You’ve read all the birthing books and watched every episode of One Born Every Minute. You’re pretty sure you know everything there is to know about giving birth. And then aunt Jenny tells you to watch out for the next full moon because that’s when bubs will arrive. Wait, what?
Just like those weird and wonderful pregnancy myths we all love to hate, there are plenty of birth myths ready to knock the wind out of our sails as we head into the pointy end of pregnancy. But rest assured, they are complete untruths, and will only distract you from the incredible experience you’re about to have. From full moon babies, to mucus plug myths, these are the things you need to know before giving birth.
Here are 11 birth myths to know before labour.
Myth 1: You’re more likely to give birth during a full moon
While it’s nice to think that Mother Earth and her moon have something to do with when we give birth, this just isn’t true. There’s been loads of research into birth rates and the lunar phases, and no significant links have been found.
However, here’s a tasty little tidbit. The most common time of day to give birth is between 8am and 9am, and at noon.
Myth 2: Baby’s movements slow down just before labour
This myth actually has potentially dangerous consequences. Babies movements don’t increase or decrease just before labour. Baby isn’t ‘running out of room’ and unable to move. If they’re not moving, there could be something seriously wrong. So if bub’s movements change, seek medical attention.
Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s another myth – having something hot or cold to eat or drink won’t impact baby’s movements. So again, if baby isn’t moving the way they usually do, get checked out.
Myth 3: You’ll ‘just know’ when you’re in labour
How many time have you heard other mums say that you’ll just know when you’re in labour? Well, it’s lies. Ok, if you’ve had a baby before, you’ll probably remember what it’s like and know. But for first-time mums, it’s really tricky to know whether it’s the real deal or Braxton Hicks.
And then there’s this whole other thing some women are lucky enough to experience called ‘silent labour‘ where they don’t actually feel any pain as their body labours. So, no, you won’t always know when things are getting started.
Myth 4: You’ll know when your water breaks
Hollywood has a lot to answer for here. Every movie birth would have us believe that our water breaks in an almightly gush, usually somewhere really awkward. It’s not always the case. For lots of women, their water won’t even break unassisted – only about 10 per cent of women experience spontaneous membrane rupture.
And when it does break, it’s usually more of a trickle than a dramatic gush. In fact, you’ll probably just think you’ve done a wee.
Myth 5: Losing your mucus plug means you’re going into labour
When we picture a plug, we picture something that comes out whole. That it’s holding something back, and once released, it’s action stations. Not so.
The mucus plug is actually more of a cork at the base of the cervix. And like a cork, it can come out in bits and pieces (so annoying when all you want is sweet, sweet wine). It stops anything going into or out of the cervix, until bub is ready to be born. And the mucus plug can regenerate. I know, right, how amazing are we? However, if you do happen to lose part of your plug before 37 weeks, let your midwife know.
So, while losing your mucus plug can be a sign of labour, it can also mean it’s hours or even days away.
Myth 6: Once you have a c-section, your other births need to be c-sections
Oh, hush your mouths naysayers. Let us introduce you to a beautiful acronym – VBAC. Vaginal Birth After Caesarean. While it all depends on why you had an initial c-section, but many mums will get the option to birth vaginally for their next bub.
Myth 7: You’ll bond with baby instantly
Let’s get real. Your body has just been through the equivalent of a marathon. And possibly also surgery. There’s all sort of things going on down in your nether regions. Stitches, cleaning, catheters, placenta birthing. And then this tiny being is put in front of you. And their head is kinda strange-looking, and there’s so much going on. Or perhaps baby’s been whisked away for care.
Then later on, when all is calm and baby is back in your arms, you feel … nothing. Where’s the euphoric cloud everyone said you’d be riding on? The happy hormones? All the squishy, indescribable love? It’s ok if you don’t instantly bond with your new baby. Things are strange, and there’s so much going on. But make sure you talk to someone about your feelings. Your partner, your midwife or a counsellor. Don’t feel ashamed or like you’re a freak. It’s so very common.
Myth 8: Wide hips = easy birth
Thankfully the term ‘good childbearing hips’ isn’t really used much these days and with good reason. 1) It’s really rude and 2) It’s not really true. The size of your hips doesn’t really indicate how difficult or easy your birth will be.
According to Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, a woman’s pelvis isn’t solid bone. There are ligaments and bones that are actually designed to move and loosen as we give birth. Also, bub’s skull bones aren’t fused yet, so they can move through the birth canal. So rest easy mummas with less generous hips.
Myth 9: Contractions end as soon as baby is born
This one comes with an apology. No, contractions don’t just stop once you have bub in your arms, sorry. There is actually a third stage of labour – placenta delivery. It’s not incredibly pleasant, given your lady bits have just been through a bit of a thing. But it’s usually pretty quick and you’ll hopefully be distracted by your gorgeous baby.
Oh, and then there are afterpains, which also feel like contractions. They help your uterus shrink back to normal size and usually happen while you’re breastfeeding.
Myth 10: Your tummy shrinks down straight after birth
Um, no. It’s more like a deflated balloon. That’s not completely deflated. In fact, it’s normal to look like you’re still about six months pregnant for a while. It usually takes around six weeks for your uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size, but your belly may still not be what it once was. So just be kind to yourself.
Myth 11: You won’t bleed vaginally after a c-section
Oh yes, you will. Regardless of how you give birth, you’ll still have a wound on your uterus after the placenta has detached. It’s the reason you have bleeding, or lochia, after birth – and it’s why you need to rest after having a baby (as well as the fact you just made a whole human).
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