Everything You Want to Know About Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery and Postpartum, But Are Afraid to Ask!

Shannon M. Clark, MD
September 9, 2020
Everything You Want to Know About Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery and Postpartum, But Are Afraid to Ask!

If you or someone you know is preparing for labor and delivery, this information is a must-read! There are several things to be aware of during labor and delivery, with additional considerations to keep in mind if a woman is 35 or over at the time of delivery.

This is a great starting point- in this discussion I did with labor & delivery nurse, Kaci Dyson of The Mama Coach, we talk about everything you want to know about pregnancy/labor & delivery/postpartum!


Labor can occur naturally or it can be induced through one of several methods: a woman may be given hormones to trigger contractions, the cervix may be mechanically dilated using a device such as a balloon catheter, or softened with various medications.

You might be wondering why a woman would be induced, so let’s talk about a few of the reasons.

Women are typically induced if their due date has passed. They might also be induced if their doctor has reason to believe the health of mother or baby is at risk. This is sometimes the case in women over age 35. Finally, according to recent studies, induction solely for 39 weeks gestation may be offered to any woman.

If you are told you should be induced, do not panic. Some women fear that being induced will increase their risk of needing a C-section when they had planned or hoped to deliver vaginally. According to recent research, inducing labor in older pregnant women as they near their due date won’t worsen their birth experiences or make them any more likely to need a C-section. You can learn more about this research in this article: Inducing labor late in pregnancy doesn’t increase C-section risk.

Possible Complications During Labor and Delivery for Older Women

Women age 35 and over are at increased risk for the following complications during labor and delivery:

  • Increased bleeding, or hemorrhaging, during delivery.
  • Prolonged labor lasting more than 20 hours.
  • Dysfunctional labor, which means she is not passing through the stages of labor as she should.
  • At baseline, an increased risk of Cesarean section.

To learn more about these complications, watch this short video. This information is not to scare you, but to help you be prepared so you can mentally prepare and ask questions to your doctor as needed.


Now let’s discuss a couple things to keep in mind about delivery. In this article, I talk about everything a woman should know about labor and delivery. Here are a few things you should know that are infrequently discussed.

1. If a laceration occurs in your vaginal area with delivery, you should ask questions. Lacerations/tears of your vaginal area do not only occur if an episiotomy {an intentional cut made by the OB/GYN to facilitate delivery of the baby} is done by your OB/GYN. Small and large tears can occur just with pushing and then delivery of your baby. If a tear occurs, it is important to know exactly where it is so you know exactly how to keep the area clean in order to avoid infection or wound breakdown.

2. During labor and delivery, you will see a lot of blood and other bodily fluids. When you are pushing, you may pee or have a bowelmovement. Don’t worry or be embarrassed; this is completely normal and expected by the doctors and nurses. Additionally, once your baby is delivered, there is a significant amount of sudden bleeding, especially after the placenta is delivered. This often surprises many women and any family member who happens to be present for the delivery.

3. If you had swelling before delivery, the swelling will likely get worse AFTER delivery. After delivery, this extra blood volume is diverted away from your uterus {which is now empty} and goes back into your blood vessels. The swelling of your legs may get worse immediately after you deliver and may take several days to get better. As long as the swelling is even in both legs and you have no pain in your calves, there is no need to worry. However, if the swelling is uneven or you have pain in your calves, let your OB/GYN know immediately.

Now these are not the only considerations of labor and delivery, but I hope it helps prepare you. If you are preparing for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), be sure to read this article. And if you are in the midst of packing your hospital bags, this checklist is great to help you prepare!

Be sure to visit the curated Babies After 35 Amazon shop for you hospital bag essentials!

Shannon M. Clark, MD

Shannon M. Clark, MD

Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy. In her role as a physician caring for high-risk pregnancies, she has counseled and treated hundreds of women over the years in her very own situation, and has found a whole new respect for the challenges and complications a woman may experience when trying to have a baby later in life.

Follow Shannon on TikTok @tiktokbabydoc, Facebook @babiesafter35, and Instagram @babiesafter35.

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