5 birth myths

You’ve heard all the horror stories but what is actually true? Here are some of the most common birth myths to help put your mind at ease…

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You can request a c-section

C-sections involve major surgery and can result in complications. They can be life-saving, but shouldn’t be seen as an easy alternative,” says Anne Richley. It may be difficult to request one on the NHS unless you have a good reason, as they’re very expensive ops (around £3,500 each).

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Small hips = more difficult labour

Whether you have ‘child-bearing hips’ cannot be assessed by the naked eye. “Many of us with plenty of ‘padding’ may be concealing snake-like hips, so it’s impossible to tell whether you’ve got a pelvis like a bucket! The size of your hips, or baby, has no relation to the amount of pain,” says Anne.

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Epidural is used in a third of births in the UK

Epidurals need to be given really early on

An epidural is a painkiller that’s injected into the base of your back. “You can have it at pretty much any time, but you have to be in labour. If birth is imminent an epidural is usually pointless,” says Anne. Look at other pain relief options and calming techniques too such as hypnobirthing.

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Your midwife will be on hand to explain what’s going on during labour.

You can’t have a vaginal birth after a c-section

Around 70 per cent of women will have a vaginal birth after a c-section. Anne Richley says: “There’s a small risk the uterus could tear, but with good labour care this is unlikely. Discuss the reason for your c-section with your midwife before deciding whether to go for a vaginal birth next time.”

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Cutting is better than tearing

An episiotomy – when a cut is made to help delivery – sounds scary and many mums assume they have no choice about it. But it’s not an essential procedure, says Anne. “There’s evidence that tears are more comfortable and heal better than a cut, however, there are times when a cut may be necessary if your baby becomes distressed or if forceps are needed.”

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