If you're a first-time mum, having a new baby always comes with a bundle of surprises. It doesn't matter if you're enjoying the privacy of your own home or lying on a table following a C-section, seeing your baby for the first time is an experience that cannot be described. However, that special moment doesn't arrive until you have gone through the painful process of labour and delivery.
Here are 7 things you might not know, but need to, about giving birth for the first time.
1. Due dates aren't always accurate
Women like to have an end date to look forward to. It helps them get through months of discomfort when there is hope that it will end some day. However, the truth is that only 7 percent of women give birth on their due dates. So, don't be surprised if you don't deliver your baby on the planned day.
2. Having an epidural doesn't mean you're completely numb
An epidural is a form of pain relief that can numb a woman's lower body. It's given through a needle in your back, into the epidural space. However, just because you have an epidural doesn't mean your body will become indifferent to the pain of labour. Some women end up with uneven numbing in their legs while others experience the same with their stomach. Go for an epidural only if the contraction pain gets too intense to handle.
3. Eating or drinking isn't allowed when you get an epidural
This is a tough fact because giving birth takes a lot of effort, epidural or not, but delivering on an empty stomach is tougher. So, have a good meal before heading to the hospital if you plan on getting an epidural. Some hospitals may allow you to chew on flavoured ice chips during labour, but those will do little to satiate your stomach.
4. You might defecate during delivery
This is an especially unsavoury occurrence that happens more often than most mothers will admit. In case it happens to you, don't feel embarrassed. It's nothing the nurses haven't experienced before.
5. Delivery doesn't stop when the baby is out
You still have to deliver the placenta after the baby emerges, so be ready for some more pushing. It might even be delivered quite quickly and painlessly if you are one of the lucky ones.
6. Babies can look like they're covered in slime
No, your baby’s skin isn't falling off and the sticky, cheese-like white coat isn't permanent. This covering, known as vernix caseosa, was what protected your baby's skin in the womb. This is more common in babies born before 40 weeks.
7. Babies can be very hairy and not just on their heads
If your baby resembles a monkey more than a human, don't be surprised, it's natural. Some babies turn out to be quite hairy. You might notice hair on their arms, shoulders and maybe even on the back, and the hair may be quite dark. This, too, will fade with time.
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