As convenient as it would be for babies to be delivered by storks and for everything to go according to a well-researched and personalized birth plan, the truth is, childbirth is messy business. Nobody knows that more than labor and delivery nurses, who are in the trenches every day and seeing things from a completely different angle than rom-coms and lamaze instructors. It’s their job to make sure you and your baby are safe in the delivery room — and they’ve got some stories to tell about crazy requests like Mariah Carey’s infamous birthing soundtrack, overbearing dads, and births so fast they were over before doctors could finish scrubbing in. Talk to any nurse and you’ll be in for some wild stories.
Alison Navarro, a labor and delivery nurse with more than 14 years of experience, is here to set things straight and lay out what’s real versus what moms out there gloss over when they share their own stories. Yes, you might poop yourself, but nurses like Alison are there to make sure you never find out whether or not you actually did.
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Epidurals are safe.
“The initial part of the epidural will hurt, since it a needle is used to inject the local pain medicine. In most patients, the hardest part is not moving while they are getting their epidural, since they’re having strong contractions. There are also a lot of myths about epidurals that your anesthesiologist will discuss with you along with any side effects. From my experience, the benefits outweigh the risks.
Once you have your epidural placed you will be more relaxed so your body is able to go through labor. In most cases, this allows the baby to have a smoother transition down the birth canal. Every woman has a plan for her birth, which may or may not include an epidural. As your nurse, we will support your birth plan.
Speaking of that birth plan, be flexible. Having one is great and will put a lot of women at ease, but know that things won’t always go according to any specific plan. Think of backup plans to birth plans and backup plans to the backups.”
Yes, you might poop.
“There a real possibility that you may poop yourself. When you get closer to delivering your baby, the pressure you will feel is the same as having push to poop. When the baby’s head is coming down, it’s putting pressure on your rectum. When you push, it increases your chances of pooping. But you’ll never know, because your nurse will never tell you.”
No one cares if you shave — or get your hair done.
“Nurses aren’t looking at your hair or makeup. If it makes you feel better, then do it! Just know that there may be a lot of sweating involved.”
Pushing doesn’t necessarily take hours and hours.
“The amount of time pushing has to do with many factors. How many babies have you had? How big is the baby? How wide is your pelvis? Do you feel the desire to push with the contractions? How good a pusher are you? From my experience, I’ve had first-time moms push anywhere from 30 minutes to five hours. Don’t be discouraged, everyone’s birthing experience is different.”
No, pregnancy classes are not a waste of time.
“Prenatal yoga, birthing classes, and even daddy boot camps are all great ideas to help support and prepare you for this life-changing event. They help set realistic goals and expectations, because birthing is not what they show on TV. Classes can even make the experience more enjoyable for some moms, so it’s worth looking into.”