16 questions you're too embarrassed to ask about giving birth

There are a lot of weird things about labor that can be awkward to ask about. We've got 16 answers here, so you can avoid asking those uncomfortable questions.

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  • There's a lot of weird goings on before, during, and after labor, and you probably have a lot of questions about what is actually happening to your body. But asking these things can be awkward.

  • Here are 16 questions you may want to know but are uncomfortable asking. Here are their answers:

  • Why is mucus coming out?

  • The mucus you're excreting is called the "mucus plug." It clogs your cervix to prevent your "water" from coming out. You can lose your mucus plug hours or even days before you give birth, so the mucus may be leaking for some time.

  • Did my water break, or did I just wet my pants?

  • Unlike the movies where a woman's water breaks with a splat on the floor, water breaking is usually just a slow trickle. If your water breaks, it will leak amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is usually colorless but it can have a slightly yellow tint, flecks of blood, or flecks of white mucus.

  • What if I have to go to the bathroom when I'm in labor?

  • You go on the delivery table. But don't be embarrassed. It's actually very common because the muscles you use in a bowel movement are the same muscles you use to push your baby. But this means the doctors and nurses have certainly seen it before. They will do their best to keep you clean and comfortable.

  • Why are my teeth chattering?

  • It's common to get chills, shivers, or for your teeth to chatter during labor. This can be a reaction to anesthesia, stress, or an endorphin release.

  • Will my vagina return to normal?

  • Your vagina expanded a lot to birth your baby, so you may wonder if it will return to a normal size. Although, it may take a while, you should be back to normal in a few months.

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  • Should I be bleeding this much after giving birth?

  • Your body needs to continue to expel the material it used to care for your baby. Removing it all from your body can take several weeks. Because of this, you will need to wear large maxi pads (tampons may not fit and can increase your risk of infection). It's also common for hospitals to give you mesh underpants to wear.

  • Is it okay if my bleeding changes colors?

  • It's absolutely normal for your discharge to change from red to brown to yellow. This means that your body is healing properly.

  • Am I too small to nurse?

  • The size of your breasts doesn't have anything to do with milk production. Small breasts still have milk ducts, just less fatty tissue.

  • Is it okay if nursing is hard for me?

  • It might feel embarrassing to admit you're having challenges or feel pain while nursing because it's "supposed to be natural." But the naturalness of breastfeeding is more like walking than breathing; you need to learn how to do it and challenges are common. Feel free to ask a lactation specialist for help.

  • Why do I feel like I'm having contractions when I'm nursing?

  • Because you are. Nursing triggers a hormone called oxytocin. These contractions will help your uterus shrink back to its original size.

  • Why do I keep wetting my pants?

  • You may find that the slightest movement causes you to wet your pants a bit. This is normal and is called "urinary incontinence." After childbirth, your muscles may be weakened, lessening your ability to control your bladder. As you heal, this issue should go away. However, if it doesn't by the time you have your postnatal check, you should tell your doctor about it.

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  • Why does going to the bathroom hurt?

  • After giving birth, a bowel movement will probably be painful. As a result of birthing a child, you may have anal fissures and irritated veins, commonly called hemorrhoids, which can cause both bleeding and painful bowel movements.

  • Is it okay to have sex?

  • Up until you are in labor, it's absolutely safe to have sex as long as the woman can tolerate it. However, she should wait at least 6 weeks or until the birth discharge stops to have sex after giving birth.

  • Can I get pregnant directly after giving birth?

  • Yes. It's a myth that you can't get pregnant when breastfeeding. You can get pregnant just days after giving birth. If you don't want to get pregnant, you must use a contraceptive.

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Melinda Fox has a bachelor's degree in English and is a member of the FamilyShare content team. She loves Shakespeare, listening to her favorite songs on repeat and journaling.

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