is a large percentage of women who are just as anxious about the possibility of pooping during the delivery, since many read that it's a possibility that can happen in front of the nurses and her spouse.
Any extra stress can get in the way of an easy childbirth, and that is especially true if you are hesitant during the pushing phase. In the end, it might be true that you did a No. 2, but nurses and midwives usually clean it up before you even notice it. So just try to put it out of your mind and concentrate on getting the baby out.
17 Meconium In The Fluid
The moment the water breaks is a milestone in terms of childbirth. It can happen before contractions begin, at the very end or sometime in the middle, but many women anticipate the water breaking as a big event. Normally, the water breaking can speed up the labor process and make contractions more intense, but there is a time when it can get in the way of an easy labor — when the fluid has traces of meconium in it.
Meconium is the baby's first poo, and it is usually really tarry and sticky since it is filled with all the waste that has been filling the baby for nine months. But sometimes it comes out before the baby is born. When it's in the amniotic fluid, that means that it can get ingested back in to the baby, and that can cause a serious infection. Things get complicated from there, and doctors are going to have to closely monitor the baby and maybe go through interventions to make sure she is OK.
16 Holding Your Breathe (People Do It)
Breathing is very important when you are in labor. There are a number of classes that help teach moms breathing techniques, since they can help naturally calm a woman and get her through contractions without medication. But some people actually hold their breathe when they are in pain or stressed, and that can get in the way of having an easy childbirth.
Like we just said, women can use their breathe as a pain relief technique and stress-reliever — just think of how important it is during yoga. So that can make the labor go smoother. But another problem arises when you hold your breathe, since mom's breathing also impacts the baby. If the baby goes into oxygen deprivation, that might mean that you need an emergency C-section. So keep breathing so you and the baby feel better.
15 Too Many People In The Room
Birth can be a joyous event, and some people want to surround themselves by family and friends to greet the new little one. But we do want to warn women that too many people in the delivery room can get in the way of an easy childbirth.
One of the most important parts of having a positive labor experience is to keep the outside drama low. But with a lot of people in the room, it can get loud and noisy. It might not be the calm situation that allows a woman to focus on getting through her contractions and helping the labor to progress. If it becomes a bit of a circus, it's time to send some people to the waiting room so that mom can have an easier time of it.
14 Not Being In Shape
Labor is difficult. It's hard on a woman's body, and to give birth it really helps to be strong. That's why we've added this section — if a woman isn't in good shape, she is more likely to have a hard time during childbirth. That's why doctors recommend that women continue light to moderate exercise during pregnancy, if the mom is able.
We're not saying that you have to be a weight lifter, but having strong heart and lungs can really help. Giving birth can be like running a marathon, physically, so it helps to be in shape so that you can get to the end with enough energy and strength to get through the pushing phase.
13 Breech Position
It's hard enough to give birth to a baby when she is in the correct position, but if the baby is breech, things aren't easy at all. Many women start to worry weeks before their due date if the baby hasn't turned, and there are a number of natural methods they try to get the baby to move to the head down position. The last straw is an external cephalic version, where a healthcare provider tries to physically turn the baby by pushing on the outside, and that can start contractions.
There are some women who give birth to breech babies naturally, but it can be very difficult and even dangerous. Many doctors recommend that a mom doesn't even try and instead have a C-section. Either way, it's not going to be easy for mom.
12 Too Much Anxiety
We've already talked a little about how a calming environment is important when a woman is in labor. That's because if she has severe anxiety, even an easy labor can get a lot harder. When you get anxious, you tend to tense your muscles, and that includes the uterus and the cervix. That can slow down the progress of the labor and make it harder for the baby to move into position.
It's normal to feel some worry during labor and delivery, as moms often have some fear for the pain as well as their baby's health and their own. But if the anxiety gets severe, that can mean that her blood pressure can go up and the labor doesn't progress and she is even more likely to have to go through interventions. That's why a mom and her labor partner need to focus on keeping things calm and relaxing as much as possible.
11 Water Not Breaking
This section is a little debatable. There are pros and cons of the water not breaking, but for some it can get in the way of an easy childbirth. That's because when the amniotic sac is intact, the contractions are less intense and the labor can go very slowly. That's why some women can be in early labor for days, which can exhaust them.
At some point, if the water hasn't broken, a doctor or midwife will ask a woman if she wants them to manually break their water. That can be a bit anxiety-laden because she knows that it will bring on pain, and it's an intervention that some moms might want to avoid. For some, it's a minor complication, but any decision at that point can seem like a big one, and that's never easy.
10 Pressure Problems
There are a number of complications that can arise during labor that can get in the way of an easy childbirth. One of those is if the mom has high blood pressure. It can get a little bit elevated during pregnancy, but if it goes too high, there is a danger to her and to the baby, so doctors monitor blood pressure closely throughout pregnancy and the delivery.
A number of women can have high blood pressure and end up bed rest before the birth. And a big spike in blood pressure can be a system of the potentially deadly preeclampsia. Sometimes doctors can give a woman magnesium to try to lower the blood pressure, but that can make her really hot and uncomfortable. Sometimes, it means that the doctor recommends induction drugs or even a C-section, and none of that makes the birth easy.
9 Getting Dehydrated
Dehydration can be a big problem for a lot of people, but it can be especially dangerous during childbirth. And since many doctors forbid moms from eating or drinking during labor, it's a possibility. Because of the potential need for a C-section, doctors often only allow women to have ice chips, which can help most of them keep their hydration OK if they were well-hydrated ahead of time.
If a mom gets dehydrated, that doesn't mean that the doctor is going to give her water, since food and drink can cause major complications during surgery. Instead, that will likely mean that she will be hooked up to an IV. That can hurt and restrict movement. But women need to be hydrated for their organs to continue working through the stress of childbirth. It makes things harder, that is for sure.
8 Too Much Monitoring
Many hospitals these days require continuous fetal monitoring during labor. That can be cumbersome to a mom, especially if that means that she has to stay in bed, although most hospitals have wireless monitors that can allow them to walk the halls. It's usually OK for the nurses to keep an eye on the heartbeat, but if the mom is too focused on monitoring the baby's vitals, it can add to her stress and make things worse.
It's not surprising for the baby's heartbeat to go up and down during contractions. Sometimes doctors can detect fetal stress quickly and save the baby's life, although some people say that there are times when healthcare providers are too quick to jump to surgery and might be putting people at risk. In that way, the monitoring can get in the way of an easy childbirth. But it's a tough call because no one would want to wait until it was too late.
7 Epidurals (Sometimes)
Epidurals are a bit controversial these days. As millennial moms have made natural childbirth more trendy, some judge women who choose to get the pain relief. We don't want to feed the beast, as all decisions have pluses and minuses. But moms need to understand that there are some drawbacks to an epidural and it can get in the way of an easier childbirth.
Epidurals can slow down the progression of labor, which is why many doctors want to wait until the mom is in active labor before giving the meds. It doesn't help that women have to be laying down since their legs are numb. And it can also make the pushing phase harder, since women can't feel their body go through the motions. Women who have epidurals are more likely to have C-sections, and that might be because of the progression and the problems pushing. It's a reality that it doesn't necessary make it easier to give birth.
6 Not Being Prepared With Comfort Items
Labor is a pretty emotional time for a woman. For those in a clinical setting like a hospital or birthing center, it can be even harder. That's why a lot of women feel a desire to have some comfort items with them, and if they don't have something that they want, it can get in the way of an easy delivery.
For example, a lot of women like to have flip flops or slippers for walking the halls, and they don't feel as comfortable using the hospitals. Some really want their own gown because they feel less pretty and more exposed in the hospital ones. And something as simple as not having a hair tie can put a crimp in a woman's day. The day she is giving birth is not the one that she wants to be uncomfortable in; that is for certain.
5 Bad Experience With Doctors
When a woman goes through one of the most intense and scary moments of her life, sometimes it's good to have a medical expert by your side. The ideal birth experience would include a healthcare professional that you trust by your side, but that isn't what happens in every situation. Unfortunately sometimes a woman ends up having a bad experience with her doctor, either now or before.
Sometimes it's the doctor's fault if the birth isn't the easiest. That can be through interventions that we have mentioned before or it could be because they are young or unexperienced or just make a mistake. Most doctors are well trained and ready to help a mom and baby through, but sometimes, unfortunately, it's just not possible.
4 Placenta Or Cord In The Way
There is one major way that most babies are supposed to come out of their mom. But unfortunately, there are times when there can be things in the way of that exit path, known as the cervix. Sometimes, the placenta can grow over the cervix in a condition called placenta previa and sometimes the cord can end up getting in the birth canal before the baby in a condition called cord prolapse. Both are very dangerous, and in each situation, they can get in the way of an easy childbirth.
If the conditions exist at the time of the birth (placenta previa can correct itself over time), the mom is likely headed toward a C-section. The mom could lose blood in the case of placenta previa and the baby could be deprived of oxygen in cord prolapse. Both could end up killing the mom or baby, so it's not worth the risk of a natural childbirth.
3 The Food In Mom's Belly
As we've mentioned hospitals don't like for moms to eat during labor just in case they need to go into surgery. But sometimes moms eat during the early labor stages or they munch on snacks during a home birth. That might be OK, but some doulas think that there are some foods that moms should avoid because they can get in the way of an easy childbirth.
Things like really heavy or greasy foods can cause a mom to not feel at her best. And she doesn't want to worry about belly ache on top of contractions. Instead, doulas recommend that women choose healthier snacks such as granola and fruit and popsicles and beverages that have extra electrolytes, such as low sugar sports drinks.
2 Things Going Too Fast
Most women end up with a pretty long labor. For first time moms, it can last 24 hours or more, although the longest portion is in the less painful early labor stage. But there are also some big problems that can arise if the labor goes too fast.
A fast labor can be incredibly frightening, and even if you look back on it and realize that it probably went easier than if it were longer, it was probably much scarier. Worse yet, some women don't make it to the hospital, and they might have had to give birth without any help. That is definitely not so easy, although at least it doesn't last long.
1 Not Being Flexible Through The Process
These days, a lot of women create birth plans to present to their healthcare providers. But a birth plan does not an easy labor make. In fact, if women are rigid with their choices, they are more likely to struggle when complications arise.
While most moms are able to give birth without complications, there is also a possibility that something could go awry, even if the mom and baby are perfectly healthy throughout the pregnancy. Labor doesn't always follow a formula, and women don't know what to expect until they go through it. Even second time moms can experience hiccups that might cause them to have to make a different decision. Some women end up devastated about their birth experience if it doesn't go according to plan. That's where flexibility comes in. We're not saying that childbirth will be easy, but a little bit of flexibility goes a long way.