Normal Delivery

Pregnancy stretches for 9 months, or 40 weeks, during which major changes occur in your body as your baby continues to transform from a fertilised egg to a full-grown human. Although pregnancy spans around 40 weeks, most women do not give birth in their 40th week. The baby is generally delivered from week 37 to 42. If you do not have a medical complication, you can have a normal delivery. 

This type of delivery is when the woman gives birth through her vagina without any medical intervention. It is also called vaginal birth.

Symptoms Before Normal Delivery

It takes 40 weeks for the baby to fully develop. However, labour and birth, which is the final step in pregnancy, take just a few days or even hours. As challenging as it is, here are some symptoms of labour, which are signs that you are about to give birth:

  • The first sign of labour is that you have sharp contractions that occur at regular intervals. 
  • Your water breaks
  • You might experience backache
  • Sharp abdominal cramps similar to menstrual cramps
  • You might feel a rise in pressure as your baby’s head moves inside your pelvis area.
  • As your baby’s head presses against the bladder, you might have to urinate often

Stages Of Labour

There are three stages of labour:

First Stage Of Labour

This is the first and probably the longest phase of labour. During this time, you experience contractions, which happen so that your cervix opens to give birth. It can be further divided into two phases:

  • Latent Phase: This is the starting phase during which you get irregular contractions and your cervix softens. During this phase, you should eat well and stay hydrated to keep your energy level high for what is about to happen next.
  • Established Phase: During this phase, your cervix dilates about 4 cm. You get sharp and regular contractions and your cervix opens up.

Breathing deeply, massage, and taking a warm water bath can help you with the symptoms. Although in the established phase, your cervix dilates 4 cm, your cervix needs to open up 10 cm for the baby to come out. This is when your cervix gets fully dilated. If you are pregnant for the first time, this period, from the start of labour to you getting fully dilated, generally takes 10-12 hours. This period reduces succeeding pregnancies. 

Second Phase Of Labour

This second phase spans from when your cervix is fully dilated till the baby is born. As your cervix opens up 10 cm, the baby moves further down the birth canal close to your vagina so as to take birth. This is also the time when you will have the urge to push. If this is your first pregnancy, the pushing stage can last for three hours. And if it is your second or third time, this will take no longer than two hours.

As you push, the baby gets further down. When his/her head is about to come out, you will be told to stop pushing, and instead, take deep breaths. This is to give the time for the area between your anus and vagina to stretch so that the baby’s head can come out easily. Once that is done, pushing out the rest of the body is easy and happens in just one to two contractions. Once the baby is born, you can hold him/her in your arms. Generally, the baby needs to be breastfed within an hour of being born.

Third Phase Of Labour

This stage begins after the baby is born. During this time, the womb contracts, and the placenta is pushed out. The umbilical cord connects your baby with the placenta. Once the baby is born, the doctor cuts the umbilical cord and the placenta is pushed out. There are two ways to manage this third phase of pregnancy:

Active: With this method, this third phase is speeded up. This is done by injecting oxytocin into you. This makes your womb contract. The placenta comes out quicker, reducing the risk of heavy bleeding. However, it has downsides as well. This method will make you feel sick and you might feel severe afterpains, which are similar to menstrual cramps.

Physiological: This involves no medical intervention and this phase is allowed to proceed naturally. The umbilical cord is not cut until it stops pulsing, as the blood is still supplied to the baby. This generally happens for 2-4 minutes after birth. Then, the placenta is pushed out. In the case of the physiological method, it might take about an hour for the placenta to come out. However, the actual pushing out of the placenta takes just about a minute. 

What Are The Benefits Of Normal Delivery?

A woman can give birth through normal delivery or through cesarean. Both the methods have certain benefits and risks associated with them. Here are some of the benefits of a normal delivery:

  • In the case of normal delivery, women often do not take pain medication. Such medication can speed up or slow down the delivery. It can also cause low blood pressure in the mother. She might also feel nauseated. 
  • This reduces the risk of major blood loss and anesthesia-related complications. 
  • In the case of normal delivery, there is a quicker contact between the mother and the baby.
  • Breastfeeding can also be initiated early.
  • It might also help the mother to recover quicker.

There are several benefits of normal delivery. However, there can be certain risks too:

  • It is evident you are going to feel the pain. Even though you might have given birth before, you still do not know for how long labour is going to last this time. What might help is being prepared and develop certain coping techniques. 
  • Since your vagina stretches in this one, it is more prone to wear and tear. 
  • Even in the case of normal delivery, there is a risk of developing certain complications, such as heavy blood loss. Such complications might need medical intervention. 

Tips For Normal Delivery

Giving birth is not a small accomplishment, no matter what method you choose to deliver. You undergo major changes during those nine months, take care of yourself and your child, suffer from symtoms some of which can be severe, and prepare yourself for the next chapter of your life. If you have decided upon normal delivery, here are some tips that might help:

  • Exercising can help you prepare for when you deliver. This specifically means doing squatting exercises that can prepare you for vaginal birth.
  • Since you have decided on a vaginal birth, it is important to note that it will be painful. Hence, you should start learning relaxation techniques much before your due date. Meditation and deep breathing are some options that might help.
  • Do not skip the prenatal visits at the hospital. During that time, get your questions regarding labour answered. The doctor might help you prepare for the day. The expert will also help you prepare for what happens after the child is born.
  • Both pregnancy and the anticipation around parenthood can be challenging, stressful, and confusing. During this period, joining a prenatal class might help in blowing off some steam. This will not only help you prepare for the labour, but will give you time to connect with other expecting parents, who might be facing the same challenges. Addressing their worries and getting your concerns addressed might be extremely beneficial during this phase. 
  • You experience false labour, called Braxton Hicks contractions, much before the actual labour. You can use this time and opportunity to prepare for the real one. Practice relaxation techniques and get an idea of what to expect during real labour. 
  • Making a birth plan might help with the confusion and anticipation. Firstly, get informed and then enlisting what you have to do and avoid might make the delivery process easier. 

Just like the whole pregnancy, giving birth can be extremely challenging. However, there is a sense of elation as well with the thought of holding your baby in your arms and anticipation over the next chapter in your life. Although it is good to be prepared, it is equally important to enjoy the whole journey and take good care of yourself and your little one.