5 Little-Known Facts About BirthJan 05, 2023
by Stephanie Larson
When you’re pregnant, you're probably feeling a mix of excitement and nerves as you prepare to welcome your little one into the world. It’s fun and interesting to learn about this amazing thing called childbirth, so here are 5 little-known facts about birth to spark your curiosity and boost your knowledge.
1. Babies are rarely born on their due date.
The exact date of your baby's birth may not be as predictable as you think. While it's common for healthcare providers to give an estimated due date based on the first day of your last period, only about 5% of babies are actually born on their due date. So it might be more accurate to think in terms of your ‘estimated due month’ or even an ‘estimated due season’ like spring, summer, fall or winter, instead of a specific date. This can help ease any pressure you may feel to give birth within a particular time frame. And if you don’t want to get inundated with calls and messages asking you if you’re in labor yet, don’t reveal your estimated due month, except to a select few of your closest friends and family.
2. Ultrasounds don't reliably predict baby's weight.
Speaking of other predictions that can be way off, estimates of your baby’s size can be off by a pound or even more, so your baby could be significantly smaller or bigger than you may have been told. Ultrasound weight calculations are most often overestimated. Because of the high chances of inaccuracy, it’s wise to not base a decision to have your labor induced, or a decision to have a cesarean birth, solely on estimates of how big (or small) your baby is. If you’re concerned about potentially birthing a big baby, these next two facts should put your mind more at ease.
3. Baby’s head gets smaller during birth.
Your baby’s head is designed to be able to get smaller and change shape during birth if needed. This is often referred to as molding or coning. As your baby makes its way through your pelvis and birth canal, the bones in their head will shift and overlap to help them to fit through. This transformation is made possible because their skull bones are not yet fully fused. Flexible cranial sutures, as well as fontanelles or ‘soft spots’ allow for the repositioning of the skull bones during birth, and later, as their brain grows. Don't worry, this is completely normal and their head should return to its original shape within a few days of birth.
4. Pelvis gets bigger during birth.
Your pelvis is designed to temporarily get bigger during birth. During pregnancy the hormone relaxin makes your ligaments more stretchy. This enables your pelvis to flex and open to make more space for your baby to pass through it as you labor and birth. You can change the dimensions of your pelvis by changing your position. You might be surprised to learn that lying on your back in bed makes your pelvic outlet smaller, not larger, so avoid this position unless it’s your favorite. After you give birth your relaxin levels will drop, but it could take up to a year for them to reach pre-pregnancy levels. Your joints may still feel very flexible and loose during this time, so be extra attuned to your body as you move around.
5. You can catch your own baby!
Based on what you’ve seen on film and tv, you may think that baby-catching is the exclusive domain of midwives and doctors. While it’s certainly common, it’s not the only way. Why shouldn't your touch be the very first thing your baby feels? You can catch your baby yourself. It’s a natural birth instinct to receive your baby into your own hands. Because it’s instinctive, you don’t need any prior experience. A skilled midwife or doctor will give you the space and the encouragement to catch your own baby, and won’t step in unless assistance is needed. Certain positions (like standing) make catching your baby yourself easier, and others (like lying on your back) make catching more difficult or not possible. Let your care provider know that you want to catch your baby, so they can honor your desire.
I hope these little-known facts help you feel more excited and at ease about giving birth. Remember, every birth is unique and your experience may be different from what you've heard or read about. Trust in yourself and your body's ability to bring your beautiful baby into the world. And don't hesitate to ask your healthcare provider any questions or mention any concerns you may have along the way. Happy Birthing!
Milner J, Arezina J. The accuracy of ultrasound estimation of fetal weight in comparison to birth weight: A systematic review. Ultrasound. 2018;26(1):32-41. doi:10.1177/1742271X17732807 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1742271X17732807
Jukic AM, Baird DD, Weinberg CR, McConnaughey DR, Wilcox AJ. Length of human pregnancy and contributors to its natural variation. Hum Reprod. 2013 Oct;28(10):2848-55. doi: 10.1093/humrep/det297. Epub 2013 Aug 6. PMID: 23922246; PMCID: PMC3777570. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777570/