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  • "If your water breaks,

  • that means the baby is coming very soon."

  • If only!

  • "Eating the placenta is good for you."

  • No!

  • Don't go there.

  • "Labor usually lasts a couple of hours."

  • Perhaps the biggest myth that we will talk about today.

  • Hi, I'm Dr. Laura Riley,

  • and I'm a high-risk obstetrician

  • at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine.

  • My favorite thing to do is delivering babies.

  • And I'm Dr. Dena Goffman.

  • I'm also a high-risk-pregnancy physician.

  • I'm the chief of OB at NewYork-Presbyterian/

  • Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

  • And today, we will be debunking myths about childbirth.

  • Oh, this is good.

  • "Wide hips mean easier birth."

  • This is a total myth.

  • And what we see as your hips

  • aren't even reflective of

  • what's going on with the bones in your pelvis,

  • which do matter.

  • Riley: The bony pelvis is connected by cartilage,

  • which is softer, which loosens up within the course

  • of the latter part of pregnancy.

  • So that gives the baby a little bit more room.

  • And then, labor, all those contractions

  • and the coordination that forces the head into the pelvis,

  • a lot of that depends on the baby, right?

  • I think one thing that is frustrating for people

  • is they will say, at 38 weeks,

  • "Am I going to have a vaginal delivery?"

  • We can't tell. Because there's so many other factors

  • that go into whether or not your baby

  • is coming out vaginally.

  • It's not just the baby's size.

  • It's the baby's position.

  • It's how well the baby tolerates

  • holding its breath every three minutes.

  • There's more to the story.

  • "The best position to labor

  • and give birth on is your back."

  • That's a myth.

  • What you might see on television or in the movies,

  • of a patient flat on their back,

  • is actually the worst position to labor and give birth in.

  • We love to have patients be in bed,

  • certainly on their side,

  • but there's also a lot of opportunity

  • to be sitting up and even to be walking around,

  • depending, again, on the situation with your pregnancy,

  • your baby, and your labor.

  • There's the opportunity, potentially, to take a shower.

  • Some people use birthing balls as a place to sit.

  • Many places now have wireless fetal monitoring,

  • where you actually can even monitor the baby

  • while you're moving around.

  • And a lot also depends on

  • whether or not you have anesthesia,

  • because once you have an epidural,

  • it is fabulous for taking away the discomfort

  • on your abdomen and those contractions.

  • But it does, in many ways, weaken your leg muscles.

  • So most hospitals will not allow you

  • to walk around with your epidural in

  • just because you may not be as strong.

  • This is definitely a myth.

  • "You can induce labor by eating spicy food."

  • So, this is a myth,

  • and there are a number of them out there.

  • All of the things that people think

  • you can do to induce labor.

  • Pineapples.

  • Riley: Cream cheese, bumpy roads.

  • Sex.

  • Sex.

  • That one, there's some truth to it, right?

  • Nipple stimulation.

  • That's not a myth either.

  • I know it's not a myth.

  • Nipple stimulation actually does work.

  • The tough part about nipple stimulation

  • is that you get so many contractions at once,

  • your baby doesn't love it.

  • The sex and the nipple stimulation

  • have sort of valid, plausible reasons why they may help,

  • but I think there's not sort of a protocol

  • for how to do it and how to do it safely.

  • We know how to induce labor.

  • We have different medications that we can use vaginally,

  • medications that we can use in the IV,

  • and we know how to do that safely.

  • I think there is no evidence for spicy foods.

  • Sex is fine if it's comfortable

  • and something that you want to be doing.

  • Walking, being active, kind of getting out and about,

  • but I think this baby's going to come

  • when the baby's going to come.

  • "Your water breaks with no warning."

  • I know people see it in the TV and movies,

  • and it's a very dramatic event, and it's clear cut,

  • and you rush to the hospital, and the baby is born.

  • That's not always how it happens.

  • Sometimes it does break with a huge gush,

  • and it's very obvious.

  • Sometimes there's a leak, and patients are unsure.

  • And sometimes people don't know

  • whether it's urine or it's their water breaking.

  • If it's urine, it comes out and then it stops.

  • And if it's your water, it continues.

  • It does not stop. So put a pad on,

  • and if the pad is consistently wet and saturated,

  • you have to think, "Gee, maybe my water broke."

  • Sometimes we will break your water for you.

  • For some patients,

  • they will be in labor and progressing nicely in labor,

  • and the water will not have broken on its own.

  • If you're unsure whether or not your water has broken,

  • it's better to come in and let us tell you yes or no

  • rather than stay at home,

  • because if your water has broken

  • and there's a long time before your delivery,

  • you do increase the risk for getting an infection.

  • "If your water breaks,

  • that means the baby is coming very soon."

  • If only!

  • Yeah, we wish.

  • This is not always the case.

  • It is all over the map.

  • Because a lot depends on how many children you've had.

  • If it's your fourth baby

  • and you're contracting and your water breaks,

  • it's coming fast. If it's your first baby,

  • your water breaks, you're not contracting,

  • it could be 12, 24 hours.

  • So it's hard to know.

  • Contractions that come consistently

  • with the baby's head against the cervix

  • are what makes the cervix open.

  • The cervix has to get to 10 centimeters before you can push.

  • So that process is the process of labor.

  • If your water breaks in the course of that process,

  • great, but that doesn't tell us the timing.

  • For some subset of our patients,

  • the water will break and the patient may not be in labor.

  • That happens in probably 8% to 10% of patients.

  • So if you think your water is broken,

  • you should call your provider and say,

  • "My water's broken. I am contracting or not contracting.

  • And when should I come in?"

  • Because that answer is going to vary

  • depending on the circumstances around your pregnancy.

  • "Eating the placenta is good for you."

  • No!

  • Don't go there.

  • Absolutely not.

  • Please, please don't eat your placenta.

  • Many patients will ask about

  • the utility of eating the placenta.

  • There was some suggestion that eating the placenta

  • after birth might prevent depression, anxiety,

  • and while we're completely supportive

  • of doing anything to prevent those issues,

  • I think we have to recognize that there's no science

  • behind the placenta being helpful to that.

  • There was actually a recent publication

  • from the American Academy of Pediatrics

  • that outlined some of these less traditional practices

  • surrounding birth, and this one is specifically mentioned,

  • and that paper calls out the infectious risk

  • without added benefit.

  • So we are happy to have these conversations,

  • to talk with patients

  • through shared decision-making processes,