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One of the main parts of my job as a labor and delivery nurse is answering TONS of questions about the delivery process. Whether it’s baby #1 or #10, I can guarantee you’ll have at least one question to ask your nurse during your stay at the hospital! The reality is, no labor is exactly the same, and no baby is exactly the same.
I can’t tell you how many patients I’ve had comment, “This is SO different from the first time!”, and just like anything in life, with difference comes questions!
Which is totally OKAY! I love answering your questions, that’s one of the MAIN reasons I started this blog. I love to educate!
Being informed about your delivery will not only make you more confident, it will help to ease some of your anxiety. Because, let’s face it, giving birth for the first (or tenth) time is nerve-racking for EVERYONE. Reading, asking questions, and educating yourself will make it 100 times better, I PROMISE!
A great first step in the education process is taking a prenatal class to help prepare you for birth! Did you know you can take an online prenatal course? That’s right, Hillary from Pulling Curls is a fellow L&D nurse and she created an all-inclusive prenatal course you can access RIGHT NOW! She gives you all the same benefits of a classroom style prenatal course, but you can access it on YOUR time (and keep it forever if you need a refresher before baby #2!) Here’s the link 😊
Use code LABORTEEN for 10% off any of her courses!
After being present in a NUMBER of deliveries over my years as a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve come to realize that a few questions are more popular than other, ESPECIALLY among the first-timers.
- Will I poop/what if I poop?
- What if I tear/how bad will I tear?
- What if I have to have a C-section?
- How bad does labor actually hurt?
- What if it’s too late to get an epidural?
- How does a baby legit fit through my vagina?
All normal and popular questions! So, if you’ve got one of these questions in your head, have no fear, I’ll explain them ALL!
Related: Wondering What Happens at Delivery?
WILL I POOP DURING LABOR? WHAT IF I POOP?
Let’s see….will you poop while you are pushing…probably. I’m not going to say DEFINITELY YES, but there’s a fair chance that a little bit will come out as you are pushing baby out.
The reality is, pushing a baby out feels extremely similar to pushing poop out. You’re using the same muscles. Babies also have big heads that push down on your rectum, so any poop that is hanging out in there is going to come out. Sorry to say so.
Many women have diarrhea episodes in early labor, however, and it’s quite possible that your body will cleanse itself of any poop that’s chillin’ in your bowels. This happened to me, though, and I’m pretty sure (I’m not 100 percent positive) that I still pooped a little while I was pushing.
This brings up another GREAT point. In all likelihood, you may not even realize you poop during pushing if you do. Sometimes I have patients that poop quite a lot, and it can be obvious to others in the room, but I TRY to do a very good job of cleaning up the poo as it comes out, to get rid of any smell.
Also, if you are pooping while you are pushing, you’re pushing effectively, you’re going to have a baby soon, and the fact that you just pooped will soon be something you completely forget. I PROMISE once you are holding your baby (which will be very soon after you poop), you WILL FORGET ABOUT THE POOP.
WHAT IF I TEAR? HOW BAD WILL I TEAR?
It’s pretty safe to say, if you are having your first baby, you will most likely tear a little bit down there. I’ve seen some first-time-moms who do not tear at all, but the majority of them tear at least a little bit. If you’ve got an epidural, great! We don’t usually need to give you any additional medication to stitch up your tear. If you’ve labored naturally, and torn, typically your provider will administer a local anesthetic (Lidocaine, usually), wait for you to numb up, and then repair your tear.
There are 4 degrees of tearing your lady parts:
1st degree – least severe, only involving the skin of the perineum
2nd degree – involve the skin and muscles of the perineum
3rd degree – deeper tear into the muscle that surrounds the anus (but not completely through)
4th degree – most severe, the deepest tear that tears completely through the muscles of your anus (you have a vaganus ☹)
Okay before I scare you with the Vaganus…..know that 4th degree tears are extremely rare. MOST COMMONLY, you will either have a 1st degree tear or a 2nd degree tear (3rd degrees don’t really happen that often either!).
In fact, most first-time moms will have a 2nd degree tear that requires some stitching! Your provider will do this immediately after delivery, and the stitches are dissolvable, so you don’t have to worry about getting them taken out.
WHAT IF I HAVE TO HAVE A C-SECTION?
We will do our best to prepare you! In most cases, if you need to have a C-section, the word C-section has already been thrown around in your room. On rarity, we do have emergency situations where women come in quickly laboring, baby is in trouble, and we don’t have time to mentally prepare you for a C-section (because we gotta get baby out if he/she is in distress!).
In all likelihood, if you end up having a C-section (and you’ve been laboring), your provider has been talking to you about having a C-section for awhile before you actually have one (regardless of the reason you are having one; failure to progress, baby’s heartrate isn’t looking so great etc.).
If you end up having to have a C-section, it’s going to be OKAY! Generally, if you’ve chosen a skilled provider, his/her reasoning to do a C-section on you is because that is the safest way to get baby on the outside in your situation. Number one rule you should take from this article, choose your provider wisely and TRUST them. 😊
Also, if you’d like to read a bit more about having a C-section, head on over to this article! I’ve explained in detail how the whole process goes, it will ease your mind!
HOW BAD DOES LABOR HURT?
I’m sorry…but BAD. Labor is probably one of the most painful experiences you will go through, but for a good reason! It can be scary, especially if this is your first baby.
I thought early labor was a lot like really bad menstrual cramps. As labor progressed and I got more and more dilated, it felt more like knives in my back and stomach. And eventually it was so horrible I’ve blocked out how bad it actually was.
But don’t get too nervous, labor is HORRIBLE, but it’s doable. We’ve been giving birth for thousands of years, and it’s definitely not IMPOSSIBLE. You’ll get through it, but it will be hard. Having lots of support, and positive energy in your room will make it easier!
For me, it was more of a mental game. Labor is truly one of the biggest mental games you will go through in your life. If you have the ability to completely clear your mind, USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE…because your mind is your worst enemy in labor (at least it was for me, and for many of my patients).
If you are interested in learning more about how to manage labor pain, head on over to my article on giving birth naturally! Even if you plan on getting an epidural, I promise these techniques will help you pre-needle!
WHAT IF IT’S TOO LATE TO GET AN EPIDURAL?
Speaking of epidurals…yes! This unfortunately happens quite a lot. Fortunately, it happens more often to women having their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th babies, but it can happen to first-time-moms as well.
There’s really no set amount of centimeters you would be for your nurse to tell you it’s too late.
It depends more on the situation. I’ve had a patient get an epidural at 10 centimeters, but she had been laboring and pushing for A LONG TIME already, and it was clear we had a little ways to go…insert epidural. I’ve also told women NO to an epidural at 7 centimeters, because she was just 4 centimeters…5 minutes before. You can see how things can be different in each scenario.
If this event happens to you, the best thing for you to do in the moment is ACCEPT THE PAIN and…trust your nurse! Luckily if it’s truly too late to get an epidural, you don’t have too much time left until you meet your sweet baby. I’m talking less than an hour (usually even much less than this), and you will be DONE!
It’s going to stink in the moment, especially if you had your heart set on DRUGS. Sometimes babies make their own plans, and they like to catapult into the world! 😊
HOW DOES A BABY LEGIT FIT THROUGH MY VAGINA?
Tiny hole, big baby. You may think the laws of physics do not apply here.
I think every first-time-mom wonders how exactly a 5-10 pound baby can fit down there. It just doesn’t logically make sense! But actually…it does.
It may look small on the outside, but it has big potential! The truth is, your vagina was built to adapt accordingly. IT…WILL…STRETCH.
In fact, the biggest hurdle is not getting baby out of your vagina, but getting baby UNDER your pelvic bone. In fact, I’ve never met a woman who couldn’t give birth through her small vagina (it either tears, or in EXTREME cases your doctor will perform an episiotomy). I HAVE met women who couldn’t give birth through their tight pelvises.
Occasionally I do see women who cannot give birth vaginally, due to a condition called cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD). This basically means, your baby’s head is not going to proportionally fit through your pelvis, and you’ll have to end up having a C-section. It’s nearly impossible to diagnose CPD before labor unfortunately, but if you are concerned about it, speak with your provider.
Another note, true CPD is actually quite rare. “Labeled CPD” happens more often these days usually because of labor interventions (Pitocin, epidurals, inductions, etc.). With that said if you are concerned about your pelvis possibly being too small, do the best you can to….
- Labor without the use of an epidural
- Go into labor spontaneously
- Labor at home as long as possible
This way, you give your baby the best possible shot of having a vaginal delivery without any intervention!
Another note, baby’s head MOLDS. Your baby has plates on his head that overlap and mold in a certain way to fit through the birth canal. If you’ve ever seen a baby with a cone head, this is what I’m talking about! 😊
I hope I’ve answered some of your fears! My goal as your labor and delivery nurse is to be your sounding board, and to be your source for questions. Because, I know you may have A TON. And it’s OKAY, I’ve got your back! 😉
If you’ve ever got a burning pregnancy or labor question that you’re afraid to bring up with your provider, don’t hesitate to contact me! I’ve already had many women write to me personally, and I’d be glad to assist you in any way possible.
Happy Laboring! 😊
Katie is a mom of three boys, and really struggled with healing after the birth of her first child. She even went through pelvic floor physical therapy for weeks to manage scar tissue that developed from tearing. She has experience studying nutrition, physical therapy and she’s a Pilates instructor, so she’s put together a complete postpartum recovery fitness program! I personally wish I would’ve followed from the beginning, too!
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