Most mothers-to-be erroneously believe that between what they have read about in books or on the Internet, the answers given to them by their doctor, and the personal anecdotes that they have received from friends and family members that have previously given birth, they are well-prepared to deal with the twists and turns that are the labor and delivery process.
That being said, there is some important information that ob-gyns will stay mum about, especially when the mother-to-be’s due date gets closer and closer, because they don’t want to scare them unnecessarily or they don’t want the mom to start having a nervy spazz and work herself up into a state during a time when they should try to be as calm and relaxed as possible.
For example, Parents writes that it is not unusual for mothers to strain their intercostal muscles due to pushing during labor and to realize a few hours later or even the next day that the area near the rib cage is feeling unusually tender and sore.
For moms-to-be that are nearing labor and are fretting a bit about the big day, reading the list below is a great way to be prepared for all the curveballs labor can throw.
According to Parents, one reason why many ob-gyns are content to let a week or so pass by without suggesting to a mother-to-be that she undergo the process of induction to kick start labor is due to the fact that being induced often goes hand-in-hand with a mom winding up needing a C-section before it is all over
There are some scientific studies that have shown that first-time mommas that need to be induced often wind up doubling their chances of needing their baby to be delivered via C-section. Plus, even without that particular nugget of information, induction means that moms can’t move as much and often have to deal with very painful contractions.
Thanks to pop culture, some moms-to-be might watch television shows or movies that feature a female character that is about to give birth and while her labor experience is often dramatic (or, on the flip side, played for laughs), but ultimately, in the end, things run pretty smoothly—all things considered.
AD Clinic writes that pretty much every ob-gyn on the entire planet knows that the one thing that stays the same about labor despite one’s location in the world is that it is always unpredictable and the parents-to-be need to be prepared for literally anything to happen—because it just might.
Belly Belly writes that the trend of ob-gyns telling women to lie down in a bed during the whole childbirth process really took back in the early 1900s, after it became popular for women to give birth inside of a hospital with a doctor instead of at home with a midwife.
However, it is actually a lot better for both mother and baby if they give birth in an upright position because gravity will help bring the little one down into the correct position and that will put a heck of a lot less strain on the muscles. This can also help prevent things like tearing during childbirth from happening.
As much as ob-gyns don’t like to tell their patients this interesting nugget of information, Parents notes that it is actually pretty difficult for moms-to-be to differentiate between false contractions (AKA Braxton-Hicks) and the real contractions that signal labor has started.
In general, Am. Pregnancy adds that the only somewhat reliable way to tell (aside from heading to the hospital or the ob-gyn’s office) is to either time the contractions yourself, or, if you’re bad in math, have your significant other do it. If the contractions are irregular and stay irregular with no progression in labor, then it is usually a false alarm.
Parents adds that what some mothers don’t know and their doctors might not tell them is that it is entirely possible for the intercostal muscles to get strained during the labor process.
This set of muscles are lined up against the base of the mom-to-be’s rib cage and can become a bit irritated in the third trimester of pregnancy thanks to the womb expanding in order to get ready to deliver the baby. In addition to all of this, they can become even more irritated due to all the pushing once it’s time for the little one to join the world.
Nowadays, many mothers might forgo signing up for a childbirth preparation class and turn to e-books and the Internet for help in getting ready for the big day and the intense labor that comes with bringing a child into the world.
However, AD Clinic points out that most ob-gyns feel that it is much better if moms-to-be use books and the Internet as a supplement and also sign up for a childbirth preparation class. That way, they’ll have a better understanding of what will happen and they’ll (and their partner) be able to get some hands-on experience and advice from an instructor too.
According to Parents, another downside of giving birth is that new moms still retain fluid even after their infant has made his or her debut into the world and they can still appear to look as if they are pregnant.
One way to combat this that not all moms hear from their doctors is to spend at least 20 minutes per day either lying down on her stomach or on her side because all that fluid heads to the lower half of their body due to the fact that they spend a lot of time sitting up and cuddling their newborn. By lying down on their stomach or their sides, it will allow gravity to force the fluid out of that area and get on the move so it can be absorbed by the body.
In some cases, moms-to-be experience labor that often seems akin to running around as fast as the Road Runner from the old cartoons — it happens so fast that there is no time for the doctor to give them an epidural to numb the pain of childbirth and before they know it, their little one has arrived.
Parents writes that if a mom is admitted that previously had a fast labor, some ob-gyns will opt to give them an epidural early on in the labor process just to be on the safe side and to make sure that they get the pain relief they need in order to bring yet another child out into the world.
Let’s face it—moms-to-be are usually eager to know the exact date in which their little bundle of joy is due to arrive and have a tendency to take what their doctor says at face value.
According to Parents, any good ob-gyn worth their salt knows that trying to calculate and predict a baby’s due date is more of an approximation rather than a date that is set in stone. Doctors can make an educated guess by looking at the baby’s position and checking to see if the mother’s body has started to dilate yet, but it’s still just an educated guess and definitely not an exact science.
Parents writes that not every ob-gyn will give their patients that need a C-section a heads-up that they need to either shave themselves or go to a professional salon in order to undergo a bikini wax because that area needs to be bare in order for the doctor to perform the procedure.
If a mother-to-be is lucky enough to have a doctor that warns her about this ahead of time, she can either take care of the issue herself or book an appointment at her nearest salon. If she’s one of the unlucky ones, then she’s stuck having a nurse give her a no-frills shave down on the big day.
Parents notes that another unpleasant fact that some doctors won’t tell their patients is that if they have a baby that is pretty hefty at birth, then that can cause issues such as losing control of their bladder down the line.
The Cleveland Clinic adds that there are a few ways that a mother’s bladder can get thrown out of whack during labor with a large baby, including a prolapse of the pelvic floor muscles due to the fact that they are feeling a bit weak after childbirth and the nerves in that area getting injured during the delivery process.
If a mother-to-be feels itchy all of the time, they might bring it up the next time they see their ob-gyn and erroneously believe that it is due to their hormones being all out of whack due to pregnancy.
However, Parents writes that some ob-gyns won’t tell them that another cause of feeling itchy all of the time during pregnancy is due to the fact that their gall bladder is producing way too much bile salts because there is always a chance that they will go online to research the condition and freak out when some websites warn that this problem has the slight chance of causing havoc for the fetus and they want to keep moms feeling as calm as possible before the big day arrives.
In most television shows and movies that feature a female character being admitted into the hospital because her water broke and she is in labor, when it comes time to show the epidural scene, it’s always the kind that numbs the mother-to-be from the waist down, but Parents notes that this isn’t exactly accurate and there are actually two different kinds of epidurals.
Am. Pregnancy points out that the “regular” epidural uses either a pump or occasional injections to give moms-to-be the pain meds they need during labor but they can’t move around as easily while the “walking” epidural lets moms get the pain relief they want while also allowing them to move around with ease.
Thanks to pop culture, most moms erroneously believe that when their water breaks during labor, it usually happens in a very dramatic fashion. For example their water breaks in what looks (and feels) like a gush or a geyser, wetting the entire front half of their clothes.
Parents points out that some doctors don’t do enough to disregard this notion in their patients. Sure, some moms definitely have the stereotypical overly-dramatic water breaking sequence, but only 15 percent of mothers even experience their water breaking in the first place and it is most likely appears in the form of a trickle, not a geyser.
In television shows or movies that feature scenes with a pregnant woman needing to be induced because she’s one day over her due date, there tends to be a heck of a lot of drama going on before that moment and the frazzled doctor often announces to his or her staff that they need to induce ASAP.
Parents points out that this usually isn’t the case in real life. It is not uncommon for infants to refuse to leave the cozy womb for one reason or another, and most doctors aren’t too concerned if the little one needs another week or two; after that though is when they will usually suggest mom gets induced.
There are a certain amount of moms-to-be that have decided before labor even starts that no matter what happens, they are going to deliver their baby with absolutely no pain meds.
That’s their choice and doctors usually respect it, but Parents writes that most ob-gyns secretly feel that it is better to get pain relief because it’s not like they are going to win a trophy for going through labor and delivery with nothing to numb them from feeling every little ache and contraction. Plus, using non-pain med techniques such as taking a bath or practicing breathing techniques will only go so far; moms are still going to feel as if their insides are being beat up by a giant that lives inside of their body.
In our society, there is a misconception that having a C-section in order to deliver a child really isn’t that much of a big deal and that the new mom will be able to bounce right back from the process in only a week or so.
Parents writes that some doctors are uneasy when new moms try to avoid the sheer uncertainty of labor and childbirth by asking if they can undergo a C-section instead of delivering their infant the all-natural way because having a C-section is technically considered major surgery and can add weeks to the new mother’s healing time.
Most mothers-to-be know from either talking to their ob-gyn or their friends and relatives that have given birth before that their stomach is going to become incredibly sensitive during the labor process and it is very likely that they are going to regurgitate whatever they have consumed that day at one point or another.
Parents writes that what many moms don’t know is that aside from having to deal with an overly sensitive stomach, their sense of smell also becomes very heightened during labor, which is why many hospitals have a strict policy regarding food and why some doctors will steer their patients away from using things like essential oils as part of their birth plan.
Crafting a birth plan is all the rage nowadays because it allows the mother-to-be to state clearly and in no uncertain terms what her wishes and conditions are in regards to her impending labor and delivery.
Parents adds that mothers that stubbornly stick to every aspect of their birth plan even when it would be better to be flexible annoy ob-gyns to no end because when it comes to delivering a child, nature often has its own ideas about what is going to happen. That is why it is important for mother-to-be to craft several back-up options into their birth plan so they can be somewhat prepared for the unexpected.
There is always the old wives’ tale about how a woman having large hips means she will have an easy go of it when it comes time for the little one to make his or her debut, but ob-gyns know that this old wives’ tale that is often repeated to mothers-to-be in an attempt to warn or reassure them needs to be taken with a massive grain of salt.
According to Parents, having a generous hip width or a too-small hip width has absolutely nothing to do with how smoothly a mother’s labor will go. In fact, many issues that crop up during labor are often due to things beyond the mom’s control, such as the little one having their head at an awkward angle as they are getting ready to enter the world.
Sources: Cleveland Clinic, AD Clinic, Parents, Am. Pregnancy, Belly Belly.