Normal childbirth is still a subject full of myths and mysteries, which generates anxiety and fear in women all over the world. This is super normal, especially when we come across amazing stories from people who have had negative experiences in the past.
However, it is always important to remember that science advances every day, and that every day we discover new benefits of normal childbirth. Both the mother and the baby are benefited when the birth occurs through normal birth. And it is also worth remembering that today we have strategies for pain relief and protocols that improve the delivery experience.
Receiving confirmation of pregnancy is very impactful, regardless of whether this baby is planned or not. It is certain that this news will change the woman’s life in some way. But it is very common that soon after announcing the news to people close to it, future moms start to think about everything they need to plan. And this concern is very important, because there are many things to be organized!
To relieve tension, stress and fears it is very important that you can talk openly about your fears with the obstetrician. That’s because it will accompany you throughout the pregnancy and will be present at the time of delivery. So choose your obstetrician carefully and bet on that professional who is attentive and welcoming to you. So, don’t forget to do prenatal care and find out about the benefits and risks of each type of delivery, to make your decision.
In this article you will learn more about normal childbirth, and you will understand why it frightens so many women. See in this content some of the most widespread ideas about normal childbirth and find out which ones are true and which are myths. Oh, and detail: all the information in this article is based on pronouncements and interviews of obstetricians, as well as recent scientific articles on the subject. So, good reading!
Myths and truths about normal birth
It is likely that there are few issues that generate so many fears and that have as many myths and taboos as the theme of childbirth. You just have to announce that you are pregnant to start hearing all kinds of stories that people know or have heard of. And each story seems more terrifying than the other, doesn’t it? For example, some very common stories are:
- Babies who die for several different reasons in their mothers’ bellies
- Troubled deliveries that cause the baby to be born with cerebral palsy
- Amniotic fluid that dries
- Cord around the baby’s neck that makes him suffocate
- Babies who die during labor
It is enough to announce the pregnancy that the neighbor, the aunt of the grandmother, the co-worker, the manicurist, the cousin of the husband and so many other women come to tell us all these and so many other stories, right? But calm down! Most of the stories told in these cases never happened (or at least, they were not as the story tells) and even those that seem to have a real background tend to be very rare cases or situations that occurred many, many years ago , long before we have all the technology and knowledge we have today. Thankfully, civilization has evolved a lot.
What do these terrible stories tell us?
What seems to be behind these narratives is an old idea: that “women of today” are not able to give birth to their children. In other words, it is an idea that women today do not have the same skills and abilities to gestate and give birth as they used to. But, is it true? Is going through labor really dangerous? Is it something old-fashioned?
If this were the case, we would probably all have been born paraplegics and our ancestors would have several anomalies, wouldn’t they? Or else, our species would have been extinguished.
The truth is that our species is part of nature. Therefore, our “natural” functioning is as wise as the rest of nature is. Normal childbirth is still considered by science and specialists to be the safest and most appropriate way to give birth. This is because it is the method that brings the most benefits to the mother and baby.
See now 23 super popular ideas about childbirth and find out which ones are true and which ones are myths with no foundation in reality.
1. Normal delivery is the best option for the baby
If everything is fine with the mother and the fetus, normal delivery is the best indication. Experts always remember that the baby’s passage through the mother’s vaginal canal prepares her lungs and body for the external environment. It is in this passage that the baby will have contact with some bacteria that will help him deal with and prevent various diseases both in childhood and throughout life. For example, babies who are born naturally have less risk of developing diabetes and asthma, as well as several other illnesses – especially associated with respiratory problems.
Very different from the scheduled cesarean section, in normal delivery it is the baby who says the moment of birth happens. Thus, he comes into the world only when he is really ready and mature enough – and not when adults decide it is the “best time”. Several experts remember that the “best time” is his time, when he is ready.
2. After having a cesarean section once, the woman will no longer be able to give birth naturally
This is perhaps one of the most popular myths on the topic. In fact, there is a significant number of cesarean doctors who use this argument arbitrarily, as a justification for the indication of cesarean section. But the truth is that women who have had a cesarean section can, in fact, give birth via normal birth to their second child.
The recommendation of the College of Gynecology and Obstetrics is that there should be a restriction of normal childbirth only in the case of women who have had 3 or more cesarean sections. In these cases, there is greater risk, really. This is because the chances of having a uterine rupture are greater. Gynecologists at the USP Hospital de Clínicas point out that the cut made in the uterus during cesarean section is performed in a sensitive region. Therefore, it is possible that there is a rupture and there is a risk of bleeding that can lead the mother and baby to death. But this risk is significant only in cases where there are many cesarean sections in sequence, and not just one.
Experts say that women who have had a cesarean section can have a normal delivery as safe as those who are on their first trip. Therefore, if you have had a cesarean section and want to experience a normal delivery, the recommendation that these specialists give is to discuss the matter with your obstetrician. The team’s recommendation is to have an interval of two years or more between cesarean section and normal delivery, because the scar may be very strong.
3. Episiotomy happens in every normal delivery
Like the previous myth, this one is also among the most popular and widespread among women. Unfortunately, episiotomy in Brazil was used much more than necessary, in a routine manner and without technical criteria. But no, it is not mandatory for normal births.
For those who do not know: episiotomy is a cut made in the perineum region (between the vagina and the anus). The purpose of this cut is to increase the opening for the baby to leave, facilitating delivery in women who do not have the necessary elastic profile. This cut can be very important, as it ensures that the baby comes into the world without harming the mother’s organs, such as the bladder. But cases in which an episiotomy is needed are rare.
In fact, when the woman did a good job in the perineum during pregnancy (usually through physiotherapy), there is almost no chance that she will need this procedure at the time of delivery. Unfortunately, until the 1970s, this procedure was used routinely and without any questioning. Only between the 70s and 80s did women begin to question their frequency. Of course, it still took a while for the technique to be left in the background and cease to be used routinely.
When is episiotomy necessary?
Doctors remember that episiotomy should not be used routinely, but it cannot be demonized either. Episiotomy is recommended when the obstetrician realizes that there will be no space for the baby to pass due to the musculature of the woman’s pelvis. In these cases, local disruptions are possible. Therefore, episiotomy is indicated for cases where the baby would not be able to leave without the cut – without injuring the woman.
In these cases where there is a clinical indication, episiotomy can save the baby’s life and ensure that the woman will have fewer injuries. This is because the woman’s musculature would already be torn anyway by the baby’s exit. The problem with episiotomy lies in the fact that for a long time this technique was used without being necessary, just to accelerate labor.
4. Normal delivery hurts a lot
This answer depends a lot, as each woman has a very particular and personal level of pain tolerance. And it is clear that the psychological factor significantly interferes with the experience of pain that each woman will face. In fact, many studies have already shown that the experience of pain is associated with fears and with the stories you have heard. Therefore, the level of pain the woman will experience is associated with the fears she has, with what she has heard about the subject and with her expectations. So, pain is super variable.
However, what the experts realize is that the pain felt in the …