When I walked into a crash childbirth course in my third trimester of pregnancy, I knew precious little about what to expect from labor and delivery. I’d vowed not to read or listen to too many accounts of labor/delivery horror stories in order to keep my stress low. And I figured I’d wait to watch birthing videos until the five-hour Saturday childbirth class I signed up for. I’m glad I waited. I may have been freaked out by what I heard and saw that day, but it was great to have so many myths dispelled and so many decisions settled all at once. It’s amazing how much misinformation is out there about what to expect from the birthing experience, and a lot of it has to do with a phenomenon I like to call the Myth of the Sitcom Birth.

Here are a few examples:

1. Water rarely breaks dramatically or publicly.
It’s so simple on sitcoms, isn’t it? On TV, you know it’s time for the big show when a woman’s eyes go wide and her face becomes a mask of distress. “My water just broke!” she exclaims and begins looking down and lifting her soggy feet, mortified. This isn’t usually how it goes. For one, the “water-break” — also known as the rupture of membranes — often isn’t a large gush of uncontrollable liquid that results an instantaneous puddle. Sometimes it’s a gradual trickle, and other times (and this was the case with me), a woman’s in active labor for hours without her water breaking at all. They actually had to break mine, about a half-hour before it was time to push. Even if you do experience a sitcom-level “my water just broke” moment, it usually occurs at home. Not in a grocery store, a broken elevator, or in a corporate meeting. That far into the game, you’re sticking close to home as much as possible, and the likelihood that others will witness the onset of “go time” is slim.

2. Dads in the delivery room: not as universally “touching” as we’ve been led to believe.
As beautiful as it is to witness a child entering the world, let’s not forget that it’s also gory and, for some, disturbing. As progressive as our culture’s become and for as many as have had great experiences with men in the delivery room, there’s something to be said for that time before, when men stayed out in the waiting room, and women rallied in the birthing space. This is a delicate issue. If a man is enthusiastic about witnessing the birth of his child, and his partner is equally enthusiastic, that’s wonderful. But if during the entire length of the pregnancy, he’s expressing how much he’ll dread being there, he jokes about blood making him faint, or he’s generally the type of impatient or insensitive person who’d have a hard time sitting around waiting for a 20-hour labor to “kick into high gear,” there’s nothing wrong with you both agreeing that it’s best for him to sit it out. And even if he’s not the one with the objections — even if it’s you who’s interested in being surrounded by a circle of supportive women — don’t be afraid to voice that to the father of your child. He may be fine with it. And if he’s insistent on being there, at least you’ll both get the chance to work through your concerns about things together.

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  • beautyishername

    I’m 22 and never been pregnant and don’t plan on it in the next 5 years – that being said, I have a question: Do women really poop on the delivery table?

    • I didn’t, but I found out it’s pretty common–and I didn’t find that out until well into the pregnancy. It was another thing to completely freak out about. lol

    • Nnaattaayy

      Lol yes some women do, my anatomy teacher said because you’re not supposed to eat/drink 24 hours before labor

    • A Daughter of Yemoja

      That’s virtually impossible to do (waiting 24 hrs before labor), how can you predict something like that unless you have a planned Cesarean? The only real reason not to eat or drink anything before you give birth is if you have a Cesarean due to possible complications and possible choking to death when you get the anesthesia. It is quite encouraged (at least in the non medical and more natural/holistic realm of birthing) to eat light snacks (grapes, or other fruit and easier digestible foods) to help your energy levels while you are going through all the caring stages of labor. Now while you are actually in the active and transitional phases your body may not want to eat and you could regurgitate what you recently ate, but it is best to stay fully hydrated and well nourished (with light foods). In all actuallity it really is dependent on a case by case situation…the best thing to do is if you feel hungry and you can stomach a light snack eat, if you don’t then don’t eat. Unfortunately another myth learned within our culture.

    • A Daughter of Yemoja

      Sorry, caring stages should be “varying” stages

  • JN

    WTF! You have to push DURING?! WHAT THE HELL!!! Psychologically I was determined that, when that time, I would do without drugs, but fugedabouit now! Also, I heard some women poop during labor, is that a myth? Please tell me that is a myth.

    • Not a myth…some women do.

    • JN

      aw, man…

  • Laurie

    Unless you have an enema before, which I just learned is no longer standard…yea it’s not a myth, you just might poop-a-doop lol

  • C1

    I wish I could’ve been one of those women without morning sickness. I was sick for four months. I also craved laundry soap powder and chalk (but never ate it) and spicy food. I threw up/dry heaved 4 times during labor but never pooped, thank God.

    • CiCe

      Well I am glad that you resisted the laundry soap. There was this soap at the Body Shop that just kept calling me every time I went in there until I finally broke down and bought the soap. Went home and licked it and that cured my urges right way cause the taste was just gross.

    • Pica?

      Hi C1 that’s very interesting. It kind of sounds like you may have had pica. Pica is defined as “craving and chewing substances that have no nutritional value” and it may be caused by iron deficiency anemia.


    • Some women have cravings for smells, so you’ll want to sniff strange things and that soothes the feelings of sickness. My boss had no food cravings but craved smelling the types of woodchips you put in hamster cages.

  • Cee Cee

    I was there during the my nephew’s birth and I was surprised that women sometimes force out feces during labor. It was shocking.