I had no idea what to expect the first time I gave birth. I mean, I read all of the books and attended every prenatal appointment, but the prospect of labor and delivery was scary. Then, when I did it again I thought I knew what to expect, but found out that labor can be different the second time around. To make matters worse there were so many things my midwife said to me about labor that ended up to not be true. At least not in my experience.
If I learned anything from my three vastly different experiences bringing human beings into the world, it's that no two labors are alike, pregnant people aren't the same, and sometimes, OK most times, things don't go exactly as planned. So, while midwives and OB-GYNs probably mean well, or think they are telling you what you want to hear or being honest about what's going to happen, it's not atypical for them to be wrong.
Labor and delivery is so incredibly personal. Different people want and need different things to make it through the experience, and if you are anything like me, the birth plan you think you wanted goes right out the window when you're in the throws of some painful as you-know-what contractions. My point is, your mileage may vary and plans may change. I wish my midwives had told me less about what would happen, stopped pushing a "natural childbirth" agenda, and trusted me to make my own choices. In the end I learned that they were wrong about so many things, including the following:
"You Will Definitely Go Into Labor Today"
I wish I had a dollar for every time a midwife told me, "You're going to have the baby today." No one could believe that I was walking around for a month with "real" labor contractions, a baby resting on my pelvic bone, and a cervix that was four centimeters dilated, with no baby to show for it. Liars.
"Stripping Your Membranes Will Get Things Started"
When my daughter refused to budge, despite going five days past her due date, I consented to have my "membranes stripped" to get labor started — not once, not twice, but three freaking times. It hurt like hell (way worse than a Pap smear, by the way) and didn't do a damn thing.
My midwife was also wrong about walking, spicy food, sex, putting evening primrose oil capsules in my vagina (what was I thinking?), and using a breast pump to induce labor.
"Being Induced Will Be Horrible"
Now, I know that every pregnant woman's experience is different, but I didn't think being induced was that bad at all. My midwife lead me to believe it was the worst thing ever, so I was terrified when I was admitted. Induction was necessary, though, and it protected my health and my baby. And once I had at sweet, sweet epidural, it wasn't bad at all.
Epidurals are magic.
"Getting An Epidural Will Slow Things Down"
The on-call midwife at my oldest son's birth seriously discouraged me from getting an epidural, saying that it would "slow things down." This was after 16 hours of horrible Pitocin contractions and freaking back labor. Thankfully, I got one anyway. Things actually progressed faster once I got it. Ironically, the labor when I got my epidural before my induction was by far the shortest labor I experienced (seven hours from being admitted). Who knew?
"Pitocin Is A Terrible Drug"
These were actually the first words out of the on-call midwive's mouth when she discovered that I had to be induced for preeclampsia. Who says that to someone who needs medical intervention in order to ensure the safety of herself and her about-to-be-born child? Anyway, as much as I disliked Pitocin contractions, I actually didn't think they were any different than the contractions I had when I was laboring without it. As an added bonus, I got to deliver my son safely.
"You Can't Eat Or Drink"
I totally snuck food in during my first two deliveries, you guys. I mean, labor is hard work. I was hungry and I needed my strength if I was going to push a human out of my body. The first time I didn't know I wasn't supposed to eat until the nurse caught me with a granola bar. The second time the nurse actually suggested that my husband get me whatever I wanted from the coffee cart, because not all heroes wear capes.
"You Can't Be At 10 Centimeters Already"
Spoiler alert: all labors are different. I was, in fact, at 10 centimeters and ready to push "already." I don't care if the contraction monitor didn't look like it. I guarantee that baby was coming. After all, my son didn't care what the midwife said.
"You'll Probably Poop On The Table"
I am a bit ashamed to admit how much even the thought of pooping in the delivery room scared the proverbial sh*t out of me. From the way my midwives described it, I thought it happened to everyone. Nope.
"You Don't Need Me If You Cave & Get An Epidural"
OK, this one was a little bit true. While I totally don't believe that every person who chooses an epidural won't need additional labor support or assistance, in my case I actually caught my own son. My midwife wouldn't believe that I had progressed that quickly. After all, I had "caved" and decided to say "yes" to an epidural. Those notorious pain relievers are supposed to "slow things down," remember? Nope. Not in my case. And, in my case, I ended up birthing my baby all on my own and into my own hands.
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