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5 Labour Myths Debunked

Fact or fiction? We look at five popular misconceptions about labour and birth and give you the facts.

Labour Myths

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.”

The Emotional Burden of Infertility

Kate BrianThe turmoil of emotions caused by infertility has significant, often overlooked, effects on people’s life . But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Kate Brian, of Infertility Network UK.

Kate Brian

Fertility Problems

Brian explains: “The emotional impact of fertility problems is absolutely huge. It affects every single moment of your waking life. But, unless it happens to you or someone close to you, it is often underestimated. And yet, for most people their children are the most important thing in life, so not to be able to have that can be devastating.”

Depression is very common. And so are feelings of failure and of having let down partners and family, adds Brian. “There is a lot of blaming yourself, wondering what you did wrong, and why it happened to you.”

Quite shockingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, in a survey by Infertility Network UK about a fifth of participants said they had suicidal thoughts because of difficulties conceiving To make matters worse, fertility problems are something affected people don’t always want to talk about. And so the sense of isolation can be overwhelming.

Life on Hold

“We often don’t realise that infertility affects life choices,” says Brian. “People literally put their life on hold. They may not apply for a new job, move house, or go on holiday, because they might be pregnant by then or because they are saving up to pay for more fertility treatment.”

Widespread Misunderstanding

Brian says a major problem is that there is a general misunderstanding of the issues surrounding infertility. “We see women who haven’t really understood how quickly their fertility declines with age and, perhaps more importantly, who are under the false impression that fertility treatment can turn back this decline. The reality is that, once you are in your 40s, particularly after 42 years of age, treatments like in vitro fertilisation, or IVF, may not always be effective, because they cannot turn back the biological clock.”

Promoting Awareness and Education

“We would like to see more education about fertility awareness in schools,” says Brian. “A recent survey for Infertility Network UK found that many young people don’t know when they are most likely to conceive.”

You Are Not Alone

She adds that information is key for people who have conceiving as this can help them to regain some of the control that they may feel they may have lost.

“Counselling is also extremely important, as are support groups and talking to other people who are in the same situation. We shouldn’t forget that, in the UK alone, there are around 3.5 million people who have fertility problems. Just being able to share your experience can be incredibly helpful, partly because it makes you realise that you are not alone.

“What is helpful for one person may not be helpful for another. But once you have identified the type of support that works best for you, the benefits can be remarkable.”