Every delivery is as unique and individual as each mother and infant. In addition, women may have completely different experiences with each new labor and delivery. Giving birth is a life-changing event that will leave an impression on you for the rest of your life.
A vaginal birth is the “natural” way to deliver a baby. A vaginal delivery is the birth of offspring in mammals (babies in humans) through the vagina (also called the “birth canal”). It is the natural method of birth for all mammals except monotremes, which lay eggs.
For humans, the average length of a hospital stay for a normal vaginal delivery is 36–48 hours. Surgery extends that stay. With an episiotomy (a surgical cut to widen the vaginal canal) to enable vaginal birth, the stay is 48–60 hours. The length of stay for a Caesarean section (C-section), a common form of non -vaginal birth, is 72–108 hours.
Types of vaginal delivery
Different types of vaginal deliveries have different terms:
A spontaneous vaginal delivery (SVD) occurs when a pregnant female goes into labor without the use of drugs or techniques to induce labor, and delivers her baby in the normal manner, without forceps, vacuum extraction, or a cesarean section.
An assisted vaginal delivery (AVD) or instrumental vaginal delivery occurs when a pregnant female goes into labor (with or without the use of drugs or techniques to induce labor), and requires the use of special instruments such as forceps or a vacuum extractor to deliver her baby vaginally.
An induced vaginal delivery is a delivery involving labor induction, where drugs or manual techniques are used to initiate the process of labor. Use of the term “IVD” in this context is less common than for instrumental vaginal delivery.
A normal vaginal delivery (NVD) is a vaginal delivery, whether or not assisted or induced, usually used in statistics or studies to contrast with a delivery by cesarean section.
How to Prepare For a Vaginal Delivery as an Expectant Nigerian Mother
While it’s nearly impossible to plan for every aspect of your labor and delivery, you’ll likely appreciate feeling prepared. A few things to think through in advance of your vaginal birth:
- Create your birth plan, so you and your practitioner are on the same page as to how you’d ideally like your birth to go down (keeping in mind, of course, that things rarely go exactly as planned)
- Make a visit to the hospital or birthing center where you want to deliver
- Take peek at a few common labor positions
- Read up on breastfeeding basics, since you’ll most likely be able to give it a shot the moment your baby arrives
- Know the signs of labor so you’ll be aware when baby’s almost here!
The Stages of a Vaginal Birth (CHILD BIRTH STAGE)
Early phases of labor
Amniotic sac: The amniotic sac is the fluid-filled membrane surrounding your baby. This sac will almost always rupture before the baby is born, though in some cases it remains intact until delivery. When it ruptures, it’s often described as your “water breaking.” In most cases, your water will break before you go into labor or at the very beginning of labor. Most women experience their water breaking as a gush of fluid. It should be clear and odorless — if it’s yellow, green, or brown, contact your doctor right away.
Contractions: Contractions are the tightening and releasing of your uterus. These motions will eventually help your baby push through the cervix. Contractions can feel like heavy cramping or pressure that begins in your back and moves to the front. Contractions aren’t a reliable indicator of labor. You might already have felt Braxton-Hicks contractions, which may have started as early as your second trimester. A general rule is that when you are having contractions that last for a minute, are five minutes apart, and have been so for an hour, you’re in true labor.
Cervix dilation: The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. The cervix is a tubular structure approximately 3 to 4 centimeters in length with a passage that connects the uterine cavity to the vagina. During labor, the role of the cervix must change from maintaining the pregnancy (by keeping the uterus closed) to facilitating the delivery of the baby (by dilating, or opening, enough to allow the baby through. The fundamental changes that occur near the end of the pregnancy result in a softening of the cervical tissue and thinning of the cervix, both of which help prepare the cervix. True, active labor is considered to be underway when the cervix is dilated 3 centimeters or more.
Labor and delivery: Eventually, the cervical canal must open until the cervical opening itself has reached 10 centimeters in diameter and the baby is able to pass into the birth canal. As the baby enters the vagina, your skin and muscles stretch. The labia and perineum (the area between the vagina and the rectum) eventually reach a point of maximum stretching. At this point, the skin may feel like it’s burning. Some childbirth educators call this the ring of fire because of the burning sensation felt as the mother’s tissues stretch around the baby’s head. At this time, your healthcare provider may decide to perform an episiotomy. You may or may not feel the episiotomy because the skin and muscles can lose sensation due to how tightly they’re stretched.
The Birth: As the baby’s head emerges, there is a great relief from the pressure, although you’ll probably still feel some discomfort. Your nurse or doctor will ask you to stop pushing momentarily while the baby’s mouth and nose are suctioned to clear out amniotic fluid and mucus. It’s important to do this before the baby starts to breathe and cry. Usually, the doctor will rotate the baby’s head a quarter of a turn to be in alignment with the baby’s body, which is still inside you. You’ll then be asked to begin pushing again to deliver the shoulders. The top shoulder comes first and then the lower shoulder. Then, with one last push, you deliver your baby!
For women who deliver vaginally, childbirth progresses in three stages:
Stage 1: Labor
Labor itself is divided into three phases — early labor, active labor and transitional labor. All women who deliver vaginally will experience all three phases of labor, though you may not notice the first phase at all. The timing and intensity of contractions can help clue you in to which phase of labor you’re in, while periodic physical exams will confirm your progress.
Stage 2: Pushing and delivery of the baby
This is when your cervix reaches the magic 10 cm mark — meaning you’re fully dilated. Now it’s your turn to push your baby the rest of the way through the birth canal, unless you’re laboring down (in which case you’ll catch a break for a few minutes to an hour while your uterus does most of the work bringing baby farther down into the birth canal). You may wonder; does pushing hurt more than contractions? Most women actually find that transitional labor, or those last 2 to 3 cm of dilation, is the most demanding and intense phase of labor — but it’s fortunately also the shortest, usually lasting 15 minutes to an hour. As your baby crowns and you push him or her out, you will feel a tingling, stretching or burning sensation (it’s called the “ring of fire” for a reason).
Stage 3: Delivery of the placenta
The placenta and the amniotic sac that supported and protected the baby for nine months are still in the uterus after the delivery. These need to be delivered, and this can happen spontaneously or it may take as long as half an hour. Your midwife or doctor may rub your abdomen below your belly button to help tighten the uterus and loosen the placenta.
Your uterus is now about the size of a large grapefruit. You may need to push to help deliver the placenta. You may feel some pressure as the placenta is expelled but not nearly as much pressure as when the baby was born.
Your healthcare provider will inspect the delivered placenta to make sure it was delivered in full. On rare occasions, some of the placenta doesn’t release and may remain adhered to the wall of the uterus.
If this happens, your provider will reach into your uterus to remove the leftover pieces in order to prevent heavy bleeding that can result from a torn placenta. If you would like to see the placenta, please ask. Usually, they’ll be happy to show you.