Many of my patients, especially those who are pregnant for the first time, seem to have learned everything they know about labor and delivery from movies, TV and old wives’ tales. They often have a lot of preconceived notions about birth that aren’t true.
The reality is that every woman is different, and the range of “normal” is vast. When you’re pregnant, it seems people stand in line to give you free advice. But remember, free advice is usually worth what you pay for it!
Labor and delivery myths range from the plausible to the downright silly. Here are the top seven I hear from expectant moms.
Your water breaks, and then you go into labor. Actually, your water may not break until you’re almost ready to deliver. Regular contractions are the more common warning sign. But be sure to let your doctor know if your water breaks because labor may need to be induced.
You go into labor soon after your cervix dilates. Dilation can happen days or weeks before birth – or not at all.
Your doctor will be by your side throughout labor. Labor can be a lengthy process, and although your doctor keeps close tabs on your progress, we do have other patients! Rest assured that highly trained labor-and-delivery nurses will monitor you closely.
If you have an epidural, you’ll probably have a cesarean section. Research just doesn’t support this myth. However, an epidural can inhibit pushing because you’re unable to feel the sensation.
If you have a C-section, you’ll have less pain. While there is pain during a vaginal birth, recovery is generally shorter and less painful. Remember that a C-section is major abdominal surgery.
You can jump-start labor by eating Mexican food, taking a long walk or drinking castor oil. Sorry, but Mother Nature will take her own course.
A full moon means more births. This is one of the oldest ones out there. It’s not true – and never has been.
My best advice? The tried-and-true route to a better birth experience is good prenatal care and close communication with your doctor.
What’s your favorite labor and delivery myth? What’s the craziest one you’ve ever heard?
Dr. Asma Ali is a board-certified Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist. Her clinic interests include well-woman care and minimally invasive surgery. She cares for her patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – The Vintage.