Does birth really have to hurt? Will my waters break in the supermarket? And what's Queen Victoria got to do with it all? We answer these questions and many more.
Does labour really have to hurt?
A combination of having pelvises which are relatively small in relation to our babies' heads (compared with other mammals), societal and medical conventions that restrict us from doing whatever we need to do to relieve our pain, along with the expectation that it will hurt (which makes us tense), mean that, yes, for most of us, labour does hurt, to some extent. The degree of pain, however, varies hugely from mild discomfort for some lucky mums to screaming agony for others.
Can raspberry leaf tea really help make labour easier?
Maybe. In an Australian study, first-time mums who were given a 1.2g raspberry leaf tea tablet twice a day from 32 weeks were found to have a shorter second stage of labour and a lower rate of forceps delivery. So, it's definitely worth a go – you can take tablets (available from health food shops) or make tea from the dried herb, but don't start until the last two months of pregnancy, as the leaves have a powerful stimulating effect on your uterus. And be warned, it doesn't taste like raspberries, just like leaves!
Will I turn into a swearing, screaming monster?
Quite possibly. During transition (just before the pushing stage), many women get a bit 'possessed', even mild mannered, polite ladies may come out with a colourful array of swearwords and wild animal noises, while others silently retreat into themselves and prefer to be left alone to focus on the job in hand. There's no right or wrong way, so go with it – just make sure that video camera's turned off!