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During a Vaginal Delivery, What to Expect

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Expectations During a Vaginal Delivery

Each birth is as special and individual as the mother and child who give birth to it. In addition, every time a woman gives birth, she can have an entirely different experience. A major life-altering experience like giving birth will have an impact on you for the rest of your life.

Of course, you’ll want to enjoy yourself and be aware of what to anticipate. Here is some information about what could occur while you are giving birth to your child.

Birth plans: Should you have one?

You might want to prepare a birth plan as your pregnancy nears its end. Think carefully about your priorities. A healthy mother and child are the main objectives.

Your ideal birth is described in the birth plan, which may need to be modified when events actually transpire.

Decide who you want to be present for the birth after discussing it with your partner. Some couples would rather spend this time alone since they believe it to be private.

Other topics including delivery positions, labor pain treatment, and more may be covered in a birth plan.

Early Labor Stages

Amniotic sac

The fluid-filled membrane enclosing your baby is called the amniotic sac. This sac will nearly invariably burst prior to delivery, though occasionally it will hold till delivery. It’s frequently referred to as your “water breaking” when it bursts.

The majority of the time, your water will break either either before or right at the start of labor. Although it can simply be a trickle of fluid, some women report their water breaking as a rush of fluid. The liquid ought to be transparent and odorless.

Contact your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other obstetric care provider as soon as your water breaks and heed their instructions.


Your uterus tightens and releases during contractions. Your baby will finally pass through the cervix with the aid of these movements. Heavy cramping or pressure that starts in your back and spreads to your front can be how contractions feel.

Contractions don’t always mean that labor is about to start. Braxton-Hicks contractions, which could have started as early as your second trimester, might already be present.

According to a general rule, you are in genuine labor when your contractions last a minute, come five minutes apart, and have lasted for an hour.

Cervix dilation

The uterus’s cervix, which opens into the vagina, is located at its base. The cervix is a 3 to 4 centimeter long tubular structure with a channel connecting the uterine cavity to the vagina.

The cervix’s function during labor must switch from preserving the pregnancy (by keeping the uterus closed) to assisting with baby delivery (by dilating, or opening, enough to allow the baby through).

The cervix is prepared for labor by softening the cervical tissue and weakening it due to the fundamental changes that take place near the end of pregnancy. True, when the cervix is 3 cm or more dilated, active labor is regarded as being in progress.

Labor and delivery

The cervical aperture must eventually widen until the infant can pass into the delivery canal and the opening itself measures 10 cm in width.

Your skin and muscles stretch as the baby enters the vagina. There comes a time when the labia and perineum (the region between the vagina and the rectum) are stretched beyond their limit. The skin may feel as though it is burning at this point.

Because of the searing feeling experienced as the mother’s tissues stretch around the baby’s head, some childbirth instructors refer to this as the “ring of fire.” Your doctor might choose to conduct an episiotomy at this point.

Because of how tightly the skin and muscles are stretched, you might or might not feel the episiotomy.

The birth

The pressure is greatly relieved once the baby’s head pops out, though you’ll probably still feel some discomfort.

In order to empty the baby’s mouth and nose of amniotic fluid and mucus, your nurse or doctor may encourage you to temporarily cease pushing. This must be done before the infant begins to breathe and cry.

In order to align the baby’s head with the baby’s body, which is still inside of you, the doctor often rotates the baby’s head by one-fourth of a turn. The next step is to push again in order to deliver the shoulders.

The upper shoulder is placed before the lower shoulder.

You finally push out your child after that!

Delivering the placenta

After the baby is delivered, the amniotic sac and placenta that supported and shielded it for nine months remain inside the uterus. These need to be delivered, which may occur on its own or require up to 30 minutes. To help constrict the uterus and loosen the placenta, your midwife or doctor could rub your abdomen just below the belly button.

Your uterus is currently comparable to a huge grapefruit in size. To assist with placenta delivery, you might need to push. Although not nearly as much pressure as when the baby was born, you can feel some pressure as the placenta is released.

To ensure that the placenta was delivered in its entirety, your healthcare professional will examine the delivered placenta. Rarely, the placenta may remain affixed to the uterine wall after some of it fails to detach.

If this occurs, your healthcare practitioner will insert their hand into your uterus to extract the remaining fragments in order to avoid significant bleeding that could arise from a damaged placenta. Please inquire if you would like to see the placenta. They’ll typically be delighted to show you.

Pain and other sensations during delivery

If you opt for a natural childbirth

You’ll experience a wide range of emotions if you choose to give birth “naturally” (without analgesics). The most common feelings you’ll feel are pressure and pain. Some of the pressure will be released once you start pushing.

However, when the baby moves down the delivery canal, you’ll start to feel pressure all the time, rather than only during your contractions. As the baby pushes against those same nerves, it will feel somewhat like a strong urge to urinate.

If you choose to have an epidural

What you experience during labor if you receive an epidural will depend on how well it works. You might not feel anything if the drug appropriately deadens the nerves. You might experience some pressure if it’s only somewhat effective.

You’ll experience pressure if it’s mild, which you might or might not find uncomfortable. It all relies on how well you can handle pressure. You won’t likely feel an episiotomy, nor will you likely feel the vagina being stretched.

Possible tearing

Although severe wounds are uncommon, the cervix may rupture during the dilation process and ultimately need to be repaired.

Vaginal tissues are pliable and soft, but they are also prone to tearing with a quick or forceful delivery.

Lacerations are typically small and simple to fix. On occasion, they could be more severe and lead to ongoing issues.

The vagina and/or cervix are frequently hurt during routine labor and delivery. Up to 70% of women having their first child will experience an episiotomy or other type of vaginal tear that needs to be repaired.

The cervix and vagina, fortunately, have abundant blood supply. Because of this, injuries to these places heal fast and rarely, if ever, create scars that could cause long-term issues.

The outlook

Even though labor and delivery are notoriously unpredictable processes, it’s not impossible to prepare yourself for them. Childbirth can be made less mysterious by knowing the timeline and hearing about other mothers’ experiences.

Writing out a birth plan with your spouse and sharing it with your medical team is something that many pregnant moms find useful. If you decide to make a plan, be ready to modify it if necessary. Keep in mind that having a healthy kid and having a nice experience are your main priorities.

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Written by Henry Okafor


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