Pregnancy and childbirth are often portrayed as a beautiful and magical experience, but the reality is that labor and delivery can be quite shocking and overwhelming. There are many things that people don’t warn you about when it comes to labor and delivery, and it’s important to be aware of these things so that you can be better prepared for what’s to come. In this article on PregnancyBoss, we will explore 16 shocking truths about labor and delivery that you may not have heard before.
12 Shocking Truths About Labor and Delivery
1. All the Waiting
Labor can be a long tedium of very little action. There’s waiting to go into labor, waiting for early labor to turn into active labor, and waiting for the baby to arrive. The average first-time mother goes into labor eight days past her due date. Early labor can last for days, and it can stop and start. Rarely is there a rush to go to the hospital.
2. Water Breaking
One of the most iconic signs of labor is the breaking of the water. However, many women are surprised to learn that this doesn’t always happen in a dramatic gush. In fact, only about 10% of women experience a sudden rupture of the amniotic sac. For most women, the water breaking is a slow leak that can be mistaken for urine or discharge.
3. Behavioral Changes
Labor can cause behavioral changes in women, such as mood swings, irritability, and anxiety. These changes are due to hormonal fluctuations and the stress of labor. Women may also experience a loss of modesty and feel more comfortable being naked or partially clothed during labor.
Shaking during labor and delivery is a common phenomenon that can be caused by hormone shifts, adrenaline response, and temperature changes. As the body gets closer to pushing, adrenaline spikes dramatically, which gives the body a boost of energy and strength to birth the baby. Sometimes medications like epidurals can also cause the body to shake. Shaking during labor can be a result of the skyrocketing hormones during the later stages of labor. It is a very common side effect of the “transition” stage of labor and can last until after the birth.
Contractions are a normal part of labor, but they can be more intense and painful than many women expect. In addition, the timing and duration of contractions can vary widely from woman to woman. Some women may experience contractions that are irregular or stop and start, while others may have contractions that are very close together and last for a long time.
6. Pain Management
Labor pain can be intense and overwhelming, and many women are surprised to learn that pain management options are limited. While there are medications and techniques that can help manage pain, they may not be as effective as women hope. In addition, some pain management options, such as epidurals, can have side effects and risks.
A catheter is a thin tube inserted into the bladder to drain urine. It is common for women to have a catheter inserted during labor and delivery, especially if they have an epidural. The catheter is usually removed within a few hours after delivery.
Pushing is a critical part of the delivery process, but it can be more difficult than many women expect. Pushing requires a lot of physical effort and can be exhausting, especially if labor has been long or difficult. In addition, pushing can be uncomfortable or even painful, especially if there are tears or other complications.
An episiotomy is a surgical cut made in the perineum to widen the vaginal opening during delivery. While episiotomies used to be routine, they are now only done in certain situations, such as when the baby is in distress or if forceps or a vacuum are needed to assist with delivery. However, many women are still surprised to learn that an episiotomy may be necessary.
While most women hope for a vaginal delivery, a c-section may be necessary in certain situations, such as if the baby is in distress or if there are complications with the delivery. However, many women are caught off-guard by the possibility of a c-section and may not be prepared for the recovery process.
11. Unexpected Outcomes
Despite careful planning and preparation, labor and delivery can be unpredictable. Complications such as preterm labor, preeclampsia, or fetal distress can arise suddenly and require emergency interventions. While these outcomes are rare, they can be frightening and stressful for women and their families.
12. Vaginal Tearing
Vaginal tearing is a common occurrence during delivery, especially for first-time mothers. The degree of tearing can range from minor to severe, and may require stitches. While tearing can be painful and uncomfortable, it is a normal part of the delivery process.
Many women are surprised to learn that it is common to poop during delivery. This is because the same muscles used to push the baby out are also used for bowel movements. While it can be embarrassing, it is a normal part of the delivery process and healthcare providers are used to it.
14. Empty feeling after delivery
It is common for women to feel an empty feeling after delivery, which can be described as a hollowness left physically. This feeling is normal and is experienced by many women after giving birth. It is important to note that this feeling is temporary and will pass with time.
15. Taking care of the baby
In the delivery room, a newborn baby is wet from the amniotic fluid and can easily become cold. Drying the baby and using warm blankets and heat lamps can help prevent heat loss. Healthy babies born in a vaginal delivery are usually able to stay with the mother.
In many hospitals, immediate newborn assessments include weight, length, and medicines. Once a baby is checked over, a nurse will wrap the baby warmly and bring the baby to the mother to see and touch. It is important to let someone else take care of all responsibilities other than feeding the baby and taking care of oneself in the first few weeks after delivery. It is also important to sleep when the baby sleeps and save steps and time.
16. Super Fast Labor
While most labors are long and slow, some women experience a super-fast labor. This is when the baby is born within a few hours of the onset of labor. While a fast labor may sound ideal, it can be intense and overwhelming, and may not allow for pain management options or time to mentally prepare for the delivery.
What are some tips for preparing for labor and delivery?
Preparing for labor and delivery can be overwhelming, but there are things you can do to feel more confident and prepared. Here are some tips for preparing for labor and delivery:
- Take a childbirth class. Childbirth classes can help you understand what to expect during labor and delivery, teach you relaxation techniques, and provide you with pain management options.
- Create a birth plan. A birth plan is a document that outlines your preferences for labor and delivery. It can include things like who you want in the room with you, what pain management options you prefer, and how you want to handle unexpected situations.
- Pack your hospital bag. Make sure you have everything you need for your hospital stay, including comfortable clothes, toiletries, and any items you want for your baby.
- Talk with your birthing partner. Discuss your birth plan with your partner and make sure they understand your preferences. They can also be a source of support during labor and delivery.
- Keep a positive mindset. Try to stay positive and focus on the end goal of meeting your baby. Educate yourself about labor and delivery, and talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you have.
- Think through the logistics. Plan out the logistics surrounding birth, such as transportation to the hospital and who will take care of any other children you have.
- Prepare your body for labor and delivery. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and consider doing perineal massage to reduce the risk of damage to your perineum area during birth.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Prenatal yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce labor pains and minimize anxieties and worries about giving birth.
- Visit the hospital. Set up an appointment for a tour of the hospital to know what to expect and what to do, which can help you feel more comfortable on the day of the birth.
- Think about your birth plan. Consider your options and the pros and cons of each to help you feel more confident in making decisions about how you want to deliver your baby.
What should be included in a birth plan?
A birth plan is a written document that outlines your preferences for labor, delivery, postpartum, and newborn care. Here are some things that should be included in a birth plan:
- Who you want as your birth partner.
- Where you want to give birth.
- What positions you’d like to use during labor.
- What type of pain relief you want to use during labor.
- If you would like any music playing while you give birth.
- How you would like to deliver the placenta.
- How you would like to feed your baby after birth.
- Relevant information on your medical history.
- What kind of medications do and do not work for you.
- What kind of environment you want.
- What you are hoping to avoid.
- Any special needs you may have.
- Be open to last-minute changes.
How can a partner best support a woman during labor and delivery?
Here are some ways that a partner can best support a woman during labor and delivery:
- Educate yourself about the process. Learn about the different stages of labor, how to time contractions, and what to expect during labor and delivery.
- Be an advocate. Speak up for your partner’s wishes and needs, and communicate with the healthcare team on her behalf.
- Offer physical support. Help your partner find comfortable positions, offer massages or counter-pressure, and provide water and snacks.
- Offer words of encouragement and praise. Let your partner know that she is doing a great job and that you are proud of her.
- Help her stay focused and relaxed. Encourage her to use breathing techniques or other relaxation methods, and help her stay calm and focused.
- Be flexible. Be prepared to adjust to unexpected changes in the birth plan, and be open to trying different techniques to help your partner through labor and delivery.
- Maintain privacy and confidentiality. Respect your partner’s privacy and maintain confidentiality during labor and delivery.
- Communicate with the healthcare team. Ask questions, provide updates on your partner’s progress, and make sure you understand what is happening.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you are well-rested and nourished so that you can be fully present and supportive for your partner.
What are some relaxation techniques that can be used during labor and delivery?
There are several relaxation techniques that can be used during labor and delivery. Here are some of them:
- Breathing techniques. Controlled breathing can help you relax and manage pain during labor. Some examples include slow breathing, panting, and blowing.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body to help you release tension and relax.
- Guided imagery. This technique involves visualizing a peaceful scene or situation to help you relax and reduce anxiety.
- Hydrotherapy. Taking a warm bath or shower can help you relax and manage pain during labor.
- Movement. Moving around, changing positions, and using a birthing ball can help you stay comfortable and manage pain during labor.
- Massage. Gentle massage can help you relax and reduce tension during labor.
- Words of affirmation. Positive affirmations can help you stay focused and calm during labor.
- Music. Listening to calming music can help you relax and reduce anxiety during labor.
- Focal point. Focusing on a specific object or image can help you stay centered and calm during labor.
Labor and delivery can be a shocking and overwhelming experience, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. By being aware of these 12 shocking truths about labor, you can be better prepared for what’s to come and feel more confident in your ability to handle whatever comes your way. Remember to seek support if you need it, and take care of yourself during this exciting and challenging time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What can I do to prepare for labor and delivery?
There are many things you can do to prepare for labor and delivery, such as taking childbirth classes, practicing relaxation techniques, and creating a birth plan. It’s also important to talk to your healthcare provider about your options for pain management and delivery.
Will I be able to have an epidural?
Whether or not you can have an epidural depends on a variety of factors, such as your medical history, the progress of your labor, and the policies of your healthcare provider. Talk to your provider about your options for pain management and what to expect during labor and delivery.
What should I expect during postpartum recovery?
Postpartum recovery can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. You can expect to experience bleeding, soreness, and difficulty breastfeeding, as well as emotional ups and downs. It’s important to take care of yourself during this time and to reach out for support if you need it.
What should I do if I experience unexpected complications during labor and delivery?
If you experience unexpected complications during labor and delivery, it’s important to stay calm and follow the instructions of your healthcare provider. Your provider will work to ensure the safety of you and your baby, and may recommend interventions such as a c-section or other medical procedures. It’s important to trust your provider and to ask questions if you’re unsure about what’s happening.