Friday, November 27, 2020

22 Things They Don't Tell You About Birth

Motherhood is one big adventure. Before you decide to start a family, you spend time thinking about what your family could look like, how many children you might have and what your family would be. The shocking reality of it is that all the castles in the sky that you built can crash down when you finally have a baby and the reality is very different from what you imagined. Not every birth goes wrong, but every mother has high hopes for their miracle to happen the same way it does in their head.

There is a lot that they don't tell you about motherhood and a lot that they do tell mothers but that goes ignored. You spend your time pregnant and being as safe as possible to keep your baby safe until you bring them earth-side, so it stands to reason to properly research everything from car seats to crib bumpers to keep them safe when they are born, too. There are many things you’ll learn about motherhood as you raise your new baby, but before you get to that point, you have to go through childbirth - and this is the part that’s always a surprise. No one can tell you how your labor is going to go; they can only tell you what could happen and how to prepare yourself. However, they also give you the cliff notes version of things and not the open, honest version of the things that could happen. So, with this in mind, we’ve put together 22 things that they don't tell you about childbirth!

Image Source: Pexels

1. Your waters may never break. Most people expect the big splash and pop that happens in the scenes during movies. Unfortunately, it’s not as fun as watching a water balloon pop and coat the pavement. In some cases, your waters may never break - and the doctor has to do it for you! Sometimes, waters go slowly and it feels like you’re wetting yourself. It’s not the most pleasant feeling in the world!

2. Maxi pads are going to be your best friends when your water is trickling - oh yes, it can trickle over some time and you may not even lose your waters just once. Your forewaters (that is, the waters at the front) can go before the hind waters; at the back of the sac. With the right stock of maxi pads, you won’t have to worry about ruining your underwear.

3. Your birth plan is a nice guide and gives you something to do, but doctors will throw the whole thing out the moment your baby and you are in any danger. You can list everything that you want and have someone with you to speak for you when you’re in pain, but know that a birth plan is not written in cement. It can and does often change at the last minute.

4. Sometimes, labor and birth are easier alone. When you have people with you as you give birth, you can spend too much time concentrating on whether they are okay and this distracts you from the task at hand. Birthing alone gives you the chance to concentrate and breathe. It’s rather empowering to go it alone!

5. That being said, you and your partner may find that everyone wants to be involved in the birth. It’s okay to tell your mother and his mother that you don't need them there! You were alone together when your baby was conceived and you are within your right to birth the baby without outsiders watching you dilate. 

6. After your labor begins, it can take hours and even days for the baby to arrive. It’s not like the movies: you will often have to spend most of your time walking and living life as you contract and dilate. It’s only when you hit 4cm dilated that the hospitals consider your birth to be active!

7. If your waters break while you’re at home, you need to avoid any more “baby encouraging” sex to get the baby out. You no longer have waters intact to protect the baby, which means you are susceptible to infection. Your labor should start within 24 hours of water leaving, and if you don't go into labor, your doctor will give you a helping hand with induction drugs.

8. You will panic when contractions start, even if you think you won’t. Your brain naturally wants to fight the pain and try to control it, and you can’t. The best thing to do to get through the contractions is to breathe and keep moving while they happen. Don't hold your breath when they hit, either, as this can make it more painful!

Image source: Pexels

9. Not all pain relief options are good ones. Depending on the country you live in, you may not get every single option, and not everyone wants an epidural given the higher risk of needing a c-section

10. Most women forget that they can have a birth that they want to have regardless of what anyone says. Informed choice is the most important thing you can have when you give birth, and you deserve to know that if you don't want a csection unless in absolute danger, then you can refuse one. Always weigh your options: the goal is a healthy baby, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try for a vaginal birth if you want one.

11. If you want an epidural, you can have one! You only need to ask for one and while doctors will try to get you as far along as possible without pain relief, you are allowed to control your birth.

12. Giving birth feels like you’re doing a number two - but in a big way! You may be smiling, but did you know that you may poop on the birthing bed? Yep, that’s a thing you know now! And it’s totally normal and natural. Midwives and doctors simply scoop it away to make space for the baby to arrive. 

13. Purple pushing can cause more tears. What is purple pushing? Well, it’s when you are coached to push your baby when a contraction isn't happening. You go purple in the face because you’re pushing against the wave: the baby isn't coming yet but you push anyway. This can cause your vagina to tear and you get exhausted in the attempt!

14. If your baby gets tired during the birth, you may need forceps or a ventouse to help the baby out. Both of these options are fairly invasive, but they’re less invasive than a c-section. Again, informed consent is a must for labor, and you need to know all of your options and outcomes. They may be scary to research, but knowledge is power.

15. Your chosen doctor may not be the person who delivers the baby. This can be disconcerting when you’re initially in labor, but when the moment comes to push you won’t care!

16. Episiotomy. It’s a word that you may avoid, but you need to understand it. A swift cut to your perineum (the bit between your bottom and your vagina) can give you more room in the birthing canal to get the baby out. It’s rare to happen now, especially when there are so many more birthing techniques you can rely on. However, it’s important to be aware!

Image source: Pexels

17. You can stand up and birth if you like. It’s an antiquated notion that you have to be on your back, when in fact, it’s the least comfortable and the least practical position in which to give birth. You can hold a rope from the ceiling and squat, you can go on your hands and knees while holding the back of the bed - you can birth in any position that feels most comfortable.

18. You may “moo”. Honestly, the noises you make in childbirth will happen whether you intend them to or not. Most women seem to “hum” which sounds like a cow “mooing”. The noises you make are absolutely fine - whatever helps you to concentrate.

19. You don't just birth a baby - you also deliver a placenta. Most women don't actually feel this bit as the body naturally ejects the placenta once it’s detached from the wall of the womb. Some women encapsulate it and choose to ingest it!

20. You may need stitches if your baby is born with a hand against its face, or they come through at an awkward angle. Sometimes, stitches can be more painful than the contractions, but the doctor will give you an injection to numb the site. 

21. Post-baby bleeding is called lochia, and you will deal with that. You will bleed for up to 3 months post-baby, but a lot of women stop bleeding after six weeks. The bleeding is caused by the placenta coming away - it leaves a wound the size of a dinner plate in the womb. It’s for this reason you shouldn't have sex before the bleeding stops (and before six weeks!), and you shouldn't use tampons either. You want to avoid infection!

22. Within three months of giving birth, you will be thinking about the next baby. All of the things that you went through with childbirth will feel like a distant memory. It may be the baby hormones that do it so that we continue to procreate!


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