The agony and the ecstasy
The lowdown on labor and delivery
Q: I’m hoping to have a drug-free delivery, but what if I change my mind and want medication?
A: It’s natural to be disappointed if you’d planned on a
natural birth but then had pain medication. Remember that you’ve done your best. The outcome is what counts most.
Q: What if I do something embarrassing, like poop?
A: “Having a bowel movement during labor is quite common,” says Burch. “Obstetricians and labor-and-delivery nurses are used to being pooped, peed and bled on; it’s just part of the job and nothing for a woman to worry about.”
Q: What does labor really feel like? What does pushing feel like?
A: Labor feels like extremely strong menstrual cramps that take your breath away and make you unable to talk. As labor continues and the pain worsens, the woman tunes out stimuli and adopts a tunnel vision, focusing on the labor and getting the baby out. Eventually the woman’s cervix dilates completely; at this point, she is ready to push and give birth. During this phase, some women feel clingy, not wanting their husbands or birth partners to leave their sides; some yell and become uncharacteristically demanding; some tremble and feel overwhelmed and anxious; and some lose all sense of modesty.
To some people, pushing feels like you are having a large bowel movement. When the baby finally starts to come out, many women think they’ve pooped.
Q: What if I have to have a Caesarean section?
A: Twenty-five percent of women in the United States have a C-section, so you wouldn’t be alone. Although the recovery time is longer and more painful, women who deliver this way are just as able to hold their babies after delivery and breastfeed soon after.
During a Cesarean, the woman is typically awake and able to watch the baby being removed from her uterus. She also can be accompanied by her husband or other loved one. Having a C-section does not mean that you can’t deliver vaginally the next time around.