I always assumed that by the time I was of a child-rearing age, I'd know everything there was to know about childbirth. I'd just wake up one day, fertile, willing, and with a complete understanding of the female body, the reproductive system and the perks and complications of labor. But seeing as people who are my age are popping up around me with one or even two babies in their arms, it appears I'm at that age. Alas, I'm no more knowledgable about the topic than I was when I thought I was too young to know.
Even though my first instinct in educating myself — because as it turns out, this information does not get absolved into your brain via mid-20s spontaneous osmosis — was to look up baby names, I abstained. I supposed the urge came because the majority of articles I see floating around in my newsfeed that pertain to babies tend to revolve around the fun stuff. There's no risk in picking out fun names inspired by literary icons or Roman gods, and there's no harm in scouring Pinterest for the most fluffy looking elephant toys and the friendliest looking giraffe wall coverings, — but to some degree, the importance stressed on naming and planning and all the other jazz that comes with having a kid that it seems to detract from the much more real and demanding things that actually can happen during childbirth.
Granted, it's not something that expecting moms need to be freaking out, worrying, and psyching themselves out over, but it's something that we not-expecting-but-potential-future-moms should know about, you know, before we decide if we want to have children. These are 12 things you didn't know could happen during childbirth, because how many more times can you read about pooping in labor and actually be surprised?
For hours, days, or even weeks after you give birth, you might experience intense vaginal bleeding. In most cases, this is a natural result of the placenta being removed from the uterus, and the body is fully prepared for it by stocking up on blood before birth. Some women require special treatment to stop the bleeding, and others stop naturally.
Most of the time epidurals are an easy, fool-proof option for reducing the pain factor in labor. However, in order for an epidural to be administered, you have to be at least 4 centimeters dilated, able to position yourself perfectly for the shot, and the speed of your labor has to be slow enough to follow protocol properly. Some women find out they're too far along or have too low platelet counts and cannot receive an epidural.
Blood Clot Passing
Along with heavy period style bleeding after giving birth, women can also expect to pass blood clots as they clear themselves from the uterus. It's part of a healing process called Lochia, which is just the body's way of getting rid of excess tissue and mucus that it doesn't need anymore.
All of that pushing and straining and pressure can lead to the inflammation of blood vessels in the rectal area. Hemorrhoids can form and appear in sizes ranging from a raisin to a grape (ouch). They can be itchy or painful and cause bleeding. Most of them go away on their own.
A Case Of The Shakes
During labor, your body is firing off a mega cocktail of hormones to aid the process. The surge of cortisol triggered by adrenaline can cause tremors and shakes in the limbs that can make a woman look more uncomfortable and unsteady than she actually is.
Epidurals can cause hypotension, or a drop in blood pressure. This can be identified by nausea and vomiting and is not uncommon. Plus, the mix of stress and nerves doesn't exactly calm the stomach.
You've probably heard about this before. A vaginal tear is classified by a naturally occurring rip in the vaginal skin as a result of labor, meaning it's not the work of a doctor. Unfortunately, 95 percent of first-time mothers experience vaginal tearing because the skin doesn't have the flexibility to accommodate the diameter of the baby.
A Black Eye
Otherwise known as Ecchymosis, this can occur as a result of on-going straining and pushing. Basically, many women burst blood vessels in and around their eyes from pushing during labor. It's natural and normal and should go away after a few days.
There are four degrees of perineal trauma. The first degree is just minor cuts on the skin between the vagina and the anus after giving birth. Second degree includes some muscle and requires stitches. Third degree affects the anus, and fourth degree includes a skin and muscle tear that stretches from the vagina to the anus. (Ouch, ouch, ouch.)
In order to induce or expedite labor, sometimes it's necessary for doctors to artificially rupture the amniotic sac. This will release amniotic fluid and bring on labor.
Poop, Pee & Farts
Yes, you've heard about the pooping, but guess what? When you're in labor you're also likely to fart uncontrollably and pee, too. The mix of the numbness brought on by the epidural and the pressure brought on by the weight of your child, your toilet regions will likely rebel against all their training.
In conclusion, babies are lucky they're so damn cute.