Myths & Truths about Labour and Childbirth


“The nurses said I should go home oh” said a heavily pregnant woman into her phone.

“They said I have not dilated at all, so I should go home and come back later. But I’m in pain.” she continued.

And from the way, she kept rubbing her bump and the curve of her back, it was obvious she was less than comfortable. However, the nurses at the maternity ward of the clinic had spoken, and they reinforced it upon seeing her still standing around, “Madam, go home oh and get off your feet. You can come back later.”

So, with her big bump and trolley bag, she waddled outside to get a cab to take her home.

As she left, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that her expectations of the way people would react to her saying she was in labour, had been cut short. She must have been disappointed that the nurses weren’t running around to help her, but has rather sent her home.

My cousin was also sent back home once, when she rushed to the clinic at the first sign of a contraction. The nurses at that clinic were not nice at all, as they didn’t even examine her, preferring to ask her some questions. Base on her answers, she was sent back home. Even her husband’s attempt to get them to do a pelvic examination was met with a, “So you want to teach us our job abi?”

They left, and returned several hours later and this time, my cousin was admitted.

One thing common to both my cousin and the lady I met at the hospital is they just got a myth busted. They had obviously thought the onset of contractions was a signal that childbirth was around the corner. They had no idea it is a loooong process, before it gets to that stage.

For today’s article, we are going to be busting myths and replacing them with the truth, where labour and childbirth is concerned.


First up is; Myth #1: Wide hips make labour and childbirth easy

I have seen this myth proven false at least twice. First was when I was in the University, I had a senior who had this well-endowed figure 8 shape, and there have always been comments about how her hips were just perfect for childbirth.

Fast forward to when she wanted to have her baby, and it was discovered that her hips were wide, but her pelvis was really narrow, and C-section came to the rescue.

Even though she was one of the popular girls in school, she wasn’t shy about sharing her labour room experience, so most people knew she had her baby via c-section, and why.

Much closer home is my cousin, who has had two c-sections so far. If one were to go by this myth, she really should be popping the babies, as she is well endowed around the hips.

The truth is pushing a baby out has nothing to do with the size of a woman’s hips. Some women have wide hips, but in fact, the pelvis can still be small, which can make delivery difficult.

Your Ob/Gyn is the only one who can evaluate your pelvis to determine that.


Myth #2: Your water will break before labour begins

The truth is, it is not always like that for everyone. For me, my water breaks before the contractions come, but for my sister, her labour starts long before the water is broken by the doctor, or it breaks right before childbirth.

And the truth is, it is much more common to go into labour starting with contractions before your water breaks.


Myth #3: Delivery is over, once you birth baby

In some instances, a woman is not told congratulations on the birth of her baby, until she has birthed the placenta too. In fact, some of the Yorubas believe that when a woman hasn’t birthed the placenta, she hasn’t completed the birthing process.

Well, the truth is, birthing the placenta is important to the health of the mother. Thankfully, it really doesn’t take so much time to deliver the placenta, the average time for that to happen is about 30 minutes.

Besides, compared with birthing a child, delivering the placenta is usually less painful, even though you may have to push a little to get it out.


Myth #4: Subsequent labour is easier than the first

The truth is, this is not always the case. Yes, the mother is more experienced and her body more prepared the second time around, but second labour can be a lot harder for some reasons like baby being in the breech position, age, placenta locations and other conditions which may not be present during the first pregnancy.

And if  had a mother had a difficult birth the first time, it is more than likely a caesarean section will be planned so this can make the second one much more difficult, especially for the mother.


Myth #5: Pushing hurts more than contractions

I don’t know the people who come up with these notions which turn to myths, but sometimes, it’s so obvious they didn’t experience labour or childbirth. That’s the only way I can explain how someone would imagine that a few pushes will hurt more than contractions that might have been on for hours.

In plain English, it’s not true. Contractions occur because the pelvic area is opening or stretching in order for the baby to come through. The pain of the head coming through the birth canal is often called “the ring of fire,” which is that burning sensation that is felt as the baby pushes through.

The intensity of pain felt because the vagina and pelvic bones are widening to a point that will allow the baby to come out not only lasts longer, but is more intense than the pushing to get the head through.


Myth #6: Losing your mucus plug means you’re going into labour

When you see the cervical mucus plug that’s been blocking your cervix, you’re close, but not quite there yet.

Yes, it signals you are close, but that could be hours away from your first contractions, or days or even weeks away.

Losing the mucus plug actually signifies your cervix is softening.


Myth #7: Eating spicy food or having a bumpy car ride will kick-start labour

Interesting, there are some medical personnel who actually believe this myth, but it has not been proven that any of these DIY birth induction methods work.

Baby will come when it’s ready.


Myth #8: An epidural increases your chance of getting a c-section

This is not true. A 2005 research from Northwestern University in Chicago dispelled this long held myth.

Their study found there was no increase in risk of caesareans when moms had the epidural, compared with women who were given analgesic pain relievers. An epidural can, however, slow down the second stage of labour (the pushing part) and that’s because you can’t feel much.


Lastly; Myth #9:  I do not need to prepare for giving birth as my body will do all the work

The truth is you do need to prepare for the birth if you want an easy time of it, and the post-partum period that will follow.

You can do that by following a healthy diet and doing gentle exercises. If you do exercises such as swimming or light brisk walking, these will help you to give birth more easily and promote a healthy body weight during pregnancy.

With these myths busted, you can have a more rounded view of what childbirth and labour is really about.

Receive strength, pregnant mamas.


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