After nine long months of carrying a little one in the womb - nurturing him, talking to him, and even dreaming about him - the time has come for mom to finally see her baby and for her bundle of joy to enter the world. Emotions are mixed at this time. Mom's happy, but she's also fearful. She's full of anticipation and anxiety.
Most moms spend their last trimester with emotions contemplating and wondering what labor and delivery is all about and what awaits them. Some moms-to-be may have heard horror stories of labor lasting for several days of agonizing and unbearable pain. Or, perhaps some women heard about labors and deliveries that took a matter of minutes and the mother barely felt any real pain.
Add to the stories that they've heard, all of the information that they've read about labor and delivery. The potential issues that can arise – labor not advancing, C-sections, etc. With so many conflicting stories, combined with all of the information moms-to-be have read themselves, it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed about labor and delivery. In fact, it’s normal to feel downright afraid.
To put the fear in the rearview and the mind at ease, we wanted to shed some light on the topic. Here’s a look at seven myths and seven truths about labor and delivery that may help to put mom-to-be's mind at ease about the whole process.
14 Truth: Your Water Can leak For Hours
There are rumors that say your water has to break before you go into labor or that it will come out like a flood. Not necessarily. Your water can leak for hours or it can come out all of a sudden before or during labor.
In fact, you can leak like a faucet throughout the labor process. A water break does indicate labor is on its way, but it doesn’t mean you are about to delivery. Delivery can happen hours, even days, after your water breaks. Many women don’t even realize that their water breaks because they are either sleep or the water breaks are so light they can’t feel it.
First time mothers may definitely not realize this if they’re not sure what it looks like. They may mistake it for urine. Urine is usually yellow and the fluid that comes from the water breaking from inside the amniotic sac is odorless and colorless.
13 Myth: The Second Labor Is Easier Than The First
Although the mother is more experienced and her body more prepared the second time around, this is not always the case for a few reasons. First of all, some first time labors are easy. Secondly, a second or third pregnancy may be accompanied with difficulties not expected. For example, the baby may be breached, the placenta may block the uterus or it may tear.
The baby may be too big and can cause issues. Mothers may have illnesses or sicknesses they didn’t have during their first pregnancy, which would cause a more difficult labor. There can be many years that separate the first and second births. A woman having a baby at 25 is more likely to have an easier birth than a woman at 40.
If the mother had a difficult birth the first time, more than likely a caesarean section is planned so this can make the second one much more difficult, especially for the mother.
12 Myth: The Doctor Will Be There
You may hear from people that will tell you, you’ll be fine, your doctor will be there with you all the way. Well, not so fast. One thing to remember is that your doctor has multiple patients. You will not be his only patient having a baby or needing his assistance at this time.
It’s important to have someone in there with you that’s experienced in having children or someone experienced with helping others have children. This helps you stay focus and get through the labor and delivery process. Most doctors will not show up until the baby is actually coming out. And some don’t show up until after the baby is born.
Others will come in and out to check on your status and the health of you and your baby. Of course there are nurses that stay in the room with you, so that helps with any anxiety or concerns that you may have.
11 Truth: Medical Personnel Will Send Mom Home If She's Not In Real Labor
For first-time mothers that don’t know quite what to expect, multiple trips to the doctor will often follow with sending home orders. In other words, you may think those Braxton Hicks contractions are the real thing, only to be told they are not and to be sent home in pain. Don’t worry those pains don’t last long.
The real thing will last. And don’t take the medical personnel sending you back home as insensitive. They’ve seen it before and they know you’ll be alright. Because you are new to all this, you’re not certain what’s going on but they know what the real thing looks and feels like. Also, don’t expect to stay in the hospital long after your baby is born.
In the past, new mothers use to stay a week in the hospital, but now you can be released in a couple of days if all is well.
10 Myth: The Water Will Break When It's Time To Go Into Labor
Many women have found this not to be the case. Unfortunately, many are told this will happen and this will let them know they are going into labor. However, there have been many women that sit around waiting and hoping their water breaks but are actually experiencing labor. So the truth is that you can go into labor without your water breaking.
This happens simply because the membranes that contain the water stays intact right through labor. The water breaking doesn’t happen until the baby arrives. Sometimes your water will break and you may not go into labor. However, when it does happen make sure you go to your doctor and get it checked out.
It’s not really a concern unless it breaks and you’re not close to your delivery date. Other than that, the doctors will usually let nature take its course. When your water breaks it will resemble urine, but it will be colorless and odorless.
9 Truth: Birth Will Strengthen You
Women are known to be pretty mentally strong or able to handle situations. Some think we’re stronger than men in this area, and perhaps this may be due to the birth process. Spending hours in intense labor pain, breathing, grunting, finding strength you didn’t think you had, will toughen you up in ways you didn’t think possible.
That extra boost of physical strength is shown when a women giving birth holds someone’s hand during. The strength behind that fierce grasp is unbelievable. Once your baby is born and you’ve successfully delivered him or her, you’ll feel like you can accomplish just about anything after experiencing that feat.
You’ll need that superwoman feel too because parenting another human being requires more strength, courage and determination than the hours you spent in labor. The birth process strengthens mothers for years to come, enabling them to handle and endure almost anything life throws at them.
8 Myth: An Epidural Increases The Chances Of A Caesarean
This is usually not the case. Labor can take hours. An epidural is used when a woman is experiencing a difficult time with delivery or just chooses to have one to lessen the pain. Statistics show that almost 60 percent of women choose to have an epidural because of the intensity of pain and length of delivery.
An epidural doesn’t cause a quick birth either, it simply lessens the pain. However it could cause the birth to take longer since an epidural injection causes numbness from the waist down and the mother may have difficulty pushing and using her lower limbs.
This can cause a caesarean section for the simply fact that the mother may be having difficulty in this area, but that’s not the experience of the majority of women that choose to have an epidural. A caesarean section is usually performed if the baby is in distress or the mother is experiencing difficulties, but not due to a simple epidural injection.
7 Truth: Mom May Experience Long Hours Of Labor
There are some horror stories that are not likely to happen but this one you can believe. You’ve heard the stories of women in labor for hours and days, and it’s true. Some women have experienced being labor for more than one day, while others seem to go into labor and delivery within minutes.
Well, maybe not minutes, but in a short amount of time. First-time mothers will experience longer labor times just because this is something they’ve never done before and their body is adjusting to the changes. They’ll be learning as they go to push and grunt the right way and this can take some time.
Long labor can also happen if the baby is experiencing some sort of difficulty, i.e. breech position, blocked placenta, umbilical cord position, etc. Or long labor can occur when the mother is experiencing difficulty due to the pain, dilation difficulties or her health issues.
6 Myth: Pushing Hurts More Than Contractions
Uh, no. That’s not true. Contractions occur because the vaginal area is opening or stretching in order for the baby to come through. The pain of the head coming through the birth canal is often called “the ring of fire,” which is that burning sensation felt is painful but no where near the pain felt that comes because the stretching of the pelvic bone and other bones in that area to get to that point.
The intensity of pain felt because the vagina and pelvic bones are widening to a degree or to a point that will allow the baby to come out not only lasts longer, but is more intense than the pushing to get the head through. It’s not so much pushing the head out that is painful as it is the stretching of the birth canal.
The contractions last much longer too. An epidural can help alleviate the pain from pushing and from contractions.
5 Truth: Mom-To-Be May Let Everything Out
With all that pushing or pushing and pressure, don’t be alarmed if you happen to have a bowel movement right there in the delivery room. This would be the reason doctors advice on eating lighter than usual if you can when you’re close to the due date. Not only do your reproductive organs loosen and doing a lot of moving, but so do your bowels.
In fact, your baby will often poop as soon as they come out. Don’t be embarrassed. The doctors and nurses have seen it before and they're used to it. It’s all part of the birthing process and should be expected. There are a whole lot of things coming out so that’s part of the scenery. Your doctors and nurses will clean you up and keep things going.
And more than likely, it won’t faze you either. You’ll be more concerned and focused on the pain and exhaustion you’ll be dealing with.
4 Myth: Feeling Contractions Means It's Time To Go To The Hospital
Many women have been told to go to the hospital any time you feel a contraction. Well, the problem with this advice is that there is something called false contractions or Braxton Hicks. This happens when a women experiences occasional or infrequent contractions in the uterine which can happen close to your due date.
First-time mothers should be aware of the differences so you won’t be making trips to the doctor only to be sent back home. True contractions are usually felt in the low back and travels to the lower abdomen. They become more intense and more frequent. Braxton Hicks start in the lower abdomen and groin and subside in pain over a period.
Your doctor will pretty much know which one you’re experiencing and will send you back home. Wait to see if the pain subsides before heading out. If you’re unsure, call your doctor or nurse before heading out.
3 Truth: Epidurals Can Malfunction
Nowadays the majority of women, about 60%, opt for an epidural. The needle injection to the spine to numb the lower half of the body to ease the pains of labor. And most women will make the decision before they go into labor that they want an epidural. Some will choose this option when they feel the pain hit despite their best efforts to go through delivery naturally.
However, don’t get your hopes set on the epidural. There have been instances where the epidural didn’t take. In other words, the pain medicine doesn’t work or it doesn’t alleviate the pain much. There are some instances where it will only work on half of the lower part of the body.
Perhaps the doctor can’t place the needle at the proper place. Remember, this is a shot to your spine. Or maybe the anesthesiologist had an emergency to attend or there was a power outage or equipment failure.
2 Myth: Pitocin Can Ruin A Natural Birth
You will hear some tell you that induced labor makes things worse, and that it can cause problems. This may or may not be the case, it depends on how your body, and the baby, reacts to the medicine. Pitocin is often given if the mother is having difficulty dilating and control the bleeding after childbirth.
Many women are worried that the drug can harm the baby and the mother since it stimulates the uterine. The concern is that it produces false dilations which can disrupt the natural flow the birth process and cause issues with the baby. The amount of pitocin is closely monitored to prevent contractions from coming too close and too intense.
There are some concern about inducing labor too early for situations where the mother is experiencing early contractions or if the baby is having difficulties. If used to early or before 41 weeks, the use of this drug can cause a miscarriage.
1 Truth: The Baby Will Come At Any Time
You can believe this will definitely happen. Your doctor may have a due date scheduled for when your baby is expected to arrive, but your baby and nature will follow their own course and decide just when the time is ready. It will be close to the scheduled time your doctor calculated, but the baby can come at anytime. And I do mean anytime.
Don’t ever think there’s a snow storm or tornado, so my baby will wait. Or there’s something I plan to do on this date so the baby won’t come. Babies come when they want. Your responsibility is to be ready at all times the closer the delivery date is. Make sure you have everything packed and ready to go at least two weeks--preferably a month--before your due date.
Of course, some babies will come past the due date. Stressful situations or an increase in physical activity can cause the baby to come sooner too.