After nine months of surprises and interesting situations during pregnancy, women shouldn't be alarmed to find that childbirth is its own roller coaster ride full of twists and turns.
Some cases go like clockwork whiles others have unexpected moments that can be stressful. But each event has a correct response. Some women might have a hard time figuring out what comes next in each scenario, but the answers might help shape the experience and even ensure the health of the baby and the mother. Information can be power in many of the situations that can arise during those fateful hours before the baby makes his debut.
For example, there are things that women can do if the baby turns out to be breech or the doctor recommends induction. Certain positions or interventions could help with back labor, while others could come in handy if the pushing phase goes long. Whether moms hope to avoid surgery or just want to be prepared for all of the twists that can happen during labor, knowing what to do in an emergency can be really beneficial, and this guide can help.
Here is what moms should do if these 20 things happen during childbirth.
20 When Mom Loses Her Mucus Plug
One of the first signals that the baby's birth is imminent is when the mom sees the mucus plug, but at that point, she doesn't need to do anything but clean up. The mucus plug (also known by a few other names) can be a signal that the cervix is thinning, but it can come a few weeks before the labor actually begins.
Some women never notice any red or pink-tinged mucus, and that is just as well. There isn't anything to do at that point but finish up the birth plan and pack the hospital bag. It could be a while, but mama needs to be ready.
19 When Contractions Are Sporadic
Contractions can be part of life in the third trimester. Even though moms-to-be might think they need to rush to the hospital at the first sign of labor, they can sit tight when the contractions come sporadically.
When contractions begin, it's important to start looking for patterns. Moms should time how long each contraction lasts and when each new one begins. They might find that the pains happen 10 minutes apart and then 20, which is a sign that the mom is experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions and not true labor. When the contractions are 10 minutes apart for a consistent time, then it's appropriate to call the doctor.
18 When The Baby Is Breech
One of the biggest hurdles to a healthy delivery is the baby's position. Doctors might figure out close to the due date that the baby is breech, which means that the feet or bum are positioned to come out first.
Moms can try to natural methods to turn the baby, including inversions and acupuncture. The doctor might recommend an external cephalic version, which might kick start labor. And if those aren't successful, many doctors recommend a C-section because of the dangers of breech birth, which can include damage to the mother's body and complications or even death to the baby. Moms need to take their options seriously when this happens during childbirth.
17 When Mom Wants To Speed Things Up
Labor can be a long and arduous process, and sometimes mom—or the doctor—wants to speed things up. Women can spend days in the early stages of labor, where contractions are sporadic, but they can try a few things that might get them to a more active point in the process.
There are some old wives tales to speed things up and to get the contractions going, such as spicy food. One of the most well-known is to have some grown-up time, but that isn't appropriate if the mom's water has already ruptured because of the possibility of infection. Lots of moms enjoy long walks or even breaking it down with fun dance moves.
16 When Back Labor Happens
Sometimes labor pains can sneak up on a mom-to-be, especially if they begin in the form of back labor. That can happen when the baby is facing the opposite direction, and about 25 percent of moms experience the pains, which can begin mild and increase in intensity just like regular contractions.
Sometimes an epidural doesn't help with back labor, but relaxing on hands and knees can help. Walking and pressure on the back from a partner can help. It can be difficult and painful, so talk to a doula or nurse about how to relieve the pain as much as possible.
15 When The Doctor Recommends Induction
These days, some women don't like the idea of having a medical induction. Pitocin can help start contractions, but some women worry that meds could be unsafe or hinder a healthy delivery.
But the thing that moms-to-be should do when the doctor recommends induction is to listen carefully to the risks versus the reward. There are several reasons why an induction might be the best option, such as if the mom is in pain from a complication, as issues like gestation diabetes could lead to stillbirth if the baby isn't delivered soon. Moms have a choice in some cases, but they need to listen to the doctor and carefully consider the recommendation.
14 When The Water Breaks
Lots of women anticipate the moment that their amniotic sac breaks as a sign that the baby will be born soon. Sometimes it happens before contractions begin and sometimes afterward, but it does mark a signal in the experience, and it can increase the possibility of infection.
When the water breaks, moms need to pay attention to the color and any smell that might be present, as that can be a sign that the baby has already passed its first bowel movement known as the meconium. That can be dangerous and maybe even deadly, so moms need to alert the doctor to any discoloration or smell right away.
13 When The Water Doesn't Break
There are times that the water doesn't break at all, even after hours or even days of labor. It's okay if that happens, as some babies are even born en caul, which means that the amniotic sac still surrounds them when they are born. But doctors sometimes recommend manually breaking the water in order to help speed along the labor.
It's not painful when doctors use a tiny hook to put a knick in the sac, but it could end up scratching the baby. Sometimes breaking the water makes the contractions more painful and intense. It could improve the labor conditions to avoid a C-section, so it's worth a discussion.
12 When Everyone Wants To Be In The Delivery Room
Not all of the decisions that women have to think about during childbirth are medical. Some are personal — and just as difficult. One example is when lots of family and friends want to be in the delivery room during the experience.
Some people insist that they witness the birth, and it can be hard for a mom-to-be to say no. But it's best that a woman feels comfortable when she is working to bring a new life into the world. It's okay to blame the nurses or someone else, but moms should be willing to speak up and only allow the people that she truly wants in the room during the delivery.
11 When Your Levels Spike
There are a lot of complications that can come up during labor and delivery that can be really eye-opening. One of the most miserable can be when the mom's plasma pressure spikes. High pressure can be a problem, but it can be really bad when it is a sign of preeclampsia, which can cause the mother's organs to shut down.
Doctors always monitor moms' vitals because of the danger that can arise. A spike might mean that the baby needs to be delivered incredibly quickly, which might necessitate a C-section. The mom and the baby can be at risk, so it's important to listen to the healthcare experts and carefully consider their recommendations.
10 When It's Time For The Epidural Question
As we've mentioned, a lot of moms balk these days at the idea of using meds during childbirth. But there are times when an epidural is a safe and appropriate form of pain relief that moms might want to consider. It's okay to consider having an epidural, especially since a woman doesn't know how she will respond to pain.
There are positives to an epidural that some doctors believe can help a woman achieve a natural delivery, such as allowing the mom to relax and rest enough to push the baby out. And it is required for a C-section. The decision is personal and needs to careful consideration without fear of judgment.
9 When Mom Gets Hungry
During a long and arduous labor, women can get really hungry. Sometimes the first stage of labor can last more than 24 hours, and while doctors often don't allow food after a hospital admittance, the mom might want to consider eating during the early stages.
Moms need to keep in mind that they might get nauseated and vomit during labor. On top of that, if the mom needs to be rushed into a C-section, there is a risk if there is food in her system. But some recommend that women consider eating easily digestible foods like cooked eggs, toast, and clear broth early on so that they can keep up their strength for the delivery.
8 When The Nurse Feels The Cord
There are a number of things that can change the plan when it comes to labor and delivery, and some can come up unexpectedly. When the nurse is checking the cervix, it's not a good sign if she feels the baby's umbilical cord, so moms need to be prepared for the possibility.
Cord prolapse can occur when the mom's water breaks before or early in the labor process, and it means that the baby's oxygen supply could be compressed during the delivery. This is an emergency situation, and it might mean that the safest option for delivery is via C-section. It might alter the birth plan but the health of the baby is paramount.
7 When Mom Can't Catch Her Breath
Moms need to focus on their breathing during labor and delivery. Some people tend to hold their breath when they go through pain, but if that happens during labor it means that the baby is also not getting the oxygen that he needs.
Some women experience panic attacks or other breathing issues during labor, so the doctor might recommend putting on an oxygen mask. Doulas and nurses recommend patterned breathing to help with maintaining calm and getting through painful contractions. Oxygen is important for the mom and the baby, so it's important to do all that you can to catch your breath.
6 When It Feels Like The Ring Of Fire
Labor is a process and over time the mom experiences more and more pain. For the most part, the pains come in her midsection, where her uterus is contracting. But things can move below at the very end and it can be disconcerting.
Many moms describe the situation as the "ring of fire," with the ring being the round opening of the cervix. We included this section because moms might want to start panicking and tense up, but this sensation comes at the very end of the labor. Instead of feeling defeated, moms need to find their determination at this point because it's almost time to push.
5 When The Doctor Talks C-section
These days, a C-section can seem like a threatening proposition. It is major surgery and the recovery can be tough. But it's also a life-saving proposition, so when the doctor talks about a C-section, it is definitely time to listen carefully and look all of the facts.
With the rise in C-section rates in the past few decades, some moms worry that the surgery is unnecessary in a lot of cases. But women need to remember that they or the baby could die or be injured during the delivery without interventions when they are needed. Sometimes moms have a choice, but they need to keep the baby's and their own health as the top priority.
4 When Mom Reaches A 10
Getting to 10 centimeters is a big milestone in labor and delivery. Mom has already gone through a lot, but the work of the delivery is just beginning. That's because when mom reaches a 10 it is time for her to begin pushing.
The pushing phase can be very difficult. Some moms can get a handle on it and get the baby out in 10 minutes while others might have to push for four hours. Doulas and nurses recommend trying different positions to let gravity help, and moms should practice with kegel exercises in the weeks prior to the delivery. Also, it's important to push with the contractions to try to keep from tearing.
3 When The Doc Worries About Baby's Vitals
Throughout the labor and delivery, doctors and midwives try to keep an eye on how the baby is doing. In a hospital, some babies are monitored continuously, so that they can pick up on any issues before the baby makes her debut.
A baby's heart rate will go up and down during labor, but sometimes the rate can indicate that the cord is being constricted or the baby is struggling. The doctor might worry that the baby needs immediate attention, and that might mean that interventions are warranted. It can be worrisome, but moms should be reassured that doctors are able to anticipate issues and protect the baby's health.
2 When Pushing Takes Too Long
As we've mentioned, the pushing phase can be really difficult and can take a long time. The longer it takes, the riskier it can be. And that can mean that women might have to rethink their plan. For some, shifting to a different birthing position might help, but after hours, exhaustion can set in.
Some doctors and doulas let moms-to-be try to push as long as the baby seems to be okay. But sometimes a long pushing phase can require a discussion about a C-section. For some, the thought of surgery can give them the drive that they need to get the job done, but others might end up in the operating room.
1 After The Baby Is Out
Childbirth isn't over when the baby is born. The mom feels incredible relief right away, along with endorphins that help give her energy and joy at meeting her new baby. But while the mom is counting fingers and toes, she has a little more work to do.
Within a few minutes of the baby's birth, the mom should be ready to deliver the placenta. A quick push or two can usually expel the organ. It's also possible that the mom might need a few stitches after the delivery. The postpartum recovery can take a while, but at this point, the birth is over and hopefully mom and baby are healthy.