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Old 03-08-05, 12:01 PM
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Talking 10 Labor Day Suprises

1. THE BIG MYSTERY! Humans have been procreating on this planet for about 130,000 years. We've had medical science for close to 200. And guess what? We still don't know what jump starts labor, though some experts theorize that the baby sends some sort of chemical signal to the mother's brain to get things going.
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2. LABOR LASTS. Sitcoms make it seem as if, all told, labor and birth takes about 15 minutes and most babies are born in the backseat of cobs. Not so! A women giving birth for the first time is in labor for 20 hours, on average. And for some women prodromal (or early) labor, which usually lasts 3 - 6 hours, can stretch into days or even weeks. Before you panic, remember, it's early labor - the easier part. Not the huffing, puffing sweating and pushing part.
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3. DOCTOR MIA. You imagine your doctor will be by your side, coaching you through every stage of labor. The reality? It's the labor nurse who plays the supporting role in this drawn-out drama. So where's your doctor? She's probably just catching up on paperwork, checking in on other patients, or replenishing her supply of caffeine so she'll be alert when your baby makes his big entrance.
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4. IT'S TIME TO SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL. Feeling a little quaky and quivery? It's not because you're nervous about giving birth. And it's not because the hospital is skimping on the heat. It you've opted for an epidural, shivering and shaking are a couple of the drug's potential side effects. All that adrenaline rushing through your body for the upcoming marathon of labor is another possible cause.
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5."IT" HAPPENS. As your new bundle of joy makes his decent, his head pushes on your rectum. Thus, about half of the time, women have a bowel movement during delivery. Don't worry; it's old hat to hospital personel. They've seen it all before.
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6. FLUIDS, FLUIDS EVERYWHERE. There's a pretty big mess before the baby puts in an appearance. Throughtout labor, the nurses are continually mopping up blood, mucas, and amniotic fluid. There are two upsides here; it means that your labor is progressing (you'll meet your new baby pretty soon), and you're not the one on clean-up duty.
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7. TOSSING YOUR COOKIES. As if you didn't have enough fluid emanationg from every other orifice of your body! Vomiting is an automatic response triggered by the nerves that make your cervix dilate. Hormones or an epidural can also cause vomiting during labor, so keep that cute little kidney-shaped dish they give you in the hospital handy. You just might need it.
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8. NO RAIN GEAR NECESSARY. If you're one of the few women whose water breaks at home, relax. You won't flood your living room. It's a lot more like a trickle than a downpour.
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9. ISN'T THIS SUPPOSED TO HURT? It might not be so bad! Pain is still a mystery to many doctors. But they do know that everyone has a different pain threshold, so contractions that were unbearable to your best friend may not seem quite so bad to you. And some contractions may feel uncomfortable without qualifying as painful. Obstetricians suspect that the size or position of the baby may have something to do with how much pain a women feels. Also, psychology plays a role - women who are more educated about the birthing process tend to experience less pain.
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10. TAKING IT LYING DOWN. You may assume that you'll be giving birth laying on your back with your partner at the head of the bed and your doctor at the foot, just like every television actress you have seen. Not necessarily. In some cases, you may be flanked by your nurse and partner, leaning on their shoulders as you push. Or the doctor or nurse may suggest that you squat using a rounded metal bar for support, which helps make use of gravity. Fortunately, the end result is the same - a beautiful, brand-new life.
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