Labor is certainly the part of pregnancy that women concern themselves with the most. It is the climax of the journey, after all — why wouldn't it be the moment that the most thought goes into? For many women who have chosen to have a "natural" birth, the idea of discomfort certainly comes into play. They sit around and dwell on these thoughts almost as if they don't understand that countless women before them have done precisely what they're about to do.
Funnily enough, with all of the slightly inconsequential concerns that some moms may have, there's an assortment of very legitimate things that they should be preparing for. This list will delve into the most important things that moms should be prepared for before they go into labor. Additionally, we have included a list of things that moms really shouldn't be worrying about at all.
Every one of the entries on this list, whether they are emotional or physical preparations, are from sources found at the bottom. These sources are a really good place to continue your research on this topic. But coming here is definitely a good start. Without further ado, here are 10 labor issues moms should be preparing for and 10 that they obsess over for no good reason at all.
20 Prepare For: Knowing How Dilated You Need To Be
Mothers, especially first-time mothers, should be asking their doctors about the different stages of their labor. This will be very helpful for them in knowing when they should be going to the hospital. Although you will be looked at by a nurse once you arrive, you don't want to keep going to the hospital before you absolutely have to. For those who need an update, there are three stages of labor Firstly, there's early labor. This is the longest portion and ends when the dilation stages have hit three centimeters. Secondly, there's active labor. This is when most women wind up going to the hospital and get accepted there. At this stage, they are usually dilatated up to seven centimeters. The final stage of labor is known as the transition and it ends when a woman's body is fully dilated at 10 centimeters.
19 Don't Worry About: Getting To The Hospital On Time
Although we just spoke about the importance of understanding when to go to the hospital, it's really not that big of a deal to be constantly concerned with getting there on time. Many moms are always worried about how far the hospital is from there home and whether or not they will have enough time to get there once they realize they are going into labor. The reality of the situation is that the average span of labor is about 8 hours... which should be more than enough time to get to the hospital. Sure, some deliveries are particularly quick, but this doesn't happen as often as movies like to make us think. While a baby makes their way down the birth canal, they give you plenty of signs to let you know that they are on their way. Even if you're having a speedy delivery, timing your contractions will help you gauge roughly how long you have. Once they get down to five-minute intervals or less, it could definitely be game time.
18 Prepare For: Possible And Totally Unforeseen Complications
Every mother's biggest concern, when it comes to labor, is that something will go wrong. This is a very warranted worry and the reality is that sometimes things don't go according to plan. Tons of variables could come into play and cause things to go in a different direction than you or the doctors hope. An example of this is the baby moving into a breech position or your contractions aren't coming on strong enough to move the baby down the birth canal. Both of these examples mean that a C-section could be necessary. From an emotional perspective, it's important to be prepared for any and every possibility and find your peace with that. If you prepare for these moments, they won't take you back as far as they might if they were a surprise.
17 Don't Worry About: That Pesky Epidural
Some women don't think of an epidural as a good thing. It's not that they are against getting one necessarily. It's actually about if the epidural will cause them any discomfort or even side effects. This causes some women to think about this all of the time and even not get one. But in reality, the complication rate is exceedingly small. This is particularly true of long-term complications. The reality is that doctors perform epidurals all of the time and therefore they've found the art to it. However, short-term effects, such as a spinal headache, are pretty common, although they only affect about one in 200 patients. These spinal headaches can be easily treated so there's nothing to worry about here. You have another to concern yourself with, complications of an epidural are not one of them.
16 Prepare For: Have Something Comfortable To Wear That Isn't Precious
So many moms are concerned about having a perfect social media-worthy birth. Something that rivals the photoshoots of celebrity births who, without a doubt, had no shortage of make-up and lighting people, not to mention photo airbrushers, to make things look more than ideal. In reality, everything will be far from clean and perfect. This is why it's important for moms to prepare for being cozy and comfortable overlooking amazing. This means that they need to make sure that have an extra fluffy robe or sweater that they don't wear around the house or apartment anymore. Essentially, something that they feel comfortable in but don't mind living without. Because chances are, it won't make it back from the hospital in one piece.
15 Don't Worry About: Handling The Discomfort
As we talked about in the introduction, one of the most common things for moms to worry about when it comes to their upcoming labor is whether or not they'll be able to handle the discomfort that comes with childbirth. Some women are totally concerned with this and believe in the hours leading up to labor that they can't do it. But in reality, your body is more than capable of going through this. Once labor is in gear, your endorphins kick in and the body works in a way like you couldn't possibly imagine unless you have been through it. Additionally, there are a number of pain management techniques, such as meditation, that can be helpful when dealing with this. There's also the epidural and other ways of making this more manageable. So don't worry about it
14 Prepare For: Having All The Necessary Toiletries
Yes, bring all of those toiletries. This is definitely something you want to be prepared for. That hospital bag will carry some very important items and the most important ones are things that will keep you feeling clean and healthy. Although hospitals do have many of the items you'll pack, they are unlikely to be as good as the ones you'd purchase for yourself. This is especially true of toilet paper. The toilet paper in hospitals is very rough and doesn't seem fit for anybody's bottoms. So, it might be a good idea to include some nice toilet paper, especially if it's environmentally friendly, in your bag alongside a toothbrush, toothpaste, tons of deodorant, face wash, cleansing wipes, massage oil, contact lens (if you were them), and lotions.
13 Don't Worry About: Being There Too Early
We've already spoken about how many women are concerned with getting to the hospital on time, but what about the ones who worry about getting there too early. Ultimately, this comes down to whether or not you feel confident enough when it comes to knowing your body. If you understand the stages of labor, and what your body will do during these stages, you're unlikely to show up to the hospital either too early or too late. You'll arrive precisely when you need to. But if you do end up at the hospital too early, nothing bad will happen. You'll simply get sent home. Yep, that's it. If the nurses and doctors don't see that you're in active labor, meaning that your contractions are 45 to 60 seconds long with about 3 to 5 minutes in between, you will be sent home and asked to come back when they are. See? No biggie.
12 Prepare For: A Bunch of Random People Around Your Birth
here's something moms-to-be should certainly prepare for... there will likely be about a million random people in the delivery room with you. Except, they are less random than it seems. Many of the nurses in the room are there to do very specific things to make sure your delivery goes smoothly. Some of the nurses and doctors there are purely present to learn or to be on hand in case something doesn't go as planned. Either way, it's highly unlikely that it will just be you, your partner or friend, the doctor and the nurse. Although this does happen, there are usually far more faces there. This can make it feel a little unnerving, or even make a woman feel uncomfortable. But it's something they need to get used to.
11 Don't Worry About: Being Absolutely And Utterly Prepared
As stated earlier, from an emotional standpoint, it's very important to be prepared for any given scenario that comes your way. But from the physical and logistical standpoint, it's also vital. You could have such a specific birthing plan that includes an assortment of features. And you could be on the edge of your seat making sure everything comes to be precisely the way it should. It could mean that the right music is playing, that you're looking as perfect as you can, or that everyone who should be there is there. But, the truth is, all of this could go out the window. When you go into labor, you're handing your plans over to the doctors, nurses, midwives, and other professionals who are only concerned about your health and the health of the baby. This could mean that new plans are needed. Not worrying about all the details in the first place will help you come to to the needed "anything can happen" attitude.
10 Prepare For: The Doctor's Opinions On Meds
There's nothing wrong with being entirely against taking meds for your delivery. That's unless your doctors and nurses tell you that you need them. Ultimately, the medical and scientific opinion rules out. Only doctors and nurses can know what the best course of action is, even if it's not one that you want. And when these medical professionals are incorrect, they're likely still more correct than you. This is because these professionals are making their decisions on the information presented to them. So, if you're the type who would prefer to skip the epidural and go for the nitrous oxide but your doctor says that it's not a good idea, you need to listen. Part of this means that you have to prepare for this possibility.
9 Don't Worry About: Randomly Going Number Two
Once moms find out that they are likely to release a full-on number two on the table or on the floor while they are in labor, many start to worry about it. First and foremost, they don't want people to see this, even if they are doctors who see it all of the time. They also don't want to deal with the discomfort that this may bring. But this isn't something moms should be concerned with whatsoever. Sure, you will have about five or six different people looking at you while you release a number two, but is that really the be-all-end-all? Many women have these labor poops because their system is telling them to thanks to all of the pushings. Nurses and doctors are prepared for this and have someone who can clean this up right away. Additionally, in all likelihood, you won't be focused on this at the moment. There's a far more important task at hand. Just try and have a sense of humor about it.
8 Prepare For: Bringing Your Birth Plan
Although a birthing plan can go out the window if there are any complications, it's always a good idea to bring it with you to the hospital. This is something that moms want to be prepared for, but not have their heart set on. If you let the nurses know what your birthing plan is, they will do everything in their power to make sure it happens for you. This is part of their job. Just don't go in thinking you're a director who can boss them around. Their first priority of health and safety. But if you're extra nice to the nurses about what you want and how you want it to go, you may get something close to what you planned for. Just make sure to keep the nurses well fed with some goodie-bags to ensure that they actually read your birth plan.
7 Don't Worry About: Labor That Goes On Longer Than A Tolstoy Novel
Some moms aren't happy about the idea of being in labor forever. They hear these stories of women who are going through this incredibly full-on experience for hours on end or even for a full day. The worry with this is that they won't be able to handle it. But these moms need a reality check. Firstly, they will be able to handle it because this is what the female body was built for. But, more importantly, labors that last that long are unlikely. Sure, labors usually last for about 8 hours, but that's not 8 hours of active pushing. Therefore the discomfort won't be there for the entire time. So, don't worry about this too much. Additionally, studying techniques like Lamaze and the Bradley method could really help make it more bearable.
6 Prepare For: The Hospital's Policy On Inductions
Before a mom goes into labor, she should make a point of discussing the topic of inducing labor at her last visit to the hospital. It's important to be prepared for this in case the labor goes a tad haywire and the doctors and nurses need to kick-start the induction. Each doctor, as well as each hospital, has a different view on inducing labor. Some would prefer not to induce labor unless it was absolutely necessary for the health of the mom and her little one. While other hospitals and their doctors are a bit more relaxed about this and don't mind going down this road if it means that it's easier for the mom and her kid. Regardless of the scenario, being up to date on this topic is a must. You don't want to be taken aback by making this decision at the moment.
5 Don't Worry About: All The Make-Up — Except One Thing
No... you're not going to look like Kim Kardashian after the birth of her children. Well, actually, you are, because Kim Kardashian, like all other moms, certainly didn't look good after the birth of her kids. She probably just had a full-on make-up and hair team to make her appear wonderful for that after-labor photoshoot. The last thing you want to be doing in preparation for labor is worrying about make-up. It will just melt right off of your face while you're in labor. It's a waste of time. However, there is one item that's typically found in a woman's make-up bag and purse that's vital to have... lip balm. Your lips are going to be very chapped thanks to the dry hospital air and the physicality of the birthing process. Lip balm will make you feel so much better.
4 Prepare For: Keeping That Smartphone Charger At Hand
It's highly unlikely that any nurse is going to let you use their smartphone charger while you're in labor. Not only do they not want to lend out their property, but they also don't have the time to go looking for it, and neither do you for when you need to contact important people, or even document the sacred event. Therefore, the battery power will eventually run out. So, make sure you prepare for that eventuality by keeping your phone charger close at hand and maybe even having a spare in case the first one goes missing.
3 Don't Worry About: Who Actually Delivers The Baby
Before some mothers head to the hospital, as well as during their first while there, they tend to be overly concerned with who is going to be delivering their child. They want to know if the person bringing their child into the world is the best possible person for the job. But there's no guarantee that the person you want to deliver your baby will be the one doing it. It's important for moms to discuss with the doctor what the policy of the hospital is or regards to the ob-gyn on call. Sometimes ob-gyns take turns in shifts, and in other cases, moms get to pick who does it. But this can all go out the window if something random happens. In reality, almost everyone in the maternity ward, including nurses, has been taught how to deliver a baby in case there in a situation where they need to. There are definitely people in the maternity ward, mainly doctors, who are the better choice. But if push comes to shove, anyone there will do and it's ultimately out of your control.
2 Prepare For: What The After Birth Policies Are
Another thing that moms should be preparing for is what their hospital's policy is for what happens after the mom has safely welcomed her little one into the world. Some hospitals allow mothers to stay in the same room that they have given birth in while others make new mothers head over to a postpartum room where they and their infant will stay until they are given the "okay" to go home. Being prepared for a possible change in rooms will alleviate some worries from your shoulders. Additionally, understanding a ballpark estimate of when the hospital will allow you and your baby to head home is a good thing too. Knowledge is power, but it's also a great way to reduce anxiety.
1 Don't Worry About: Whether It's Even Possible
We have to end this list with the most important thing that you, as a mom-to-be, shouldn't be worried about or obsess over whatsoever. ...You can do it. Yes, it's certainly possible. Don't get us wrong, it's okay to feel nervous about the whole thing. After all, giving birth to a child, even if it's not your first time, is going to be one of the most important days of your life. But worrying that it's impossible for you to give birth is totally misinformed. A woman's body is built for this. And even if there are reasons why your labor will be more difficult than others, there is an entire staff of medical professionals whose job it is to make sure that you come through this okay. Focus. Have faith in yourself. Come prepared. But don't come in with stress; it won't be helpful.
Sources: What To Expect, WebMD, Parents, Momtastic, The Bump.