Today we are talking about some of the most common birth myths! While sometimes these birth beliefs do have their place, they certainly shouldn’t apply to every (or even most) births.
Want to know a little hidden secret? Not everything you’ve ever heard about birth is true.
As a new mom ready to give birth, the last thing you want to feel is out of control and scared about what’s going to happen next.
What you do want to feel is empowered and excited to give birth to your first bundle of joy.
You want to feel ready and like you know what’s coming next.
Everyone will tell you all sorts of things when you’re pregnant (whether you want to hear them or not).
Some will be true, and others… will be incredibly inaccurate.
While there are a number of additional ones I could add to this list… today, I’m sharing my top 5 birth myths you don’t need to worry about.
By the end of this post, I hope you feel more empowered and excited to give birth – not out of control and scared for what’s ahead.
- Birth myth #1:You Have to Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
- Birth Myth #2: You Need to Force Your Body into Labor
- Birth Myth #3: You Can’t Eat or Drink Anything in Labor
- Birth Myth #4: You Must Give Birth on Your Back
- Birth Myth #5: There Are Lots of Reasons to Need a Cesarean Birth
Birth myth #1:You Have to Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
First things first – whoever started the notion that you absolutely have to follow your doctor’s recommendations no matter what, needs to be fired.
Spoiler alert: you are in control of your body, your birth, and you can say no to anything you want to.
In fact – you can even fire your doctor if it’s not working out!
So how do you advocate for yourself in labor?
#1. Ask the right questions
If you’re feeling uncomfortable or unsure, make sure you speak up! Rather than being aggressive, be firm in your boundaries and make sure you ask the right questions.
In the middle of labor, you may opt to ask questions such as:
- What are the benefits and risks of this procedure?
- What alternative options are there? What are the benefits and risks?
- Is doing nothing an option for now?
Listen to your intuition, too. Trust yourself to make the right decision.
#2. Get educated
The absolute best advocate there is, is one that has educated themselves on absolutely everything in birth. Start by reading books, asking friends and family about their experience, and attend birthing classes.
You may also want to consider what your birthing preferences are.
Write out a full detailed birthing plan that includes worst-case scenarios. What are your non-negotiables? What can you compromise on? What are you willing to do in the event of an emergency?
Know that in the end – the final decision is up to you and they cannot do anything without your consent.
#3. Utilize support
The last part of this is to utilize support the best that you can. In the event that you can’t advocate for yourself, it’s important to have someone else that can.
Some ways you may want to find support could include:
- Discuss your preferences with your partner or a loved one
- Talk about the responsibilities from your partner or loved one should you be unable to advocate for yourself
- Hire a doula to empower you to make educated decisions and speak up for you as needed
You don’t have to be alone! Even in the case where you don’t have a partner or loved one to help you, there are other options out there!
Birth Myth #2: You Need to Force Your Body into Labor
It is a common belief that you want to avoid being overdue and you need to be induced or start rushing things along if you’re not close to going into labor by a certain time.
But here’s the thing: in most cases, your baby will come when he/she is ready.
Did you know that your baby’s lungs aren’t even fully developed until 40 weeks?
Many of us give birth before then, but it is still considered “preterm” for this reason.
Your due date is actually a guess date
It’s hard to really say that your baby is “taking too long” to be ready for the grand entrance in the world.
While we have some pretty solid methods to estimate our due dates, they’re simply guess dates.
They are not 100% accurate and there are a number of other factors.
90% of women will give birth by just after 40 weeks, if allowed to do so naturally and following body cues.
It’s even considered normal to give birth up to 42 weeks!
While there can be some risks to being overdue, the statistics for those are very low.
Be sure to check out this article on birth due dates from Evidence Based Birth for more information.
Birth Myth #3: You Can’t Eat or Drink Anything in Labor
For years it has been known that hospitals have policies against eating or drinking anything in labor.
I even knew someone who went an entire 72 hours without being allowed to eat!
Let’s just say that this is absolutely insane and not to mention harmful!
Risks of eating during labor
The known risks are actually very minimal in comparison.
Medical professionals have believed you may aspirate, inhale food in your lungs during a contraction, or even cause pneumonia.
There is also the concern that if you do need a C-section, having food in your stomach could pose a risk if you need anesthesia.
But the benefits of eating a light meal during labor far outweigh the risks, according to a recent study.
Benefits of eating during labor
The benefits are mainly that it gives mom the energy she needs in order to birth.
She gets the calories she needs, level blood sugars, and has tons of energy for the large task of giving birth.
While you may lose your appetite during active labor, you can speak up and ask for some toast, soup, or fruit to snack on during labor.
Birth Myth #4: You Must Give Birth on Your Back
When you birth in a hospital, many medical professions (if not most) will insist on birthing on your back.
This makes it easier for the doctor to visualize that vaginal canal.
However, for the woman laboring this puts all the pressure on your tailbone.
Gravity is working against you and making birth significantly harder.
In fact, many obstetric textbooks state that it is actually beneficial to birth in upright positions.
In my favorite online birth class, they explain all the awesome positions to give birth in that can help reduce the pain of birth.
You can read more about how it reduces fear and pain here: The Natural birth course I fell in Love with.
Birth position options
All we know is to lay in a bed and birth on our backs. So, how else do we birth and what does an “upright position” really mean?
Some options for birthing positions include:
- Standing or squatting whilst being supported by a prop or partner
- Kneeling upright or on your hands and knees
- Using a birthing seat or ball
Benefits of birthing upright
As stated earlier, gravity is working against you when laying down. Which means, gravity will be working in your favor if you’re in an upright position.
Some other benefits include:
- Your body’s normal functions are supported
- Less risk of compressing the aorta, resulting in more oxygen for the baby
- Uterus can contract more strongly and efficiently, allowing baby to get in the best position for birthing through the pelvis
- Some positions widen the pelvis for easier labor
- May increase maternal satisfaction and lead to positive birth experiences
If possible, ask this question when you are seeking out what hospital or birthing center you will be having your baby at. It will be incredibly beneficial to choose an upright birthing position for labor.
Birth Myth #5: There Are Lots of Reasons to Need a Cesarean Birth
I remember one of my biggest fears with my first was that I was going to need a cesarean birth.
I’m not against them by any means, but I also am not convinced that so many women need them as we are led to believe.
In fact, some common reasons that are actually not a reason for cesarean include:
- Large measurement for baby at ultrasound
- Breech baby
- Cord around the neck
- History of cesareans
- Small pelvis
- Multiple babies
Some reasons that are valid for needing a cesarean include things like severe fetal distress and other medical conditions mom is present with.
But some of these things can be inaccurate. Measurements can be up to 15% off on ultrasounds.
Meaning baby could be 15% bigger, or smaller, than the Ultrasound reading.
Plus, in most cases, your body knows how big to make your baby.
The whole process is pretty spectacular and amazing.
So don’t doubt your body.
Now all of that said… you will want to make sure your doctor has experience with breech babies, cord around the neck, etc should this be a concern for you.
A doctor birthing a baby in a manner they are not familiar with can result in serious complications.
As a first time mom, it is understandable to have some fears around birth.
But, we want to make sure you are empowered, ready, and excited instead!
The last thing you want is to be carrying around stress on your shoulders alongside everything else.
You don’t have to follow your doctor’s orders if you don’t want to! Be your own advocate and bring on someone to be your voice should you need it.
In most cases, your body is made to birth and your baby will come when they are ready.
You don’t need to rush it and remember that your due date is only a guess date.
When you finally do go into labor (as long as you don’t have a prescheduled c-section) make sure to eat a light meal so you are full of energy and can make this birth as easy as possible on you!
Finding a good upright position will also make it a more positive experience.
Lastly, don’t worry about the potential of needing a cesarean, many times it’s unnecessary. Make sure to speak up if need be!
Don’t forget to check out the birth course that will change how you think about birth!