10 Pregnancy Myths
Glowing skin. Bad sex. Cravings for pickles and ice cream. You may expect these changes - but here’s why they may not happen to you
Myth: The second, or pushing, stage of labor goes quickly
The second - and most physically exhausting - stage of labor often hits moms-to-be like a ton of bricks. It's easy to think that once you're fully dilated and effaced, you can practically pop out the baby. But the pushing stage for first-timers typically lasts anywhere from one to three hours. "A new mom's muscles aren't used to labor," says Dr. Henderson. Subsequent deliveries often go faster (with pushing usually lasting about 20 to 60 minutes), since the cervix has already been through the process.
To speed up the second stage, try taking advantage of gravity and pushing in an upright position, if your doctor and hospital permit it: Squat, kneel, stand, or even sit on the toilet (you'll move back to the bed before the baby is born). Conserve energy by concentrating on breathing through contractions, instead of holding your breath, and resting between contractions, if you can.
Myth: You won't be able to handle the lack of privacy during the birth
New mothers sometimes dread the thought of exposing their body to strangers in the delivery room. And they may worry about embarrassing situations, like moving their bowels during labor.
"With my first, I thought I'd be worried about having my body spread all over the place," says Allison Hogan, a mother of three in Queens, NY. "I kept asking the nurse whether my gown was tied." But as labor progressed, Hogan let an intern she'd never met check her for dilation. "I was preoccupied with contractions," she says. "I didn't care what I looked like or who was seeing what part of my anatomy."
The doctors and nurses helping you aren't there to judge or criticize. Plus, there's probably nothing you could do or say that they haven't already seen or heard. When the time comes, you'll be able to let your guard down and focus on what's most important - delivering your baby.
Lisa Peters O'brien is a former senior editor at Women's Sports & Fitness.