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Five Myths About Labor and Delivery

Monday, May 6, 2013
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With Dr. David Jaspan, Chairman, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia

Birthing plans are a must.

“Being prepared is a must, but that might not require a 10-page birthing plan,” Jaspan says. “Being prepared means getting educated by your healthcare provider about what is going to happen before, during and after labor. Having that information removes as much of the unknown as possible, and that alleviates a lot of fear and anxiety for the mom and dad.

“Once you get that information, think about how you’d like the birth to go, but understand that in the event of an emergency, physicians and nurses will consult with the parents about options — and the health of the mom and baby always come first.

“If having a plan helps the parents feel less anxious, then I suggest they make a plan,” Jaspan advises. “Know where to go in the hospital, how long it takes to drive there, what they will take with them, who will they call and who they want in the room. Some people, especially the dads, even check out the food options because they know that they will be in the birthing room for a good long while.”

Family and friends can take turns being in the hospital’s birthing room.

“That is not true at Einstein for two reasons,” Jaspan says. “First is security. For the safety of our patients, including the newborns, we limit the number of people flowing through that part of the hospital. There can be two people in the room and the nurses are very vigilant about checking that those are the same two through the birthing process.”

Who are the right people to have in the room? “The father, assuming he is a good support for the mom,” Jaspan says, “and someone else who is calm, capable and reassuring for the mom. A lot of people may volunteer to be present, because birth is an amazing thing to witness, but the decision should be left to the mom.”

Women have bowel movements during labor. 

“One of the biggest fears women have is that they will relieve themselves when they are pushing,” Jaspan says. “We actually do say, ‘Push like you are moving your bowels.’ Does it happen during labor? Yes. Does it happen every time? No. Should that event occur, we quickly and rapidly remove it. In the end, no one actually cares because, at the end of the pushing, you have a new baby and that’s where there the focus is.”

It’s too late for an epidural! You’ll have to deliver naturally!

“That’s a line from Hollywood movies,” Jaspan laughs. “It is almost never too late to have an epidural. It would be too late if the baby is crowning or close to it. But the reason that the ‘It’s too late!’ scenario doesn’t happen is that the woman experiences full labor pains well before the actual birth. Once you feel that pain, you know whether or not you can tolerate it. We have anesthesiologists in the hospital 24/7, so whenever women decide they want an epidural, they can get it.”

Epidurals are unsafe and prolong labor. 

“Epidurals are safe,” Jaspan says. “More than 75 percent of our patients get epidurals. There is a lot of false information on the Internet about the risks of epidurals and that has created a lot of fear. High-quality information from a medical professional removes that fear.

“The other misconception is that epidurals make labor longer,” Jaspan says. “Women may need more time during pushing because they are numb down there and don’t feel the sensation to push. But it is not a substantial prolongment of labor. We want the baby to come out as quickly and easily as the mom does.”

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