The only thing you can predict about giving birth is that it will likely be unpredictable! When I teach prenatal classes I always say it is so important to take a class so you feel more prepared and gain knowledge about the birth process but to be able to keep an open mind and be able to roll with changes. Labour is very much a grey zone, we like things to be black and white but labour and delivery is hard to predict.
In The Mama Coach prenatal class we talk early labour, active labour and the transition phase of labour. We cover what each phase are made up of, what to expect and how to cope. But I hear myself saying these words and phrases often… “usually”, “this is the average”, “this is very common” and/or “most of the time”! Labour and delivery is a little vague like this because we know how things are suppose to go and how things usually go but the reality is things can be rolling along and take a turn at any time. These unexpected things could happen anytime from the start of labour right up until the end.
Labour can start with your water breaking, contraction, and or being induced. Most people expect if the water breaks, contractions will soon follow. Not always, sometimes we wait and they don’t come and we need to induce the labour. Most people expect if they start contracting their water will break on its own. Also, not always, sometimes the doctor needs to break it for you, it breaks during the pushing stage or rarely but can happen your baby is born in the amniotic sac (en caul birth). We expect labour to progress on its own but sometimes we stall or get stuck at a certain point and need medical interventions to get back on track.
We expect that since our bodies are made to have babies that our babies will tolerate labour fine. The reality here is some babies get distressed in labour. You may have expected to walk and use the shower/bath but we may need to continuous monitor your baby for their safety.
Mom’s that deliver via a caesarian section will often say that they never expected their labour to end that way. Reality is about one quarter of deliveries will be this way, any mom that gets admitted to the labour and delivery ward runs the risk of her delivery ending in surgery. C-sections during labour can happen for fetal distress (ex. babies heart rate drops and doesn’t want to come back up or normalize), failure to progress (ex. stuck at 6cm), Cephalopelvic Disproportion (ex. pushed for 2 hours and baby isn’t coming down).
Here are some other things you may be surprised that happen during labour!
- The hormones that come with pregnancy bring lots of normal vaginal discharge. Towards the end of the pregnancy or as you go into labour your mucous plug will fall out.
- As mentioned above, your water can break and you can be leaking amniotic fluid.
- Your cervix is fragile so if it is touched or as you start labour and it begins to thin/open it bleeds a little.
- The weight on the pregnancy can cause bladder leaking issues.
- Once you have had your baby you will have vaginal bleeding for up to 4-6 weeks whether you had a vaginal delivery or a c-section.
As a labour and delivery nurse, I can tell you we often see all the bodily fluids! Nausea and vomiting are very common in labour. Amniotic fluid leaks out from the time your water breaks until baby is born! Peeing and pooping during pushing can happen as you using the same muscles. Vaginal bleeding is heaviest right after birth and then starts to improve.
Talking about pooping, babies can poop during labour and change the colour of the amniotic fluid to green. After baby is born, the meconium poop is black in colour and tar like in consistency!
Other unexpected things…
- You will need to push once or twice to get the placenta out. Placenta’s will naturally let go from the uterus wall and be ready to come out after 5-30 minutes after delivery. If it hasn’t come at the 30 minutes it is called a “retained placenta” and we will need to help get it out.
- You will have contractions after delivery as your uterus is contracting and reducing bleeding. The more babies you have, the more painful these after contractions are. If you are breastfeeding you will also notice more cramps as hormones are being released during the feed and causing the uterus to contract.
- Second babies come fast!
THINGS MIGHT NOT GO AS PLANNED
We would have never expected to give birth during a pandemic, but that happened!
As you can see, labour and delivery can take many different avenues. These things are not your fault and for the most part are out of your control. Reach out to a Mama Coach in your area to book yourself a prenatal class so you can be as prepared as possible for the labour and delivery! Being educated on the normal labour and delivery process and different routes/avenues it can go will put you one step ahead and you will feel like you got this!