Normal Vaginal Delivery – What Should ‘Mothers-to-Be’ Expect
Pregnancy is an extraordinary experience and by far the most beautiful phase of a woman’s life leading to motherhood. During pregnancy, a woman’s body and her emotions undergo changes which make her strong and positive preparing her for childbirth. There are different kinds of delivery procedures possible namely; vaginal delivery or natural childbirth, caesarean section, forceps delivery, vacuum extraction and vaginal birth after cesarean.
Out of all these procedures, the most recommended method is the vaginal delivery process. Going through a normal vaginal delivery is an empowering experience and has its own advantages over a C-section or any other kind of procedure. Natural vaginal childbirth is said to take place without any form of medical intervention where the doctor doesn’t need to use any tools to help pull out the baby. However, it might not always be possible to perform a normal delivery, depending upon the complications, the position of the baby and the capacity of the patient to handle pain.
Stages of Normal Delivery
There are three major steps that a mother has to go through for the delivery process.
The first stage of labour normally happens at the end of the third trimester of pregnancy where the body begins to show signs, that it is time for the baby to be born. The early labour stage is where the muscles of the uterus start to contract and then relax. These contractions are an important part as it helps to thin (efface) and open (dilate) the cervix for the baby to pass through the birth canal. At first, the contractions may be irregular and last for less than a minute leaving an uncomforting feeling in the woman. The pain gradually intensifies, and the body goes through contractions lasting for up to a minute which is an indication that the woman needs to pack-up and make a move to the hospital. Active labour often lasts for four to eight hours or more.
Birth of your baby
You are finally prepared for the much-awaited childbirth! The delivery process might take from a few minutes to up to a few hours to push the baby out into the world. If the woman is delivering for the first time, it might take longer to deliver versus the second or third time. The doctor will ask the patient to push during each contraction and advise changing position until the woman feels most comforting to push out the baby. One can try pushing out the baby while squatting, sitting or kneeling with the intention of minimizing pain and speeding up the delivery process. It is important to stay motivated and calm throughout the entire process. The baby will come out head first, followed by the rest of the body. Once the baby is out, the doctor will cut the umbilical cord and the patient can rejoice and relax.
Delivery of placenta
The mother can hold the child in her arms and be glad that the baby has been delivered in a healthy state. However, the last stage of labour now takes place, where the mother delivers the placenta. The placenta is normally delivered after five to thirty minutes from the time the child has been birthed. The mother will continue to have low-intensity contractions and will have to push one more time to deliver the placenta. At this stage, the doctor will examine the patient to make sure that there is no excessive bleeding. After the placenta has been delivered, the uterus gradually contracts and returns to its normal size.
Benefits of normal delivery to the mother and the baby
- Receiving beneficial bacteria: It is said that the baby gets a boost of immunity when it passes through the birth canal during the normal delivery procedure as it is ingested with healthy bacteria that contribute to the baby’s healthy gut.
- Squeeze out fluid from the baby’s lungs: The baby’s lungs are filled with fluid while in the mother’s womb. When the baby passes through the birth canal during delivery, the fluid from the lungs gets cleared and squeezed out, while the remaining is coughed out by the baby.
- Faster recovery time: The time for recovery after a normal delivery procedure is 24 to 48 hours and the mother can return home, however it is advisable to avoid any kind of strenuous activity until six weeks till the body heals completely.
- Avoid the risks associated with major surgery: Surgery carries risks of infection, hemorrhaging, blood clots, inflammation of the uterus and other complications which are eliminated when a normal delivery is performed.
- Indulge in early breastfeeding: According to reports by WHO, there are many benefits of colostrum “first milk” and it is advisable that the baby should have its first milk within an hour from its birth. This may not be possible if the mother undergoes surgical procedures.
While we have elaborated here the benefits of normal delivery, it is important to remember that the primary aim of a doctor is to perform a safe delivery and to ensure that both the child and the mother are healthy and safe.
Connect with Dr. Astha Dayal, Consultant – Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the CK Birla Hospital in Gurgaon. Book your appointment today!