3 childbirth myths: Busted!

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Let’s call a spade a spade: When it comes to childbirth, Hollywood almost always gets it wrong. If your knowledge of labor and delivery is largely informed by what you’ve seen on the big screen, then you’re in for a surprise or two. Here are some of the biggest myths about giving birth that movies perpetuate:

Myth No. 1: Labor begins with your water breaking

We all know the scene: A woman and her partner are out shopping. One minute she’s absolutely fine, and the next she’s looking wide-eyed and surprised as she nervously exclaims that her water has broken. There’s a giant gush, lots of screaming and she’s doubled over in pain, breathing heavily and rushing toward the hospital.

The facts: For the vast majority of women, labor begins with contractions, not ruptured waters. Contractions most likely begin slowly and mildly and may even be confused for cramping. Your water bag may break spontaneously as labor progresses – or your doctor or midwife may even choose to rupture it for you to speed the process along.

Myth No. 2: When your water breaks, you cause a scene

In the movies, labor and delivery always happens quickly. The water breaks in a surprise gush, drenching everything in its wake. Then, magically, moments later the mom-to-be is pushing in a hospital bed.

The facts: For some women, water breakage does come in a dramatic rush. For others, however, the moment is easy to miss. When your water breaks, you may feel a slight popping sensation and experience a constant trickle of fluids. If you’re having trouble discerning ordinary discharge or urine from amniotic fluid, be sure to give your health care provider a call right away. There is a simple test he or she can perform in the office to determine whether or not your water has broken. If it has, your doctor or midwife will want to start the countdown to delivery. The longer you go with a broken water bag, the higher your risk for infection.

Myth No. 3: Once you’re dilated, it’s go time

Hollywood would often have us believe that the real work of labor is getting to 10 centimeters. Once you’ve soldiered through hours of contractions and dilated your cervix completely, it’s smooth sailing – or at least that’s the story our favorite movies are telling us.

The facts: While it’s true that the grueling work of labor is getting through the first stages of contractions to dilate and open the cervix, once you’ve hit 10 centimeters, there’s still work to be done. In a dream world, a first-time mom has only a few pushes to go before she meets her baby. In reality, this stage of labor can last 1-2 hours.

If you’re newly pregnant, busting long-held myths about childbirth can be a hard pill to swallow. Did any of this news surprise you? Join in on the conversation and share your thoughts with other moms-to-be in the comments below.

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