April 5, 2014

Debunking 14 Labor, Delivery & Early Parenthood Myths & Fears.


“When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl.”

~J.M. Barrie

From the moment you find out you’re pregnant to the instant that you hold your baby cozily in your arms for the first time, being a new mother is something that’s difficult to place into words.

Still, there are so many (unnecessary) anxiety-inducing myths about the process. Here, we’ll unmask a few.

1. You will be mortified if you poop on the delivery table.

Trust me, when you’re in labor you won’t care—at all. Please don’t spend the amount of time worrying about this that I did the first time around.

2. The pain will be unbearable.

To be fair, we all have different tolerances for pain. However, one thing that helped me get through the discomfort was remembering that it won’t last forever!

Read this for some additional tips.

3. There will be something wrong with your baby.

For one, the probability is high that your baby will be healthy (and all of those prenatal check-ups and screenings help ensure this too), but the simple reality is that if something is wrong with your baby after you give birth, worrying about it beforehand will not help.

4. You won’t be able to nurse.

I actually didn’t think this would be a problem for me—and it was.

My mother-in-law (thankfully a wonderful lactation consultant) and I worked for weeks and weeks to get my daughter to latch on properly and for nursing to be an easy experience, for both my daughter and myself.

And, yes, it took work and, yes, I think I spent the first month or so topless in my house, but it was worth it because she became a breastfeeding pro and we didn’t wean her until she was two years old.

(Tip: seek professional help, like that of a lactation consultant, if you have any questions and concerns—that’s what they’re there for.)

5. Sleep when the baby sleeps.

To this day, this is hands down the dumbest piece of advice I’ve heard.

The only people who will tell you this are parents who are so far removed from the process that they don’t remember why they didn’t follow it themselves. Because you will be tired and you will want to nap—and I’m not discouraging your own rest—but, for me personally, I found much more relief from fatigue by practicing yoga or exercising while my daughter napped.

6. You will be a horrible mother.

This is my own observation, but moms who worry about how good they’ll be are often the ones who really care about the job. In my opinion, this is a huge plus towards being a stellar parent.

7. Nursing is birth control.

For some, this is true. For others, not so much.  Click on the link in red above to learn more about nursing as a birth control option.

8. You will know you’re in labor.

Well, I thought I was in labor the night before I had my child, but I wasn’t positive because it was nothing like the dramatic movie scenes I’d witnessed.

I remember telling my husband things like, I might actually have to cancel my 6 a.m. yoga class if I still feel like this tomorrow. (A big, big deal for me then.)

Yet I wasn’t sure I was in labor—until my water broke. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I put my feet up and drank water. I went to bed early and then took a shower and packed my hospital bag after my water did break.

Point: know the lesser labor symptoms, like upset stomach or diarrhea.

9. You won’t make it to the hospital.

I personally wasn’t afraid of this, but many expectant mothers are.

You are almost guaranteed to make it to the hospital. I actually had a very short labor and delivery and I still made it to the hospital.

Having said that, I wanted to be at home as long as I could. I had no desire to be one of those mothers hanging out in the birthing center before I needed to. One thing that I decided to do in order to help myself relax at home was create a list of things for my hospital bag and then, after my water broke, I slowly packed my bag while checking items off. If you find that you’re overly concerned about making it to the hospital, prepare your luggage in advance and call your doctor at any signs of impending labor.

10. You’ll spend a fortune on maternity clothes.

Okay, maybe you will and maybe you want to. Me? I didn’t want to. Tunic tops, loose dresses and leggings are all great options (and wonderfully comfy clothing choices for after the birth too).

11. You need all the crap on the Babies ‘R’ Us register.

Repeat after me: No. You. Don’t.

Not shockingly, the lists of things you’ll need handed out in baby stores where you can register for gift items are…trying to sell you stuff!

Obviously, you will need new baby items, and these things will vary from mother to mother and from baby to baby as well, but here’s my advice: if you don’t think you’ll need it, skip it. (You can always purchase it later.)

12. Pregnant sex is weird.

I recently read a story about a celebrity saying that her husband thinks pregnancy sex is “weird.” It made me furious! Maybe some men are like this, but surely not all men. Feeling sexy and desirable during pregnancy not only encourages you to love your gorgeous, voluptuous body, but having sex is a natural and positive experience for expecting couples to share. If your spouse does have concerns, talk about them openly.

13. Sex induces labor.

Exercise and walking are commonly thought of as the go-to labor inducing act, but guess what? Sex is better.

This is all thanks to the effects of prostaglandins and Oxytocin, both necessities of labor.

14. Your vagina will permanently change.

Oh, how I wish someone had been blunt with me about this one.

Absolutely expect your vagina to be stretched, sore and just plain weird after a vaginal birth—but also expect these dramatic changes to not last. Remember, your entire body is made to stretch and expand for your baby’s birth.

My personal favorite analogy: are men afraid of having their penises permanently affected by erections?

Regardless, if you want to help ensure your pre-baby vaginal state, then do your Kegels, both before and after having your baby.

So there you have it, a few myths and fears debunked and squelched.

Do you, or did you, have any concerns about your labor, delivery or early parenthood experiences? Share them in the comments section below.


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 Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wiki Commons

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