What myths surround giving birth?

Anna talks all things birthing in episode 11 of Health Fact vs Fiction, as Ellie Cockburn, midwife at The Portland Hospital, joins her for a chat in the studio to confirm the truths and dispel some of those myths surrounding childbirth.

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Episode 11 - Things only a midwife can tell you

With 40 per cent of babies in the UK being born to first-time mums, it’s understandable a little apprehension may set when it comes to the monumentally life-changing moment that is giving birth. 


Well for starters it’s worth noting, as Ellie informs Anna, a woman’s waters breaking doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in active labour, and you could actually be sent home from the hospital for at least another 24 hours – one of the more interesting ways to spend the day.


Then, of course, there’s a couple of the more intriguing theories such as should you avoid spicy foods when breastfeeding (fiction). And the chance you may poo yourself when having your baby. This one is not only true, and completely natural, but also fairly understandable – considering you’re in the rather important process of giving life to a new person!

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Things we learn in this midwife episode

Forty per cent of children born in the UK are born to first-time mums. Going through the final stages of pregnancy can be a daunting process so, in this episode, presenter Anna Richardson calls on Midwife Ellie Cockburn, from HCA Healthcare UK’s The Portland Hospital, to have a frank and honest chat about the period between a woman’s waters breaking and leaving the hospital with your baby.

Waters Breaking Fact

Even if your waters have broken, the hospital may send you home. Ellie explains your waters breaking doesn’t necessarily mean you are in active labour, so you might get sent home for at least another 24 hours.

Epidural side effects Fiction

An epidural will slow labour down. While it used to be the case, now, epidurals are lighter and provide more mobility so mothers can move around during labour which keeps things moving. 

Breastfeeding what food to avoid Fiction

You should avoid spicy foods when you are breastfeeding. Ellie tells Anna while it can affect the taste of breast milk, it can increase the baby’s palate and introduce them to new flavours.

What is active labour? Fact

You move into active labour when your cervix is four centimetres dilated. Ellie talks Anna through what active labour is, how you can identify it and how long it will take between your waters breaking and being able to take your new little bundle of joy home.

Pooing while giving birth Fact 

I may poo myself when giving birth. Ellie reassures us although this isn’t a myth, there is nothing to be embarrassed about as it is completely natural.

Skin-on-skin contact after birth Fact

Skin-on-skin contact helps you bond with your baby. Ellie talks us through some steps for parents to help connect with their new-born child.

What to do next

More about maternity care


Having your baby at The Portland

Find out more about having your baby at The Portland

Ellie Cockburn

Ellie Cockburn is a midwife at The Portland Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK.  Ellie studied to become a midwife at London South Bank University, training at Queens Hospital NHS in Romford while completing her course.  After qualifying as a midwife Ellie remained at Queens Hospital NHS, working full-time, from 2013 to 2017.  


During her time at Queens Hospital, Ellie worked on all wards including antenatal, triage, high-risk labour, postnatal, birth centre and maternity high dependency unit.

Ellie is passionate about midwifery and loves being able to demonstrate her theoretical knowledge and clinical skills every day.  Ellie really values being part of such an intimate time in a woman's life and wanted to take part in HCA’s Health Fact vs Fiction podcast series 2 in order to share her knowledge and passion for midwifery and childbirth.

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