Written by Liza John
Your bundle of joy is on the way, and you are now trying to figure out what to expect during labor. You heard somebody say that giving birth naturally is always painful or you watch a movie where a character has a water break and is rushed to the ER. Stories and myths about labor are often circulated amongst family members or friends and normalized through movies or TV shows. In the rest of this article, we attempt to debunk some common myths associated with labor and pregnancy.
Myth #1 The Dramatic Water Break
With Television shows and Rom-coms depicting a theatrical gush of amniotic fluids to mark the beginning of labour, you can wonder why this is one of the most common labor myths.
Facts: Water breaking during pregnancy is part of the normal labor routine, but only about 20 to 30 percent of women tend to experience water breaks before going into labor.
Some women only have a constant trickle of water while others may have a large whoosh, it really varies from person to person. Even if your water breaks labor may not start right away, in some cases labor may not occur even 3-4 days after the water breaks. So yes, you can go to the grocery store without having to worry about being rushed into the ER.
Myth #2 Exercise Causes Preterm Labor
Your friends or relatives might discourage you from taking the stairs or working out during pregnancy.
Facts: Doctors and trained medical experts recommend pregnant women to do light exercises and stay active through the day. Antenatal exercises and walking improve stamina, thus better equip you for Labor and also aids better postpartum recovery.
Experts recommend about 150 minutes of physical activity each week for healthy pregnant women. There are numerous activities you can take up from walking to swimming and even strength training but try not to lift heavy weights. However, if you are suffering from any other conditions like preeclampsia, cervical insufficiency, anaemia or if you have a multiple pregnancy, it may be unsafe to exercise during pregnancy.
Myth #3 The Second and Subsequent Labors Will Be Less Painful
Facts: It is true that the second and subsequent will be shorter as your pelvic floor muscles, cervix and the birth canal have been stretched by the first Labor. After the first labor your body is familiar with the process of giving birth, so from the point contraction starts to full dilation takes a shorter amount of time. Every labor is different, unpredictable and complications can arise any time.
In cases of women who have had a traumatic first birth, the second (and subsequent) can be more intense and painful albeit shorter. So, the point is, labor hurts, even if it’s your first one or your fourth one.
Myth #4 Taking Epidurals Increase the Chances of Having a C-section
Facts: According to the American Society of Anaesthesiologists, there is no credible scientific proof to support this myth. On the other hand, taking an epidural will help your chances of having a normal delivery by easing your muscles.
Myth #5 Home Births Are Not Safe
Even uttering the words “Home birth” will fetch you a wide range of replies from the preposterous to the unnerving urban myths.
Facts: A well thought out home birth in the presence of a certified and experienced midwife would be as safe as delivering your bundle of joy at a hospital. Midwives come stocked with emergency care equipment, antibiotics and other medications.
Pain relief is often cited as a reason to opt out of home births, however experienced midwives have numerous tricks at their disposal to help you cope with the pain. Heating pads, massages, even baths can soothe the pain. In the worst case you’ll be taken to a hospital to get an epidural. On top of being less expensive, home births tend to cause lesser infections than hospital births.
Even before you finish saying that you are pregnant, people start coming at you with a ton of unsolicited advice. The number of myths associated with labor and pregnancy do not end here, in fact there are tons more. So, before you start believing whatever your dad’s uncle’s neighbour’s sister says, do some research yourself.