Birthing Myths and Misconceptions
Because pregnancy and childbirth are complex experiences, it's easy to see how misinformation can be spread and then taken for truth. However, it does pregnant women a disservice when misconceptions are promulgated. Here are some common birthing misconceptions, and the truth behind each.
1. Home births are always risky.
Home births can be risky or completely fine, just like hospital births. While it's true that some medically complicated labors require hospital-based deliveries to safely attend to the health of mom and baby, many home births take place uneventfully, with smooth deliveries. As always, it depends on the the situation.
2. Labor always begins with your water breaking.
The stereotypical example of a woman going into labor involves the sudden breaking of her water. In reality, only about 10 to 15 percent of labors begin this way. In many cases, a woman's water is broken by a physician during labor because it has not ruptured on its own.
3. Once you've had a C-section, any subsequent pregnancies will have to result in a C-section, too.
It was once thought that if a woman had delivered via Cesarean section, she would have to do so again with all subsequent pregnancies. This was because of a fear of uterine rupture at the Cesarean scar. However, doctors today know that in many circumstances, it is safe and appropriate to deliver a baby vaginally, even after a previous C-section. This type of delivery is known as a "VBAC," or "vaginal birth after C-section."
4. There is a set limit to how many C-sections a woman can have.
This statement is somewhat true, in that three C-sections is often considered a standard limit for each pregnant woman. In other words, the risk of medical complications rises sharply after three Cesareans. However, to some degree this depends on the woman, so there is no one universal rule for everyone. Some women experience more complicated Cesareans than others, and may be advised to stop after fewer than three. Other women may experience little complication, making a fourth Cesarean less worrisome. Each pregnant woman needs to consult her own health care provider to discuss her situation.
5. Health Insurance doesn't cover childbirth with a midwife rather than an M.D.
It all depends on the insurance company and policy. Some insurance plans cover midwife-assisted deliveries and some do not. It should be noted that federal law bans insurance companies from denying women coverage on the basis of pregnancy as a "pre-existing condition." However, each woman's specific coverage details may vary. Check with your own plan for specifics.
6. Multiples always require a C-section birth.
Many multiple births do require C-sections, especially triplets and beyond. However, in some situations twins can be delivered vaginally. It depends on the position of the babies and other factors.
7. C-sections cause health problems for babies.
It is true that, in a C-section, the baby doesn't get the physical benefits of being squeezed through the birth canal, which naturally expels fluid from its lungs. However, many babies are born via C-section with no problems whatsoever.
8. First labors are always long.
While it's true that many first-time labors are long, as with most things, it depends on the situation. Plenty of first-time moms experience fast labors and deliveries; just as many experience long ones as well.