The questions you’ve always wanted to ask about childbirth but have been too afraid to ask…

By Jane Barry, Philips Avent

The last time a friend or family member passed you their latest little one to hold did you have an overwhelming urge to ask for the actual gritty detail of childbirth and parenthood? Do you find yourself in conversation with you friends about children and babies and despair that you know absolutely nothing about child rearing? Are you too embarrassed to flag that you’ve had no interaction with babies and are terrified at the thought of looking after someone’s bundle of joy?

This article takes the embarrassment out of babies and answering all of your burning, awkward questions on child birth and looking after your little one. Remember parenthood is a journey and everyone learns at their own pace and time, the most important thing is to plan and stay calm. Everything will be ok.

Will my partner still find me sexually attractive after he sees me give birth?

In my experience, your partner will find you even more attractive following childbirth. Giving birth can be a messy, painful and shocking experience for the majority of women.  Partners often report feeling overwhelmed by seeing their loved one in pain. But labour and childbirth generally becomes a bit of a blur after it’s over.

Have an honest discussion with your partner about what’s worrying you. It’s highly likely that he/she hasn’t even thought about how appealing you will be after your baby is born.

Exhaustion, breastfeeding, hormonal changes and all the stress which comes with being new parents can certainly take their toll, so be patient and kind with each other. Make sure you take time to talk about your feelings once the baby has arrived. Your partner won’t know your upset about something unless you say it. 

If I have a baby will I poo myself during labour?

Unfortunately, you might not be able to avoid having an accident during childbirth. The pressure of the baby’s head pushing through your vagina will press on your adjoining rectum, any poo in this area will be naturally pushed out of your body when your baby is born, there’s really no way of getting around this.

In previous years all mothers had an enema early in their labour or before it even started, this made the birthing bed a little less messy. It may help to consider pooing in labour as a positive factor, a full rectum and full bladder can make it hard for the baby’s head to descend.

Most women find that they’re distracted by lots of other important things during labour and don’t even realise it’s happened. Rest assured midwives have seen it all before, so any mess will be discreetly cleaned away. 

My nipples are inverted will I be able to breastfeed?

This really varies on a case-by-case basis. When/if you find yourself pregnant you should ask your midwife to take a quick look and advise you about what  you can do to prepare your body for breastfeeding. There are devices available which help to draw out the nipple so it can extend further into the baby’s mouth. Some women find that using these makes the difference between being able to breastfeed or not.

Many women with inverted nipples can still successfully breastfeed. But it may take a bit longer for breastfeeding to establish.  A nipple protector (shield) is another option. These can help with attachment because the baby has more of the nipple to attach to.

Do women still die during labour?

If you’re concerned about your health during childbirth, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the risk factors of something happening to you and/or your baby. Make sure you are monitored throughout your pregnancy by a trained healthcare professional, a midwife, obstetrician or your GP are all safe options. Have your baby in a maternity hospital - obstetric emergencies can happen quickly and time can be valuable. Knowledge is power so find out as much as you can about labour and childbirth, the more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel and the more enjoyable your labour and childbirth will be.  

The chances of you dying die during labour are extremely low. According to an Australian Government review, between 2008-2012 there were 105 maternal deaths in Australia that occurred with 42 days of the end of pregnancy. Statistically, this equates to a ratio of 7.1 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth. Try not to be too anxious about this going into the birth, midwives and doctors are trained for every possible outcome and will provide you with the best possible care.

Will I ever get over the embarrassment of screaming during childbirth?

Like most women, you’ll probably make more noise in labour than you usually do in everyday conversation. But then, the day you have your baby is rather special and you’re entitled to make some exceptions. Contractions can be very painful and often women cry out and scream involuntarily, that’s just part of the overall labour and birth process.

The staff who work in labour ward have heard it all before. Swearing, shouting, screaming and even thrashing about, it’s all just another day in the office to them. Part of their role is to support you to manage your labour in the best possible way.

The key to a positive labour and birth experience is communication. Ask questions, be inquisitive and feel informed. And importantly, do whatever helps you to feel you are managing your pain in a way which feels right for you. Even if that does mean making a lot of noise.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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