5 Common Labor Misconceptions Debunked

     Being in the nursing field of Labor, Delivery and Postpartum as well as running a business aimed at expectant and new moms, I hear a lot of misconceptions when it comes to pregnancy and labor itself. It's worth clarifying certain things, as we all know knowledge is power.

"I'm Ten Months Pregnant"

     I have even made this common error before. A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks, a month has 4 weeks, ergo: pregnancy is ten months, right? Well, not exactly. While we typically think of a month as 4 weeks for convenience, most months have more like four and a half weeks. Plus, we get the extra credit of two weeks before we even conceive. So basically if you knew you were pregnant the very moment you conceived, you would already be two weeks pregnant. So sorry ladies: pregnancy truly is just nine months.

"I had an emergency C-section"

     I have heard all too commonly, "I pushed for three hours and ended up with an emergency c-section," or something along those lines. Upon further inquiry, well no it wasn't exactly emergency, but just unscheduled. There is a big difference between an emergency c-section, an urgent c-section, and an unscheduled c-section. I don't want to get too technical, but if you are laboring and you are suddenly rushed to the O.R. in an extremely urgent manner, that is an emergency. If labor does not go as planned, you do not progress as you should or if baby is simply not coming down and you decide with the doctor that a c-section is best, that is an unscheduled c-section. I am not diminishing any of these avenues, but women who truly have emergency c-sections can attest to the difference and how terrifying it can be for all parties involved.

"I had to get a c-section because I got an epidural"

     In over three years of being in this field, I have never once had a patient have to get a c-section because they got an epidural. While it can drop a patient's blood pressure which could in turn cause fetal distress, we have easy methods to counteract this if needed. It also does not "stop labor". If one is truly in labor, it may slow things down but studies suggest only by about an hour or so. In fact in my experience, it often speeds things up as it allows the mother to finally relax. 

"Epidurals are bad for the baby"

     I've definitely talked about this before but it is worth mentioning again because I still hear it all the time. Epidurals are not bad for your baby. The medication goes into the mother's epidural space (near the spinal space), not directly into her bloodstream. Conversely, the medications that are given for pain control during labor through the IV do in fact go directly into the mother's bloodstream thus going almost directly to the baby. They are safe but they do have side effects such as respiratory depression at birth. Epidurals do not have that side effect. If you are choosing to go all natural for the sake of your baby, then I would encourage you to avoid pain medication through the IV as that would defeat the whole purpose. 

"The doctor only comes at the last minute"

     I admit, before becoming a nurse, I totally thought this was the case after witnessing my niece and nephew's births. It is true in some cases you may not see the doctor from the time you arrive at the hospital until the baby is crowning and they come in at the last minute to deliver. What you are not seeing is that doctor running from their office in the middle of seeing a full day's worth of patients, possibly having been on call and not having slept the whole night before. So yes, as nurses we might be working our asses off for 12+ hours straight and you see us much more than you see them, but they might be on their 48th hour of being on call, not having seen or had time to speak to their own families.