If you are anxious about your upcoming labor and delivery, you are not alone! Here are answers to 11 of the most common childbirth questions!
Labor and Delivery Questions Answered!
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Women, listen up! Giving birth is no easy task. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had millions of questions running through my mind. I couldn’t even sleep some nights wondering about what it would be like to actually push a baby’s head out of my vagina. Anyone else feel the same way?
If your anxiety is keeping you up at night, maybe it is time to get educated about what really happens during labor and delivery!
Here are answers to 11 common childbirth questions:
Labor and Delivery Questions Moms Ask
Will I poop during labor?
Here’s the deal… you may actually poop while you are trying to push the baby out. When I was pushing, I kept screaming, “I am pooping! I am pooping!” Turns out, I wasn’t actually pooping, even though I would have bet 1 million dollars that I was!
The reason that women poop during labor is that pushing utilizes some of the same muscles we use when we go to the bathroom. So, stop worrying! It is completely natural for a woman to poop while giving birth. The doctors and nurses won’t even give it a second thought, so neither should you!
How can I avoid tearing?
Sadly, tearing is often unavoidable. This is the price we pay to push a baby’s head out of our vagina! However, there are a few things to do that may help prevent tearing (though they aren’t guaranteed to work). Perineal massage and putting something warm on your perineum has been known to help prevent tears.
If you can, try giving birth in a more upright position, rather than flat on your back. The position you labor in can have an impact on vaginal tearing.
Another option to help with tearing is to get an episiotomy. This is where an incision is made between your vagina and anus. It sounds painful, but it is easier for doctors to sew things up cleanly after giving birth.
How long does it take a vaginal tear to heal?
If you are one of the unlucky ones that has vaginal tearing or an episiotomy, it is going to take some time to heal. Depending on the severity of the tear, you may require stitches. Most tears take about 10 days to heal, but can still be sensitive or painful for up to a month.
When I had my episiotomy, I had several stitches. For almost 5 months after giving birth, I still felt a stinging sensation where I tore. Everybody is different. If you feel like your tear or episiotomy is not healing correctly, speak with your Obstetrician!
How long do you push when giving birth?
I wish that there were some magic formula for the perfect amount of pushing. Unfortunately, that does not exist! Each pregnancy and birth is different. In general, first-time moms will push anywhere from 2-3 hours before the baby is born. Some women are able to push for much less time with success.
Of course, sometimes labor is unpredictable. I pushed for only 30 minutes with my first child! To be safe, plan on pushing for several hours and make sure that you conserve enough energy for the final pushes.
Can I eat during labor?
Anyone who has had any experience with hanger is probably dying to know the answer to this question! There are a few things that women can eat during labor (unless they are having a c-section or have received directions from the doctor to do otherwise). Foods like Jell-O, popsicles, or juice are excellent for laboring moms. I was allowed to eat before going in to be induced and snacked on flavored ice during my labors. I know, super fancy!
Heavier foods such as hamburgers or fries might not be ideal. During labor, there is a higher likelihood that food or water could be aspirated into the lungs, causing damage. It is important to speak with your doctor about specific guidelines. Each woman is different and may have different restrictions.
How do I know I’m in labor?
This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Many women have rushed to the hospital in labor, only to find out that they were having Braxton Hicks or false labor. In order to avoid the hassle, it is important to know when you are truly in labor.
If you are having regular contractions that come every 5-10 minutes that are so strong they take your breath away or paralyze you, this is a sign that you are in labor. Of course, if your water breaks, you need to go to the hospital right away as your risk of infection increases. Finally, make sure to check for vaginal discharge that is bloody. This is another sign that you are in labor!
How do I know when to go to the hospital?
The answer to this question is very similar to the question above. If you are having strong contractions every 5-10 minutes for at least one hour, there is a pretty good chance you should head to the hospital. Also- make sure to rush to the hospital if your water breaks.
If you are still uncertain about whether or not to go to the hospital, it is always a good idea to contact your OB. He can help you decide whether or not you should come into the hospital right away, or continue laboring at home.
How long does labor last?
“Labor” can be split into three stages: early labor, active labor, and the transition stage.
Early labor, when your body is preparing the birth canal and the baby is dropping, can last anywhere from 8-12 hours.
Active labor, when your cervix is opening at a more rapid rate and contractions are more severe, can last anywhere from 3-5 hours.
Finally, the transitional stage can take anywhere from 30-minutes to 3 hours. This is when your pelvis fully dilates from a 7cm to a 10cm and you are ready to get pushing!
Of course, pushing can take a few hours, too! So, expect labor to last anywhere from 12-24 hours. First-time moms labor for much longer than second and third-time moms!
Should I get an epidural?
If you have come to the internet looking for advice on whether or not to get an epidural, you are going to get a lot of opinions both ways. Really, it comes down to what you want your labor and delivery experience to be like. I have an extremely low pain tolerance, so I knew I wanted an epidural from the beginning. Other women are rock-stars and want to have natural births.
Make sure to educate yourself about epidurals before making your decision, but ultimately, the choice is yours!
Can you feel labor pain with an epidural?
Hallelujah, there is a chance to have less pain during delivery! Although an epidural isn’t guaranteed to take away all of the pain of labor, it can certainly alleviate much of the pain. Generally, an epidural will numb you from the waist down. Some women who have had an epidural still feel the urge to push and are able to push without any difficulty.
It is important to note that epidurals might have a different impact on each individual. Some women can’t feel any pain, while others still might feel tinges of pain because of the placement of the epidural.
Overall, epidurals are a great way to relieve much of the pain of childbirth and give momma a chance to rest up before pushing baby out!
Is delivery painful?
Yes. There is no nice way to say this. Delivery is one of the most excruciating things in the world (if done naturally). There are several options to relieve pain: epidurals, IV medications, and home remedies (breathing techniques, counterpressure, etc).
Learn about all of your options and make the decision that is right for you. If you want to go natural, I applaud you!
What childbirth questions did you have as a first-time mom?
LOOKING FOR MORE LABOR AND DELIVERY INFORMATION?
- My Natural Childbirth Experience with Our Last Baby
- Crush Your Birthing Anxieties!
- Hospital Bag Checklist Essentials For Mom, Dad, and Baby
- 10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Postpartum Recovery
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Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!