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Labor and Birth FAQs

Put simply, the cascade of interventions is what it’s called when using one medication (e.g. epidural) or intervention (e.g. induction) leads to more medical intervention. It’s a common occurrence for women who give birth in the hospital.

The most common negative outcomes of the cascade of interventions are

  1. c-section,
  2. preterm birth,
  3. problems breastfeeding,
  4. excessive bleeding, and
  5. dissatisfaction with the birth experience.

For an in-depth explanation, check out The Cascade of Interventions [Explained].

Sometimes, yes, giving birth can be painful. But sometimes it’s not! I honestly don’t believe childbirth inevitably equals pain. Even when it is “painful,” it’s more like intense discomfort than pain.

To learn more about why or why not you might experience pain during childbirth, check out Is Childbirth Painful? (The Answer Might Surprise You).

Let me say first: if you’ve given birth by c-section, you still gave birth! You are still a mother! Please don’t be ashamed by how you gave birth.

Now, if you’re anticipating your first birth and wondering about c-sections, there are some important things to know.

C-sections aren’t inherently bad. They can save lives. But they aren’t without risk. The three main downsides of c-sections are:

  1. It is major abdominal surgery.
  2. Vaginal births provide benefits to babies that c-sections don’t.
  3. One c-section has implications for all successive births.

To learn more, check out C-sections: Why and How to Avoid Having One.

While various medications can ease discomfort during labor, they also carry many risks. Medications (including epidurals, opioids, Pitocin, and IVs) can make labor longer, lead to c-sections, cause fevers, create breathing difficulties for your baby, make breastfeeding harder, and more.

For more detail and for risks broken down by medication, check out Medications During Labor: Is It Worth the Risk?.

For most women, most of the time, yes, home births are safe.

If a woman is healthy and prepares well for birth, it is unlikely that complications will occur. If complications were to arise, a good midwife will usually be able resolve the issue.

If it is something she is unable to resolve, she will know the warning signs and know when to get you to the hospital.

To learn more about home births and why they are a safe option for most women, check out Are Home Births Safe?.

While cervical checks (also called vaginal exams) are routine during labor in the hospital, you never have to accept one. You can have a safe, healthy birth without having a single cervical check. It is your right to say no.

A cervical check (or vaginal exam) can tell you 5 things:

  • Position of the cervix
  • Softness of the cervix
  • Thickness of the cervix (also called effacement)
  • Openness of the cervix (also called dilation)
  • The baby’s station

Each one provides a slightly different picture of how labor is progressing. That said, a cervical check can’t predict the future. Each of these 5 measurements only tells you where you’re at in the current moment. 

That’s why it’s totally okay to decline all cervical checks; your body will do what it needs to do whether you know where it’s at or not.

To learn more, read Understanding Cervical Checks During Labor: You Get to Choose.

Go to Postpartum FAQs.

Go to Pregnancy FAQs.