Fact or fiction? We look at five popular misconceptions about labour and birth and give you the facts.
MYTH 1. When you are due, home remedies such as drinking castor oil, eating curry or pineapple will help to get labour started.
The thought behind this is that these will stimulate the digestive system, and in turn the uterus, but there is no evidence that any of these will work. You are much more likely to end up with diarrhoea or heartburn.
MYTH 2. Having a ‘show’ means you are in labour
Although a ‘show’ (when the plug of mucus that has been protecting your uterus from infection during your pregnancy is discharged from the vagina) is a sign that the cervix is softening, it doesn’t mean that labour has begun. Labour may not start for a few days, and in some cases, a few weeks after a show.
MYTH 3. Your waters breaking will be dramatic
When the amniotic sac (the bag of fluid your baby has been growing in) ruptures, the amniotic fluid drains out through the vagina. This is more likely to be a slow or constant trickle, certainly at first – a big dramatic gush is a lot less common. Once your waters have broken there is a risk of infection, so if your contractions haven’t started naturally after 24-48 hours induction of labour may be offered.
MYTH 4. A second labour is a lot less painful
The cervix, pelvic floor muscles and birth canal have already been stretched by the first birth so it’s true that second and subsequent labours tend to be shorter. But this doesn’t make them any less painful – they just don’t last as long.
MYTH 5. You have to have a C-section is you are having twins
Although more than half of all twins in the UK are born by Caesarean, it is perfectly possible to have a vaginal birth if there are no complications. If the first twin is in a head down position a vaginal birth should be possible.
Coping with labour
Wherever you plan to give birth, it will be easier for you to rest and relax at home during the early labour stage.
Try to get as much rest as you can, even if you can’t sleep, as this will help you to cope better with the second stage of labour.
Dr. Shauna Fannin (MRCP, FRCGP), Chair of the Emma’s Diary Editorial Board, said: “If women have any worries about labour or giving birth they should discuss these with their midwife or doctor, who will be able to give them the facts and reassure them.”