You’ve spent nine long months preparing for your child’s birth. You’ve read all the books, scoured the web and quizzed every mom you know. But since each childbirth experience is unique, there’s a chance something you’re not anticipating might happen. We want you to be fully prepared, so here are 5 things you may not expect about labor and delivery.
1. Losing the mucus plug
The mucus plug may sound strange, but it plays an important role in your pregnancy. It’s a thick membrane that blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. The mucus plug gets pushed out as your cervix begins to dilate. The mucus plug, or “bloody show”, is stringy and can be clear, pink, brown or red in color. Not all women notice the passing of their mucus plug. There is nothing alarming about seeing this or not. You can mention it at your next visit.
2. Water breaking… or not
It may surprise you that only a small percentage of women experience their water breaking before going into labor and delivery. For the rest, it happens during labor either naturally or with a little help from their doctors. Your water breaking is the rupturing of the fluid-filled amniotic sac, which cushions your baby during pregnancy. When your water breaks, you may feel wetness and a periodic or constant leaking of watery fluid. It may also come as a sudden gush of clear or pale yellow fluid. If you think your water has broken, it’s important to contact your doctor or delivery away so they can advise you of the next step.
3. Labor can take a while
Many first-time moms don’t realize how long labor can last. They’re surprised to find that they can be in labor for quite a while—sometimes up to 24 hours! Labor can be separated into three stages: early labor and active labor, baby’s birth, and the delivery of the placenta. First time moms may be in labor and delivery longer because the cervix may not dilate until active labor. It helps to be prepared with books, magazines and things to help pass the time.
4. You might eliminate
It’s very possible that you may lose bladder control, have a bowel movement or vomit during labor and delivery. It’s completely normal, and your doctors and nurses have seen it many times before. During delivery, your pelvic muscles are stretched out, you have extra pressure on your colon and rectum and pain medications and hormones can make you nauseous. Additionally, pushing engages the same muscles that you use to go to the bathroom. Chances are you’ll be far too busy to have time for embarrassment.
Many women are surprised to have a bloody, vaginal discharge after labor and delivery. But even after a C-section, you’ll experience vaginal bleeding called lochia. Lochia varies in color and flow, but is typically dark red in color for the first few days after delivery. It generally lasts from two to six weeks. Be sure to have thick, absorbent pads on hand. You’ll want to avoid tampons at this time.
These are just some of the unexpected things that you might experience during labor and delivery. Every childbirth is unique and comes with its own special circumstances. To learn more about preparing for labor or to schedule an appointment, contact North Florida OBGYN of Jacksonville Beach at 904-479-3493