Labor and Delivery: 10 Surprising Things You Need to Know

7. Most women labor in bed and give birth on their back. Once contractions were well-established, most mothers (71 percent) did not walk around, primarily because they were hooked up to instruments, could not walk because of pain medications or were told by their caregivers not to walk around. Three out of four (74 percent) women who give birth vaginally reported that they were on their backs while pushing their baby out and giving birth. The rest were either in an upright position (23 percent) (such as propped up, squatting or sitting) or lying on their side (three percent). Learn more about birthing positions from

8. Fetal monitoring has become standard. Nearly all women in the study had electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) some time during labor (93 percent) to record their baby's heartbeat. Most women using EFM were monitored continuously and most had only external monitoring around their bellies. Only six percent of the mothers were not attached to a fetal monitor. Their babies' heartbeats were checked using a handheld device, such as a "doppler" or stethoscope. Learn more about labor and birth.

9. One quarter of women give birth by cesarean. Almost one fourth (24 percent) of mothers had a cesarean delivery. About half (51 percent) of these were planned, predominantly among women with a previous cesarean delivery. Compared to women who gave birth vaginally, those with cesareans were less likely to "room in" with their babies and breastfeed at one week, and more likely to experience several health concerns after the birth, including abdominal pain, bladder and bowel difficulties, headaches or backaches. For women who had a cesarean, pain in the area of the surgical incision was the leading postpartum health concern, with five out of six of these mothers citing it as a problem in the first two months and one in fourteen citing it as a problem at least six months after birth.

Learn more about cesareans.

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