Labor + delivery FAQs

Join pediatric nurse, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor Diana Spalding as she answers your frequently asked labor and delivery questions.

What should I do if my water breaks?

What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

What is a 'gentle' C-section?

Can I be dilated before labor begins?

Can I breastfeed after a C-section?

What can I expect during a scheduled C-section?

What do contractions feel like?

Do epidurals take away the pain of childbirth?

What happens when you're induced?

How do I prepare for an unmedicated birth?

What is the 'ring of fire'?

How can I prevent preterm labor?

Is it common to tear during birth?

Can I induce labor naturally?

Will I poop in labor?

When should I go to the hospital during labor?

Can I have a vaginal birth after a C-section (VBAC)?

What happens during a C-section?

How long does it take to recover from a C-section?

What are the three stages of labor?

Can I eat and drink during early labor?

When do I lose my mucus plug?

What's the difference between false labor and early labor?

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This video has been popping up all over our feeds this week—and with good reason.

It's a stack of felt, crafted into a handmade demonstration of what *actually* happens during a Cesarean birth. And it is nothing short of incredible!

Watch it here:


We caught up with the creator, Jesse Franks, a blogger, International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) advocate and mom of three. She has been shocked and humbled by the feedback the project has received.

"People have said that they are thankful it exists, that the actual surgical videos have been too gory for them to watch. One mom said that it was the first time she smiled while imagining her child's birth. (That one made me teary eyed!)"

Originally inspired by a childbirth education tool she came across years ago, Jesse wanted to make her own version to help with her ICAN advocacy journey. "How better to explain the seriousness of Cesareans than something you can touch? To be able to look at and touch all those layers," shared Franks.

We love how Jesse created a tactile, accessible tool to help spread awareness + educate mothers about how so many of our babies enter this world. Diana Spalding, a midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor, elaborates on the impact these kind of tools can have: "Birth education is such an important and empowering part of the pregnancy journey. ALL women deserve to have access to information about their birth, regardless of how their baby will be coming into the world."

Because regardless of how we meet our babies—all mothers are strong. And our awe-inspiring bodies are worth celebrating. 🙌

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This is birth: A surrogacy journey shares the incredible story of how one surrogate came to carry four children for a couple, and how they all became like family to each other in the process.

We had the honor of catching up with surrogate Jessica Pretz to learn more about how this incredible story came to be.

Five years ago, when surrogate Jessica met intended parents Sharon and Lake, she felt an immediate click. "It was like going on a first date and meeting with someone you knew you were supposed to be aligned with. We all just felt that connection."

Jessica had given birth to three of her own children, and had recently finished her first journey as a surrogate, carrying twins for another couple. Jessica agreed to be a gestational carrier for Sharon and Lake.

Throughout that first pregnancy, the intended parents, Jessica and her family all became very close. Jessica, who is currently a Surrogate Coordinator for Circle Surrogacy, clarifies that this is not always the case with surrogacy—this particular connection is unique.

"The relationship I have with Sharon and Lake is quite different than the one I have with my first intended parents. I respect the level of contact and communication that each intended parent desires. Their family was very involved with the pregnancy and wanted to take part in as many appointments as possible, help with fundal height measurements."

Watch their surrogacy journey captured by Jennifer Hamilton of Mamarazzi Photography here:

Sharon and Lake were by Jessica's side throughout the birth of their first child, Campbell, and even "caught'" her when she was born. When they asked if she wanted to carry a sibling for her just moments after Campbell was born, Jessica says she didn't need to hesitate before saying yes.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I would love to carry another for them. They are everything I could ask for in intended parents and they are a joy to go through pregnancy with."

Less than two years later, Jessica gave birth to Sharon and Lake's second child, Sailor, in what Jessica describes as an "amazing, fast water birth."

After carrying two of their children, she initially hesitated to take on another surrogacy journey.

"I knew after the second journey that they had remaining embryos left. I had six pregnancies under my belt at that point, all of which were vaginal and unmedicated births. I had no complications as of yet, and I was fearful of something going wrong. I tossed up the idea of them using another surrogate to carry their remaining two over the course of two more journeys. I only would have done one more pregnancy as I was ready to not be pregnant or pumping breastmilk and spend time focusing on my own family."

But after some discussion and consulting with her family, Sharon and Lake, her birth team and reproductive endocrinologist, they all decided to do one more journey together—and transfer the last two remaining embryos. Both took— and they became pregnant with twins. In their birth film, you can see the emotional moment when the twin pregnancy is confirmed, while Jessica is on the phone with Sharon and Lake from the ultrasound room.

Initial fears aside, Jessica explains how the decision itself was, ultimately, second nature: "Deciding to carry all four of their kids really wasn't a hard decision. I am a big part of their lives and most importantly their kid's stories. It would have been odd for me to not help them complete their family."

Watching the birth film, it is truly powerful to witness the love, support and familial connection between Jessica, Sharon and Lake while their twins are born. In one sweet moment, Sharon is embracing Jessica during labor as they both cry.

Even after the birth of their twins, Sharon, Lake, Jessica and her family have all stayed close—even vacationing together. Jessica says she and Sharon are close friends who talk about parenting, marriage and life in general. "It's really a beautiful connection we share."

On how it feels to be a surrogate, Jessica shares, "The best part of being a surrogate is getting to see a couple become a family and the look on their faces when they first see their baby or babies. It is truly an honor to carry these babies and be entrusted with their care."

As a mother of four children herself, we wanted to know more about how Jessica's family has reacted to her surrogacy journeys. "My family is extremely supportive of my surrogate pregnancies and quite proud of the joy I have been able to bring to others through surrogacy. The intended parents I have carried for have become family to us and my own biological family regularly communicates via social media with them."

She continues, "My kids are little advocates and educators on surrogacy. I feel that my children have learned selflessness and sacrifice through my journeys. I always say that while it is the woman who is pregnant, the journey of surrogacy takes the whole family's support."

We're so thankful to both of these families for allowing us to share their incredible surrogacy story.

This is birth: A Surrogacy Journey was captured by Jennifer Hamilton of Mamarazzi Photography.

We started our This is: Birth film series to give representation to the many varied ways women give birth. Watch more curated birth films here.

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Viral video of dad rooting for his cheerleader daughter

This viral video of a dad enthusiastically supporting his cheerleader daughter will make your day. 🤩

🎥: Scott Willard
#cheerdad: Hekili Holland

Viral video of boy crushing his dance routine

After GMA's Lara Spencer joked that Prince George is unlikely to stick with ballet, Mark Kanemura shared this video as a joyful reminder that "boys dance, too!"

Read the full story here

(via @mkik808 + @aaron.nelson.dancer)

Viral video of twins holding hands right after birth

This viral video of twins doing skin-to-skin and reaching to hold each other's hand is unreal.😱❤️

🎥: @fitbreezylife + @twinbaby_adventures

Viral video of Trader Joe's workers dancing and singing to stop a ...

When this toddler had a tantrum at checkout, these workers started singing and dancing to help calm him.👏#teamwork

"My baby Julian was having a tantrum because he wanted to push the big kid shopping cart. Tori (Trader Joe's employee) started singing and a couple other workers chimed in to calm down Julian. Moms NEED to shop somewhere where the staff is kind to their kids and engages them, from giving them animal crackers to helping moms when their baby throws a full blown tantrum." - Alexandra Seba (mama)

Viral video of a baby breastfeeding using a Barbie

"When you're hungry and mommy is busy with the big brothers." 😂

🎥: Princess Chanel McNeil , Jeremy Norman, @jsremedy101, @iamprincessruby_ + @unofficially_normal

Viral video of a woman finding out she’s pregnant after years of infertility

Watch the emotional moment this mama finds out she's pregnant after 3 years of infertility. 😭

Her advice for families who are on their own infertility/IVF journey: "Keep the faith and believe, regardless of what you hear! Try your best to stay positive and give yourself space to feel all emotions but keep picking yourself up despite your doubts." —Wanda Mulzac, IG: wandaanicole

Viral video of dad and son dancing to 'Frozen' is everything

Orjan Buroe's 4-year-old son loves Frozen and sees Elsa as a strong character to be admired: "For him, Elsa is a superhero."

Here's to superheroes and super dads. 💕❄️

Viral video shows a big sister refusing to let anyone take her newborn baby sister away from her

This viral video of an overprotective big sister is going to make your heart burst 😍😭

Learn how to help your toddler welcome the new baby here.

Viral video of a soldier surprising his wife at the hospital

Mama, Cydney writes:"1 year of crazy, 1000s of miles, 1 solo pregnancy and delivery, 48392 Skype calls, some superheros, a few plane rides, 12 NICU days, tons of help from family and friends, and many tears later...

A soldier came home ❤️🇺🇸💙

(I promise I hugged him—that is just me realizing everything is finally okay ❤️)"

Click here to read more about this special moment and the days leading up to the surprise.

Viral video of a big brother's precious reaction to meeting his baby sister

This viral video of a big brother's reaction to meeting his baby sister will melt your heart. 😭

Viral video of baby's sweet reaction to seeing 'two' of mama

"When you just can't believe that you're seeing TWO of Mommy 😍"
(via) Andrea Boals

Viral video shows NICU 'graduate' in cap + gown

After 160 days in the NICU, baby Cullen Potter was carried by his primary care nurse, Jewel Barbour, as he "graduated" from the NICU, in attire fitting of such a momentous milestone: A tiny cap and gown.

Click here to read more about this resilient baby's journey.

Adorable video of dad pretending to have a conversation with his baby goes viral

Baby breaks the internet babbling to dad! We caught up with proud parents DJ Pryor and Shanieke Pryor—about their adorable 19-month-old son who has warmed all our hearts. "I know every parent probably thinks this—but seeing his growth every day and how he interprets what he sees—it's thrilling to me."

Click here to read the full interview.

Viral video of a daddy and daughter lip sync battle will melt your heart

We can't handle the cuteness of this daddy/daughter duo. 😍Find out what happens to a dad's brain when he meets his daughter here.

(via) @TrinaWesson + Viralhog

Viral video of baby 'dancing' in the womb

BABY 'DANCES' WITH MAMA WHILE STILL IN WOMB: This baby has some serious moves already! 😍
(via) Abel Mendiola Sotelo + ViralHog

Hilarious video of baby 'latching' onto dad's ear

(via) Becca Allegood

Viral video of parents-to-be dancing during labor

This mama included dancing in her birth plan and we can't 👏 get 👏 enough 👏.
She explains what inspired her to dance during labor:"I told myself I get to choose the way this story is told and I want it to be positive. I still had a pretty long labor but I definitely think dancing set the tone for the way I wanted this experience to go."

Viral video of family singing 'push it' in the delivery room

*SOUND ON*
Sometimes you need a little motivation 😂

🎥 (via) Jadie Phelps

Viral video of a baby in a dinosaur costume will make your day

BRB, ordering all of our babies Dino costumes for Halloween. 😂

(via) From Labor to Love + Ines Montes Gonzalez

Cutest rap battle ever: Baby laughs hysterically at his dad

This 5-month-old's reaction to his dad rapping is priceless 😂

Click here to find out what inspired this adorable video.

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Mom hack: Toddler jacket flip

This Montessori technique is too good not to share! Fiercely independent preschoolers will have their jackets on in no time...all by themselves.

How to create the ultimate grazing table

Busy mamas, this kid-friendly grazing table will totally impress your holiday guests.

Mom hacks: Stress-free holiday hosting

3 easy school lunch ideas (to make with your little sous chef)

Our editor-in-chief (and her toddler) made some of Pinterest's top back-to-school lunches for kids—and it was easy + tasty.

You are my reason

My only resolution this new year is to 'survive'

I remember when I wanted what I currently have

The mental load of motherhood is what I didn’t fully expect

You're my child forever but only my baby for a year

So while you're still my baby, I'll hold you a little longer. I'll try to slow down more often. I'll give you all of me—then a little more.

What I didn't know about being a working mom until I was one

Until I was a working mom, I didn't realize the sacrifice, exhaustion and constant juggle. I didn't know what it felt like to wish you could be in two places at once. 💜

Read the full piece here.

(Author credit: Momlando)

Here's to celebrating mom bodies

I'm going to proudly rock this mom bod and celebrate all the ...

To the first-time mama

It's time to let go of mom guilt

To the mama who is done breastfeeding

The world changed when I became a mother

To the mama returning to work after maternity leave

Motherhood is: Wishing for bedtime, but missing them as they sleep

This is: Postpartum life

None

I was going to fold the clothes but instead I held you

Thank you pregnant body

To the mama who thinks she did 'nothing' today 

To the mama who stays up way past her bedtime 

To the girl moms

To the NICU mamas 

Here's to a guilt-free summer

To the mamas who have experienced loss 

Dear husband one day we'll miss this

What do new moms do all day

Marry this person

Dear postpartum body

This is: Becoming a dad

A dad is not a babysitter

To the person who falls in love with my son someday

This is: Marriage after kids

Don't let me forget their littleness

This is: Becoming a mama

To the mama preparing her heart for baby #2

This is: Bringing your baby home

To the mamas that breastfeed

To all the grandparents—thank you

When I forget to feel lucky

To my love, I may not always say it but I need ...

Birth is just the beginning

The days are long but the years are short

To the mama whose baby won't sleep

Why we're asking for experiences, not toys

Dear mom, I get it now

You're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard