Awesome Childbirth Facts
Awesome Childbirth Facts

51 Interesting Facts about Childbirth

By Celeste Hurst, Junior Writer
Published June 26, 2017
  • Less than 5% of babies are born on the day they are due, with 50% born at least a week within their due dates and 90% born within 2 weeks of their due dates.[12]
  • In Africa, 1 out of every 22 women dies during childbirth or pregnancy, while 1 out of every 8,000 women in the United Kingdom dies during childbirth or pregnancy.[21]
  • An estimated 350,000 to 500,000 women around the world die each year during childbirth.[9]
  • Technology Childbirth Fact
    Over the past 25 years, technology has almost halved the amount of maternal deaths
  • Between 1990 and 2013, maternal deaths during  childbirth decreased by 47% worldwide due to the development of life-saving technologies and interventions.[19]
  • There are about 24,000 stillbirths every year in the United States.[4]
  • Somewhere between 28-50% of the babies of African and African-American slaves in 18th century America died during childbirth.[3]
  • Midwives are present for only about 10% of births in the United States.[6]
  • In the Netherlands and Japan, most women choose not to take any form of pain medication during childbirth.[6]
  • During the 15th century in Europe, childbirth was considered so dangerous that once a woman found out she was pregnant, she would make out her will.[3]
  • It is common for labor to start and stop once or twice before becoming strong enough to complete the birth.[6]
  • A meeting coordinated by the World Health Organization on Appropriate Technology for Birth held in Fortaleza, Brazil in 1985 stated, “No geographic region should have rates of induced labor over ten percent.”[6]
  • The most common reasons for newborn deaths worldwide include: severe infections (30%), preterm delivery (29%), and birth asphyxia (23%).[7]
  • Slightly over 50% of babies delivered in Turkey are done so via Cesarean section.[14]
  • Childbirth Doula Facts
    Emotional support from a doula can help relieve the stress of an expecting mother
  • Women with a doula to support them through childbirth are 28% less likely to need to give birth via C-section. A doula is a woman who, while not a medical professional, is trained to give emotional support to a woman before and during childbirth.[1]
  • Midwives attend 4% of births in the United States and 75% of births in Europe.[16]
  • Many hospitals ban Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) even though 74% of women who are allowed to attempt a VBAC are successful.[1]
  • A woman induced into labor and given an epidural is 6 times more likely to need a C-section than if she gave birth naturally without either intervention.[1]
  • First time mothers usually give birth within 3 hours and 20 minutes without an epidural, and in 5 hours and 40 minutes with an epidural. Women who’ve already had children normally give birth within 1 hour and 20 minutes without an epidural and 4 hours and 15 minutes with one.[11]
  • Although some people say that use of an epidural makes it more difficult for a woman to push during childbirth, a study in 2001 found that women given a narcotic and an epidural were just as able to wiggle their toes, walk, and raise their knees as women who were only given a low dose narcotic.[15]
  • Puritan communities in the 1600s considered the pain of childbirth as rightful punishment from God to all women because of Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden.[3]
  • Among Inuits in the 1920s, the husband of a birthing mother would make a bed in a shallow hole and cover it with animal skin for the delivery to take place.[2]
  • Around 430 B.C. in Greece, midwives would ensure that no knots were in the birthing room because of the belief that they had evil powers that could delay or prevent the birth.[2]
  • During the 1700s in France, the umbilical cords of royal babies were dusted with powdered cumin and myrrh.[2]
  • Many European mythologies hold that a baby born with a caul, meaning born with the amniotic sac still intact, cannot ever drown.[13]
  • Baby Caul Myth Facts
    Born with a caul = no fear of drowning

  • Even though 95% of women are considered “low-risk” and able to give birth without medical intervention, only 2% of them do so.[1]
  • Women giving birth before the age of 18 are 5 times more likely to die during childbirth than women giving birth in their twenties.[18]
  • About 1 out of every 5 women in the world gives birth before the age of 18.[18]
  • A baby is 60% more likely to die during birth if the mother is under 18.[18]
  • More teenagers around the world die from giving birth than from anything else.[18]
  • “Precipitate labor” defines a delivery that lasted less than three hours.[5]
  • An episiotomy is a surgical incision that enlarges the vagina during birth and may be necessary if the pushing stage is prolonged, if the mother is too exhausted to push, or if the baby is in distress.  An episiotomy can decrease the time of the second stage of labor by 5-15 minutes.[12]
  • Some women of the merchant class in 19th century China had a Taoist priest whisper prayers into their ears during childbirth to encourage an easy delivery.[2]
  • A tradition exists in Bali that includes cleaning the placenta, putting it in a container, and burying it in an intricate ceremony.[13]
  • All mammals except humans routinely eat their placenta after giving birth.[20]
  • Pregnant women develop a mucus plug at the opening of the cervix that helps prevent bacteria from entering the womb and that passes out of the body when labor begins.[20]
  • If the mother’s vagina holds sexually transmitted bacteria like Chlamydia or gonorrhea during childbirth, it can cause the baby to go blind.[12]
  • Skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby as soon as possible after birth helps to keep the baby at the ideal temperature as well as regulating the mother's and the baby's hormones.[12]
  • There is a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.

    - Laura Stavoe Harm

  • Because a main way of mother-to-child transmission of HIV occurs during childbirth, a C-section is the safest way to birth a baby to a mother with the virus.[12]
  • It is common and normal for mothers to poop while giving birth.[17]
  • About 4% of babies are born in breech position, meaning that the baby is positioned sideways, feet first, or head up and bottom down.[8]
  • Around 25% of babies are born with their umbilical cord wrapped around their necks.[8]
  • An analysis of births from 1995 to 2011 concluded that when given an epidural before the cervix dilated to 4 centimeters, there was no greater risk of a C-section than with any other pain medication.[15]
  • In 2006 the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists declared, "the fear of unnecessary cesarean delivery should not influence the method of pain relief that women can choose during labor."[15]
  • Immunizing pregnant women against vaccine-preventable diseases is a highly effective and cost-effective way to ensure the health of their babies.[7]
  • After giving birth, many women experience constipation for a few days or have trouble urinating.[12]
  • Immediately after giving birth and lasting for 4-6 weeks, lochia passes through the vagina.  Lochia consists of blood, mucus, fluids that helped grow the baby, and tissues that lined the uterus.  Because of this discharge, women need to wear maternity pads to manage the heavy flow.[12]
  • If she's not breastfeeding, a woman's menstrual cycle usually returns 1-2 months after giving birth.  If she is breastfeeding, it usually takes several months for her period to start again, sometimes even not returning until her child is weaned.[12]
  • Childbirth Indian Train Facts
    One baby survived being born onto train tracks...from a moving train
  • A woman in India gave birth to her baby while using the toilet on a train that emptied directly onto the tracks.  She passed out after giving birth, and after she reported what happened, rail workers found the baby alive and unharmed.[10]
  • A baby earned the nickname "bungee-cord baby" when he fell out of his mother while she stood up from a wheelchair.[22]
  • One baby born with her hand by her head grabbed the obstetrician's hand and refused to release it.[22]
  • Immediately after birth, a baby's skin might be blue but take on a normal color once the baby starts breathing.  The baby's skin is usually covered in vernix, blood, and mucus.  Vernix is a greasy substance that helps the baby adjust to the dry environment outside the womb, helps prevent dehydration, and helps prevent infections.[12]
References

1Brown, Shannon. “6 Surprising Stats that will Change the Way You Give Birth.” Growing Slower. 2016. Accessed: December 1, 2016.

2Byrne, Deirdre. “9 Birthing Rituals of the Past.” Parents. 2016. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

3Cellania, Miss. “The Historcal Horror of Childbirth.” Mental_floss. May 9, 2013. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Facts about Stillbirth.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated: June 6, 2016. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

5Dennison, Julia. “Did this Woman have the Shortest Labor Ever?Fit Pregnancy. 2016. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

6Gaskin, Ina May. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2003.

7Global Health and Diplomacy. "Low-cost Technologies that can Save the Lives of Newborns." Global Health and Diplomacy. 2014. Accessed: December 13, 2016.

8Greiner, Gail. “Delivery Room Drama.” Fit Pregnancy. 2016. Accessed: December 8, 2016.

9Hoffman, Marshall. “Dying: Millions of Women in Childbirth, Newborns, and Young Children.” The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, & Child Health. April 13, 2010. Accessed: November 30, 2016.

10Hrala, Josh. "The Five Most Insane Childbirth Stories of all Time." Cracked. July 28, 2012. Accessed: December 13, 2016.

11Innes, Emma. “Epidurals can make Labour Last Two Hours Longer than without Pain Relief.” Daily Mail. February 7, 2014. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

12International Childbirth Education Association. The ICEA Guide to Pregnancy & Birth. Minnetonka, MN: Meabowbrook Press, 2011.

13Kelly, Debra. “10 Strange Customs Surrounding Birth and Babies.” Listverse. December 23, 2013. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

14McCarthy, Niall. “Which Countries Have the Highest Cesarean Section Rates?Forbes. January 12, 2016. Accessed: December 1, 2016.

15Moyer, Melinda Wenner. "The Truth about Epidurals." Slate. January 11, 2012. Accessed: December 13, 2016.

16New Birth Midwifery. “Little Known Facts.” New Birth Midwifery. 2016. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

17Pevzner, Holly. “Will You Poop During Labor?!Parents. 2015. Accessed: December 8, 2016.

18Radnedge, Aidan. “Childbirth is the Number One Killer of Teenagers.” Metro. June 26, 2012. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

19Restauri, Denise. "How Emerging Technology Will Save Women's Lives During Childbirth." Forbes. August 26, 2013. Accessed: December 12, 2016.

20Stroessner, Lucy. “30 Weird and Totally Normal Facts about Pregnancy.” Mom.me. July 6, 2015. Accessed: December 5, 2016.

21The Guardian. “Giving Birth- The Most Dangerous Thing an African Woman can do?The Guardian. March 9, 2012. Accessed: November 30, 2016.

22Yaqub, Reshma Memon. "Weird and Wacky Birth Stories." Parent. September 2016. Accessed: December 13, 2016.

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