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16 Ultimate Questions about Labor and Delivery Answered by Doctors

The process of giving birth to a baby is complicated and sometimes scary for future mothers and fathers alike. Today, we're debunking some popular myths about labor and delivery and give some advice for you to go into the process a bit more educated.
A woman who has had a healthy delivery

Is labor pain unbearable?

Labor pain is caused by the irritation of nerve endings due to uterine contractions, soft tissue compression during the fetal presentation, the extension of uterine ligamentous apparatus, etc.

But nature made provisions for women by setting their pain threshold much higher than that of men. Prior to childbirth, it rises even higher. The body's anti-pain system gets in the game, helping release natural anesthetics into the bloodstream.

Therefore, labor pain can't be called unbearable.

Do wide hips mean easy childbirth?

Some women experience a condition that doctors call “contracted pelvis”, which can be an indicator that a cesarean section might be necessary. However, this condition is not determined visually, but by measuring pelvic dimensions using a special instrument. A wide hip width, determined visually, doesn't guarantee a natural childbirth.

Can you eat or drink during labor?

If you feel thirsty or hungry during early labor, you can eat or drink a little. Labor can last for a long time, so you will need strength. It is best that the food be rich in carbohydrates (ideally, cooked buckwheat, rice, or oatmeal). As a drink choose water.

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Can you lie down during contractions?

It is not advisable to lie in bed during contractions since this position makes it difficult for the baby to pass through the birth canal.

It is better to sit upright, stand up holding on to something to support you, walk, squat, kneel on all fours, or sit on a fitball. 

It is also convenient to hang on a rope (if available). When a woman hangs by her arms, the bottom of her body relaxes. The contractions become more effective, and the baby tends to make an exit faster.

You can change positions to find the most comfortable one for you.

Should you go to the hospital once the contractions start?

The first contractions will be 25–30 minutes apart. At this stage, you can stay at home.

In case of a first pregnancy, it may take 7–12 hours from the start of regular contractions before you begin labor. Go to the hospital if the contractions are about 5–7 minutes apart.

Must amniotic fluid break naturally?

The probability of the water breaking spontaneously is about 93%.

If the amniotic fluid breaks naturally, go to the hospital immediately. From this moment on, there is a risk to the fetus of infection and oxygen deprivation. If there are no signs of labor but the cervix is ready, your doctor may break your water at the hospital to induce labor.

Does labor begin when the mucus plug comes out?

The mucus plug is a thick lump of viscous substance that seals the cervix and protects the fetus from infections.
It should come out shortly before labor, but this does not mean the start of labor.

You should be guided by the frequency of your contractions and the breaking of the amniotic fluid.

Must an obstetrician always be present during childbirth?

During labor, the healthcare professional (labor nurse, midwife or obstetrician) will be regularly checking your condition and cervical dilatation as well as monitoring the fetal heartbeat. 

Once your cervix is fully dilated at 10 cm, the midwife or obstetrician will guide you through delivery.

Is the process of childbirth disgusting?

Some feel that the process of giving birth can be unsettling. But just think about it: the birth of your baby simply can't be ugly.

Some people who are unprepared for childbirth might be shocked by the experience, but doctors find the procedure to be routine. Behave naturally, and don't be ashamed of anything.

Can uncontrolled bowel movement occur during labor?

If you want to defecate before delivery, you can ask your doctor to give you an enema. If your bowels haven't been emptied completely, the fecal matter may come out during delivery because the baby presses on the rectum as it goes down through the birth canal.

The obstetrician and staff are usually ready for such situations and keep medical supplies on hand so that everything is cleaned up very quickly.

Labor myths didn't matter for this woman who gave birth to a healthy baby

Does using epidural anesthesia during childbirth increase the likelihood of a cesarean section?

An epidural is the administration of an anesthetic to reduce sensitivity to pain in the lower body.

Epidural anesthetizes the childbirth process but can prolong it since the woman doesn't feel when it is necessary to push. This increases the likelihood of using forceps or a vacuum extractor during delivery rather than the performance of cesarian section.

Does screaming during labor soothe the pain?

Screaming doesn't have an analgesic effect and can slow down the childbirth process. It weakens you and adversely affects uterine contractility. Moreover, screaming consumes the oxygen necessary for the baby.

During labor, listen to the obstetrician's instructions on how to breathe and push correctly. Try to calm down.

Are perineal ruptures and incisions inevitable in childbirth?

The risk of perineal tear (which is an indication for episiotomy) occurs in the event of large fetal size, low tissue elasticity, accelerated labor, etc.

Perineal ruptures or incisions occur in 35% of the cases; the rest of the women avoid this.

Can you pass out during labor?

Fainting during labor is extremely rare. Nature created the female body in such a way that it mobilizes all its forces when giving birth to a baby. 

Passing out is not a typical reaction of a woman's body to childbirth. If you are prone to fainting, you should inform the doctor in advance.

Can you die during childbirth?

99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries. With proper medical care, the probability of dying during labor is negligible. In the vast majority of cases, labor concludes safely for the mother and baby.

Should the baby's father be present at birth?

The decision on whether or not the partner should be present at birth is made by every couple independently, but the baby's father is not a stranger on this important day.

During contractions, the partner can provide moral support, give you a massage, and help you concentrate. If you don't want him to be present in the delivery room during labor, just tell him.

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