Giving birth is one of the most transformative and exciting experiences a woman can have. It is a beautiful, fulfilling experience that ushers you into a new role in life.
There are many ways that a woman can give birth. One of these is through vaginal birth. Vaginal births are the most common way that babies are born. They can be magical and empowering experiences. But they can also be intense and unpredictable.
In this guide, we will highlight everything you need to know about vaginal births, including what they are, the different types, stages, and potential advantages and disadvantages.
What is a vaginal delivery?
A vaginal delivery is when a baby is born through the birth canal, which is the passage that connects the uterus to the outside of the body.
This is the most common way that babies are born, and it’s considered the safest and most natural option for both mother and baby. Vaginal delivery can be spontaneous or assisted, using tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors. We shall cover these in the next sections.
How common are vaginal deliveries?
Vaginal deliveries are extremely common, with the majority of babies being born this way. According to the World Health Organization, around 80% of births worldwide are vaginal births. In some countries, the rate of c-sections is increasing, but vaginal birth is still the most common and safest way to give birth.
Types of vaginal delivery
There are three main types of vaginal delivery: spontaneous, induced, and assisted.
- Spontaneous vaginal delivery is when labor begins on its own, without any medical intervention. This type of delivery is considered the most natural, and it allows the mother to have more control over the birthing process.
- Induced vaginal delivery is when labor is started artificially, usually through the use of medication. This type of delivery is often done when there are concerns for the health of the mother or the baby, or if the pregnancy has gone past the due date.
- Assisted vaginal delivery is when instruments such as forceps or a vacuum extractor are used to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. This type of delivery is often done when the baby is in distress or when the mother is unable to push the baby out on her own.
Stages of vaginal delivery
The three stages of vaginal delivery are labor, birth, and delivering the placenta.
Labor is the first stage, and it begins with the onset of contractions.
Contractions help to open the cervix, which is the opening to the uterus. The length of labor can vary greatly, and it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
During this stage, the mother may experience a range of emotions, from excitement and anticipation to fear and uncertainty. It’s important to have a support system in place, whether it be a partner, family member, or doula.
Pain management options such as an epidural, or non-pharmacological methods such as hypnobirthing, aromatherapy, massage, and acupressure can also be used to help the mother cope with the intensity of labor.
The second stage is birth, which is when the baby is pushed out of the birth canal.
This stage can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. During this stage, the mother will be asked to push with each contraction, and the baby’s head will start to crown, which means it will start to become visible.
This stage can be tiring, but it’s important to remember that the end is in sight and soon you will meet your baby.
Delivering the placenta
The final stage is delivering the placenta, which is the organ that nourishes the baby during pregnancy.
This process usually takes just a few minutes. The placenta will be delivered after the baby is born and the umbilical cord has been cut. The mother may experience some mild cramping during this stage, but it is generally considered the easiest and shortest stage of labor.
Vaginal birth is the most common way that babies are born. As you can see, it can be a magical, empowering experience for you. But it also has its own unique set of challenges that you may have to navigate.
It is also important to keep in mind that every birth is unique. Try to be well-informed and work with your healthcare provider to determine the best birth plan for you.
Also, while vaginal birth may have some risks, it is considered to be the safest way to deliver a baby. Trust in your body and the medical team that is there to support you, and you will have a wonderful experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life. Good luck!