There's a lot that's going on during childbirth. And regardless of whether you've been pregnant and given birth before or you're going through it all for the first time and trying to prepare yourself, you don't necessarily know exactly how everything related to the birth will go. You might want to know about some of the freakiest things that happen during childbirth because it can help you feel like there might not be as many potential surprises during a process that's both one of the most natural there is and also can have a very particular way of making you feel like you have no control whatsoever over what's going on as it's happening.
Even if you've had a whole mess of kids before this particular childbirth experience, every birth, like every pregnancy, can be different. And while, of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that something will happen each time that's scary or weird or unexpected or different than what happened the last time you gave birth, there are some things that you might not know that much about — or want to give much thought to — that could actually happen. Knowing about some of the freakier things that can happen during childbirth might make you a little bit nervous, yes, or it might make you feel like you have a better idea of what could potentially happen. That doesn't mean it'll be less scary or weird or embarrassing, but at least you'll have an idea of what's going on and what might be coming.
1. Your Placenta Could Get Stuck
After you give birth, you also have to expel the placenta. But for some people, it doesn't exactly go as planned. If the placenta stays in your body for 30 minutes or more, it's a retained placenta, as Healthline noted. Retained placentas come with serious health risks attached, so it's vital that they be addressed right away. If the entirety of the placenta hasn't left your body, you could end up with serious pain, bleeding, fever, infection, and more. As Gizmodo Australia reported, Kim Kardashian's OB-GYN, Dr. Paul Crane, told her, "There are situations where retained placenta could be life or death." It's something that shouldn't be taken lightly and one of the reasons why she was encouraged to consider a surrogate.
2. The Baby Can Be Born In The Sac
You never really see this happen in movies or on TV, so you may not have realized it could happen, but in some extremely rare cases, your baby can be born still in its amniotic sac. These kinds of births are called "en caul," Health reported, and are more common (though still rare) in babies born prematurely. Dr. Christine Greves, MD, told Health that sometimes doctors will even intentionally deliver babies en caul when they're very early as a form of added protection during birth. While the sac does need to be broken shortly after birth, being born this way won't negatively impact their health — but it might freak you out a little bit.
3. You Could Puke
Even if you didn't know anything about it, throwing up during childbirth isn't out of the question, nor is it necessarily the sign of something terrible, though it is embarrassing. Parents reported that there are a few reasons why you might vomit during childbirth. Pain can make you sick, as can a drop in blood pressure caused by an epidural, or food in your stomach during labor. Some of that you have some control over and some of it you don't, but focusing on liquids and foods that'll help settle your stomach can help.
4. You Could Hemorrhage
The March of Dimes website noted that postpartum hemorrhage, is rare, but, of course, is something that must be addressed immediately. Dr. Haywood L. Brown, MD, an OB-GYN, told OBG Management that postpartum hemorrhage is often caused by the uterus not contracting enough after you've given birth, but there are other causes as well. If you hemorrhage after giving birth, it's important to know that it's not always fatal, but it is life-threatening, so it's not something that can be waited out. Because it can technically still happen up to three months after you give birth, if you're dealing with a lot of excessive bleeding, dizziness, fainting, or other serious symptoms, you should seek medical attention right away.
5. Your Baby Could Poop Inside Of You
A baby's first poop is called meconium and it's a very dark, sticky material that is usually passed within the first few days after the baby has been born, as Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago noted on its website. That being said, sometimes a baby can pass its meconium early, before it's been born. If that happens, there's a risk that the baby will inhale the meconium, which can be dangerous. Dr. Mary O’Toole, an OB-GYN with MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, previously told Romper that doctors will be able to tell if your baby pooped while still in the womb once the amniotic sac has ruptured. There are some additional signs that your baby might have inhaled meconium, including greenish-black streaks on their skin or breathing difficulties, which tell medical personnel to monitor or treat your little one for associated issues. While the prognosis partially depends on how severe your baby's case is (it can, in fact, be deadly in extremely serious circumstances), many babies with meconium aspiration syndrome end up just fine.
6. You Could Poop
In an interview for the previously-mentioned article from Parents, Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas, M.D., director of the High-Risk Pregnancy Center at Mercy Medical Center, said that your baby's head can force whatever's in your rectum out and onto the delivery table during the birthing process. While that's probably not something you really wanted to hear about, the medical team won't be bothered by it — they've seen it before and it's completely normal.
7. Perineal Tear — Enough Said
Dr. David Richmond, the former president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK (and around the world), wrote back in 2014 that about 90 percent of women tear during childbirth and that some of that tearing can have a real effect on their health and wellbeing. This can affect their bladder control, ability to care for their children, level of pain and discomfort, and more. Depending on how bad the tearing is, you might find that your quality of life, at least in the short-term, is not quite what you were hoping it would be.
8. You Could End Up With Hip Pain Or A Labral Tear
Dr. Benjamin Domb, an orthopedic surgeon, told Chicago Parent magazine that he has treated women with hip injuries like labral tears that they sustained during childbirth. If you notice hip pain during delivery (which, if you don't, is understandable) or start to notice it more after giving birth, talking to a doctor can help you start to feel better and determine whether or not the pain might be something that needs treatment.
9. Your Epidural Can Fail
Dr. William Camann, the director of Obstetric Anesthesiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, told Vice that epidural pain relief is still the most effective and that when an epidural doesn't work, it can often be fixed or adjusted. Sometimes, however, this form of pain relief just doesn't work or only partially works and laboring parents-to-be have to manage it other ways. And unfortunately, there's really no good way to know if your epidural will fail you until it actually happens.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.