Guest Post by Alison Altrui
Birth: Things No One Else Will Tell You...
Things no one ever talks about. Real, raw, true facts and things ALL expecting mothers should know, whether it’s your first or last birth. No one ever talks about it. No one told me. I did my own research when I was about 24 years old because I like to know everything! Before I was ever ready for my children or was ever pregnant, I knew these things about giving birth. I talked to pregnant moms and moms whose children had been born recently to moms who already had teenagers, and they didn’t know the information I spoke about to them. It was shocking.
***Please keep in mind that these are my own words and some of my experiences, which was a primarily uncomplicated birth. I am not saying go against your medical professional by any means; this article is to enlighten you with knowledge of things mothers usually aren’t told, don’t know, or don’t talk about. I’m writing this to encourage you to be knowledgeable about birth and start an open conversation with your provider, so you both know what you want. If you’d like to read more about these topics, I’ve attached professional articles under each one or talk to your health practitioner.
"Education often creates a sense of confidence and empowerment, which reduces the fear, thus lowering the unpleasantness of the sensations you may experience."
You should always have a birth plan, even if it doesn’t all go as planned. Type it up, read it, and reread it. Then print it out so anyone who’s in the room can have it and know what you want. It’s your words when you can't speak through those contractions. Your husband, your mother, your mother-in-law, the 2+ nurses, the delivering doctors, or the new nurses when they switch shifts if you’re there for that. All of them! So they all know precisely what you’re going for and can help guide your birth the way you’d like, whether it's a natural birth, home birth, or c-section.
Things to help with labor:
If you try to stimulate a different area of your body, like your hand, it could ease some pain and shift your concentration just a little. A quick top five for myself that I would recommend trying would be a hot shower, keep moving, a scalp scratcher, practice rhythmic breathing with yourself and your partner, and visualize something that makes you calm and happy. If you want to research some more serious ways to help throughout the phases of labor while birthing a baby, you should read this: www.spinningbabies.com/start/in-labor/tips-for-labor-progress/
Eat if you're hungry, even during labor:
Think about it this way... you’re tired, hungry, and have been working for 6 hours. Do you have the energy to do some heavy labor for another two or more hours? No. So that’s why I say EAT if you are HUNGRY! You can’t push during childbirth if you’re starving and lacking energy. Even have a family member sneak in food if you need to - there's no shaming here! I won’t tell if you don’t. If you want to read more about this topic, which may help your birth plan ahead of time, here’s a good link: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-eating-drinking-labor/
STRESS and FEAR can stall your labor:
Yes! If you’re stressed and in fear of something, it can stall your labor. Three conditions any laboring woman has to have to produce the hormone oxytocin, which progresses labor, are safety, security, and a sense of privacy. Make sure your birth space is how you want it to be as much as possible. Include details about this in your birth plan! Tour the closest hospitals to you or birthing centers. If you have a home birth, make sure you create a space you feel safe & comfortable in. Ensure everyone you plan to have in the room during labor and birth with you is on the same page and is supportive of everything you’d like. You don’t need or want any negative energy in your space stalling your labor. If you’d like to read more, here’s a study about this topic: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595201/
Remember that you're in charge:
You should be in charge of your birth. When I say this, I don’t mean skip your appointments, and I don’t mean don’t listen to some life-saving advice or anything like that. I suggest that you don’t have to do anything you’re generally uncomfortable with. It’s still your body, it’s still your choice, it’s still your call. Stay in control, mamas.
You don't need cervical checks at every appointment:
You read that right. You don’t need to be checked at every single appointment. The more you get checked, the more you're letting in possible infections and irritation. Protect yourself and your baby. You can go from 0cm to 9cm in minutes... trust me, YOU’D PROBABLY KNOW! Personally, I was not checked until the last 2, and that was because it was 41 weeks and then 41 +5. Things like that are incredibly unwanted and uncomfortable to me also, so if you’re like me, your pregnancy will be a lot less stressful if you tell your provider NO. And yes, you can tell your provider no. Again, this is still your body, your baby, and your choice. If your provider isn’t going to respect your wishes in this simple way - get a new one, NOW. If they can’t respect you during pregnancy, they won’t respect you during birth. You don’t need more stress in your unforgettable, whirlwind birth moments. Also, it’s never too late to switch. If it’s best for you and you’re baby, do it. Here’s a good article if you’d like to read more about refusing cervical checks: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-prenatal-checks/
This brings me to my next topic...
It's OKAY to go past 40 weeks:
As long as your baby is safe and healthy in there, it’s okay. Based on my experience, you’d have to go for some scans to make sure fluid and your placenta is okay, and the baby is fine, but as long as those are clear, it's OKAY! 40 weeks is not an eviction date. Your due date is a guess; it’s never exact. My daughter was born at exactly 42 weeks. The thing I hate hearing most when I tell people that is “they let you go that long!?” They let me... let me? Let me tell you something - there was no reason for anyone to not “let me.” She wasn’t ready, so she wasn’t ready, and that’s that. We went to our check-ups, extra scans, and stress tests; we were all clear. I wasn’t going to get induced or plan a c section because I was ready; it’s not about you. If that’s your plan, that’s fine. But personally, that was not my goal. Here’s an excellent article reiterating this topic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/overdue-pregnancy/art-20048287
Episiotomy - What's that?
Let’s get serious for a quick minute. From my experience, not a lot of people know what this is, even if they got one. And even then, some don’t know what it is. That’s baffling to me. And frankly scary. But I’m here to enlighten you about all these things! Raw, real birth things. An episiotomy is a surgical incision of the perineum during childbirth to help delivery. Routine episiotomy isn’t evidence-based and is not recommended by the ACOG or WHO. An episiotomy rarely has many benefits over a natural tear. A natural tear follows your body's creases, allowing it to be stitched (if needed) like a puzzle. A cut does not. In fact, some mothers don’t tear at all or very little, which from what I’ve read, is more common. You need to talk about this and be on the same page with your health care provider. And again, if they don’t respect what you won't - switch. right. now. Birth isn’t a one size fits all thing. There are two exceptions: a medical emergency, where the baby needs to be birthed quickly, or if a natural tear goes up towards your urethra. While touring hospitals, you can also ask or look up their episiotomy percentage (how often they get done)!
To learn more about this, you can research this yourself or visit this website: https://www.babycenter.com/0_all-about-episiotomy_165.bc
Also, here’s a small study showing the benefits of a natural tear vs. episiotomy:
Something all Mothers-To-Be need to hear more often:
YOU’VE GOT THIS!
I don’t think any pregnant mother hears that enough. YOU HAVE GOT THIS, GIRL! You can and will birth your baby how you want. Your body is perfect, and your body knows what it’s doing, it knows how to birth your perfect baby when the time comes, and it’s ready.
C-Section Mom's are just as amazing:
Last but certainly not least! It’s OKAY if things don’t go as planned and you need something you didn’t want, or your result is a C-section. Your body did not fail you, it just needed some extra help, and THAT'S OKAY! As long as you and your baby are safe & healthy - that’s ALL that matters in the end. Sometimes you can’t control everything, and the baby has other plans or issues you couldn’t plan for. I recommend having a plan written out for a C-section just in case also (like who comes in with you, that you want Dad with baby at all times, etc.)! But either way - you’ve got this. You’ve so got this whole birth thing! Go, Mama! I HOPE THIS HAS ENLIGHTENED & EDUCATED SOME MOTHERS AND EASED SOME FEARS. IF YOU ALREADY KNEW ALL OF THIS INFORMATION, THAT IS AWESOME! IF NOT, I’M GLAD YOU READ IT AND GAINED KNOWLEDGE. KEEP ON DIGGING!
About the author:
I’m a wife, a mother, a homemaker, and a photographer in Northeast Ohio.
I launched Christella Photography at the end of 2018 and knew I was in love before I started. I started photographing nature, my daughter, then dove head first into all things family related. I can confidently say this is easily the best job I've ever had and I love every moment of it!
I love to blog about an array of topics from what to wear to breastfeeding, I lived in Phoenix, Arizona for 15 years and I will forever be drinking coffee on the way to a session.
Here is the link to part II: https://www.clevelandsfamilyphotographer.com/Blog/Birth-Things-No-One-Else-Will-Tell-You-Part-II